Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Yet another MBAer with a Race-related posting

Over at Crablaw, fellow MBAer Bruce has a posting reacting to a different posting by another MBAer, Ken Burns, over at Maryland Politics Today. (Maryland Politics Today on Race, Victimhood and Handouts reacting to The Victimhood And Handouts Must Stop). I am usually wary of stepping into conversations about race (because normally someone of my politics invited into such a conversation isn't supposed to actually converse) but I want to pick at one part of Bruce’s piece. He writes:

“I think that there is also in the media a perception of white middle-class immunity to self-destructive attitudes, a false perception. Part of what makes racism so virulent among a lot of blue-collar whites is the recognition among blue-collar whites that they themselves are about one paycheck, one person or one mistake from the problems of many black Americans; the rural or suburban trailer park and the urban "'hood" are not so different in substance, and there are white and black trailer parks and urban ghettoes alike in different parts of the U.S.”

Virulent racism? First, can we please define today’s racism before ascribing words like ‘virulent” to it? Is it the dislike of someone because of their skin color? Maybe there is no animosity but a thought that a certain skin color doesn’t measure up intellectually? Maybe a combination of the two? Let me throw out another form – which really isn’t racism as traditionally understood - but is rather just painting political opposition with as ugly a term as possible (and I honestly do not believe that is what Bruce is trying to do here).

My experience is that much of today’s virulent racism is simply a dislike of the parameters of racial politics. I remember sitting in a neighborhood bar in south Baltimore years ago when the image of the Reverend Jesse Jackson came on the TV. A few stools down from me was a guy just off from work (I think he was a forklift operator at Domino Sugar) who captured him perfectly:

“look at that son-of-a-bitch; I’ll bet that suit costs more than everything in my closet”

I laughed (he was probably right…even if he included the cost of my wardrobe) but I was also struck by his succinctness. I don’t remember what the Rev. Jackson was whining about (actually I’m just guessing he was whining – the sound was down - but does anybody want to bet against it?) but many of us instinctively roll our eyes at the mere sight of him. From the perspective of that gentleman in the bar, he didn’t see where being Black had done Jesse Jackson any great harm nor did he see where being White had done himself any great shakes.

…and no amount of blather from some overhyped sociologists (is that redundant?) is going to change that perception. That guy had no problem with blacks as individuals – clearly he worked and drank with them. What he had a problem with was the idea that he was somehow part of the problem and should do a kind of penance for the past misdeeds of others who happened to share a common skin color.

No one seriously argues that slavery was anything but a stain on our history but many can also trace their lineage to ancestors who died in ridding us of it (well, not completely, there is still the Sudan). Many others can completely trace their ancestry to those who came over well after slavery was gone from here. So, just because racial agitators assign us guilt by pale skin association, there is no requirement that we either accept their verdict - and certainly there is no moral imperative to - nor even pay them much heed.

In other words, many of us are simply refusing to let the professional moral elites from the Left unilaterally set the parameters as to what is or isn’t correct behavior and speech. Refusing a kid access to a particular school because of race is either right or wrong – not just wrong unless it is being done by a bunch of well-meaning liberals. Certain words are either appropriate or they aren’t and I don’t need a hate-inspiring, anti-Semitic like Al Sharpton to give me absolution if he thinks I’ve gone astray.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates this self-righteous equivalence than the uncivil (to put it in almost ironic terms) treatment of Justice Thomas. I am convinced that many guilt-ridden white liberals are so virulently (if I may) disdainful of him because he represents one of the few opportunities for them publicly attack a black without any of the unfortunate political repercussions a similar attack on, say, Rep. Elijah Cummings would invite. Diversity is only as important as the reliability of the vote.

There are obviously numerous other points to comment on in both Bruce and Ken’s postings, entailing more time and thought than I can allocate at this time. So I’ll just close by observing that I share Bruce’s optimism as to the future in this regard. But I do so because I think we are already a lot further ahead than many believe – especially those whose present and future livelihood depends on us thinking otherwise…you know, like Jesse Jackson, John Edwards and a good chunk of the Duke University faculty.

A well-stated counterpoint. May it stand on its merit.
thank you Bruce
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