Friday, February 20, 2009

Tolerance... Not! Racism

Because of the profound effect that this issue has had on me personally, deciding how to tackle the subject of racial intolerance has been a difficult task. Growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as the offspring of racially mixed parents has provided me with more than a little experience with racism. So much so that I hardly know where to begin. But I know that in order to give this issue a fair and rational review, I must be willing to set aside the emotions evoked by it. As one who suffers from depression, brought on in part by my experiences in this area, I hope that you can understand why this is difficult for me. I’m certainly no Mr. Spock, but I do know to use reason and logic to get at the root of a problem.

The first thing to be done is to untangle of all the imagery and confusion that any discussion of race is bound to provoke. Now everybody knows about America’s history involving the enslavement of Blacks. And while there is absolutely no way to excuse that, it is helpful to remember that Blacks represent just one case in a very long history of similar travesties committed by Man. In fact, I think you’d have a hard time finding any group that hasn’t been similarly mistreated at one time or another. Next we must realize that many acts considered to be racially motivated have actually been motivated by what is commonly called peer pressure. I call it collectivist politics.

Anyone who has spent much time with other people, and I’ve had just about enough, has to have noticed that a person’s behavior can be profoundly influenced by those around them. Only an idiot actually believes that a person deserves to be mistreated because of his skin color. But even an idiot knows he can be outcast if he doesn’t get with the program. This same logic applies whether the issue involves race, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, or the side of the tracks one was born on. So you see the real issue is not racism at all. This is behavior motivated by collectivist politics - the evil acts of one group against another as justified by the mere fact that the first group is stronger and the other group is ’different.’

When I was a little kid in Charleston, West Virginia, the police would routinely conduct these brutal sweeps to clear the streets of my neighborhood. All of the cops were White. All of those arrested were Black. I’d like to believe that this was done to keep homeless drunks from causing trouble, but that could just be wishful thinking. During this same period I was often the butt of jokes about how I would eventually try to pass myself off as White. As you can probably imagine, discovering that people thought that way about me was not only confusing, but damn scary as well.

In 1965, during a car trip back from spending Christmas in Florida with my father, I got locked inside a White owned restaurant in Georgia. Being a naive little boy, I had run ahead to be the first one inside. I was so busy spinning on one of the bar stools that I didn’t even notice that the doors had been locked after I came in, to keep my dad and his girlfriend out. Because of my appearance, no one inside realized that I was with them until I ran to the door my dad was pounding on. I’m not sure if I was more afraid of being locked inside or of what my father would do if they didn’t open the door. Those poor fools had no idea of the kind of man there were keeping from his son. Fortunately, an apologetic waitress let me out and my dad’s girlfriend was able to talk my dad into just leaving.

In 1966 the country apparently went nuts from all the racial tension. Because I still had a small shred of innocence left in me, my first knowledge of this came when my Black friends decided that we should leave our elementary school in protest. Unfortunately, the only White friend I had at the time had been assigned, as playground monitor, to prevent kids from wandering off. Because I was so desperate to be considered genuinely Black for a change, I allowed myself to be pressured into being the one to remove ’the White obstruction to our freedom.’ He was just a good kid trying to do what he was assigned to do, so he refused. It was then, out of embarrassment and frustration, that I committed one of the most shameful acts of my life by punching him in the stomach. I was so disgusted with myself that I couldn’t even leave with the others. I’m not sure why he didn’t report me, but I lost a good friend forever.

In 1968, while living in Los Angeles, I was jumped by two Black kids because according to them, and unbeknownst to me, their classroom was at war with my classroom. That got me started on the path from being the sixth grade salutatorian to being one of the world’s worst truants. When Dr. King was murdered a few months later, I was terrified at the prospect of looking so White while living in an all Black community. This was because there were rumors about Black gangs venting their wrath on Whites.

In 1969, while I was riding a bicycle a few blocks from home, some Black people sent their dog after me. When they discovered that they actually knew me, after I had fallen and broken my arm, they said that they’d only done it because they thought I was White. After that I went almost nowhere, let alone to school. With truancy being a such big issue with the government, and with my attitude turning more negative by the day, I became more ’trouble’ than my Sister wanted to deal with. So she shipped me back to my Mom in Ohio.

All of these things can be attributed to racism, and it’s clear to me that the stupidity operates in all directions. However, they can also be attributed to collectivist thinking motivating a desire to impress one group at the expense of others. That was certainly the case when I punched my friend in the stomach.

If you’ve read my Opening Rant article, then you’re familiar with my belief that each of us thinks and acts according to the personal philosophy we have chosen to guide us - whether we’re conscious of that choice or not. And Collectivism is the most dangerous kind of philosophy precisely because it’s so nebulous and unspoken - exactly what appeals to the masses who can’t be bothered to look beyond the moment. Simply stated, Collectivism allows that anything is okay so long as it can be justified as ’necessary’ by those powerful enough to impose their will. While it has been used historically to dominate Autocracies and Theocracies, it’s most commonly found in the form it takes in today’s so-called Democracies.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I believe that democratic rule can be the ideal form of government. But we’ll never achieve that ideal so long as the majority simply bow to collectivist politics because they’re too stupid or too afraid to object. Let’s take a look at where this type of thinking as gotten us so far, shall we.

Apparently, just about everyone said the Hebrews were inferior. Voila! Hebrews were persecuted for many, many years!

The Roman and the Jews said the Christians were dangerous. Voila! Christians were persecuted for many, many years!

The Christians said the Holy Land must be purged. Voila! We got Crusaders!

The Muslims said the Holy Land must be purged. Voila! We got Jihad!

The Whites proclaimed Manifest Destiny. Voila! Ethnic cleansing of Native Americans!

The Whites said that Blacks were inferior. Voila! 400 years of Black enslavement!

The Nazis said the Jews should be exterminated. Voila! Fire up the ovens!

During WWII, the majority said we just can’t trust them slant eyes. Voila! Americans in concentration camps!

After WWII, the majority said that the Jews deserve their promised land. Voila! Israelis in, Palestinians out!

Muslim extremists decided to attack The Great Satan. Voila! We got 9/11!

The U.S. retaliated for 9/11. Duh? We go to war in Iraq? Doe!

And let us not forget those ’special’ cases where those imposing their will didn’t seem so dangerous. Voila! We got Rioters, Bombers, Snipers, Terrorists, and School Massacres!

Just in case you thought there was none, let’s now take a look at how this kind of thinking affects the economy.

The majority said the wealthy should pay more taxes. Voila! We got a progressive tax scale!

The wealthy hired lawyers to fight against excessive taxes. Voila! We got tax sheltering and tax evasion!

The majority said the poor should pay less taxes. Voila! The primary users of government services pay almost nothing for them!

The majority said we shouldn’t use ’illegal’ drugs. Voila! We got ourselves a drug war on all fronts and a prison system bursting at the seams - very expensive!

The majority said we should unleash the power of Wall Street so everyone can pay less taxes. Voila! We got economic disaster!

The majority screamed, "DO SOMETHING." Voila! It’ll take generations to pay off all this debt!

If you were to ask anyone in the majority if they were wrong when these decisions were being made, the response would almost certainly be a resounding "Hell no! Just ask anybody!" Those who suffer from these ’high minded’ decisions would of course be dismissed as ignorant scum who’s opinions don’t count anyway. And most of them were usually too ignorant or too afraid to speak out anyway. Remember the little boy who dared to ask why the Emperor was naked? The sad fact is, if you searched through all of history, you’d have a hard time finding a single man-made disaster that didn’t have some sort of collectivist rationale behind it.

As far as the treatment of Blacks in America is concerned, our great leaders - the Black leadership as well as the federal government - have merely tried to replace one collectivist nightmare with another. It must be remembered that every one of the state and local governments that looked so bad during the civil rights movement were financed by public funds. But instead of passing - and enforcing - laws that would have made it impossible for them to use tax money for racially biased policies, our leaders - with complete approval from the majority - have simply instituted a racially based ’quota system’ in it’s place.

Again, it must be remembered that the majority of Whites were actually behind the civil rights movement, even if many were afraid to show it. Laws that would have taken away the power of local government to enforce the ’peer pressure’ of a powerful minority on them was all that they needed to speak out. But instead of actually leveling the playing field by guaranteeing the individual’s right to decide who deserves his or her support, the federal government has wasted many billions of dollars on a collectivist bureaucracy founded on institutionalized racism.

The bottom line is that what we call racism is only one of the countless faces of collectivist politics. And if we want to have better relations between any of the various groups on Earth, we’re going to have to rid ourselves of the profound stupidity that stands in the way: Collectivism. If President Obama is as smart as he seems, he’ll focus the spotlight on the real issues and not allow it to be pointed at something so trivial as the color of his skin.

After all, everyone will be nicely tanned in the future. Deal with it!

A good metaphor for how we've dealt racism in this country can be found in The Trees by the group Rush.

I want ice water.

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