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Makes Me Glad I Dropped Out.

I'm going to agree about 80% with blogfriend Pastor Jeff, and disagree 20%.

First, agreement:

“A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination. (This does not deny the existence of such prejudices, hostilities, acts of rage or discrimination.)"

“A NON-RACIST: A non-term. The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of color (called "blaming the victim"). Responsibility for perpetuating and legitimizing a racist system rests both on those who actively maintain it, and on those who refuse to challenge it. Silence is consent."
The above is a paragraph from the handbook of the Maoist re-education camp at the University of Delaware. Pastor Jeff thinks the above statements may be just a tad bit false. Just a teeny bit, um, bullshitty. I agree. The above represents circular logic at its finest. If you admit you're a racist, then you're a racist. If you deny you're a racist, you're a racist. If you are white you are ipso facto, a racist, and by the bizarre-o world terms of this document, that categorization of an entire race is not itself racist.

Ta da!

The person who wrote the document in question needs a long period of unemployment. It is idiotic on its face, and patently racist. The university administration that allowed this stupidity to be forced on students at their school, should be turned out onto the streets and forced to beg for food until they can learn to construct a simple syllogism.

I further agree with Jeff when he writes:

It's a fascinating (if stomach-turning) look into what becomes of "movements" when they achieve major goals. New issues must be championed; new enemies must be identified; the work has to continually grow -- otherwise, how will the money keep coming in? How will organizers keep their jobs if they can't keep the supporters perpetually outraged about something? Look at what's happened to groups like NAACP or MADD or CSPI or Planned Parenthood.

Or, I would add, the GOP, which moved seamlessly during the course of the last 40 years from veiled racism, to veiled sexism, to overt homophobia. There's always a new scapegoat for our Republican friends. But that doesn't counter Jeff's point, merely expands it.

But here, where Jeff contrasts the alive-and-kicking nature of anti-semitism and what he sees as a past-tense racism, I part ways a bit:

But there really is no significant movement or institutional power which wants to return to Jim Crow, segregation, or slavery. Israelis don't have to go looking for anti-semitism; the rockets are a pretty good reminder. Who is that is actively trying to demean, disenfranchise or destroy black Americans? What actual institutional structures exist to keep black people down? And if you could find any, how would they compare in impact relative to the policies, programs, and laws which do exist to help minorities?

Frankly, I think this racist victimhood mentality is a destructive pathology in American culture. It has no place in a serious academic environment except as a case study of dangerous and bankrupt sociology, like Nazism or communism. I'd prefer such things were consigned to the dustbin of history, only to be studied as examples to be avoided.

I have a one word counter: Katrina.

Am I a Katrina conspiracy nut? No. I don't believe the government opened floodgates hoping to drown black people. But I also don't believe we'd have bought the scare stories of savagery from New Orleans if we'd been talking about white people. And I don't think it would have taken half so long to get men and supplies to the dome if it had been full of white people.

If I may be allowed a small plug for Desert Bayou, a friend's movie (story credit: Me, incidentally,) I don't think 600 white people would have been loaded onto a plane, not told where they were going, flown across the country to, say, Cleveland, (the African-American equivalent of Salt Lake City?) illegally searched upon arrival, publicly accused by the state's highest law enforcement officer of being a bunch of criminals, housed on a military reservation far from the city as opposed to hotels or motels, and then held under curfew.

I don't see that happening to white people.

Racism is very much alive and well. It may have gone underground, but it is far from gone. And yet, I agree that it is overstated, and I agree that focusing on racism as a single-bullet-theory of all the ills of the African-American population is destructive. It's because racism is still so alive that I disagree vehemently with the buffoons running the University of Delaware's little thought-crime indoctrination camp.

Hey, geniuses of Delaware: in the end we want less racism, not more. Right? So you really figure the way to achieve that is to label all whites as racist? Since whites cannot become black, they cannot by your logic ever be anything other than racists, which eliminates entirely the possibility of any progress whatsoever, and ensures that racism will survive in perpetuity.

Seriously, you guys run a college?

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“Makes Me Glad I Dropped Out.”

  1. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    Michael,

    Thanks for the link and the thoughtful words.

    I'd add a number of social conservative groups to those who've fallen into the "mission creep" mindset. There's money and hay to be made going on and on about culture wars and liberal media.

    On your point re:racism, I'll return the favor and agree 80%. I think much of the poor planning and response can be traced to corrupt and inept leadership in NO and LA. But the media portrayal of the disaster and the people affected were certainly influenced (sometimes in ugly ways) by racist attitudes.

    And I had never heard the story of people evacuated to Utah and treated like criminals. I am still in shock from reading about it at the movie website. While I don't want to believe it, I'm afraid I have to agree it's hard to imagine whites being treated this way.

    There is racism in America of all kinds and from all directions. Sadly, it's all but impossible to have an honest discussion about race and racism because of all the hyperbole. I still think the garbage at Delaware is a kind of cultural pathology that's as bad as what it seeks to cure -- but that doesn't mean there isn't a real problem to be addressed.

  2. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    Jeff:
    I should add that the situation in Utah turned out to be quite complex in good ways as well as bad -- a point the movie makes perhaps more subtly than the website.

    The people of Utah, from the rather wonderful Rocky Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City, down to the vast majority of Utahans, acquitted themselves very well. Anderson is not Mormon, but of course most Utahans are, and most have been nothing but stand-up. Even the Colonel who imposed the curfew is a very long way from being some kind of Bull Connor figure. He's a very professional soldier and a good man.

    In the end the two guys we followed most closely chose to remain in Utah, which speaks volumes.

    It wouldn't have happened that way to white people, no question, but that is not to imply that everyone involved was some kind of crazy racist. Some were, no question. But most were just good people caught off-guard, not sure how to help, but wanting to.

    Much the same as I found in churches on my little road trip down to Mississipi during Katrina: good people, expected to act like professionals, and often a bit overwhelmed.

  3. Anonymous wj Says:

    The challenge, for both sides of the racism debate, is: what to do about the increasing numbers of chuldren (and adults by now) who have mixed parentage. For example, some of the "anti-racism" mindset have adopted the old racist criteria of "a single drop of black blood" to decide who they will regard as disadvantaged victims. And that's just one of the mental gymnastics I've seen resorted to.

    I suspect that, in another couple of generations, the only people in America who get exercised about race will be
    a) members of really tiny ethnic groups,
    b) really recent immigrants, who haven't yet acculturated.
    c) individuals who are exceptionally (not just normally, but exceptionally) incapable of facing reality. Specifically, the reality that our racial categories are over-generalizations at best, and simply silly in most cases.

    There will still be some, of course. But then, there are still a few flat-earthers running around loose.

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