Friday, June 29, 2012
Maybe The Problem Isn't Racism. Maybe It's Just You.
By John Hawkins
Dear People Crying Racism:
We're all friends here, right? All right, maybe we're not. But, we can still have an open honest conversation, can't we? Okay, we may not be there yet, but someone has to open up the lines of communication and say what we're all thinking: Crying racism just doesn't work like it used to, does it? There was a time when someone like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton could scream "racism" and people were horrified and swarmed around like ants at a picnic trying to make that awful word go away. Now, you cry racism and it produces eye rolls and smirks. It's almost as if the person calling someone the bigot is actually the bad guy. Who'd have ever thought we'd get to that point in a country like America?
But that's just it, isn't it? Sure, this used to be a racist country. We had slavery, the KKK, segregation, Jim Crow laws...the operative words there being "used to." Slavery ended in 1865, segregation and Jim Crow laws ended in 1964, and although the KKK is still around, it’s a running joke. In other words, if you're 48 years old or younger, you've always lived in a country where whites are the only race the government can legally discriminate against via affirmative action and racial set asides. That's not to say that the racial discrimination against whites is remotely comparable to the discrimination that black Americans endured. It most certainly isn't, but it is racial discrimination against people whose only crime is being born the wrong skin color and that skin color is white, not black.
Of course, that just hammers the truth home. This isn't the same country as it was in 1865 or even 1964. The party of slavery, the KKK, segregation, and Jim Crow laws now has a black man representing it in the White House. The party that fought slavery, the KKK, segregation, and Jim Crow laws appointed a black justice to the Supreme Court. That party also selected the first black man and first black woman as Secretary of State, had a black head of the Republican National Committee -- and had a black man who for a while, was on top in the race to capture the GOP presidential nomination.
That doesn't mean there's no longer any racism. There will always be a few racists just like there will always be a few misogynists, misandrists, people who hate Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and diehard partisans who hate people of the opposing political persuasion. If you're hoping for a world where no one hates anyone else, you might as well hope for a genie to show up and give you three wishes. On the other hand, if you're hoping for a country where racism is no longer a serious problem, then you're living in it.
How can that be if there are still racists? Well, percentage wise, there are probably as many anti-Semites out there as there are people who hate black or Hispanic Americans and it doesn't seem to be slowing Jewish Americans down. Then how can all the criticism of Barack Obama be explained? Ehr, by the fact that he's the President of the United States? Is there anyone who thinks the never ending, extraordinarily nasty criticism of George W. Bush was based on his race? Of course not. So, why would it shock anyone that diehard, conservative, capitalistic Republicans disagree with a hardcore, left-wing, socialistic Democrat in the strongest of terms? If anyone thought Barack Obama was going to have Republicans singing his praises while he systematically attacked them and pushed policies that they consider to be unconstitutional socialism, then that person must have been kicked in the head by a mule.
Furthermore, to conclude that opposition to illegal immigration is driven by racism requires you to be completely ignorant of the fact that even large waves of LEGAL immigration have often produced backlashes in American history. In fact, from 1920-1965, this country dramatically restricted even legal immigration. When you understand that, it's not a surprise that most Americans aren't particularly fond of 10-20 million people who broke the law to come here, who take jobs from American citizens, and who fill up our jails, hospitals, and schools while other people pay the bills. Judging by American history, if there were 10-20 million Irishmen or Italians doing the same thing, there would be just as much resentment, if not more so.
In other words, "racism" has turned into a political hustle. You play a role in killing more than 300 people like Eric Holder with Operation Fast and Furious and the real scandal is supposed to be the motive of people questioning it. If you're here in this country illegally, using someone else's Social Security number, claiming that you have 14 kids to get a huge earned income tax credit -- anyone who has a problem with that is supposed to be a racist. People who are going that far are essentially engaging in "my race, right or wrong" tribalism that runs counter to everything this country has stood for in the post-Civil War era.
Here's something that should make a lot of people feel better, but probably won't. I'm a conservative Tea Partier who grew up in a small southern town. If you listen to the media, you'd think that's the ultimate breeding ground for bigotry in this country. Yet, southern whites don't drop the N-bomb in private conversation or talk much about racial issues. Conservatives don't talk about race issues all day or for that matter, much at all, unless they're complaining about being falsely accused of racism. As to Tea Partiers, the only time race ever comes up is if they're complaining about being smeared as bigots or if they're trying to figure out how to get more minorities to come to Tea Parties. We always claim to be fighting "wars" against things in this country -- poverty, obesity, drugs, etc., etc., etc. Well, the truth is that the "war on racism" is one of those rare fights that we've won.
But, some people just can’t bear the idea of declaring victory. Maybe they're using it as an excuse, as a political tool, or a way to fundraise. So, they gin up fake political controversies from nothing, shoehorn tragic, non-racial events like the Trayvon Martin shooting into the template, or grasp at nobodies blurting out the N-word like they're Congressmen as opposed to isolated, powerless hicks. They imagine "dog whistles" that don't exist and invent silliness like "white privilege" to explain how prevalent racism still is despite the fact that it seems to have been largely eradicated. Tell some white factory worker making $40,000 a year about how easy he's had it because of race compared to say, Barack Obama. Explain to him how easy life is for him in comparison to a black co-worker whom the plant won't fire despite poor performance because it’s afraid of a lawsuit. Tell him how much better he has it when a black doctor's son gets into college over his better qualified child, solely because of the color of his skin. Start asking some people under 40 outside of the effete, pampered liberal enclaves what advantages they've had in life because they're white and don't be surprised at how many people scratch their heads in puzzlement while they try to come up with something.
Long story short, this isn't an attack or any sort of racial grievance mongering. It's just an explanation of why people are more likely to tell you to “go screw yourself” than offer sympathy if you cry "racism" these days. Americans abhor racism, but they also don't like rackets, being falsely accused, or lame excuses for poor performance. So, if you're wondering why no one cares after you cry racism, then maybe the problem isn't racism, maybe it's just you.
To read another article by John Hawkins, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:53 PM