It shouldn’t matter that I, an author with the audacity to select such a title, am black. The arguments presented should stand or fall on their objective merit. Nevertheless, I declare my racial identity at the outset to defuse any prejudice readers may bring regarding the motivation behind this piece. Indeed, it is in part because I am black that the following must be said.
All things considered, blacks and the civil rights culture surrounding them are the most open and prolific purveyors of racism in America. This is an ironic travesty which spits upon the graves of history’s abolitionists and offends all who are committed to a dream of equality under the law and goodwill among men.
Surely, such a claim is provocative. Unfortunately, it is also demonstrable.
In a recent interview with National Public Radio host Michel Martin, the Oscar-winning black actor Morgan Freeman made the odd declaration that President Barack Obama is not America’s first black president. NPR reports:
“First thing that always pops into my head regarding our president is that all of the people who are setting up this barrier for him … they just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was white — very white American, Kansas, middle of America,” Freeman said. “There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first black president — he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”
This is a new take on Obama’s racial identity from Freeman, who has previously cited Obama’s blackness as the chief motivation behind political opposition from both Republicans in Congress and the Tea Party movement. From an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan:
… Morgan asked the actor, “Has Obama helped the process of eradicating racism or has it, in a strange way, made it worse?”
“Made it worse. Made it worse,” Freeman replied. “The tea partiers who are controlling the Republican party … their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What underlines that? Screw the country. We’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man out of here.”
Apparently, Obama is black enough to trigger baseless charges of racism, but not black enough to qualify as the first black president. If that makes your brain hurt, you might be rational.
Freeman’s comments are not anomalies. He channels long-held, broadly accepted ideas regarding what it means to be black, the relevance of race, and the claim of blacks upon the rest of society. These ideas are horrifically racist, yet uniquely tolerated.
The tolerance of racist ideas openly expressed by blacks and the larger civil rights establishment is informed by sloppy thinking regarding both race and the role of government in society. True reconciliation requires confronting these ideas with reason. Here are eight ways in which blacks are perpetuating racism, and the one true way to effectively thwart it.
8 ) Seeking Racial “Purity”
Individuals or groups who seek racial “purity” are properly condemned as bigots — if they are white. Non-whites are routinely given a pass, and in some cases encouraged to “preserve their culture” through sexual segregation.
Morgan Freeman laments President Obama’s “white mama” and cites her as evidence that Obama is not truly black. This raises a few questions, the first of which is: what is “black”?
At the very least, by Freeman’s standard, having a white mother disqualifies one from being black. (That counts me out, too.) But not all blacks are equally so. Freeman himself is relatively light-skinned, certainly on a global spectrum. Many native Africans are far darker than Freeman, closer to ebony than brown. Indeed, the American black is invariably of mixed race, distinct from African cousins by breeding with whites over hundreds of years. Of course, the same can be said of any race over a long enough period of time. American whites are commonly a melting pot of Norwegian, Swede, German, Irish, Latin, Russian, and any of a dozen others.
That speaks to a critical truth. Race is a social construct of little objective value beyond efficiently communicating an amalgam of physical descriptors. President Obama is black, not because both parents were so, but because his physical characteristics are categorized as such in our thought and language. Beyond that, race means nothing. The notion of racial “purity” is inherently irrational, because race itself is subjective.
Why then should we distinguish Obama as the first black president, or argue over whether he is black enough to qualify as such? What rational value does such a distinction have? What is Freeman getting at?
Given the political context, it seems likely that Freeman desires a president whose blackness more dramatically informs public policy. Of course, a president so oriented would necessarily disenfranchise everyone else. And that’s the idea.
7 ) Cultural Segregation
Perhaps the most objective metric supporting the claim that blacks prolifically purvey racism is the astounding number of organizations which openly segregate. There are names we have all come to know, from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to Black Entertainment Television. And there are many others which are lesser known. Consider this list from one of many similar ones available on the web:
- American Association of Blacks in Energy
- The Association of Black Psychologists
- The Executive Leadership Council
- Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
- National Association of Black Accountants
- National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers
- National Association of Black Journalists
- National Black Business Council
- National Black Chamber of Commerce
- National Black MBA Association
- National Black Nurses Association
- National Council of Negro Women
- National Coalition of 100 Black Women
- National Medical Association
- National Newspaper Publishers Association
- National Urban League
- National Society of Black Engineers
- Organization of Black Designers
- United Negro College Fund
- 100 Black Men of America
Surely, blacks are not the only demographic group which chooses to associate together, and there is certainly nothing wrong with free association. The problem is the double standard. Substitute white for black in any of the above and you would have theatrical public outcry and claims of civil rights violations.
Segregation of blacks by whites is widely regarded as one of the banes of the civil rights movement. Yet segregation is widely tolerated when blacks choose to engage in it. Such an obvious double standard fuels racial animosity rather than soothing it. If the goal of the civil rights movement was and remains equality and inclusion, how does such prolific segregation advance that?
6 ) Collective Responsibility
Comedian Chris Rock took this past Fourth of July as an opportunity to pimp antiquated racial hatreds. He tweeted:
Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks (sic)
Rock, of course, leads a life of distinguished privilege among the entertainment industry’s brightest stars. He has never lived in chains as the property of another human being. Nor has anyone he knows. Nor has any American in several generations. That the philosophical bias of emancipation was enshrined in the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 is as elusive to Chris Rock as the fact that the men who signed it were not made free by the stroke of a pen. Ideas proceed actions, and the process of crafting government which regards all men as equal under the law continues even today.
Nevertheless, Rock feels justified feigning indigence at a crime to which neither he nor any person alive was a party. How is that possible? He subscribes to and relies upon an irrational sense of collective responsibility.
He is black. The slaves were black. So he is as a slave.
There exist whites. Slave masters were white. So whites are as slave masters.
It’s an elementary logical fallacy which is nonetheless amplified by academics and entertainers alike. It has become a kind of racial gospel, quite literally in the case of black liberation theology. Popular culture is replete with black commentators, preachers, authors, and celebrities testifying to the injustice of slavery as if it happened to them personally and continues to this day.
This offends on two fronts. First, a son is not responsible for the sins of his father. Second, though overt slavery has been long abolished in America, there remain rampant intrusions upon fundamental liberties to varying degrees throughout the world. It is stunningly disingenuous to wring hands over distant history while at best saying nothing about and at worst advocating the many encroachments upon individual rights commonplace today.
In a piece examining black author Touré and the objects of prescribed “spiritual liberation,” PJM associate editor David Swindle asks:
What are his primary liberation concerns in the chapter he titles “Keep It Real is a Prison”? Liberating the black children trapped in inner city schools mismanaged by Democrats and teacher union bureaucrats? Liberating the law-abiding, black families struggling to keep out of the crossfire amidst the the astronomical rate of black-on-black violence? What about liberating the untold numbers of African blacks oppressed by dictators and Islamists? How about all the black women around the world today living as victims of female genital mutilation? What about the black women victimized by gang rape in the Congo?
No tweets on any of that from Chris Rock.
5 ) Masquerading Vengeance as Justice
You can’t have justice without equal treatment under the law. Yet many policy prescriptions and attitudes relating to race explicitly call for the preferential treatment of minorities.
Perhaps the most egregious example is affirmative action. Rather than apply the same standard to all candidates for a given opportunity, affirmative action lowers or eliminates standards for favored groups. This is insulting to all parties concerned, making experience and qualifications inferior to irrelevant political considerations. It is by definition an injustice. Yet is is tolerated and even mandated. Why?
Building on the notion of collective responsibility, affirmative action is sold as social justice. The sins of white fathers deprived black sons of opportunity, it is argued. So white sons must cede their place to blacks. This is not justice in any objective sense. It is an irrational vengeance exacted upon the innocent on behalf of the un-wronged. It is at best a punishment of the son for the sins of his father, and never connected to a demonstrable wrong. What are the odds that a given white person’s ancestor committed a crime against a given black person’s ancestor? To the black racist, it doesn’t matter, because white guilt is collective, as is black entitlement.
Another common way in which vengeance is masqueraded as justice is the rationalization of specific black crime as justified by generalized white crime. Blacks celebrated as O.J. Simpson was acquitted, not because they believed he was innocent, but because he put one over on the Man. Consider this 2007 admission from the blogger of The Black Factor:
For more than a decade, O.J. Simpson has been the Negro that got away. To put it into historical context, O.J. Simpson is the ni**er Whites couldn’t lynch at noon. O.J. was one of the few Black people, who could afford to play the legal system the way Whites have longed played the legal system (Claus Van Bulow, anyone?). And, right or wrong, he walked free. And, many Whites got all beside themselves. As a result, Blacks have been listening to Whites play the crying game every since (sic).
Note no concern for justice. O.J. was a black man getting back at whites for the collective injustices of the past. The object of such a sentiment isn’t to obtain equal treatment under the law, but to turn the tables of history and subject whites to injustice as revenge.
4 ) Loose Accusations of Racism
Race is one of several factors which inform an observer’s subjective judgment, and is not particularly special. What a person wears, how they talk, their posture and demeanor — all have an effect upon what an observer presumes about them. This is particularly true when the observer has to make a quick judgment in an impromptu encounter.
The ability to make snap judgments about another is an integral part of our survival instinct and ought not be blunted by political correctness or cited as evidence of racism. Prejudice, or pre-judgment, is something we rationally inculcate in our children at a very young age. We teach them to beware of strangers. How a person looks is one of the first and most effective means by which we determine them to be strange.
In this sense prejudice is both innate to all persons and appropriate in many contexts. If a woman taking a turn down an alley suppresses her prejudice regarding a gang of motley young men, she risks much unnecessarily.
Prejudice is not inherently racist, and loose accusations of racism based on isolated perceptions of prejudice are premature. Words have meaning, and we have different words to describe distinct concepts. Prejudice, bigotry, and racism are not interchangeable. While prejudice can be innocent and even reasonable in certain contexts, bigotry is the irrational maintenance of a prejudice in light of evidence to the contrary. Bigotry can be informed by a multitude of factors, of which race is only one. Racism is what we call bigotry informed by race.
These distinctions are important in any intellectually honest discussion of race relations. When prejudice, bigotry, and racism are used interchangeably, it is evidence that the discussion is not honest.
3 ) Fighting Irrationality with Irrationality
The consensus that racism is bad does not seem to be informed by a consensus as to why. For many, it seems that racism is simply out of fashion, rather than an objective wrong.
Bigotry offends reason. Sustaining a prejudice about an individual in light of evidence to the contrary does not make sense. It is a rejection of reality, and that is what makes it offensive. Attempts by hand-wringing “progressives” to combat racism with equally irrational assertions compound the offense.
A recent example is the so-called Unfair Campaign, an initiative out of Duluth which was until recently supported by the University of Minnesota. The mission of the Unfair Campaign is to “to raise awareness about white privilege in our community.”
The notion of “white privilege,” as articulated by the Unfair Campaign, is itself a racist sentiment. To assume that all whites have an inherent leg up on the rest of society is as irrational as assuming all blacks are somehow inferior. Indeed, the sentiments are one and the same, a point raised in this response featuring yours truly.
The University of Minnesota has since quietly removed its support of the Unfair Campaign.
2 ) Treating Whites as Hostiles Rather Than Traders
All of the above fosters racism because it perpetuates irrationalism in the culture. At worst, irrationalism becomes institutionalized through public policy, wielding government’s monopoly on force toward subjective and therefore unjust ends. As the populace perceives such injustice, animosity is created where it may not otherwise exist, and accelerated where it might otherwise be benign.
The underlying principle is applicable beyond race relations. Under a condition of liberty, where each individual is protected against the initiation of force by another, trust is engendered and people deal peaceably with one another in trade, offering value for value. When strangers meet in the market, they begin with a greeting.
Conversely, when strangers meet in the wild, they begin with a threat or warning. Why? Because they are not otherwise protected from the initiation of force. Suspicion and hostility is fostered whenever public policy treats people unjustly, such as when one race is granted preferential treatment over another. It doesn’t matter whether it’s whites being treated preferentially under Jim Crow, or blacks being treated preferentially under affirmative action, the injustice and resulting cultural degradation are the same.
1 ) Lifting Civil Rights Above Inalienable Rights
The term “civil rights” has become sacrosanct in the political discourse. It has become interchangeable with “correct” and a rhetorical bludgeon with which to bloody opponents of “social justice.” To call something “a civil rights issue” is to end the argument. Health care. Marriage. Education. Jobs. All have been evoked as civil rights. In so doing, proponents of a new affirmative action hope to paint their opposition as bigots, because popular sentiment holds that only a bigot would oppose a civil right.
This is another corruption of the language, most egregious because of its effect upon public policy and the way in which force is applied in people’s lives. Not all civil rights are good. In fact, when they are crafted in opposition to the inalienable rights recognized in the Declaration and protected by the Constitution, they are downright evil.
Civil rights are legal grants from the state which can be wholly arbitrary. The inalienable rights of the individual are objectively derived and exist independent of the state. Good civil rights support inalienable rights. For instance, voting is a civil right which compliments the inalienable rights of the voter. Bad civil rights oppose inalienable rights. Granting a civil right to health care or any other provision places a burden upon producers to supply their wares without trade, something which used to be called robbery.
Because the civil rights movement of the 1960s was in opposition to institutionalized racism, civil rights have since been associated with decency and justice in the public discourse. That association has been abused to promote all manner of wrong. The potential exists to make a civil right out of anything. In fact, the claim of a slave owner over his “property” in a state with legal slavery would be a civil right. A hammer might be used to bash in someone’s head as readily as it may pound a nail. Likewise, civil rights may be crafted for ill as readily as for good.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a world where people were treated equally under the law, and judged by one another according to the content of their character. Such a world requires the condition of liberty, where people may only deal with each other in trade, not by force. Absent the fear and distrust which manifest in a system of political favoritism, people are incentivized to deal with each other respectfully. Free association can never deprive anyone of anything. Force can, however, and therefore ought to be removed from human relationships. That’s what proper government does. True concern for racial equality can only manifest in a vigorous defense of individual rights. Those who mindlessly seek civil rights in opposition to objectively derived individual rights seek tyranny, not equality, and deserve to be regarded as the agitators they are.
Updated July 30, 2012: New from Walter Hudson today at PJ Lifestyle: