What is post-racial America?

The notion that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency will inaugurate a “post-racial” America, an America that has gone “beyond race” as Obama has put it, has been widely accepted, even by many conservatives. I’m not sure that anyone has ever explained what this post-racial condition of America would actually look like.

Presumably a post-racial, beyond-race America will be one in which no one thinks about race any more, an America in which we all just see each other as individuals. This is most puzzling, since I was not aware that Obama has called for the elimination of the vast system of race-conscious preferences for blacks and other nonwhite groups that is institutionalized at every level of our society. Currently, blacks and Hispanics are admitted to selective universities with grades and SATs for which virtually all white and Asian applicants are automatically rejected. Blacks and Hispanics are admitted to graduate schools with grades and test scores for which virtually all white and Asian applicants are automatically rejected. In the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision (see my article on it), the Supreme Court said that racial preferences for nonwhites were justified and mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

In every area of American life, from academic achievement to fire department examinations to grade school discipline to incarceration rates to bank loans and mortgages, blacks do much worse than whites, and their lack of success is seen as a moral stain on society calling forth ever renewed efforts to “close the racial gap.” One of the most written-about gaps is that black high school seniors are on average four years behind whites in reading abilities. But what such a huge differential indicates is not that blacks simply “lag behind whites,” a genial image that suggests a footrace in which the blacks cross the finish line just a little bit behind the whites; what it indicates is that the blacks are not even in the same event as the whites. And this is why, in every institution, parallel tracks for blacks have been set up where they are evaluated by much lower standards than those applied to whites. At the same time, to prevent whites from reacting against this massive racial favoritism for blacks, whites are required to attend “diversity sensitivity” sessions where they are told that they harbor conscious or unconscious racial stereotypes about blacks which are somehow responsible for the blacks being behind and which the whites must extricate from their psyches.

Will the elevation of Barack Obama to the presidency change any of this?

Of course not.

The post-racial America of which Obama’s champions speak does not mean the end of racial preferences for nonwhites. It does not mean the end of constant accusations of white racism. It does not mean the end of the systematic cover-up of blacks’ lower abilities, and of the fact that these lower abilities, not white racism, are the reason blacks are behind. It does not mean the end of the systematic cover up of the true facts of black-on-white crime. It does not mean the end of mandatory sensitivity training for whites. It does not mean the end of the belief that there is a moral cloud over America’s entire history up until the civil rights movement—or, in the event Obama is elected, up until the election of Barack Obama.

If post-racial America does not mean the removal of these pro-nonwhite, anti-white policies and beliefs, what does it mean?

It means a post-white America, an America transformed by the symbolic removal of whiteness as the country’s explicit or implicit historic and majority identity.

This is the consummation of which Obama’s supporters dream.

In Obama’s post-racial America, all the anti-white policies and attitudes, from affirmative action to open borders for Hispanics to the multicultural rewriting of history to endless campaigns against “white racial privilege,” will remain in place. What will change is that whites will not protest these anti-white policies any more, will not mutter under their breath about them any more, will not even think about muttering under their breath about them any more. Instead, they will unreservedly embrace them, in the joy of racial unity and harmony.

Post-racial America is an America in which whites, as whites, go silent forever.

- end of initial entry -

Andrew E. writes:

With this article you have distilled the meaning of an Obama presidency to its absolute essence and with it, laid to rest the argument whether conservatives should favor Obama or Hillary. Other VFR readers have made valiant efforts to show that Obama is preferable, but you have just outflanked them all and routed the line. At the heart of Obama’s campaign is a hypocrisy so staggering (and dangerous!) that even the Clintons don’t attempt it. Further, Obama’s talents, which you have discussed at length as well, are making people believe it! Well done.

LA replies:

Thank you. Of course I’ve been arguing for some time that Hillary is preferable to Obama. But what do you say to the tougher question which we will likely face: is McCain preferable to Obama?

Andrew E. replies:
Yes, that is the question isn’t it. I’ve deliberately omitted it because, right now, I honestly don’t know. Hillary is still in the race. If she can’t hang on next week, then I suppose I’ll have to start thinking about it.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Your post on this subject is a very important one, and I fear you’re exactly right. I genuinely hope the right-wing blog world gives it a close reading. “Post-racial America” can only mean an America in which white racial consciousness can be said to be definitively dead; it surely does not mean that nonwhite racial consciousness and nonwhite racial spoils will be considered dead. Post-racial America simply translates into post-white America, and anyone who says differently needs to present some evidence that Obama has made even the tiniest gesture to indicate he intends to end the culture of racial grievance-mongering in American politics. In fact he and his supporters (to include his wife) are busily reminding anyone who will listen how “sick” Americans’ souls are, and how in need of some nonwhite messiah to come save them from white authority.

This is something we’ve seen before, actually. When some leftist commentator or editorial board refers approvingly to a candidate’s ability to “transcend ideology,” what he always, always means is that the candidate is willing to transcend conservative ideology. Moving beyond racial divisions simply means ceasing any resistance to the full scope of blacks’ and nonwhite foreigners’ demands on white America. Liberal politicians (e.g., Lieberman) are never praised for their ability to “rise above party concerns” and “cross partisan lines,” though traitors to conservatism like Olympia Snowe will be. Obama’s capacity to transcend race, in the end, amounts to nothing more than the willingness to serve as an extremely left-wing, race-conscious black senator without ever bothering to remind anyone that that is what he’s doing.

Americans’ souls are sick alright, and Obamamania is more symptom than cure.

A reader writes:

What this country needs is that the “post-racial” leftism of Obama takes power and then fails. Only then will a true move to the right become possible, as opposed to politically correct conservatism.

And I think the Chinese are going to make it fail, combined with our own spendthrift policies.

Tim W. writes:

I agree with much of your take on this, but is it not possible that an Obama administration would wake a portion of white America up? For example, David Dinkins’s term as New York mayor racially polarized the city to the point that they haven’t elected a black to the office since. And New York is a liberal city. Imagine the reaction to an Obama administration out in the heartland.

Assuming we don’t elect Obama, I don’t see any of the anti-white policies you describe changing. Hillary or McCain will push affirmative action, non-white immigration, diversity, and all the rest of that stuff, just as every administration has pushed it since the 1960s. In fact, if he’s defeated, we’ll be told that it shows how racist the country is, so we’ll need even more diversity training and forced integration than before.

I’ve said before that I think we’re in really bad shape as a nation, and our population is largely brainwashed by political correctness. Maybe, just maybe, the shock of a black president, with a shrill race-obsessed wife, would prompt the frog to jump out of the pot before it reaches boiling temperature. I don’t know that it would, but I see no way that four years of either Hillary or McCain would change a thing regarding the decline of white America into submission.

LA replies:

Of course I hope you’re right. My real point is that if this is what an Obama presidency represented, we would need to know this and be prepared to resist it.

However, New York’s experience is unfortunately not a model for our hopes. The difference between the 1989 race, which Dinkins won very narrowly, and the 1993 race, which Giuliani won very narrowly, did not consist in the fact that middle class whites who had voted for Dinkins in ‘89 were awakened to his awfulness during his term and turned away from him. Rather, a certain number of blacks felt that Dinkins was not “racial” enough for them, and they stayed home. While I was overjoyed by Giuliani’s victory, which I had predicted, it was very disheartening that this did not happen because of a general recoil from Dinkins’s disastrous mayoralty. There was no enlightenment, no awakening to the badness of Dinkins-style liberalism. Just a slight shift of votes that allowed Giuliani to win.

Democrats have not won since then because their candidates have been so poor.

LA continues:

My memory of the 1993 mayoral election was mistaken. I had remembered it as being something like a two percent margin for Giuliani, representing only a slight shift from his narrow loss in 1989. But according to Wikipedia:

In 1993, Mayor Dinkins again faced Rudy Giuliani, decreasing his share of the vote from 51% in 1989 to 46%.

Mark Jaws writes:

First of all, based on the symptoms you have described, I would say that we have been in “post-racial America” for over 30 years.

To approximately 99 percent of whites, it is forbidden for them to think as whites and to act from the white perspective. For me, however, because I spent my youth in a majority black and brown world, I have never had a problem speaking and acting from the white view. As early as 1974 I spoke out in anthropology class in City College of New York when black students, some of them no doubt disciples of Leonard Jeffries, started mentioning the “whites are cold and cruel / blacks are warm and compassionate” afrocentrist bigotry. I stood up, scolded the teacher for allowing such bigotry to be aired, and left the room. I was accompanied by a white Latina female. When I returned for the next class, the teacher apologized to me. Cojones can make a difference.

Before I retired from active duty, I organized a European-American Week at the U.S. Naval Base in Norfolk and I was supported by the command. About 20 percent of the attendees were black. With the help of friends and people whom I recruited from the Greek, Italian, Scottish, and Slavic communities, I put together a very nice and acceptable room full of booths which highlighted the accomplishments of the various groups.

I believe once affluence begins to fade in this post-racial world and crime, disease, poverty begin to consume whole states, we will see whites acting more like men, and less as mice.

LA replies:

“First of all, based on the symptoms you have described, I would say that we have been in “post-racial America” for over 30 years.”

Things aren’t completed all at once. Today in America we can forcefully oppose open immigration and illegal immigration. In a truly “post-racial” America that would no longer be the case. Things can get much worse than they are.

“I believe once affluence begins to fade in this post-racial world and crime, disease, poverty begin to consume whole states, we will see whites acting more like men, and less as mice.”

Everyone has a different theory on what it would take for the majority population to start standing up for itself again. Some think Obama’s election would do it. Some think an economic crash would do it. Some think only a decline of America into barbarism would do it.

Richard W. writes:

Your “What does a post racial America mean” is exactly, 100 percent spot on. Another great article, that really gets us to the real meaning of this race. I continue to be amazed by the clarity of your thought and writing.

I think you’ve answered the question you posed to me in the other thread on Obama’s appeal: “Do you support McCain?” I think you have telegraphed your answer in this posting, and it’s the same as mine.

I am not willing to go along with President Obama based on the hope that there will be Dinkins-like backlash. That’s really not a conservative position is it? It is the revolutionary’s view.

And whose to say: Do we only fall as far as NYC in 1993. Or do we go as far as Venezuela in 2008? Or, further still? That’s a big unnecessary risk to take on a long-odds bet.

Conservatives conserve what is good, conserving a little is better than throwing it all out in the hopes that we can, from the ashes, engineer a restoration. That’s how Marxists think, isn’t it?

LA replies:

Thank you.

I said if I were convinced that McCain’s opponent was an existential threat to the country (as you are now virtually convinced), I’d vote for McCain. But I’m not there at all.

Also, the initial entry is asking: What do Obama’s supporters really mean by a “post-racial America,” if Obama were able to bring it about? I am not saying that the election of Obama would in fact bring it about. We would have something to say about this as well.

James M. writes:

Re: “What is post-racial America?”
If prose and reasoning of that quality existed on the left, I would begin to doubt where the truth lay. They don’t, so I don’t.

Mark Jaws writes:

I must disagree with you when you say we have not arrived at post-racial America. To back up your point you mention that we are still capable of opposing illegal immigration. Yes, we can, but only from the issue of “rule of law” and “national sovereignty.”

I am an organizer in the anti-illegal immigrant movement. While people will most readily take up the “protect America’s border” banner, the minute you mention any demographic data or discuss the 3W-ization, then folks just clam up. I guarantee you that my little group here in VA would have perhaps 1/3 of its current membership if I were to discuss race and national origins. Folks cannot even talk about demographics and crime stats any more.

Does the Austerian vision of post-racial America envision jail time for those who bring up crime statistics or differentials in demographic data?

LA replies:

Of course what you say is true and has been true for a long time. It is prohibited in the American mainstream to discuss any issue, such as immigration or minority race preferences, in terms of race or white racial concerns. Not just prohibited, but white people don’t want to do it, don’t believe in it, and recoil from the very idea of it. I oppose this and believe that it is normal for the white American majority to be concerned about their interests as a people—and not just as any people, but as the majority people of America and the West. This is especially the case when, even though the whites are not race-conscious in the sense of consciously affirming that race matters, the campaign to destroy America is a race-conscious campaign aimed at destroying white America, its culture, its history, everything. This is proved by the fact that even non-racial positions taken by whites in defense of their country, their laws, and their rights are attacked as racist, by nonwhites and their white liberal and neocon allies. Self-defense against this attack requires enough belief in oneself to stand up against this anti-white movement, even if one does not believe in race oneself.

Take the problem of opposing minority racial privileges. When Barbara Grutter sued the University of Michigan for discriminating against her in law school admissions, she was not acting in a racial way; she was acting in an individual-rights, basic-American-fairness kind of way. Yet at the same time she had to have enough racial consciousness to say, “I am a white person, and as a white person I was discriminated against so that a nonwhite person with lower scores than mine could be admitted, and that is not right.”

In a “post-racial” America, where it’s wrong for whites even to think of themselves as being white, there would be no Barbara Grutters. In a “post-racial” America, for a white person to sue Michigan would be an act of racial divisiveness, calling attention to minority preferences which in turn gives rise to negative feelings about minorities.

Similarly, the fight against the Comprehensive Immigration bill last year was not waged on a racial basis. But (1) it consisted almost entirely of white people who don’t want their country engulfed by illegal aliens, and (2) the people opposing the anti-amnesty campaign saw it as racial, constantly denouncing it as an outburst of bigotry, intolerance, and xenophobia.

That campaign of vilification against amnesty opponents is still continuing, eight months after the immigration bill was defeated in the Senate. Just yesterday, Gerard Baker, the pro-open borders London Times correspondent in Washington, D.C., wrote, “The long period of conservative ascendancy is clearly over, buried by a Republican Party of recent years that has preached intolerance and practised incompetence.” Like every other cheap shot artist today, Baker didn’t feel he had to justify the slur. Undoubtedly he was referring to Republican opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens. By opposing amnesty, by not going along with open borders, Republicans were “preaching intolerance.” Meaning white intolerance toward nonwhites.

So the left and the neocon open borderites see any legitimate action by the white American majority to preserve their country from lawlessness and invasion, even when not expressed in racial terms, as an expression of racism.

Since the anti-amnesty campaign was constantly called intolerant and divisive, we must assume that in Obama’s “beyond-race” America, in which racial unity reigns supreme, there would be no anti-amnesty campaign. In a post-racial America, white people would lose the moral confidence to argue even in non-racial terms against open borders, because they would have accepted the idea that this was racist and intolerant and divisive.

And that’s what I meant when I said that in post-racial America,

“What will change is that whites will not protest these anti-white policies any more, will not mutter under their breath about them any more, will not even think about muttering under their breath about them any more. Instead, they will unreservedly embrace them, in the joy of racial unity and harmony.”

Paul Gottfried writes:

Certainly you can’t blame the blacks for this anti-white discrimination, since it is white Americans who choose to do these things to themselves. You have certainly seen the news in US News and World Report about which historical figures young American adults admire most. These heroines were all black leftists, and the only male who made it on to the list is MLK. People who think this way deserve not Obama’s set aside policies but the pleasures of living under Robert Mugabe.

LA replies:

What does my article have to do with blaming blacks?

Paul Gottfried replies:

Your essay does seem to suggest that Obama and his black followers represent antiwhite politics.

LA replies:

I sort of see, because I keep saying “anti-white,” that one could read that as saying that blacks are the source of the anti-whiteness. In reality I’m discussing a belief system shared by blacks and many whites. I could have made this clearer.

Paul Gottfried replies:
Your piece is splendid!

LA writes (April 21, 2008):

It seems my earlier memory was correct after all. There was no big shift between the elections. Dinkins won by two percent in 1989, Giuliani won by two percent in 1993. See my comment here quoting the NY Times coverage from the day after the 1993 election with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

April 19, 2010

LA writes:

The sentence in the initial entry, “This is the consummation of which Obama’s supporters dream,” is a paraphrase of a line in Yeats’s poem, “In Memory of Major Robert Gregory,” from his 1919 collection, The Wild Swans at Coole. The third stanza goes:

Lionel Johnson comes the first to mind,
That loved his learning better than mankind,
Though courteous to the worst; much falling he
Brooded upon sanctity
Till all his Greek and Latin learning seemed
A long blast upon the horn that brought
A little nearer to his thought
A measureless consummation that he dreamed.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 25, 2008 10:56 AM | Send

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