The Cult of Anti-racism

This is not another article to condemn either racism or anti-racism. What it intends to explore is what the real “progressive” objection to racism seems to be.

Take whatever stance on the issue you will, but I can see having a problem with people expressly and purposely treating others differently on account of race and rejecting those who do treat others that way.  Call that disparate treatment of others genuine racism.

However, with the recent drama surrounding “racist” comments by the likes of Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling, no one actually cares about genuine racism anymore. It’s all about use of speech in unapproved ways.

I originally saw the parallels with religion in more of a faith vs. works debate. Basically, progressive anti-racists are like many Protestants: it’s about the beliefs you profess (faith) and not what you actually do. When that comes up in religious discussion, that is usually the end of it though. Only a complete zealot would try to marginalize a person based on expressing some religious doctrine in a different way, while people will do that when it comes to stealing, adultery, murder, etc. So that’s not an extreme enough characterization.

It has become more like a Middle Ages heresy proceeding. That was often treated far worse than penalties often were for the other offenses I mentioned. You were not even entitled to die in a dignified way if the heresy was severe enough.

A Facebook commenter with the monicker Joey Moarwin made the following observation:

Suppose, on the one hand, that you have a stereotypical affluent white man who firmly identifies as a progressive. He lives in a clean, green, upper-middle class white community with an esteemed white collar job and a beautiful white woman at his side. He lives in a glorious mansion with his academically and athletically successful children, his sons learning to be gallant, handsome patriarchs like their old man and their daughters learning to be educated, refined dolls like their mother. Moral of the story is that despite his professed liberal, egalitarian views, ones which he argues for adamantly with all his privileged vigor, this guy lives a nazi’s wet dream.

Now suppose, on the other hand, that you have a stereotypical redneck. He lives in a diverse community and bemoans it for being so, he rants about how we should have never shipped those coons to this country and how women need to know their place. Yet, he breaks bread regularly with his colored neighbors and fraternizes with them all the same, he treats the women he knows the same way he treats the men, and he teaches his daughters practical, hands-on skills and finds their rambunctiousness to be endearing while being sensitive towards his sons’ emotional issues despite professing a love for traditional gender roles. Moral of the story is that despite being an open “bigot,” this guy is actually anything but.

What I find interesting is that the first hypothetical is widely recognized. It’s no secret that someone with progressive values can be a hypocrite about it. Indeed, being a “true” progressive is something of a pious contest in SWPL circles. Yet, it’s practically inconceivable for there to be a false bigot, someone who professes unPC viewpoints but yet lives in a very PC manner – indeed, the “black friends” defense is typically met with indignant sarcasm. I think it really says a lot though that there’s a general unwillingness to recognize that nominal bigotry is not synonymous with practical bigotry.

The “stereotypical redneck,” at least as described above, is not legitimately racist; but he is a heretic to progressives.   The first person, the stereotypical affluent white man (later called SWPL, after the defunct blog “stuff white people like,” which is basically a collection of middle class yuppie activities and possessions), uses the right incantations and mantras to absolve himself of sin. The SWPL mocks the “stereotypical redneck” for mentioning his “diverse” friends when accused of being a racist, but the SWPL probably has none of his own. Maybe there is one black family in the planned community. Maybe if his kids are athletic, they have one or two black friends (even SWPL schools like to win at sports); but any social exchanges the SWPL has with these minorities are probably brief and awkward.

In the Middle Ages, you weren’t expected to act in what we might call a Christian way, especially if you were one of the elites who got to enforce and/or promulgate doctrines and dogmas. But God help you if you challenged the accepted wisdom on these matters. To relate to the news items about Sterling in particular, persecution for heresy was not limited to people who openly preached in public, so the type committed by Sterling (in private to just one person) could have applied. The heresy still had to be stamped out before it spread.

Of course, it does not matter what truth is. After all, facts are just what the devil uses to trick us. If you’re saying something true and it is deemed racist, it is racist. Just like if you said something true, like Galileo did, and it is heretical, it is still heretical. If something is plainly false and is yet doctrine or dogma, that does not make it cease to be doctrine or dogma.  There is no room to listen to claims about what should be considered racist or what should be considered heretical

I’m writing this as the polls are open for the European (and limited local) elections in the UK. UKIP, a party of disaffected, primarily older whiter people, has been consistently attacked by the media as being racist when it has no policies that apply directly to race. Also, it supports closer ties with the English commonwealth, which is far more racially diverse than the European Union. What is happening was clearly laid out here: UKIP’s numbers on Romanians deemed xenophobic. The host didn’t care what was true, she merely wanted to “ask” (in a way that suggested the answer of course) whether this truth was “xenophobic.” I suppose it is by the standards of political discourse there. Xenophobia now apparently means a country wanting to prioritize its own people. This in turn is conflated with racism.

This supposed controversy spun further out of control when Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, suggested people would be more comfortable living next door to German children (Farage has half-German children of his own) than they would living next door to a group of Romanian men.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hit with a placard by one of the many open-minded progressive protesters he seems to attract.
The heresy also isn’t the type of sin that can be forgiven, at least not easily. It’s the equivalent of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: “I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven. That sin will be held against you forever.” —Mark 3:28-29 (CEV)

There is nothing that one can say. It’s not a defense at all to cite how you deal with minorities in your personal relationships. Any apology will only be because of the outrage that took place after the initial statement.

There is another wrinkle to it though. Even if you say something that in the right context would be an affirmation of the true faith, you have to say it for the right reason. Cliven Bundy suggested African-Americans were better off as slaves. This is a hyperbolic statement, and if Bundy didn’t intend it hyperbolically, I believe he is very mistaken, but there are still acceptable ways to say such a thing.

If you’re using it to decry housing conditions, income disparity, lack of social programs, etc., you can say something like that and not only be acceptable but be considered hyper-politically-correct. If you’re saying it to criticize the welfare state though, that’s heretical too.

Also, recall the controversy between Al Sharpton and Don Imus back in 2007 as well, when Imus (rightly) received criticism for calling a team of college females “nappy-headed hos” but then apologized profusely:

“I’m not a white man who doesn’t know any African-Americans,” [Imus] said.

On the radio show, Sharpton said that Imus’ good deeds do not make up for what he said about the Rutgers team, which includes eight black women.

“This is not about whether you’re a good man,” Sharpton said. “What you said was racist.”

When asked if he even thought Imus was a racist, Sharpton said, “I don’t think it matters. I think what he said was racist and sexist and he admitted that. And I think that, that’s like saying; do I think if a guy commits a crime he was really a criminal? If he did the crime he goes to jail whether he’s a career criminal or not. That’s not the point.”

The point about not making a statement in the right context also held true when in 2008, Imus was discussing Adam “Pacman” Jones and his arrest record. The following exchange took place:

Imus asks: “What color is he?”

“He’s African-American,” the host is informed by one of his on-air sidekicks.

“Well, there you go,” Imus said. “Now we know.”

Of course, if a liberal says that, it’s clearly intended to mean that black people are more likely to wrongly get arrested. But since it was someone who had committed the unforgivable sin of uttering a “racist” comment in the past, it suggested that Imus meant, “He was deservingly arrested six times, so it’s no surprise he’s black.”

Sharpton responded predictably, “I find the inference of the remark disturbing because it plays into stereotypes.” I don’t think the good reverend realized that the word “inference” means that it’s not a meaning being attached by the speaker but by the reader.

Imus clarified: “”I meant that he was being picked on because he’s black,” later saying “I know some people want to get me…but this is ridiculous…”

Sharpton also responded to Imus’s clarification of those remarks but dismissed the explanation since Imus was not known to fret about mistreatment of blacks in the past. {I can’t find the original quote for his response to Imus’s explanation.}

I mentioned Galileo earlier. He was able to publicly distance himself from his heresy before any serious consequences befell him. That’s actually a contrast with this situation, because if you try to clarify or apologize in the current anti-racism climate, you’re only going to make it worse because you then invite unwarranted inferences into anything you say in the future, and by that standard, anyone can be seen as racist, especially if the person says something like “these people,” “you people,” “some people,” or even “you know” (which Farage “let slip” in the interview mentioned above).

Also, as the mainstream UK media has shown with its pre-election coverage, if you keep the enemy of political correctness on the defensive, they’re too busy trying to apologize or parse their words and are never allowed to make the points and arguments they want to make, regardless of validity or popular interest. Just like the Medieval ones, the modern-day heresy trials primarily serve to remind people who’s boss. You must constantly show your devotion to the god of political correctness, if you’re a white person who wants to be successful anyway.  To use modern progressive-speak, I suppose Henry IV was simply made to check his privilege for challenging a similar authority.