Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Objective Consideration of Contemporary Phenomena

I confess that I'm fascinated by the subject of race, and am equally fascinated by the way people approach it. This draw was recently re-affirmed by Colin Powell's calling the Republicans racist, claiming they "look down on minorities" because someone had the temerity to call Obama lazy or something.

I grew up largely around center-left-leaning, middle class white people, and so I was exposed to many attitudes of race that were in line with widespread center-left-leaning orthodoxy. By far the most prevalent attitude towards race concerning this doxy---indeed, the foundation of such an attitude---is, by-and-large,

Everyone is racist

because we were all raised and nurtured in a racist society, though I'm not really sure what a "racist society" is. In any case, one is effectively unable to deny one's racism no matter how hard one tries; actually, the harder one does try, the more one is generally considered racist. The true progressive embraces his racism and accepts it. Only then can the healing begin.

One learns generally to stop arguing with this line of thought, particularly in college-levle postmodern English literature classes. There's no way around it. But you must be especially careful not to get agitated when someone calls you racist, because they will get all confused and ask you why you are getting upset. Latter-day racemongers can't imagine why someone would be upset at being called a racist; after all, everyone is racist, so it's not like you're unique. 

Which brings me to the biggest point of contention I have with the modern race lobby. It's always odd to hear the average race-obsessed person say

Everyone is racist

and the same person can also be heard to remark

That [person/statement/politician] is totally racist.

Well, sure, obviously. Because everyone's racist, right? But it's never that simple. Because, sure, everyone is racist. but there are people who are more racist than others, and they deserve to have that pointed out. But the statement is never, "That person is more racist than average," it's always, "Man, fuck that racist." But we're all racists! So fuck all of us.

When one scratches the surface, one begins to realize how nonsensical the whole gambit is, though it can be sort of fun. For instance, if you ask the racemonger for some examples as to how you were raised in a "racist society," he will probably tell you that the media and popular culture, for one, have worked to influence your negative opinion of other races. But he won't be able to name any media that you've watched, or any popular culture of which you have partook, to illustrate his example. He's simply referring to Media, and to Popular Culture---not to real things but to idealized abstractions whose latent racism he believes is self-evident.

Of course, there is real racism, and in some places it's very prevalent. In my neighborhood there's still a group of old white men who I think were actually in the Confederate Army, and they often provide striking examples of racism, not to mention other forms of bigotry---one old boy complained about how blacks and faggots were ruining the country, or something, and another told me a story of when he and his toothless buddies "lynched" a black-colored mannequin on the electric lines and then called the police about "some nigger hanging thar over th' tellefone warrs." These examples are almost comical in that they are indicative of a childlike stupidity and inability to think, but being present for them is awkward and uncomfortable and generally horrifying. Real racism is ugly and brutish, which is why the term "Everyone is racist" strikes me as so silly, particularly in well-lit rooms of upper-level lit courses; the statement is a borderline refusal to actually engage the topic of racism, and is instead a sweeping and lazy way of not reflecting on the issue. 

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