Of late, it seems one of the biggest threats to America — at least in the eyes of some of the loudest people — is racism and white supremacism. And I’ve been giving the matter some serious thought.
The first observation I’ve made is that racists are really not that huge a danger today. On a list of what are real problems for us, “racists” and “white supremacists” are way, way down there. Behind Islamist terrorists, economic morons with power, blind idealists, one-worlders, hyperpartisan hacks, reality TV, and a host of others.
The reason why? Because the war of race is over, and the purists lost. Nowadays, even the casual racism that was common and tolerated as recently as 30 to 40 years ago is now utterly repugnant to general society. In a sense, it’s followed an arc much like that of drunk driving. When some idiot says something flagrantly racist, there’s hardly anyone rushing to their defense — witness the reactions to Mel Gibson and Michael Richards when they went on racist tirades.
The second observation is that the greatest “racists” and “white supremacists” are being condemned not for being obsessed with race, but with not caring enough about race.
Let’s start off with one of my least favorite people, Rush Limbaugh. And let’s take a
loot look at some of his so-called “racist” statements (ones he actually said, not ones his detractors fantasize he said) that have so many people fitting him for a Klan hood and robe.
For example, his comment about quarterback Donovan McNabb was not about race, but a commentary on sports media — and the aspect race plays in it. Here, Limbaugh’s great sin was in putting another issue more important than race, by saying that race is a component of another issue. Limbaugh’s “racism” here was in allowing race to be a mere aspect of another issue, not an issue in and of itself.
Limbaugh is a racist because he does not spend all his time dwelling on race in and of itself, but sees it only as a part of larger issues — when he considers it at all.
Then there’s the current bete blanc of the blogosphere, Robert Stacy McCain. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — if RSM is a racist and a white supremacist, he’s one of the most inept ones I’ve ever seen. I’ve read quite a bit of his recent material, and — except when he’s addressing the smear war being waged against him — he doesn’t seem to talk much about racial matters at all. In fact, reading his stuff, I find myself wondering how the hell he could believe in the inherent superiority of his race when he spends a good chunk of his time running himself down and holding himself up for mockery.
Oh, that’s not to say that there aren’t genuine racists (or, at least, people who have a history of racist behavior and making racially insensitive remarks) holding the reins of power. But they have discovered the miracle cleansing agent, the one thing in today’s politics that… er… whitewashes the stain of racism away:
There’s one national leader who has a truly repugnant background. He’s a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan who, as recently as a few years ago, was still unabashedly tossing around such terms as “white niggers.” But that doesn’t keep him from being the fourth in the line of presidential succession — does it, Senator Byrd?
Or, if you like, the condescending, genteel racism of a man who talks about how exceptional President Obama is for being a black man who is clean and articulate, who jokes about how the most prominent representatives of India and Pakistan are the ones who own convenience stores, ending up the Vice-President of the United States?
Or how a demagogue and shakedown artist who can toss around anti-Semitic slurs and discuss graphically “cutting the nuts off” of President Obama can not only be considered a major political figure, but also a man of God? Or how another alleged “man of God” can also be a race-baiting, riot-instigating con man? Take your bows, Reverends Jackson and Sharpton.
We were told that the election of President Obama was a defining moment in America’s racial struggles, that it was proof that we were moving into a “post-racial” era. In the leadup, a lot of his detractors expressed concerns that instead, it would further polarize racial issues — that every single criticism of Obama would be attributed to racism and not taken on their own merits.
Well, that certainly has proven prophetic. The presumption behind that argument is so specious as to be laughable — that Obama’s policies of consolidating economic power within the executive branch, of offering an open hand to our adversaries while giving the back of the hand to our allies, that his attempting to assert his authority of defining who is “legitimate” or “illegitimate” among his opponents, that his ham-handed attempts to intervene in matters far below the purview of the federal government, that his handing over the details of national policy to inept Congressional leadership, that his “we’re sorry, world” tour of apologizing for America’s reputed sins of the past, and a host of others, would be acceptable to a lot more Americans if both his parents had been white, instead of just his mother.
At least, it would be laughable if the proponents of it weren’t so tenacious.
Yes, there are racists in America. Yes, there are even racists in the halls of power. And yes, there are even some racists in the right wing. But they are remarkably impotent at getting anything done to advance their racist agenda. America, by and large, simply ain’t buying that any more.
So, what’s left? Why, their pernicious and corrosive beliefs. Their motives. Their goals. Their aspirations. Their hateful ideas.
In other words, their thoughts. Their thought crimes.
I’ve known racists in my life. Some quite noxious ones — those who raged against the niggers and the chinks and the spics who were ruining this country. Some less obvious — they contented themselves with yelling at the TV when some jigaboo won a prize or praised a singer as “pretty good for a darkie.”
Some times I verbally slapped them around. More times, I ignored them. (Much of my life, I was afraid of confrontations.) But one thing I never did was to give the slightest credence to their beliefs. In fact, it was just the opposite — the harder they tried to push their beliefs, the more repulsed I was.
That’s one of the reasons I don’t subscribe to the Charles Johnson School Of Policing Blog Comments — deleting hateful, vicious, racist diatribes. It’s been my experience that such actions are actually valuable anti-recruiting tools for the racists. So I take a bit of perverse pleasure in letting them demonstrate that they are complete and utter losers and assholes to the world at large.
The “war on racism” has long been a code phrase for “war on those insufficiently liberal.” The election of President Obama has simply made that far less transparent and more pernicious than ever before.