Why is the race card trumps?
How can current public discussions of race be explained? Why the belief that sick and evil motives are everywhere, polluting whatever they touch? Why is defense against accusation impossible, so that suspicion and conviction are the same?
Part of the answer, surely, is bad conscience. The absolute irrelevance of race to any legitimate concern may be a necessary and absolute truth, but it’s not the way things seem to people. People stubbornly feel more tied to some groups than to others. They feel that a Jew is more likely to be a good lawyer and less likely to be a mugger than a black man. All experience tells them such things, and there’s something artificial about the attempt to feel otherwise. Even so, antiracist orthodoxy trumps everything and people can imagine no way to challenge it. The result is that everyone feels permanently in the wrong on a fundamental point of human relations.
The most direct solution is to deny the evidence of our senses. The Democrats do so by a singleminded attack on the perception that there are racial differences. Not only do they deny the truth of the perception, a denial required in any case by orthodoxy, but they also try to expunge it from themselves by attributing it to the demonized Other — in particular, to the Republicans. The Republicans, less ideological and more practical-minded, try to maintain the no-differences orthodoxy while giving way in some practical respects to the realities the orthodoxy requires them to deny.
Which, of course, lays them open to the accusation that they don’t really believe the orthodoxy. The accusation is
unanswerable, because they fully accept the orthodoxy as morally authoritative — they are antiracists just like everybody
else — but they don’t have the ideological vehemence needed to persuade themselves that it’s true through and through. So when put
to the question and called upon to explain themselves they can’t do so. Their own principles convict them of malice and
hypocrisy, and all they can do is abase themselves and try to buy forgiveness.
Is Mr. Kalb affirming his idea that “the absolute irrelevance of race to any legitimate concern may be a necessary and absolute truth,” or is he stating a liberal’s idea? I think it is the latter.
Mr. Kalb has articulated an inner contradiction that has choked conservatives for as long as I can remember. Mr. Kalb has provided the main reason (inner contradictions) that conservatives have been paper tigers in their battles with the relentlessly liberal major media.
Does it seem to anyone else that conservatives must either build a competitive major media or build arguments based on truth (which appears to be going on here) before conservatives can prevail in this culture war?
Mr. Murgos is right that I was stating the liberal view rather than my own.Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 27, 2002 8:22 PM
America is not a racist nation but, like every other nation, it is one with racists in it. And there are just enough of them that those who wish to believe it can point to them and say “See, America is a racist nation!”, no matter their insignificance compared to the whole.
I like P Murgos’s suggestion on the need for a competitive major media. Where are the wealthy conservatives who would build an alternative NPR. Should we begin a conspiracy to take over the University of Missouri’s and Columbia’s Journalism Schools?Posted by: Charles Rostkowski on December 28, 2002 12:30 AM
The U.S. originated as half slave half free. In the slave half blacks were not considered men. At the same time we affirmed that “all men are created equal”.
Despite the assertion, all men do not appear to be created equal in any meaningful way in the competition for a better life. A man’s I. Q. seems to be the baseline of equality in the highly evolved technology that is our present society.
Because there are two simultaneous, but conflicting, concepts lodged in the American psyche concerning race, our nation could be said to be suffering from a form of double bind schizophrenia.
Gregory Bateson’s theory of double bind interactions says that the consequence of prolonged exposure to double bind patterns is that people gradually learn to perceive their universe in contradictory patterns, and act on their environment as if every input from the environment is contradictory..
The first approach presupposes that new experiences must be confined within an existing structure, the previous framework of knowledge. The second approach suggests that contradictory information must be handled carefully, accounted for, and categorized if further learning is to occur. The second approach is more complicated but may be essential to solving problems that have more than one answer.
Just some food for thought on why the race card seems to trump every time..
“… [the Republicans] are antiracists just like everybody else—but they don’t have the ideological vehemence needed to persuade themselves that it’s true through and through. So when put to the question and called upon to explain themselves they can’t do so. Their own principles convict them of malice and hypocrisy, and all they can do is abase themselves and try to buy forgiveness.”
When I first read Mr. Kalb’s article I wasn’t completely convinced by it. But as I read it again now it seems more plausible. It’s really quite an original insight.
Look at it in terms of the anti-racist credo of liberal author David K. Shipler, which I’ve quoted before:
“This is the ideal: to search your attitudes, identify your stereotypes, and correct for them as you go about your daily duties.”
The liberal/Democrat is fully committed to this reconstructive endeavor, in terms of purifying both himself and other people. The conservative/Republican also thinks racism is wrong, but can’t fully convince himself that any awareness of race differences is wrong and must be rooted out. He’s not 100 percent with the program. So there remains this lingering unease about this presence of “something” not right in himself, this “something” which he can neither justify (since he accepts the anti-racist ideology) nor get rid of (since his consciousness is not totally ideologized), and for which he might be attacked at any moment for his “racial insensivity.” And so he remains continually vulnerable to the racism charge and pathetically eager to make amends whenever it is directed at him.Posted by: Lawrence Auster on January 15, 2003 9:58 PM