Uncommon Sense

May 19, 2016

Trump, Political Correctness, and the New Racism

If you view the 20th Century from afar, you can see the tide of racism at ebb. The reasons for this reduction in racism were both political and social (hard to separate the two). It became more and more illegal to discriminate against someone for superfluous reasons (gender, skin color, ethnicity, sexual identification, etc.) and socially it became less and less acceptable to utter racist comments. A stereotype was created, for example, of one’s racist uncle who said things as family gatherings that were quite inappropriate, but those statements were common fare for all those gathered not that long ago. But slowly we achieved a society in which saying anything appearing to be racist or sexist acquired swift approbation.

Then along came “political correctness,” the criticism of which is pushback against the pushback against racism. As this pot slowly bubbled on the back burner, along came the Internet. The Internet allowed anonymity to people making comments, freeing them from any social approbation for making racist or sexist comments and Internet Trolls were born (some with their own websites). Then along came Trump.

Internet Trolls acquire their power from their namelessness and invisibility to social checks and balances. But Candidate Trump has openly made racist comments, under no such protection, and has been very, very successful. If a candidate for the highest political office in the land can make racist and sexist declarations and succeed politically while doing it, then why should others refrain? Who has higher political and social standing than our President, the first among equals?

The New Racism is, yes, the Old Racism. It hasn’t changed but it was slowly being driven out of our culture. I fear now that, as we continue as a society, its expression will be more and more open. Those criticizing it will be accused of rampant political correctness. Those freed from such societal constraints as were being constructed will become more and more prominent in our discourse.

The source of this cancer on our society is the inability of people to accept responsibility for their own lives. Instead, if their life is shitty, it is the fault of “Others.” We are not responsible for all of the negative impacts on our lives, we are only responsible for how we respond to them. Blaming groups of “Others” in a blanket fashion can salve an ego, but only a very small ego, one possessed by a very small person.

If I were to urge all of us to adopt the wisdom of the ages, I would refer us to the wisdom of Rodney King: “Can’t we all (just) get along?”

(Note: Mr. King did not include the word “just” but we have added it collectively because the question then more closely conforms to the desire of people to just get on with their lives without being judged based upon irrelevant criteria.)

December 24, 2013

The New Racism

Since the delights of overtly demeaning those with skins darker than ours has become highly unacceptable, racism has had to go underground. It has gone underground so far that some refer to our now “post-racial” society, still others state that it is the talk of race that must stop to finally eradicate the last vestiges of racism.

O . . . M . . . G. . . .

The racism of today is on clear display and in some ways more cruel than that of the past. At least we aren’t lynching people right and left, instead we doom them to lives of poverty and frustration. African-Americans aren’t “niggers” anymore, they are just shiftless and lazy . . . and unemployed.

The major objection of the non-wealthy conservative set is that their tax monies are being redistributed to unworthy people, people who need to get out and get a job and support themselves instead of laying around living off of the dole. Of course, there is some truth connected to their fantasies, a few grains of sand on their beach that fit their criteria, but mostly they are flat out wrong.

How did this happen? Well, it didn’t happen by accident. Consider that when Franklin Roosevelt signed the unemployment insurance law into being, that agricultural wage workers and live-in domestic servants were excluded from such benefits. What rationale could be had for these exclusions? Do ag workers, working for pay, not work hard? Domestic servants who live with their employers lose their housing as well as their paycheck if they are “let go” (nice euphemism). Why were they excluded? Could it have been that somewhere near 80% of all such workers at that time were black and that Roosevelt needed his Southern Democrats (the “Dixiecrats,” a telling label) to get the law passed?

Is it an accident that white ex-cons are more likely to be hired for a job than African-Americans? Is it an accident that relatively minor non-violent lawbreaking comes with very long sentences, yet rich white kids who kill four people with a pickup truck get probation at what constitutes a resort? Is it an accident that white people can “stand their ground” and shoot and kill unarmed black people, people that they deliberately stalked to put themselves in harm’s way? Currently a greater number of African-Americans are in jail than were slaves in 1850. If you are black, you will get a sentence serving more years than if you are white, for the same crime . . . always.

Is it an accident that white millionaire farmers get large federal agricultural subsidies protected but poor people get their food stamps cut? Is it an accident that if the word “welfare” or “poverty” are mentioned on TV news shows, it is almost always accompanied by video footage of black people? Black people constitute on 9% of the U.S. population and if every single one of them were poor (they are not) they would not constitute a majority of the poor, so why are blacks shown many times more often than whites in such coverage?

The largest recipient group benefiting from the social safety net in this country is elderly white women (they live longer than men and are younger when married and live longer than black men and black women) but Social Security is still under attack, even though it has a 2+ trillion dollar surplus, is solvent for the next twenty years “as-is,” and simple adjustments could make it solvent for the foreseeable future. Why? Could it be the conservative view that all “welfare” is going mostly to unworthy black people? Could it not? I am not willing to concede that some of our conservative lawmakers have honest policy objections based upon reality; you may if you wish.

Racism is woven so tightly into the fabric of our culture that it is hard to see unless you look closely.

Look closely.


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