What Is Racism?

By E.M. Cadwaladr

I think it’s fair to say that everyone in America who isn’t either “of color” or irredeemably brainwashed by our educational system is sick of being called a racist.  While most people have been busy getting on with other things, left-wing academics and minority activists have changed the language itself to suit their agendas.  We ignore this cultural Marxist shell game at our peril.  We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by our enemies’ linguistic sleight of hand.

When I was a pudgy child in elementary school, the teachers explained to me what “racism” was.  They told me over and over that it was that it was racist to judge a person by the color of his skin.  My school’s formula was a simplification of Martin Luther King’s evocative phrase: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a child in the early 1970s, I was given the impression that I was living in a newly enlightened age.  I believed that previous generations had been hopelessly bigoted for no better reasons than ignorance and outright wickedness.  This was right thinking in my particular school in my particular part of America at that time — and no doubt in many other people’s schools as well.  Elementary school children will do their best to absorb whatever adults in authority tell them.  You can give them good, bad, or indifferent ideas because they have no way of determining which is which.  “Don’t judge people by the color of their skin” actually was, and is, a pretty good idea.  It’s a less folksy way of saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  “Try to judge a person on his individual merits” might be a broader and more forgiving phrase.  Unfortunately, no good idea ever makes it through the sausage grinder of progressive ideology with much of its goodness left intact.

Close on the heels of “don’t judge people by the color of their skin” came the seemingly harmless not-quite-corollary that “all of us are alike under the skin.”  What this meant, as any child can tell you, is that no race of people is any better than any other — not in intelligence, not in self-control, and not in moral virtue.  If white people were, on average, more successful and better adapted than blacks, this had to be the result of the ugly racist past that blacks had suffered through.  As white people, it was our collective fault.  It could not have been even partially the result of any underlying real difference.

There is a quietly growing body of people, sometimes grouped under the rubric of “race realists,” who now argue that different groups of people with different genetics actually aren’t entirely alike — not in intelligence, temperament, or any other characteristic.  While it still pains me to say this, such a view is not fundamentally racist, nor is it likely false.  I say it isn’t racist because I still believe in rule #1: let’s judge individuals on their individual merits if we can.  Group characteristics are averages, and that is something very different.  Most Watusis are rather taller than most Chinese.  This is a fact, not an instance of “height bigotry.”  Norwegians are more likely to have blue eyes than the typical Venezuelan.  Go and have a look yourself — this truth will be revealed to you.  The common “knowledge” that all racial differences are merely superficial, and that all groups average out perfectly the same in the mental world despite their obvious differences in the physiological world, is not the product of careful scientific inquiry.  We’ve been told it is, but no one — and I mean no one— has ever shown me any evidence.

A tacit agreement has permeated the West since WW2 that it is simply too dirty and too dangerous to even imagine that races, or cultures, for that matter, might be more than superficially different.  Believe they are different, and you will be called a Nazi and accused of advocating genocide.  This accusation is nonsense on its face.  Relativism unhinges everything that the West has ever accomplished.  Real science is what gets slaughtered when you force upon it the ugly concept of the taboo question — the hypothetical that can never even be discussed.  The race realists are probably right — but even doing honest research on racial differences has long been a one-way ticket to academic suicide.  Charles Murray and James Watson are only two of the names that come to mind.

We’ve gone farther and farther down the rabbit hole since the long forgotten 1970s.  In this, the year of our Lord 2019, the word “racist” now means nothing more than “critical of any non-Caucasian.”  We see this so often that instances need hardly be enumerated.  Where “don’t judge a person by the color of his skin” espoused a principle that was equally applicable to all persons, “don’t be critical of a non-Caucasian” is a commandment of a wholly different kind.  Far from being egalitarian and meritocratic, it could easily be restated “judge a non-Caucasian innocent by the color of his skin — and judge an unapologetic Caucasian guilty by the color of his.”  So much for equality.  So much for Dr. King and his high-minded rhetoric.  If white supremacy is morally bad, it is difficult to see how non-white supremacy is likely to be any better.

There were some real racists in my time, people who looked no deeper than skin color — ever.  Unfortunately, there are far more real racists now.  The lopsided leftist formula now in vogue states explicitly that only white people can be racist, and what looks like racism on the part of any non-white person is merely an expression of a reasonable sense of outrage.  If that’s not racist, nothing is.  Exempt a human being from accountability for his individual behavior, and you create not only a racist, but a barbarian.  A society bereft of principles isn’t really a society at all.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  The echo of this sentiment is now only a whisper.  If the word “racism” has been twisted beyond all recognition, the word “character” has all but slipped from our language altogether.  To have “character” means, or used to mean, being honest, having some semblance of self-restraint — generally being something other than a graspy, self-absorbed, developmentally arrested burden on the backs of more productive people.  “Character” is not the unique province of any race in particular — but it is a Western value that we all ought to aspire to.

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