Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Old Guy Perspective
Did censorship come from the right or the race-obsessed left? Or did
I miss it when everyone else saw the charming "Song of the South"?
DEALING WITH IT. Obama says we should talk about race. He thinks that will help him. It won't. Most of us have spent a lifetime absorbing the lesson that seeing what we see automatically makes us racist. Do you want to talk about it? Do you? Really?
There are a few areas where, by virtue of age and experience, I think I can speak for the overwhelming majority of Americans. We want to get past racial problems. We recognize that slavery was a sin and that we have a moral obligation to see to it that our institutions and our own behavior are fair to everyone. We share a yearning so fierce that it amounts to an ache for a color-blind society in which all may prosper on the basis of abilities, not skin color. It is this intense emotion which facilitated the honeymoon period of Obama's campaign for the presidency.
But the color-blind society has not been achieved. What's more, we are constantly told -- lectured, hectored, propagandized -- that this state of affairs is our fault. We tend to accept the charge because the truth is we don't spend all our time thinking about race, and so we defer to those who think about nothing else because, well, we almost never get up in the morning thinking about how privileged we are to be white, which we've come to accept as yet another of our endless insensitivities about race.
We've come to accept a lot of things, in fact. Although no one alive in America has ever owned a slave, we accept that we are all somehow guilty for slavery in the American past. We accept that in our lifetimes racial discrimination has become a routine official practice against those of us whose remote ancestors were not slaves. We accept that there are doctors and lawyers and police officers and firefighters whose credentials may not be completely up to snuff because of the top-secret compromises associated with affirmative action. We accept the popular -- and tiresomely repeated stereotypes -- that black people are more gifted at sports and dancing and music and sexuality, although there is no other arena in which it is fair to say that white or yellow people are better than black people. We accept the premise that there exists some kind of super black woman who is a naturally better mother, matriarch, empirical philosopher, and leader of men than 5,000 years of civilization has produced in other cultures through education, discipline, and morality. We accept that any fear we feel of young black men on the sidewalk is more a reflection of our own prejudice than the cold statistics of crime. We accept that it's improper for us to object to obscene rap recordings, thug sports stars, flagrantly corrupt politicians, and hypocritical clergy if any of these happen to be black people. We accept that the first major inroads against the hallowed First Amendment began with a political correctness about matters of race that have since ballooned to a distortion of all human interactions. We accept that everything we disapprove of in black behavior is derived from our own lack of understanding about what they've been through.
But Obama has invited us to talk about race.
Okay. I'm accepting the invitation. He can regret it at his leisure.
I don't hate black people. I can't pretend to be color-blind because absolutely nothing in my culture will allow me to be. I admire Thomas Sowell, Duke Ellington, Roberto Clemente, Muhammed Ali, Alexandre Dumas, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Count Basie, Tiger Woods, and Bill Cosby. There are many others but that's a sampling of the famous folks whose courage, genius, character, and achievements I would be proud if I could get anywhere in the vicinity of. The bald truth of the matter is that they're better than I am, and it doesn't arouse a flicker of racial feeling in me to acknowledge it. They have enriched and elevated my own experience of life.
On the other hand, I am sick to death of black people as a group. The truth. That is part of the conversation Obama is asking for, isn't it? I live in an eastern state almost exactly on the fabled Mason-Dixon line. Every day I see young black males wearing tee shirts down to their knees -- and jeans belted just above their knees. I'm an old guy. I want to smack them. All of them. They are egregious stereotypes. It's impossible not to think the unthinkable N-Word when they roll up beside you at a stoplight in their trashed old Hondas with 19-inch spinner wheels and rap recordings that shake the foundations of the buildings. It's like a broadcast dare: Go ahead! Call me a nigger! And then I'll cap your ass.
Here's the dirty secret all of us know and no one will admit to. There ARE niggers. Black people know it. White people know it. And only black people are allowed to notice and pronounce the truth of it. Which would be fine. Except that black people are not a community but a political party. They can squabble with each other in caucus but they absolutely refuse to speak the truth in public. And this is the single biggest obstacle to healing the racial divide in this country. The dammed-up flood of good will in this nation for black people who want to work for their own American Dream is absolutely enormous. The biggest impediment is the doubt created in each and every non-black American by the clannish, tribalist, irrational defense of every low act committed by any black person. If you're offended when Republicans defend Richard Nixon or when Democrats defend Chuck Schumer, imagine what it's like when black people swarm the streets to defend Jeremiah Wright.
I'm not proposing the generalized use of the term, just trying to be clear for once, in the wake of Obama's call for us to have a dialogue about race. However much they may scream and protest, black people will know what I mean when I demand they concede that the following people are niggers:
- Jeremiah Wright
- O.J. Simpson
- Marion Barry
- Alan Iverson
- William Jefferson
- Louis Farrakhan
- Mike Tyson
You know what I mean. They hold you back. They're dirty, violent, and stupid. They make you look bad, and you foul yourselves by defending them, by reelecting them to office, by admiring them in spite of all their awful behavior.
We can have this conversation now -- should have this conversation now -- because African-Americans are on the verge of the greatest setback they've experienced since the election of Rutherford B. Hayes. You see, you've just given life to the suspicion that black people in America are, and have long been, a fifth column -- unanimously hating the very country that has afforded the highest standard of living ever achieved by black people in human history. We're teetering at the edge of believing that you're a secret society, a massive collection of sleeper cells just waiting for your chance to do serious harm to the rest of us. You've made it possible for us to believe that. Because you're never outraged by what the worst black people do. Because you continue to make excuses for what should be inexcusable to everyone.
The path to equality is counter-intuitive. Admit and decry the failings of your community. Concede that a generation of single mothers has been a disaster. Let go of the fantasy that black mothers are some kind of infallible force of nature. Demand that your children spend more time reading and doing sums than farting around on the basketball court. Only about two thousand people in the whole country make a living by playing sports. The rest have to get real jobs. Do whatever it takes to make your preachers emphasize the value of being a good father instead of ranting from the pulpit about how all of life's woes are the fault of rich old white men. Tip your white waitress. Stay at work after 5 o'clock. Allow your kids to find somebody to admire and emulate who isn't black. (My two best friends in high school -- white guys -- fought like dogs about their conflicting candidates for best rightfielder in baseball: Clemente or Aaron.) Would it kill you if your kid fixated on Sandy Koufax, Mozart, or Shakespeare rather than Mays, Armstrong, or Jay-Z? Does being black really have to be a full-time job?
Here's the biggest thing we "racists" notice. Every single immigrant group that ever came to America -- including the Chinese who came as railroad slaves -- has risen out of poverty and want to prosperity and respect. The Irish, the Italians, the Polish, the Jews, the Koreans, the Vietnamese. Every group but you. And you're the only group we fought a war to free.
Sorry to break it to you, but Obama won't be elected president. We were ready, but you clearly aren't. Time to think about getting ready.
Now, let the abuse descend. I'm ready.
UPDATE 3/23. Well, well, well. First things first. Glenn Reynolds did not link to this post, so leave him alone. Second, all you Nazis and white supremacists can go straight to hell; you can't read any better than Glenn Greenwald. Third, Althouse was right (I won't sully her rep by linking her) when she speculated that I'm too old to care what people think of me. As for the rest of the pious bloggerites of the left and right who have been so quick to label this a "racist rant," my only retort to you is laughter. You are determined to build for yourselves a nonsense world made out of delusions that will continually frustrate and defeat you because you are incapable of being honest about matters which are truly complex and in which no one on any of the innumerable "sides" is free of guilt, wrongdoing, and responsibility. Your feverish individual attempts to prove that you are personally blameless in whatever directions blame is presently flying are ridiculous. This post is ugly, is it? Not half so ugly as all the witless, self-serving comments, posts, and buffoonish non-links ostentatiously steering a wide berth around it.
Behold the fatuous racial circus of Post-Racial America. I'm an old man who dared use a word known to all to refer to what all know it means. Most of the rest of you who have made any reference to this post have proven you never read the post in the first place. Defeating racism is more compliicated than banning the N-Word. And eliminating the doubts and suspicions of those who have watched the civil rights movement spinning its wheels in a backward slide for a quarter century is more complicated than damning as racist all who dare mention those doubts and suspicions. I know we live in an age that is losing the ability to comprehend content more ambiguous than a bumper sticker or longer than a cellular text message, but that is why I don't fear you. I'll be dead soon enough, but you'll have to struggle on and on with a problem you won't be able to chew to a resolution with a single tooth. Sooner or later you'll snap the tooth off or bury it in your own empty opposing gum. The blood you shed will ultimately be your own.
All the distance you've been working so hard to put between the honest statements above and yourselves is the measure of just how far away you are from having the courage to -- how do you put it? -- "have an honest discussion about race in America." Whatever names you choose to call me, you -- all of you -- are a joke. Enlightened? Liberal? Progressive? Multicultural? Politically correct? Merely tactful in an Old-World sort of way (you otherwise foul-mouthed buggers)? You're cowards. Not because you fear and condemn a single word. But because you feel that condemnation, all by itself, constitutes some kind of winning argument. Every one of you who plants his standard in that well-worn posthole is nothing but a race whore of the 21st century kind.
I pity you. Because you're the ones who will have to live with the consequences of your own deep personal dishonesty, your transparent projections, and your fearful sycophancy. Not me. So leave me out of it too, and see if you can have that discussion you think you want among yourselves. Good luck with that.
UPDATE 2. I've decided to respond to some of your comments. Not because you're smart, but because your stupidity goes to the very highest levels of left- and rightdom. Glenn? Dean? Glenn? Are you listening? NO! Of course not. That's the whole point. The blogosphere has become the politisphere. OldGuy is't sorry he's old. He's disgusted and relieved. Glenn? Dean?