Post Mortem - Some Further Thoughts on Race
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As a white man, the issue of racism troubles me because this problem is identified with persons of the white race only. Racism might be defined as group selfishness where the group consists of persons of a particular race. Selfishness would be a tendency to see entire groups of people as good or bad. My racial group is good, of course. Someone else’s group is bad. But, it is individuals rather than groups who exhibit good or bad behavior. Depending upon our own sense of identity, we have a tendency to generalize in ways that give us comfort.
Having said this, however, I must confront the fact that the vast majority of white people in America condemn white racism, sometimes in the strongest terms. I do not have a sense that a majority of black people condemn black racism or even admit that it exists. There is evidently a double standard here. The issue of white but not black racism suits particular social and political agendas - unless, of course, only white people exhibit group selfishness.
A way to make sense of this situation would be to say that whites generally have more power and wealth than blacks so they do not need to be selfish as a group. Whites are competing mostly against other whites for the favorable positions in society. Blacks are found disproportionately among the disadvantaged so their race puts them in opposition to white people’s relative success. Racism provides a convenient explanation for this painful result.
For whites, however, an anti-racist posture is further evidence of their winning ways. They can renounce any advantage they might have as a result of being white and still be confident of success. On the other hand, white racists are losers, defeated both in attitude and in fact.
Being a white man, however, I am reluctant to go too far in condemning white racism because I do not think whites much different than others in their attitude towards persons of a different race. Furthermore, I think racial attitudes are more a private than public matter unless things get out of hand. Unless it can be shown that persons of influence and power act in discriminatory ways favoring their own racial group, race needs not be a political issue, certainly not to the extent that it has become.
You can see, therefore, that my attitude about race relations in the United States strays from the socially acceptable norm. Unless the concept of racism is applied even-handedly among persons of all races, however, it becomes little more than a political tool to help certain candidates and agendas while hurting others. It is unfair to lump downtrodden whites with whites who enjoy a social or economic advantage in applying the label of “white privilege” to them all. It is equally unfair to excuse the bad behavior of certain blacks in suggesting that they are all victims of racism. We cannot have a healthy multi-racial society if such attitudes become the norm.
Therefore, as a white man, I take upon myself the onus of racism in standing up for white people as a group, warts and all. I willingly associate myself with the stereotypical pro-white person on television or in Hollywood films whose hateful racial attitudes lead to vile behavior. I open myself up to charges or suspicions of racially discriminatory behavior in sympathizing with “white trash”. To the extent that I have aspirations of social climbing, I must recognize that this is not the way to get ahead.
I recently ran for President in the New Hampshire primary on a platform that included “dignity for white males.” One of my fellow candidates in the primary walked off the debate stage in disgust when he heard me utter that phrase. The voters, too, might not have wished to become associated with such views. I received 17 votes in the primary, good for 22nd place in a field of 28. To identify myself explicitly as a white person of normally selfish tendencies in regards to race is unacceptable in today’s political environment. But I do it to show how racial attitudes, in the name of tolerance, have become extreme.
Because I am not a glutton for punishment, this will be my last political campaign that raises racial issues. But I do continue to have sympathy for the masses of young white men and women, as well as for those of other races, who, unlike those in previous generations, are persuaded to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to purchase a college degree that they hope will land them a decent entry-level job. For those whites who fail to become successfully placed upon the ladder to career success, the concept of white privilege is not only unfair but insulting. There are structural reforms that could address our economic problems but race keeps people divided and unable to hold the politicians accountable.
Let black people be represented by blacks and other sympathetic persons. Since it is not socially acceptable to sympathize with white people in their racial aspect, I will be the one to do it. My only regret is that, in defending myself against accusations of being a stereotypical white racist, I felt obliged in an interview in New Hampshire to trade upon the fact that I am married to a black woman to thwart that line of reasoning. But my wife put up with this and we are still married.
Let me end with a slogan: “Intolerance of intolerance is intolerance, period.” Be responsible for your own attitudes and behavior and leave other people’s moral situation alone.
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