This piece on Racism began as a simple five part series on the Wallace Face Book page….then the subject took off, I’m afraid. Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for ginning me up for this.
Sorry, everyone, but I simply do ot need a tutorial in racism…..it surrounded me as a child in so many different ways. And damn, I do find it regrettable that I did not see it for what it was when I was six years old. Racism simply encompassed the culture when I was growing up….you can find it all in ESSEX MEMORIS & BEYOND, which I wrote in 2014.
If you’ve never had a friend or loved one who said something bigoted, you live in a bubble. If you have a grandparent or uncle or aunt, maybe a college buddy who joked, generalized, or complained about “them” – where “them” can be blacks, whites, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Arab, Israeli, Poles, women, Asians, gays, straights, trans genders, or any combination of these categories – then you might as well stop reading this, because it’s doubtful we share enough life experience to communicate.
Let’s say, as a grandfather, I am prone to be negative toward the Japanese (Japs) because of my bitter recollections of Pearl Harbor. Heck, I remember when the Green Hornet’s sidekick, Cato, became Filipino overnight…instead of Japanese – on radio. Am I a racist because I despised them for what they did in that sneak attack? I think not.
Jane Coaston (Vox) penned an essay, “A Question for Conservative, what if the left was right on race?” Jonah Goldberg responded, “ Question for Conservatives: What if the right was wrong on race?” As I have argued many times, the right, broadly speaking, was wrong on the 1960’s civil rights questions…you know – about Federalism, States Rights, and the Constitution – all that technical stuff – and about the fact that Republicans were a lot better on Civil Rights than Democrats. We all know that ‘racism’ was a platform in many different ways for the Democrats – it is historically undeniable: Democrats founded the KKK, the Knights of the White Camelia, Poll tax, Massive Resistance, and on and on. Liberals hate many of these caveats, no doubt partly out of a mix of shame over the Democratic Party’s history on race, and pride over it transformation.
Leftist Democrats dislike any pushback on their narrative, because they think all of the racists left the Democrats, and joined the Republican en masse, remaining UNRECONSTRUCTED, which is nonsense. That was 1968 – 50 years ago. One point that gets left out of these squabbles is the simple fact that conservatives want to take some share of ownership over America’s racial progress. That is a good thing. If these conservatives were the racists they’re often painted as, they would celebrate their alleged ideological forbearer’s resistance. They don’t and that is a good thing. And it is a sad and weird aspect of our tribal times that large numbers of liberals don’t want to allow them to.
Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion, recently is quoted as saying the four freshman congress-women who make up the “Squad” should stop using the term ‘people of color’ because it a racist phrase. Besides, he said, “everyone has a color”.
Regarding Presidents Obama and Trump: Obama: ….it is easy to acknowledge that many on the right failed to appreciate that racial under tones in some Obama criticism, most obviously the “Birther” conspiracy theories that so exercised some on the right. The mere fact that so many on the right were, for a time at least, willing to embrace the alt-right as part of the conservative coalition doesn’t prove that the left was right all along about the right. Yet, it demonstrates that something had gone terribly wrong on the right. And the fact that there are many people, including the president, willing to play nice with alt-right remains shameful. Trump: ….it is difficult to defend Trump on the racism, xenophobia, nativism categories. But his brand of racism is, in my mind not ideological. As Jonah Goldberg writes: “its parochial racism of 1970s – 80s New York City, which still viewed race through the prism of kind of Tammany Hall-style tribalism. You can imagine him reading the New York Post in 1979 saying, “look at what the blacks want now!”. Given that he toiled in the kind of transactional swamp where people like Al Sharpton claimed to speak “for the blacks” in his numerous shake-down efforts, you can kind of understand it. I know Southern racism –and have a deep understanding of it, which convinces me that Trump is totally removed from that degree, despite the Left’s fascination for labeling him. It simply is not what defines him. And even if you could convince millions of Trump supporter that he is racist to one extent or another, that doesn’t flip a switch in every one’s mind the way it does for some in the minority community, and the race-obsessed. Sadly, these race-obsessed are lost to the group that use the word ‘racist’ in dramatic and weaponized ways.
These, candidate Hillary Clinton, are your fiercely authentic irredeemable.