Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Racist Racist Is Being Racist

John Derbyshire imagines a visit to Newark.

The term "racist" gets thrown around a lot.  Especially as the Trayvon Martin case gets overheated, there is a huge tendency for both sides to call each other racist.  Was Zimmerman a racist for automatically assuming Martin was a criminal?  Were the Sanford police racist for not charging Zimmerman with an act that surely would have led to charges if Martin had killed Zimmerman?  Are the people rallying to find justice for Martin really just racial demagogues?

What does "racism" mean?  I hate the rhetorical crutch of "Webster's dictionary defines...", but here's a decent definition:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races  determine cultural or individual achievement, 
usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the 
right to rule others.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
hatred or intolerance of another race  or other races.

OK, let's use that definition.

Now go read this from the National Review's John Derbyshire.

Here's the crux of his advice:

(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

Put more simply: "Negroes!  Run away!  Run away!"
(I do like the phrase "a strange black".  As opposed to "a familiar magenta"?)

In Derbyshire's argument, blacks are inherently inferior and dangerous because they are black.

Guys, that's racism.

And let's be clear, Derbyshire is not "speaking truth to power" nor is he bravely uttering things which no one will say.

Blacks are poorer than any other group but Native Americans.  There are currently NO African American Senators.  To the best of my knowledge there is one African American Governor.  Obama doesn't suddenly mean that blacks as a group are empowered.  It means that a black guy got elected President once. Progress is not an end point.

As for being bravely contrarian to prevailing PC discourse, that's a cop out.  "Women shouldn't become president because they get PMS and their lady brains are too small and they cry too much"  is not "brave contrarianism".  It's sexism.  "Blacks are dangerous because they are stupid and cruel" is not an expression of courage, it's an expression of racist fear mongering.

Calling Obama a bad president or a socialist is not racist (though the latter is bad political science).  Calling Sarah Palin a stupid nitwit is not sexist.  But saying that you should treat every black person not known to you personally as a potential criminal... yeah, that pretty much is.

Derbyshire goes on to say:

(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.

The word we are looking for here is tokenism.  I mean, he uses the word "amulet" for crying out loud.  Of course, he also opines that affirmative action insures that you will routinely run into stupid black people that would otherwise be cleaning toilets or, let's just go there, picking cotton.  And you should run away from any black people you don't know personally.

What must he think of the classroom in which I now sit proctoring a test?  There are two African American students sitting in here, scribbling away on the Iranian political system.  One is going to UPenn.  Now, would Derbyshire say that when a budding young conservative reader of his vile racist screed advice bumps into this guy in Philadelphia, he should assume that he's only at UPenn because of affirmative action?  Or is one to assume that he is an IWSB?  How did Juan Williams find his way to the green room that very first time?

It must be so hard acquiring these amulets to protect you from accusations of racism.

It must be so hard to be white in America.

UPDATE: Angry Black Lady pretty much nails it.

UPDATE II: NRO fires Derbyshire.

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