Cries of ‘racism’ misguided

BY JONATHAN SKRMETTI

The left has been mining the vein of accusations of racism to great effect. Recently, in the Pickering confirmation debacle, leftist groups conspired with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to brand Judge Pickering a racist. Never mind that the only people in Mississippi who opposed Judge Pickering’s nomination were the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP.

Prominent Democrats such as Zell Miller, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore and even Chuck Schumer have rejected the charges of racism. Medger Evers’ brother Charles came out in favor of Judge Pickering, as did the majority of black Mississippians. Either the white elitist Democrats on the committee considered the Southern blacks too stupid to recognize a racist judge or they were disingenuously covering up their Borking by assassinating Judge Pickering’s character. In either case, their behavior was repugnant and brought shame upon what should be some of our greatest institutions.

The American right is generally reluctant to discuss race. The conservative ordering of individuality over collectivism demands that people should not be defined by their race, that a person should be taken as an individual and not as an instantiation of some ideal identity. The idea that Americans should be meaningfully distinguished by race is anathema to true conservatives. As a result, the essentialist doctrine that is often espoused in discussions of race does not sit well with conservatives, who believe that race should not define people. In addition, most leftist-oriented discussions of race take for granted the primacy of equality over liberty; this contradicts the second pillar of conservatism.

Should the average conservative attempt to redefine the conversation to correspond with her core values, she would likely be attacked for insensitivity and bigotry. At the very least, if she refuses to adopt values foreign to her belief system in the course of the discussion, she will be accused of trying to avoid the subject. More likely, she will be proclaimed a racist. The term “racist” is flung around liberally these days, and the damage done by abusing this term through casual use is damnable and bad for America.

Racism is believing that a person is superior or inferior to another because of his or her race, or discriminating against someone because of his or her race, or in some other way acting in a different way toward a person based on race. Racism is a serious and disturbing problem in America, even at its most prestigious institutions. Rooting out and eliminating real racism is substantially complicated when the term is applied to anybody who does not bow to the policy orthodoxy of the left.

Conservatives generally believe that the best way to stop treating people differently on the basis of their race is to stop treating people differently on the basis of their race. Having considered all the alternative proposals, conservatives tend to cleave to solutions, such as the example given above, which reflect their core values of liberty and individuality. Accusing people of holding racist beliefs polarizes the discussion and further weakens the effectiveness of using the word to castigate those who actually believe that certain races are inferior. Racism becomes harder to recognize as an immediate evil when good-hearted people with unconventional ideas about how to solve our problems are lumped together with Klan members and other racial supremacists.

The condemnation of racism is imperative, and racist ideas should not be tolerated any more than is necessary to preserve the First Amendment rights of those who hold them. We should stand together as decent human beings and let the real racists know that their sick ideas have no place in a civilized nation. By accusing non-racists of racism, Senate Democrats and other representatives from the left dilute the power of such accusations and, in doing so, allow racism to hide in plain sight amid the multitude of ideas that do not fit into the framework of leftist orthodoxy.

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