The self-appointed champions of “civil rights” render the term racism increasingly meaningless. Where juries see self-defense, they see homicidal racial animus. They turn aggressors into victims and demand that society accord the victims the status of heroes, deserving of memorials in public schools, a suggestion that the White House recently touted for Michael Brown.
A desire for power, not justice, is driving their protests. Their willingness to commit injustices during the protests underscores their lack of interest in justice. They are perfectly willing to harm innocent people for the sake of attaining power. “No justice, no peace” is just a slogan for new injustices. It is a slogan that leads to everything from looting and burning down buildings to disrupting traffic with “die-ins” to throwing police officers in prison for acts of self-defense.
It is not that the Ferguson protesters have a good end but select bad means to achieve it. Their end isn’t even good. It is simply raw power, and if they got it, they would use that power to commit fresh injustices.
This is what makes the “national conversation on race” so hopeless. It has nothing to do with the truth and couldn’t possibly culminate in a better society. The definitions of injustice and racism used in it are bogus. Struggling to find real instances of racism, the organizers of the conversation have to resort to claims of “collective” racism, which ends up meaning defensible polices with which they disagree. By defining racism so loosely, they can find racism pretty much anywhere and hurl accusations of racism with greater and greater confidence.
Under this shapeless definition of racism, liberals can see racism in opposition to Obama’s policies, in questioning of Eric Holder on Capitol Hill, in opposition to affirmative action, in policing of high-crime areas, and so on. If racism is “collective,” meaning all whites are racist whether they realize it or not, then why not twist a police officer’s act of self-defense into an act of sinister racism?
False accusations of racism are exactly what one should expect in a culture that defines racism so imprecisely. Eric Holder has long encouraged the idea that racism is “subtle” and that the worst forms of racism are concealed in conservative policies.
Urging people to ferret out “subtle” racism invited debacles in Ferguson and Florida. But Holder didn’t care. The protests conformed to his hope that America would cease to be a “nation of cowards” and eye racism everywhere. Indisputable racism bored him. As he put it once, subtle racism is far more dangerous than “outbursts of bigotry.” He said the “greatest threats do not announce themselves in screaming headlines” but lurk in “policies that disenfranchise certain groups.”
Holder should be pleased with this recent story from CNN.com: “The new threat: ‘Racism without racists,’” which quotes a Duke sociologist as saying, “The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits.”
The frantic search for racism under this mindset grows ever more desperate and comically trivial. Author Jacqueline Woodson, for example, solemnly addressed the “pain of the watermelon joke,” a reference to an inside story a friend of hers, author Daniel Handler, relayed at a recent book awards event. It is hard to find any real racism in the episode. It wasn’t even a joke. Hander simply relayed the fact that Woodson is allergic to watermelon and that they had once talked about the rich literary material in that autobiographical detail. But Woodson, not missing her chance at self-important victimhood, writes about the aside in the New York Times as a moment of great trauma: “In a few short words, the audience and I were asked to take a step back from everything I’ve ever written, a step back from the power and meaning of the National Book Award, lest we forget, lest I forget, where I came from.”
Handler, true to our propagandized times, has duly accused himself of racism and donated $110,000 to a diversity group in reparations for his high crime.
These empty controversies are a perverse measure of racial progress. The “civil rights” establishment can’t find enough authentic racism to stay in business, so it has to turn to self-defense cases and scaremongering about “subtle racism” for survival.
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