We live in an age that obsesses over past evils while ignoring present ones. In this spirit, the checkered Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam patted himself on the back for the recent removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from the U.S. Capitol. Northam, who is known for dressing up in blackface and rationalizing infanticide, spoke about Lee as his moral inferior. “We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” Northam said after the statue’s removal. “The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion.”
In this national spasm of self-righteousness, no heroes of yesteryear are safe. The name of even Abraham Lincoln may soon be scraped off a high school in San Francisco, where radicals have decided that Lincoln didn’t sufficiently demonstrate that “black lives mattered to him.”
Liberals not only fixate on race but use race-based ideology to judge character.
We’re told that all of this iconoclasm is in service to “equality.” But is it? Or is it part of a new reign of reverse racism that simply substitutes new injustices for old ones? Many of those crying loudest for racial equality do not, upon closer inspection, support it. They prefer an intensely color-conscious society in which those who did not commit racial injustice must submit to those who didn’t suffer it.
The commissars of this reign of reverse racism call for everything from reparations to quotas to reeducation. The recent controversy at the Dalton School in New York City is Exhibit A of the culture of reverse racism at work. Faculty members are clamoring for the following changes at the school, reports the New York Post:
Hiring 12 full-time diversity officers, and multiple psychologists to support students “coping with race-based traumatic stress.”
Assigning a staffer dedicated to black students who have “complaints or face disciplinary action,” and a full-time advocate to help black kids “navigate a predominantly white institution.”
Paying the student debt of black staffers upon hiring them.
Requiring courses that focus on “Black liberation” and “challenges to white supremacy.”
Compensating any student of color who appears in Dalton promotional material.
Abolishing high-level academic courses by 2023 if the performance of black students is not on par with non-blacks.
Requiring “anti-racism” statements from all staffers.
Overhauling the entire curriculum, reading lists and student plays to reflect diversity and social justice themes.
Divesting from companies that “criminalize or dehumanize” black people, including private prisons and tech firms that manufacture police equipment or weapons.
Donating 50 percent of all fundraising dollars to NYC public schools if Dalton is not representative of the city in terms of gender, race, socioeconomic background, and immigration status by 2025.
Such proposals are a formula for resentment and division, not unity. A culture of racial recrimination simply yields up fresh injustices. The Left increasingly speaks of “equity,” its latest euphemism for reverse racism. The Al Sharptons of the world seek not equality but domination, a power grab that has above all hurt black communities, as black scholar Shelby Steele points out: “and so, after 50-60 years now, past the civil rights bill, we’re worse off in many socio-economic categories than we were 60 years ago.” The color-conscious approach of white liberals has only resulted in a new crippling paternalism, says Steele:
White Americans live under this accusation that they’re racist; they need to prove that they’re not racist. In order to prove that you’re not racist, you need to take over the fate of black people and say, go with us, we’ll engineer you into the future, we’ll engineer you into equality.
Life doesn’t work like that. We have to engineer ourselves. Period. There is no other way. It — unless you can rewrite the rules of the human condition. There is no circumstance in history where people can … no matter how much guilt they have over the oppressive majority, there is no … indication anywhere that you can somehow get them to … lift you up and get you out of … the condition that you’re — it’s not a possibility.
The dream of Martin Luther King Jr. — “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” — remains just a dream. Liberals, if anything, have turned it into a nightmare: they not only fixate on race but use race-based ideology to judge character. You have none, in their view, if you don’t subscribe to their ideology. It is only on that spurious basis that cretinous pols can stand in judgment of the Lincolns and Lees.
The hucksterism of the reverse racists will flourish under a Biden administration. Biden promises greater racial harmony, even as he renders it impossible by urging Americans to swallow the poisons of identity politics.