Recently, a liberal friend of mine, after reading one of my articles on some aspect of “woke” overreach, sent me one of those “OK, yeah, but of course, racism is still very much real today, and here’s a recent study about ongoing discrimination against minorities” responses.
And if I were of the same mind as many other well-meaning traditional liberals, moderates, and even conservatives, I would have responded in kind, with an anodyne acknowledgment that, “Yes, of course, racism still exists, but . . . ”
Instead, here is what I said.
I think to talk about racism being “very much real” today is sort of like a Bolshevik, some 20 years after the 1917 Revolution, saying, “Don’t forget that the oppression of the proletariat is still very much real today,” implying that our main task remains to fight the capitalist oppressors.
The statement is, strictly speaking, true in both cases. I’m sure the Bolshevik could’ve easily found many examples of continuing anti-proletarian bias and oppression just like you did in the case of racism, but both statements are, in a more fundamental sense, off their rocker. They’re missing the much larger elephant in the room.
We’re living in the midst of a hysterical race war, we have nursery schools shamelessly teaching four-year-olds to become hyperconscious of their and others’ skin pigments; we have universities and employers shamelessly using overt, legal discrimination in admissions, hiring, and promotion; we have blatantly anti-white rhetoric being spouted by all the organs of the mainstream media, the entertainment industry and woke capital; we have the mayor of Chicago openly saying she’s only going to grant one-on-one interviews to minority journalists.
And in such an environment, you’re sending me a study showing continuing individual bias against minorities?
We are perpetually fighting the last war instead of this one. We were slow on the uptake and late to intervene when the shades-of-gray clashes of World War I were displaced by the stark good-versus-evil apocalypse of World War II. We were still de-Nazifying when the iron curtain of Soviet Communism descended to divide the world in twain. We were still committed to the bilateral superpower geopolitics of the Cold War when loose networks of non-state-actor Islamic jihadi terrorists flew into town on guided missiles fashioned out of our own airplanes.
And on and on it goes.
Today, many of us—ironically, those who consider themselves most forward-thinking—are mired in a backward, all-guns-blazing struggle for racial justice that might have made sense in 1765, 1865, or 1965. But waging that battle in the 2020s is about as sensible as expending our resources to mount an aggressive defense against the prospect of Great Britain invading to take back its wayward colonies.
Most humans, alas, are not great at changing up our overarching paradigms. As the influential philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn argued, governing paradigms, as a rule, don’t get shifted even in academic settings until the generation reared in one paradigm ages into retirement and is replaced by new blood. If academics, our purported stewards of the “examined life,” our supposed models of inquisitiveness and open-mindedness, fail so glaringly in this respect, what hope is there for the rest of us?
We live our lives immersed in the haphazard stream of events unfolding in our midst, and our local existences interface with the global only when mass cataclysms and other earth-shattering events strike or else in the unsystematic dribs and drabs we get from the distorting lens of whatever media we might consume. Our impressions, once formed, are slow to die, and propaganda that capitalizes upon those impressions is like a virus latching on to receptors primed for its infiltration.
This is the reason the Left wants us to stay narrowly focused on what happened centuries ago—on slavery, on 1619.
It is time to wake up and look around.
Look at what is happening now, today.
Look at our universities, our schools, our media, our public policy. The relics of anti-black racism that still linger today are just that: relics. Like all relics, they are often out of sight, stashed away in attics, basements, and odd corners. As such, they are perfect targets for relentless relic-hunters, who will rush in like triumphant conquering heroes and hold up for all the world to see yet more finds they have unearthed, giving them Orwellian names like “systemic racism” and “institutional racism” and “structural racism” and racism so microscopically tiny that it follows the laws of quantum mechanics and materializes only when the dedicated professional race-hustler peering at thin air with an electron microscope wishes it into existence. And the game is great for these profiteers because it is necessarily neverending, as we are so eager to find buried treasure that we will, again and again, mistake worthless baubles for the real thing.
So, yes, of course, racism still exists, but . . .
But everything. That “but” is everything. Nearly 60 years of Great Society benefits entailing a massive wealth transfer from white Americans to black Americans. Decades of affirmative action that was supposed to be a temporary fix to level the playing field but slyly morphed into a policy of permanent legalized discrimination. Diversity quotas in nearly every major American institution. Black people overrepresented on TV, in film, among the student bodies and governing boards of our most elite universities.
Mass “antiracism” propaganda campaigns by nearly every organ of government, media, academia, public education, and the entertainment industry. Mandatory (and demonstrably counterproductive) diversity training at nearly every major American institution to remind all members of the white majority that they must now play the part of second-class citizens in their own country. Flagrant, rampant, anti-white hate being broadcasted out from every literal and figurative American megaphone. Attacks upon “white” this and “white” that: white people, white privilege, white fragility, “whiteness” itself. It is almost clever enough to be a diabolical plot to get people who are being slapped in the face again and again, all while being told they are the aggressors, to radicalize, rise up at last and raise the white supremacist battle flag that the race-hustling minions have been waiting for all along, just to snarl their smug I told you so’s to the world as they point at the long-vanquished ghost finally returned to the realm of the living.
We need not fall for the provocation. But we also need not go around apologizing to or even genuflecting before the race-hustling bigots trying to turn us into guests who’ve outstayed our welcome in our own country. It is time to stop giving ground to the race bullies whose Twitter avatars look big and tough but who will be no match for the far larger community of good people of every race who can—and must—stand united against the hate.