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The New Racism May 3, 2006

Posted by June in Artist Thinker Articles, Philosophy, Politics, Racism.

I was going to do a piece on illegal immigration; but in light of Mr. Steele's column that I have posted here and that was featured on Rush, I am going to focus on something that has bothered me for some time. Racism.

We all know about white racism. It's been portrayed a thousand times in so many ways from books to movies to political speeches; but do we really recognize the new racism that has built itself on the remnants of the old? Do we see the discrimination? Do we see the hate?

No, I'm not talking about Neo-Nazis. I'm talking about the modern racism of minorities against white people. I'm talking about the fact that a white cop is branded as racist if he stops one too many blacks, while a black cop can do what he wants with whites. I'm talking about Hispanics who are deemed the victims of whites when they are the ones breaking the law. I'm talking about hate crime legislation, which consistently applies exclusively to crimes committed by white people against minorities creating the assumption that the murder of a minority by a white is somehow more wrong than the murder of a white by a minority. I'm talking about affirmative action that discriminates against whites and even Chinese, who are in no way a majority. I'm talking about the fact that whites were blamed for what happened to New Orleans even though whites suffered as well and even though whites from all across the country pitched in to help.

It's there. That racism is there; but we are unwilling to see it. We need to recognize it and deal with it.
When are we going to stop blaming the sons for the sins of the father? A majority of blacks proclaim themselves to be Christians, and a majority of Hispanics claim to be Catholic.

So why do we ignore such verses as:
1. Ezekiel 18:10-20
". . . 20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."

2. Matthew 6:14-15
"14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

3. Luke 17:3-4
"3 So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." "

It's annoying to be harrassed, sure. It seems that recently people have started branding us. This past winter my brother was ordered out of a movie theater by a police officer, who, by the way, was black, while he and I were saving seats for the rest of our party. The officer searched my brother's backpack and belt, which was a WWII pocket belt from an army surplus store, then confiscated the belt despite finding absolutely nothing of harm in it. What was my brother's crime? He was a slightly dark looking male with an army belt on. Boys walk around decked out in this stuff all the time; but my brother has been told that he cannot. Why? Well, likely because he looks a little Arab maybe? He's not; but he sort of looks like it to some people, I guess. To some he looks Hispanic, to others Arab, still others Chinese, and others even white… *shrug* It comes with the territory of mixed kids, I guess. People will see the pieces of you that they want to see.

By the way, I am certain that this white family sitting only a few seats away were the ones who alerted the officer and asked him to search my brother. I had noticed them staring at my brother and whispering when he walked in a little ahead of me. Plus, I noticed the same officer talking to them after he searched my brother. The worst part is that he was treated like a criminal with his belongings confiscated for no reason and did not even receive an apology. This wasn't the first time my brother has been searched; and I doubt it will be the last… The time before that a white manager had searched him.

This is all very annoying and embarrassing, as well as a violation of my brother's 4th Amendment rights; but does that mean we should blame all blacks and all whites for this? No! There are so many wonderful black and white people out there. Although there might be certain characteristics of a group of people, each person should be judged according to who that person is, not what he is.

Besides, in the end, minorities will be the ones who suffer the most. Affirmative action will get you into college; but it won't challenge you. It won't expand your abilities. It won't help you finish college.
This mindset of entitlements has done nothing to uplift the minority. You get your welfare check in the mail, sure; but you stay in your hole of poverty. You don't rise any higher. Your children don't rise any higher. Some even drop lower than you by committing crimes because the child believes he is entitled to the belongings of others who seem to be more fortunate than him.
In all of this, the minority remains bitter and hostile. It doesn't matter how much is given to him. It's never enough. So he loses out on one of the most important things in life: happiness. He barters it away for a welfare check, for moral indignation and superiority, for entitlements.

So I ask you how long we are going to ignore this? How long are we going to allow a race of people to be discriminated against?


White Guilt and the Western Past May 3, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Executive Branch, Liberalism, Philosophy, Politics, Racism, War on Terror.

White Guilt and the Western Past
Why is America so delicate with the enemy?

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

There is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II.

For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along–if admirably–in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one–including, very likely, the insurgents themselves–believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an insurgency.

Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy.

Why this new minimalism in war?

It began, I believe, in a late-20th-century event that transformed the world more profoundly than the collapse of communism: the world-wide collapse of white supremacy as a source of moral authority, political legitimacy and even sovereignty. This idea had organized the entire world, divided up its resources, imposed the nation-state system across the globe, and delivered the majority of the world’s population into servitude and oppression. After World War II, revolutions across the globe, from India to Algeria and from Indonesia to the American civil rights revolution, defeated the authority inherent in white supremacy, if not the idea itself. And this defeat exacted a price: the West was left stigmatized by its sins. Today, the white West–like Germany after the Nazi defeat–lives in a kind of secular penitence in which the slightest echo of past sins brings down withering condemnation. There is now a cloud over white skin where there once was unquestioned authority.

I call this white guilt not because it is a guilt of conscience but because people stigmatized with moral crimes–here racism and imperialism–lack moral authority and so act guiltily whether they feel guilt or not.

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with. When they behave in ways that invoke the memory of those sins, they must labor to prove that they have not relapsed into their group’s former sinfulness. So when America–the greatest embodiment of Western power–goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past–two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.

The collapse of white supremacy–and the resulting white guilt–introduced a new mechanism of power into the world: stigmatization with the evil of the Western past. And this stigmatization is power because it affects the terms of legitimacy for Western nations and for their actions in the world. In Iraq, America is fighting as much for the legitimacy of its war effort as for victory in war. In fact, legitimacy may be the more important goal. If a military victory makes us look like an imperialist nation bent on occupying and raping the resources of a poor brown nation, then victory would mean less because it would have no legitimacy. Europe would scorn. Conversely, if America suffered a military loss in Iraq but in so doing dispelled the imperialist stigma, the loss would be seen as a necessary sacrifice made to restore our nation’s legitimacy. Europe’s halls of internationalism would suddenly open to us.

Because dissociation from the racist and imperialist stigma is so tied to legitimacy in this age of white guilt, America’s act of going to war can have legitimacy only if it seems to be an act of social work–something that uplifts and transforms the poor brown nation (thus dissociating us from the white exploitations of old). So our war effort in Iraq is shrouded in a new language of social work in which democracy is cast as an instrument of social transformation bringing new institutions, new relations between men and women, new ideas of individual autonomy, new and more open forms of education, new ways of overcoming poverty–war as the Great Society.

This does not mean that President Bush is insincere in his desire to bring democracy to Iraq, nor is it to say that democracy won’t ultimately be socially transformative in Iraq. It’s just that today the United States cannot go to war in the Third World simply to defeat a dangerous enemy.

White guilt makes our Third World enemies into colored victims, people whose problems–even the tyrannies they live under–were created by the historical disruptions and injustices of the white West. We must “understand” and pity our enemy even as we fight him. And, though Islamic extremism is one of the most pernicious forms of evil opportunism that has ever existed, we have felt compelled to fight it with an almost managerial minimalism that shows us to be beyond the passions of war–and thus well dissociated from the avariciousness of the white supremacist past.

Anti-Americanism, whether in Europe or on the American left, works by the mechanism of white guilt. It stigmatizes America with all the imperialistic and racist ugliness of the white Western past so that America becomes a kind of straw man, a construct of Western sin. (The Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons were the focus of such stigmatization campaigns.) Once the stigma is in place, one need only be anti-American in order to be “good,” in order to have an automatic moral legitimacy and power in relation to America. (People as seemingly disparate as President Jacques Chirac and the Rev. Al Sharpton are devoted pursuers of the moral high ground to be had in anti-Americanism.) This formula is the most dependable source of power for today’s international left. Virtue and power by mere anti-Americanism. And it is all the more appealing since, unlike real virtues, it requires no sacrifice or effort–only outrage at every slight echo of the imperialist past.

Today words like “power” and “victory” are so stigmatized with Western sin that, in many quarters, it is politically incorrect even to utter them. For the West, “might” can never be right. And victory, when won by the West against a Third World enemy, is always oppression. But, in reality, military victory is also the victory of one idea and the defeat of another. Only American victory in Iraq defeats the idea of Islamic extremism. But in today’s atmosphere of Western contrition, it is impolitic to say so.

America and the broader West are now going through a rather tender era, a time when Western societies have very little defense against the moral accusations that come from their own left wings and from those vast stretches of nonwhite humanity that were once so disregarded.

Europeans are utterly confounded by the swelling Muslim populations in their midst. America has run from its own mounting immigration problem for decades, and even today, after finally taking up the issue, our government seems entirely flummoxed. White guilt is a vacuum of moral authority visited on the present by the shames of the past. In the abstract it seems a slight thing, almost irrelevant, an unconvincing proposition. Yet a society as enormously powerful as America lacks the authority to ask its most brilliant, wealthy and superbly educated minority students to compete freely for college admission with poor whites who lack all these things. Just can’t do it.

Whether the problem is race relations, education, immigration or war, white guilt imposes so much minimalism and restraint that our worst problems tend to linger and deepen. Our leaders work within a double bind. If they do what is truly necessary to solve a problem–win a war, fix immigration–they lose legitimacy.

To maintain their legitimacy, they practice the minimalism that makes problems linger. What but minimalism is left when you are running from stigmatization as a “unilateralist cowboy”? And where is the will to truly regulate the southern border when those who ask for this are slimed as bigots? This is how white guilt defines what is possible in America. You go at a problem until you meet stigmatization, then you retreat into minimalism.

Possibly white guilt’s worst effect is that it does not permit whites–and nonwhites–to appreciate something extraordinary: the fact that whites in America, and even elsewhere in the West, have achieved a truly remarkable moral transformation. One is forbidden to speak thus, but it is simply true. There are no serious advocates of white supremacy in America today, because whites see this idea as morally repugnant. If there is still the odd white bigot out there surviving past his time, there are millions of whites who only feel goodwill toward minorities.

This is a fact that must be integrated into our public life–absorbed as new history–so that America can once again feel the moral authority to seriously tackle its most profound problems. Then, if we decide to go to war, it can be with enough ferocity to win.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is author, most recently, of “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era,” published this week by HarperCollins.