RACISM, PREJUDICE, AND INTOLERANCE
Everyone is, to some degree, racist or prejudiced. The goal, of course, is to minimize the ill effects of racism and prejudice, but deep down, we are all disposed toward racism and prejudice. I will attempt brevity because I’ve got a bunch of stickers to scrape off the living room floor and since I don’t have a scraper, I’ll have to rely on my inner MacGyver to come up with a solution.
What I argue is threefold. First, everyone is racist. It’s a natural instinct, which, like a tumor, can be either benign or dangerous. Second, the zero-tolerance idea popular these days that rejects racism in its entirety exacerbates problems on race relations. Third, accepting that racism is natural will do significantly more to reduce the most negative of racisms effects.
The first part of my argument is simple. Everyone is racist. It’s a natural instinct hardwired into our current manifestation. We are a society that places great importance on compartmentalization. We grow up and naturally begin to form affinities toward our family and community. We constantly judge, grade, and relegate people into a number of different categories. Gender is the first thing that goes through this process of differentiation. Skin colour comes second followed by things like religion, class, height, weight, etc (the list actually goes on forever). If, like most people, your family and community are homogeneous, chances are you are going to label people outside the norm as ‘outsiders’. Say hello to racism.
Second, the zero-tolerance idea popular these days that rejects racism in its entirety exacerbates the problem because you cannot eradicate racism. As I argue, racism is human nature. Thankfully, it is also fluid so it is possible to minimize its most negative effects.
What I am arguing is that not all racism is bad with a capital b. It is important to note that this isn’t to say that “some racism” is good and should be promoted or encouraged. In fact, I would argue that it isn’t necessary to promote or encourage racism at its root since it’s a natural instinct that we discover whether we like it or not. However, some people have convinced themselves, and others, that all racism is to be rejected, and each and every person who demonstrates any instance of racism, no matter the context, should be shamed, ridiculed, and ostracized.
As I have said in previous posts, and it’s an important theme in my worldview, “When people are criticized or humiliated for their actions, they rarely respond well. In fact they often become defensive and resent their critic.” I also support the idea that tolerance is the ability to accept behaviors and beliefs, different from your own, that you may not approve of. And that this tolerance does not require you to accept a difficult or unpleasant situation even if you do not want to. The solution to this problem requires dialogue that is tolerant and non-threatening, even if you are responding to threats.
In my experience, people who speak so vehemently against racism are, in most cases, not in direct competition with people from other races. They are, for the most part, middle- upper-middle class [insert race here] that work in sectors, live in neighborhoods, and send their kids to schools that are predominantly [insert race here]. They will, of course, point out that they have colleagues and acquaintances that are of a different race, but those colleagues and acquaintances are just token participants; exceptions to the rule that pad credentials and pose no immediate threat.
The mission statement of zero-tolerance “progressives” denounces racist behaviors and beliefs in their entirety, resulting in the censoring and banishment of vast numbers of people; deporting them, in many cases, into the welcoming embrace of frustration and hate. The tolerant and non-threatening dialogue required to masticate racism and tip the scale of its effects toward benign status is difficult. It is far easier to criticize, condemn, and complain.
Nevertheless, the veneer of this zero-tolerance of racist behaviors and beliefs is flimsy and relies heavily on keeping sectors mostly segregated. Paradoxically, it’s easy to be ‘modern’ and ‘dynamic’ when your careers, neighborhoods, and schools are, for the most part, wealthy and homogenous. Likewise, it is far easier to shallowly criticize, condemn, and complain about individual sources of racism than it is to conduct frank discussions on the policies and initiatives that need to be implemented to lessen the appeal of racism in its more dangerous forms. Indeed, I’ve yet to see an article documenting the flood of white progressives into black neighborhoods.
What’s been concocted is a new-school-puritanical intolerance of the vaguely intolerant. Advocates of zero-tolerance, a group that represses their own racism, also repress others for not living up to some arbitrary list of what is ok and not ok to say, do, feel.
There ARE individuals out there who do important and impactful work aimed at reducing dangerous levels of racism. But they aren’t given much attention since they’re usually poor and they’re usually racist themselves. Nevertheless, their numbers pale in comparison with the shallow low-road progressives who simply want to virtue signal.
To give you an idea of what I am talking about when I say that most of the people doing the good work are poor and racist, one only needs to take a look at the original rainbow coalition. Take a look at this question and answer:
Q. In Chicago, you [the Black Panther Party] formed the first Rainbow Coalition with the Young Lords and the Young Patriots Organization. Was this controversial in the Black Panther Party? I don’t think it could have been easy for Black Radicals to accept working with whites who wore the Confederate Flag on their uniforms.
A. First of all, the Patriots’ leader William “Preacherman” Fesperman was one of the best human beings I have ever met. …. However, many of the Panthers left the group when we built alliances. Some didn’t like the Patriots, some just didn’t like white people in general. They were heavy into nationalism. …. The Rainbow Coalition was just a code word for class struggle. … Looking back, was there enough basis for unity? Hell, yeah! (Source)
“The rainbow coalition was just code word for class struggle.” That’s an immensely important statement right there.
The Rainbow Coalition was a mix of raw energy, poverty, frustration, and racism. And the coalition was successful at reducing the significance of racism and purging malignant elements because they acknowledged that their common social ills trumped their racist views. And even though some members left because they did not yet accept the more arduous path of tolerance; with some even choosing to join more radical racists groups, the alliance proved that when people interact and cooperate on common issues, the power of racism dissipates and it becomes less of a dividing issue. The rainbow coalition isn’t an isolated incident. But I can’t get into more examples. I’ve got risotto to make for dinner.
Hate, bigotry, and xenophobia are different.
Hate, bigotry, and xenophobia are an entirely different stage of racism and it’s the most dangerous stage. As I said earlier, racism can be benign or malignant. Malignant racism occurs when racism mutates into the ranting and ravings of bigots and hate groups. Nevertheless, even in situations where hate, bigotry, and xenophobia are involved, it is important that tolerant and non-threatening dialogue be employed during any rebuttal. We can’t entirely remove the most malignant of racists, but we can certainly attempt to convince people to return from the edge. I am appalled by white supremacists marching down the street spewing racist vitriol. But I am equally appalled with the vitriol spewing from members of the now ubiquitous counter-march. Nothing is gained from a counter-vitriol spewing.
Much could be gained working hard to reduce the numbers of people who get caught up in the clutches of people who use racism to stir up and stoke hatred. And that’s the kind of hard work the rainbow coalition was trying to accomplish.
What we must do is embrace the concept of gray areas, and since we are a society that loves compartmentalization, I have decided to divide society into the three broad categories of Left Racism, Moderate Racism, and Right Racism.
Left Racists suppress their own racism and fly the flag of new-school-puritanical intolerance. They receive most of their support from the middle- upper-middle class: the so-called coastal elites, and their global counterparts. They are also far more decentralized and without much leadership. Their doctrine was born out of shame and guilt.
Right Racists, by contrast, have a much cruder, more basic doctrine. While there are plenty of ‘lone wolf’ types out there, most right racists join or follow group’s lead by charismatic men who, while bigoted, are good at agitating and amplifying very simplistic and easy to understand racist doctrines. Right racists have traditionally recruited members from areas that are tragically poor in every context of the word and deeply religious.
I would fall into the Moderate Racists category. This category has the biggest flock, but day by day, the Left Racists marginalize more and more Moderate Racists and push them closer and closer to adopting Right Racist frustrations. Moderates should also resist the ‘fashionable’, ‘virtue signaling’, and instant gratification afforded by Left Racism. It most certainly is an assault from two sides for Moderate Racists.
It is imperative that moderates fight back against both Left and Right racists by focusing on issues that affect everyone, irrespective of their race, gender, or sexuality.
We must come to terms with the fact that everyone is racist, that racism has its ups and downs, and that vast majority of racist incidents are not intentionally overt.
Work needs to be done to convince people that levels of racism increase in communities that demonstrate high levels of poverty, unemployment, limited access to health care, and inconsistent education provision, and the only way to return racism to a state of benignity is by focusing on greater-good issues.
The Left, so broad and scattered, is so fragmented because new-school-puritanical intolerance has pitted people against each other because of an infinite number of petty disagreements on what is and isn’t racism and prejudice. Setting aside the most mundane of differences and embracing the practice of pure tolerance would pave the way for long-lasting beneficial change. By employing candid levelheaded discussions into what is and isn’t acceptable and granting leeway to those who do not follow the path “religiously”, greater cooperation on issues that crosscut race, gender, and sexuality could be achieved. Please understand, I AM NOT saying someone should put up with someone else being a racist asshole. I am simply advocating a different strategy of rebuttal.
The more people interact with each other, even under difficult circumstances, the power and prevalence or dangerous racism will naturally decrease. Greater care must be taken during periods of economic hardship, but preparation and anticipation is easy when there is a common desire for something.
I know there is more to say, and I’ll probably return to this topic later, but I’ve got to stop here. My daughter wants to play. She went shopping and got apple juice and ‘hang-burgers’.
Daughter: “What do you want?” Me: “Can I have some apple juice, please?” Daughter: “Blue or Brown?”