Accusations of Racism

I have sometimes wondered, sitting in a church pew, how much Christian dogma the person in front of me actually believes. Does he or she believe in the virgin birth? The resurrection? That by believing we will attain eternal life?

We cannot see into each others’ hearts, nor can we ever really know for sure why people do what they do.

Invariably, as I think about the questions I’ve asked myself about my fellow congregants, I realize that I neither know nor particularly care whether or not they believe in the literal truth of these doctrines, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy that they’re there – I am.

***

Most accusations of racism today, prominently including the ones routinely leveled at our current president, are despicable and, all-too-often, successful attempts to divide us by race. Progressive Democrats appear to believe, not without justification, that they benefit politically from making such accusations, even when they are based on simple differences in policy.

For one thing, the specter of omnipresent racism ennervates one of their most important constituencies, melds it into a solid block and turns minority individuals who stray from the progressive line into “race traitors” who are trying to “act white” and are to be anathematized.

Block voting for democrats by minorities is now fully expected, even when there are fine arguments that democratic policies run counter to those voters’ interests. There’s nothing like a common enemy – real or imagined – to bring a group together.

Another reason that accusations of racism are a favored political tactic is that such accusations are non-falsifiable – there’s no way to prove that a decision wasn’t made on the basis of race hatred.

Indeed, no proof is required. The presumption of racism on the part of those so accused has recently been made explicit; progressive academics now teach that all non-minority individuals are necessarily guilty of unconscious racism. The only way for white people to expiate this – what else to call it but Original Sin? – is for the accused to actively advance the progressives’ so-called social justice agenda.

Pretty nifty theory, eh? Makes it easy to identify the Bad Guys – they’re the ones who don’t want whatever the social justice warriors want. And, of course, accusing conservatives of racism gives progressives the gratifying illusion of always holding the moral high ground.

Accusations of racism can even be oddly comforting to those whom the racism is presumed to have hurt: if you come to believe that racism against you and those who share your color is everywhere – perhaps because of what the media, academia and democratic politicians tell you – you may be tempted to see it as the reason for your every setback. As my mother used to say: “If you go looking for trouble, you’re going to find it.”

Did I mention that based on the way that progressives have redefined the word racism, a minority person can’t be considered racist? If you think about it, this position gives away the game. The word racism, in this sense, doesn’t describe the irrational and hateful perspective that people are to be judged by their skin colors rather than their characters, achievements or behavior; it describes a political perspective that members of certain minorities are always to be viewed as righteous victims and compensated with favored treatment, no matter how well-off they are or who is doing the hating if hating is being done.

***

Any policy preference for lower taxes and less government management of our lives can be and has been characterized as being the result of this Original Sin. Racism, like global warming climate change, can be evidenced by almost anything and is always seen as justification for more government control over our lives. The left sees racism and climate change in all things because it wants to, not necessarily because they’re there.

Every republican candidate for office can expect to be described as a racist for the smaller-government policies he or she is likely to support, whether or not racial animus ever entered the candidate’s mind when considering such positions. Every republican president since Nixon has been widely castigated for policies that were characterized as racist in effect and – it was to be presumed, at least according to progressives and the media – intent.

The portrayal of President Trump by the media and our progressive elites as an unreconstructed racist infuriates me, both because I think it false and in because it has been so successful a means of rendering support of him or his policies socially unacceptable. Many people I know take it as a given that Trump is a bigot. I see no evidence for that, and much to the contrary.

What has Trump done that was clearly motivated by racial hatred or contempt? And I do mean clearly, because inferences of bad motivations based on differences of opinion about policy are not evidence. Indeed, if you want to play that game, I would suggest that we make exactly the opposite inference based on the fact that we now have the lowest minority unemployment rates in decades, and because many of Trump’s policies objectively favor lower middle class and working class people over the interests of the elites. Restricted immigration and tariffs do nothing for the elites, but a clear argument can be made that they help the poor and the so-called deplorables.

Many point to the so-called “Muslim ban” as evidence of Trump’s alleged racism. Entirely apart from the fact that Islam is not a race, the so-called ban didn’t further restrict immigration from all, or even the most populous, Muslim nations; it slowed immigration only from nations that are hotbeds of terrorist extremism. Isn’t it a big part of the president’s job to protect us against threats coming from abroad? Why must the worst of motives be inferred? To weaken a republican president.

Trump doesn’t oppose immigration per se, as a real nativist might; he opposes immigration where it’s contrary to existing American law (which he is sworn to uphold, after all) and when he doesn’t think it serves the interests of America’s citizens. The assumption on the part of progressives that his motivations for his stance on the wall must be based on racism is wholly unsupported by actual evidence.

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None of the above points are meant as denials that racism exists. It does, though in my view in nothing like the frequency of incidence that progressives would have us believe. I don’t think most people give a hoot about others’ skin color. What I do think is so common as to be nearly universal among people everywhere is a preference for dealing with others who seem to share their culture and values.

People are naturally drawn to those whom they consider to be members of their own cultures because they think that they have a better ability to predict what behaviors they can expect of them. People from other cultures are necessarily less well understood, and therefore riskier to have dealings with. The regular, though far from complete, overlap between skin colors and cultural dividing lines explains how decisions based on cultural concerns are often seen having been based on racial ones.

Erasing cultural dividing lines – as in the old America-as-melting-pot simile – would bring the country together; that is the opposite of what today’s progressives want. Their accusations of racism are designed to make color lines identical to culture differences, and both immutable. To the extent that our culture seems to be coming apart, they are succeeding.

Our cultural divisions are only being made worse by the constant refrains that ours is an inherently and nearly irredeemably racist country. Such accusations drive people into us-versus-them thinking: irrespective of my skin color, if I’m going to be treated as a member of a given race – and thereby favored or disfavored, ignoring the whole equal rights under the law thing – by the government, will I not naturally be inclined to try to ensure that my designated group gets the best privileges it can?

In the absence of rock-solid evidence of explicitly racial animus, accusations of racism should form no part of our political dialogue, just as racism itself should not. Racism – and such accusations – set us against each other; they poison the well of unity that makes us a nation in any way that goes beyond a geographic and legal designation.

***

The congregation at the church that I attend (much less frequently than I once did) is notably diverse; it has members of every age and ethnicity, and of very widely varied economic means.

I may not have any idea what my fellow congregants actually believe about Christian dogma, or even what I do, but I do know about the other congregants that they all want to come together regularly to spend some time contemplating the mysteries of life that matter to all of us – in a context in which we are all equally children of God. And I think that’s a beautiful, unifying urge.

M. H. Johnston

2 comments to Accusations of Racism

  • Doug  says:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/11/politics/immigrants-shithole-countries-trump/index.html
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/12/unkind-divisive-elitist-international-outcry-over-trumps-shithole-countries-remark

    Once I stop beating my wife, I am hoping to go to one of these S#@* Hole countries and help them raise their own standard of living. The only thing these pundits have on Trump in this matter is immigration policy.

    I rather like a term that identifies our country… with boundaries not borders. The Southern boundary is the farthest point south that US influence and laws extend…just know that that once you are in the US, our laws apply. So, if you are from a despotic African nation or a socialist or communist South American country you better know what you are doing when you are here and what happens within our boundaries. When MS. Harris said last night (preempting the SOTU) that we are a country defined by diversity and unity, she managed to miss that the ‘UNITY’ was adherence to our Constitution. I would like a special envoy of Harris, Shumer, Pelosi, and even the darling of the Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to make a publicized trip to the southern boundary where they have a town hall of ICE and Border enforcement professionals – then in their presence proclaim a set of policy directives. Would that the 4.0 plus billion in savings on the recent purchase of 2 Aircraft carriers be put to work in the boundary land to limit illegal sex trafficking, to slow the northern movement of opiates and fentanyl, and to help the US build (in Kamala Harris’s words) the unity of purpose and opportunity for the diverse population of people who choose to call themselves Americans.

  • Anonymous  says:

    Doug,
    No need to stop beating your wife, just go to some of the S#@*hole countries and beat their wives too.

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