A few days ago, in the wake of a concerted (and almost certainly fraudulent) attack against the Tea Party by claiming its members are racist, I wrote a post in which I said that, if I’m going to be called a racist, I get to define the term to accord with my understanding of race.
I was wordy (so, sue me; so was Charles Dickens), but it boiled down to my firm belief that, while blacks needed a helping hand in the immediate aftermath of first wave of Civil Rights (the mid-1960s), the system has become perverted, encouraging blacks to become dependent on rich white liberals. I contrasted the black experience with the Asian immigrant experience (or you could contrast it with the Irish immigration experience, or the Jewish, or the Italian…), all of which show groups that had the same handicaps as post-Jim Crow blacks — illiterate, poverty stricken, and ghettoized — but that nevertheless managed to mainstream within a generation.
The problem, I said, does not lie with blacks; it lies, instead, with liberal policies that persist in treating blacks as if they are helpless, intellectually incapable, non-rational beings. If I’m racist, it’s because I look at blacks and think that, without the smothering influence of white liberal guilt, they are, as a group, every bit as competent, capable and rational as any other group.
In other words, my racism consists in think that blacks are pretty much like me. So, again, sue me.
My post got picked up at a liberal site (a very liberal site, which is flattering in a weird kind of way) and I got taken to task for failing to understanding black people’s suffering and, therefore, making the racist and condescending demand that blacks should be treated like . . . well, like people. Or at least, that’s what I think the site is saying. The writing is bit convoluted, giving the feeling the author went to a liberal arts college and majored in post-modern thinking. Take this, for example:
It’s a magnum opus of white resentment at underlying racist attitudes, laid out in a series of patronizing missives to the dark ones among us.
What does that mean — “white resentment at underlying racist attitudes?” I certainly resent being called a racist. And I resent attitudes and policies that demean blacks by consistently holding them to a lower standard based on the premise that they’re incapable of achieving a higher standard. Color me racist, but I hate to see people classified and graded by race. (Incidentally, Martin Luther King did too: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”) As far as I can tell, that sentence is a classic example of the finest modern education can offer — it’s silly.
Or try this sentence, which the blog author offers immediately after quoting me. (My quoted material was to the effect that we harm the black community tremendously by allowing blacks to prey on each other, because liberals, with a kind of gushing love, believe that blacks are just locked into that type of behavior):
Essentially, believing that white racism has held black people back is terrible and demeaning to blacks, the response to which is to believe that liberal white racism has held black people back.
Again, what in the world does that mean? Perhaps there’s a word missing, but the writer seems to be saying that it’s really demeaning to believe that white racism harms blacks, and that the appropriate response to this horrible viewpoint is to argue that liberal white racism harms blacks. Well, I do argue that liberal white racism does harm blacks. And what’s even worse is that it’s not even an in-your-face racism that you can stand up and fight.
In the horrible Jim Crow days, racists said bluntly “You’re stupid and you’re evil,” statements that all right thinking people could reasonably challenge. These were ugly, uncomplicated fighting words, and blacks fought back.
In the horrible liberal PC days, well-meaning whites say “I’m sure you’re really smart, but we hurt you so badly you don’t have to prove that you’re smart, and I’m sure you’re essentially honest, but because of all the bad things we’ve done to you, it’s not surprising that you engage in criminal activity at a rate higher than other races in this country, and I know that you’re a very moral people, only it’s all our fault that the nuclear family in the black family has been pretty much destroyed.” You can dress it up in as many apologies as you like, but the fact remains that after almost 50 years of liberal love, blacks are hurting, because they and their white co-dependents keep giving them a free pass for self-destructive behavior. (And if I remember correctly, Bill Cosby made pretty much the same point.)
Here’s the next sentence, a lovely example of post-modern thinking that nicely distills into utter meaninglessness:
Reading through this, it becomes clear that this lovely crystallization of conservative thought on race is fundamentally about an underestimation and denigration of the capacities of black Americans to understand their own history and the causes of their problems. Post-racial conservatism, at its core, presumes that the great bulk of black America is too stupid and too misled to understand its position in the American diaspora; the only forces arrayed against black people are the ones black people depend on and trust in.
Before I get to substance, I want to thank the writer of the above for saying I wrote a “lovely crystallization of conservative thought.” I appreciate that. But about that substance….
The paragraph jumbles together three thoughts: (i) I don’t understand black history or root causes, (ii) I think that blacks are stupid, and (iii) I think the blacks are depending on the wrong people. The first thought is wrong, and irrelevant. I’m fully cognizant of black history. I’m saying, though, that history does not have to be determinative of our future beings. American blacks are not dealing with the problems of 1770, or 1830, or 1860, or 1877 or 1955. Instead, they live in 2010. All humans must adapt. This writer essentially contends that, because blacks had a bad historic deal, they don’t have to adapt, but may wallow in it forever. I think that’s an outrageous argument. Others have had bad deals and have moved forward:
Jews: 2,000 years of persecution at the hands of . . . everyone. Large scale immigration to America following the Russian and Polish pogroms and the Holocaust. They adapted.
Irish: 500 years of persecution at British hands. Large scale immigration to America following the devastating Irish potato famine. They adapted.
Vietnamese and Cambodians: Decades of persecution at Communist hands, devastating wars and, in the case of the Cambodians, the Killing Fields, which saw 30% of the population executed. They adapted.
Chinese: A feudal society, which was followed by a Revolution, which was followed by the Great Leap Forward (with estimates of 70,000,000 – 100,000,000 killed). They adapted.
Blacks: A feudal society (because slavery is feudalism), which was followed by almost a century of gross discrimination, which was followed by 50 years of affirmative action. They still haven’t adapted.
Why are blacks different? Well, contrary to the liberal blogger, I don’t think its because they’re stupid or they don’t understand their history. I do think it’s because they’re depending on the wrong friends. Tough love doesn’t just work for teenagers. Humans need to deal with reality, rather than being protected so much that they’re rendered angry at their lack of free will, and dysfunctional because they cannot exercise their core human right to self-determination.
In other words, people, when given freedom of opportunity (even when that freedom is hedged with thorns and obstacles) adapt. It’s the smothering, guilt-laden love of American liberals that keeps blacks cocooned in a perpetual and dysfunctional state of victimhood.
And here’s that liberal blogger’s last word on the subject, which is a complete inversion of what I said:
The best reading of this list of resentment is that the author views black people as noble savages, people so backwards that the only way we can move forward is to be left alone to figure out things for ourselves. My reading, however, goes a little bit deeper than that. The easiest way to excuse racism is to rewrite and reinterpret history so that its effects are divorced from the cause. If racism causes suffering, you get around it by blaming the suffering on the victims. Of course, this is in and of itself racist – the reason a persecuted minority was persecuted is because they’re so weak and dumb and persecutable. But it allows the racist to distance themselves from their own beliefs by saying that they aren’t being racist, they’re just reflecting a reality without racism. A reality which happens to be racist as fuck.
No, I don’t consider blacks noble savages — you, the liberal, do. I consider them my peers in the human race, and think they ought to be treated as such, and not as a bizarre combination of fragile flower and uncontrolled id.
And no, I haven’t rewritten history. I didn’t actually touch upon history, except the history of liberalism and its deleterious effect on blacks.
And most importantly, I’m not arguing for persecution, which is what that liberal implies I’m saying. Instead, I’m saying in as many ways as I possibly can that we as a nation err (both practically and morally) by treating blacks as a separate species. Blacks deserve to be treated like everyone else. Funnily enough, the only way to get from what I said to the liberal’s claim that I demand black persecution is for the liberal writer to concede that white Americans are being persecuted.
Is that what you’re saying, oh liberal one?