Does any sane person who pays the slightest attention to the talking heads from the television (MSNBC) and cable networks (CNN), or the news and opinion writers for the New York Times or the Washington Post believe that racism is ever going to lessen anywhere in the western world? Only a fool would bet on that particular outcome. Why? In a word: “Racism” is the gift that keeps on giving.
How did this come about? “Racism” in the 1950s was a term then with a much more precise, recognizable meaning than it has today. It was largely limited in its circulation to liberal intellectuals and academics who studied the history of slavery and contemplated racial segregation in post-WWII America. Jim Crow was in place then with segregated schools, public facilities and businesses, double standards of expectations and accountability for blacks and whites, all premised on a widespread white perception that blacks were … well, generally, less capable, less reliable, less intelligent than whites. The segregation was well entrenched (de jure in the south; de facto in the north) and blacks in America were significantly poorer, less healthy, less educated than whites as well as feeling the daily sting of the indignities, along with suffering the hostilities, mistreatment and condescension of whites.
By coincidence, the American conquerors about this time were just finishing their occupation of defeated Germany, the occupation prolonged for years because the Americans felt they needed to remain as long as it took to make sure that the German people were completely free of this nasty “superior race” nonsense they had imbibed from the Charlie Chaplain mustachioed Austrian corporal and his henchmen who had brought most of Europe to ruins. Which proved finally to be a bit embarrassing for Americans, at least for those who recalled that their soldier boys, who were sent far across the ocean to dispose of the racist Hitler and stay and teach the Die Herren und Frauen to love democracy and recite Thomas Jefferson’s “self-evident” truth, “that all men are created equal,” came over in racially segregated units. President Truman’s desegregation order for the Armed Services didn’t come until 1948. Black American soldiers fighting oversees for equality came home to segregated public facilities, lunch counters and schools.
It was judged past time for a correction in these matters, and so it would be. Beginning in the 1950s, the dismantling of segregation and the criminalization of racial discrimination was launched. With the landmark “Brown versus the Board of Education” the Federal government forcibly desegregated the public schools. By the 1960s the conscience of white America was convicted of its racial iniquities. The correction was soon at top speed with the civil rights movement leading the way, and the rest, as they say, is history. In the five decades that followed the equalizing of black and white America became “mission central” with the legislatures creating and the courts enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the areas of housing, employment, government contracting and education, including the forced bussing of school children. Massive federal aid flowed to the heavily black-populated cities like Detroit, burned down by black rioters in the middle-late 1960s. Affirmative Action and EEOC, came into being with strict compliance requirements for universities and employers to make room for members of “underrepresented” groups. Across the country schools and universities focused their pedagogy on the evils of racism, the history of slavery and segregation and the moral imperative of “equality.” Blacks moved into prominent positions in every region of American culture and life, including the American presidency, Secretary of State, Attorney General and the U.S. Supreme Court. Utterance of the “n-word” for whites became a career-killer and a ticket to social ostracism. An entire new industry, the “diversity” industry, came into being, its employees moving into business, education and government, tasked to promote the interests and guard the feelings of officially designated victims of discrimination, and to subject the would be discriminators to programs of reeducation where they learned about “white privilege,” microaggressions and how to “celebrate diversity.”
By 2009 with Jim Crow long dead and the jubilant inauguration of America’s first black President, elected in a still majority-white country, one might be tempted to think that the “racism” that marked racially segregated America in the 1950s had been vanquished or at least diminished enough to make everyone optimistic about the future of race-relations. Wrong! In the last year of his Presidency (2015) Barack Obama in an made the following observation:
Obama: “What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — you know, that casts a long shadow. And that's still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it.”
Obama: “Racism. We’re not cured of it.”
What then were we to make of this “DNA” metaphor? Unfortunately, few, if any of the cognoscenti who constantly lecture Americans 24x7 on the ubiquity of “racism” and daily pounce on yet another politician or celebrity who breaks the strict rules of “Diversity-Speak,” bothered to decode the President’s remarks so that the average American might get a sense of what he was in for. They can be boiled down to: “Racism has always been the defining feature of American life and will be far into the future.” What then, we might wonder, is the “cure,” and who gets to say that it has been successful and the patient is whole and released from treatment?
These questions expose the disingenuousness typical of Obama on the subject of race. The “our DNA” is white DNA, and the “racism” that “we’re not cured of” is “white racism” – there is no other kind in today’s America that will be countenanced. Obama chose the wrong metaphor. His view of race is better expressed in theological terms. “Racism” is America’s “original sin.” It was, and still is, committed exclusively by white people, and no matter what metaphor you care to use, consider it a permanent fixture of American society. “We shall overcome someday.” But, sorry Pal, not today. With sin comes guilt, and white America now finds itself confronted with guilt, virtually unlimited guilt.
Guilt that comes in unlimited quantities can be a very valuable commodity for the right sort of “entrepreneurs” who know how to make it pay out in long term dividends, particularly when those dividends are of, shall we say, a material kind. Guilt makes most people feel really bad, remain highly vulnerable and willing to do things of an extreme nature to be free of it, things that may have little to do with the source of the guilt and may be highly detrimental to their self-interest and well being.
Guilt, in effect, can open the door to a form of extortion, moral extortion, if you will. When you feel guilty because you believe that you have done something harmful to someone, the person you have harmed has a moral advantage over you, so to speak. That person is the innocent party; you are the guilty party. You are in his debt. You owe him … something. It may be an apology, change of behavior or attitude, or maybe compensation. Relieving the guilt becomes a moral transaction and both parties (the injurer and the injured) have a responsibility to act in good faith and bring the transaction to a conclusion.
Ah, yes, “the conclusion” and here is the rub. Atonement is the performance side of guilt – giving what you owe to the innocent party, doing what you need to do to atone for the wrong. The corollary of unlimited guilt is unlimited atonement (no conclusion), and when what you “owe” becomes unlimited the person you “owe” is no longer innocent, and you are no longer a free, accountable person making moral-spiritual restitution. You are a pawn being manipulated, being used to someone else’s advantage. Good faith has given way to exploitation. From being the sinner, you are now the sinned-against.
Unlimited guilt is what makes Obama’s “racism” a tool of moral extortion. An extortionist never says, “OK, your debt is paid; your obligation is fulfilled.” No, the blackmailer always comes back for more and ups the ante. “Not enough; I need more – until you are cured. I’ll let you know when that happens. Trust me.” “Racism,” however, never, ever, diminishes. Rather it becomes ever more insidious, protean, if you will, with forms and manifestations, heretofore unheard of – “systemic racism,” “economic racism,” “environmental racism,” “institutional racism,” the inventory expands almost daily. Moreover, “racism has provided the “ism” template (“sexism,” “ableism,” “homophobia,” “Islamophobia,” “transphobia”) for the rapid expansion of the diversity industry, with other large groups of the suitably injured and aggrieved, recruited to leverage new categories of guilt and make them pay dividends.
How does the “racism” create the moral leverage that makes the extortion work so effectively? First, it opens up a vast moral distance between the accuser and the accused. When someone denounces someone else as a “racist,” this act publicly affirms both, the accuser’s moral superiority, and the moral degeneracy of the accused. Since racism is the very worst of human pathologies, deeply embedded in the personality, the accuser by virtue of both recognizing and confronting this evil individual, gives confirmation of a moral superiority and rectitude of the highest order. And, since the targets of racist are members of oppressed and exploited groups, the accuser’s virtue shines even brighter since he is speaking truth-to-power, he becomes a beacon of moral courage, taking a stand against bigotry and hatred.
There is another kind of leverage that makes the extortionist demand virtually invincible. With “racism” being in one’s “DNA,” as Obama put it, the guilt is indisputable and inextinguishable. Remember, “we’re not cured of it.” No white person has ever convinced his accuser that he is not a “racist” and never will. Apologizing (Please, I am not a racist) or indignantly denying it simply ups the extortionist leverage of the term while the accused squirms like a worm on a hook. It’s a Catch 22. Once “racism’ is entrenched (“in our DNA,” “not cured”), game, set, match. This, of course, gives a lie to the rhetoric of “healing,” “reconciliation” and ultimately to “forgiveness,” cover-language used to soften and disguise the coercion and give the extortion a patina of moral legitimacy. But the accuser has no interest in reconciliation or incentive to forgive. With reconciliation, the “gift” would have to stop giving. Diversity professionals would have to find another source of employment. Al Sharpton would not longer be called, “Reverend, ” and would likely be in prison.
A turning point in American history was the 2016 Presidential election when the obsession with “racism” was raised to a level of collective hysteria with Donald Trump routinely characterized by the entire main stream media and the opposition party as another Adolf Hitler, a 21st-century, pogrom-planning fascist, broadly supported by voters (62 million people) motivated entirely by racial prejudice and hatred. The most memorable and appalling moment of the contest was Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” denunciation of Trump supporters as “racists, sexists … you name it.”
With the improbable outcome of the election the hysteria has only increased, the most recent manifestation of its ferocity the unhinged outpouring of hatred from social media sources and the hostile and dishonest coverage of the national media of an incident involving a group of white, Catholic high school boys from Covington, Kentucky (Boyd Cathey) who encountered a native American protestor in Washington D.C. “The smile of one of the students, Nick Sandman, captured in a now famous photograph, was twisted by the virtue signalers into a disrespectful ‘smirk,’ a kind of ‘racist dog-whistle,’ a symbol of ‘white privilege,’” all the standard tropes of today’s emboldened character assassins. Reigned down upon Sandman and his fellow students was a torrent of condemnations of in the thousands via social media that included death threats, demands to publish names and addresses, appeals to have them expelled from their school, rejected from universities, and encouragement to kill them and their families. All of this from Social Justice Warriors who decry the “hatred” of Trump supporters.
So, in contemplating this grim state of affairs, we need to ask now: to where has this 60-year battle against “racism” taken us? Sadly, it has taken us to a point where it should be clear that “racism,” now saturating the commentary on every facet of American experience, is not a word that describes the behavior or personality of any particular individual. “Racism” does not depict any state of reality. It is merely a word of condemnation to complete a ritualized chant. “You are a racist” is a performative act in an excommunication ceremony (an expulsion ritual) whereby decent, normal individuals are pronounced to be moral lepers, unfit for civilized society and cast into the darkness. Recall the conclusion of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” slur, “they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.” This expulsion ritual is now frequently and routinely conducted by a vast network of moral police who occupy positions in government, the media, education and entertainment. They target white Americans who look back and wonder why the massive, decades-long efforts of atonement for racism have only intensified black resentment and hostility, why Black Lives Matter thugs are allowed to rampage and tear down historical monuments, why blacks are still burning down the cities, why millionaire, celebrity black athletes scorn the national anthem. These targets recognize that the “racism in our DNA” is the veiled language of the extortionists who use guilt as an instrument of intimidation, domination and revenge. The guilt must be repudiated. Whites who succumb to the accusation of “racism” are embracing a future of their own destruction.