Anti-racism By Jim Kalb
A good article.
“Racism is the worst of sins, the gravest of public dangers, the most repellent of spiritual disorders. Any taint of racism soils and discredits in all respects.”
Some such view is fundamental to public life today. The emphatic opposition to racism that is now obligatory gives the “race card” extraordinary potency. If you are not part of the solution then simply by living your life from day to day you are participating in “institutional racism.”
The nature of anti-racism is rarely discussed analytically, so it appears to be less a matter of doctrine than feeling and general orientation. Nonetheless, as a view that dominates public policy it has definite content. As such, it holds that there is a definite thing called “racism,” backed by power and constituted by contempt and hatred for those who differ, but for which race relations would be harmonious if indeed differences were noted at all.
Anti-racism is not at all middle-of-the-road, although resistance to it is thought extremist. Its principle is not live-and-let-live but eradication of the universal practice of ordering life by reference to feelings of extended kinship. On the colorblind reading of civil rights law that is the most conservative view now tolerated, it is illegal to treat ethnicity as relevant to social relations that matter. More advanced readings of the law, that recognize the continuing power of ethnic ties, call for government to equalize advantages by suppressing ethnicity in the case of whites and enhancing it for others. It is simply assumed that government can carry out such a program fairly and effectively and that men will accept it indefinitely.
...anti-racism is aimed at whites. In their case, racism includes not only hatred and abuse, but any distrust of others, any special concern or preference for whites, any recognition of whites as a people. Anti-racism also imposes on whites an obligation to sacrifice their interests to those of nonwhites. If a white does something at odds with black interests or desires, for example if he fails sufficiently to favor “affirmative action,” he is racist or at best insensitive. In contrast, public statements by blacks can be revoltingly bigoted without consequence.
Permitting to some what is forbidden others seems to relativize racism and thus deny that it is ultimate pathological evil. It also suggests that anti-racism draws support from anti-white bigotry. The suggestion is correct.
Attempts to abolish deeply rooted human tendencies are necessarily tyrannical; “rule by the people” is absurd when a government that loses confidence in the people can dissolve it and form a new one. Such attempts inevitably fail, and succeed only in destroying traditional restraints. Attempts in Russia to abolish the profit motive ended, after unparalleled brutality and massacre, in lawless greed and mafia rule. It is not clear why attempts to abolish ethnicity should be more successful.
Life worth living depends on culture, and culture on ethnicity. Without the common habits and understandings that constitute culture society would be a battleground of brutish asocial individuals. The seedbed for culture is the complex of prerational connections a people develops through long common history—in other words, ethnicity. While ethnicity and race are not the same, they cannot be altogether separated because both are consequences of a people’s long life in common. Since all actual cultures are tied to ethnicity, and therefore at least somewhat to race, to give culture free play is to permit race to have significance.
Anti-racism is thus at odds with basic principles of human life. In practice, eradication of racial differentials requires destroying all cultures and thus all possibility of a tolerable way of life. Anti-racism is therefore blatantly unrealistic. Its lack of realism explains a great deal: as in other cases, refusal to face obvious features of human life leads to hysterical irrationality and the tendency to see profound evil everywhere, especially in the faces of one’s opponents.
A good society cannot be an intentional construction. However, bad societies can ruin themselves, especially as their principles approach logical perfection, and it is possible to cooperate with the growth of something better. The failure of liberalism will reverse current trends in its favor. As the public culture becomes too empty to support trust and cooperation, bureaucracy will become useless, world markets unreliable, and ties of kinship and religion once more at a premium. As the denial of all sources of knowledge other than sensation and formal logic makes reason and even language impossible, men will turn to the transcendent, in their own lives and as a basis for cooperation with others. In the end they will find ways to live a tolerable life, even under the circumstances modern technology has created, and, since man is an embodied, social and historical animal, the pattern will necessarily include traditional local community and therefore ethnicity.