The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘racism’

WHITE PRIVILEGE

Now that the “War on Women” campaign has gotten somewhat haggard, the Democrats have found a new slogan and are actively campaigning on it.  That latest diatribe is “White Privilege.”  Presumably this is the reason that minorities (translation black Americans) are at the bottom of the socio-economic pile.  It seems only prudent that we should examine the issue and try to separate fact from fiction.

In one respect I have to say that I agree with the premise that it’s easier to make a go of it in America if you’re white.  It’s also easier to make it in Hollywood if you fit the stereotype that we have developed that describes a person as handsome or beautiful.  But the fact that you’re either white or beautiful or both hardly insures a successful and meaningful life.  Take a look at all the Hollywood celebrities, replete with success and adulation who have met untimely, early death, often because their success allowed them to develop habits which overwhelmed their ability to cope with their fame.

At the heart of the “White Privilege” scenario is the assumption that America only affords real opportunity to whites – and more specifically male whites.  They are the ones who are purportedly in control of the socio-economic structure and their ultimate goal is to maintain their power position on the totem pole of life, subjugating all who are not members of their exclusive club to a life of servitude, or at best, mediocrity if not downright poverty.  Well, it’s a theory.

The continuation of that theory is that the world would be a much better place were it not for those white men who have, through their philosophy caused events in history to transpire, which not only negatively have impacted people of color in the United States but worldwide.  Were it not for this self-aggrandizing view and execution of life, the world would be a wonderful Utopia.  Surely anyone with even the smallest modicum of historical perspective would reject this idea out of hand.

The current movement to sanitize the American conscience, promulgated as part of the ideology of the left by eradicating the NFL team name “Redskins” is an excellent example of how the manifesto of “White Privilege” exerts itself in a practical way.  To those enrolled in the movement, the Italian or German, Irish or Bohemian immigrant who came to this country at the turn of the 20th century and never set foot west of the Hudson River is still bound up in the collective “wrongdoings” of those who ventured west and encountered Cochise and Sitting Bull.  This narrative also conveniently overlooks the fact that in pre-Columbian America there were numerous conflicts between warring Native American tribes to which the white man simply wasn’t a party.  And many of those conflicts continued after the paleface got here and in which he played no part.

It is not altogether surprising that those who view history as beginning with the second Bush administration in 2000 have missed most of what has transpired since man began recording his activities on cave walls and papyrus.  And being able to sandwich thousands of years of man’s history into less than two decades serves the purpose well for those who are slow readers and for whom the outstanding literature may appear a bit overwhelming.  The interludes into “ancient history” since the founding of America is only something into which they delve in order to try to make their case.

But the real complaint of “White Privilege” has very little to do with the indigenous people who lived here before Europeans set foot on North America.  The actual focus is on black people and the circumstances under which they came here and in which they lived and now live.  The reason for that is quite simple.  They, unlike the descendants of the Cherokee, the Apache and the Zuni’s represent a very significant bloc of voters.  Sadly, black Americans do not have casinos to supplement their incomes.  And with an unemployment rate twice the national average, many are reliant on government for their subsistence.  That, of course, is a theory but one that I believe is plausible.

But let’s play a game of “What If.”  I used to amuse myself with this when I was a child and I still play that game today from time to time.  So, what if the indigenous tribes in Africa did not war against each other and enslave those whom they conquered; and what if Europeans didn’t buy those who were already enslaved and continue their condition, bringing them to the New World or predatorily subjugate additional black Africans to satisfy their manpower needs?  Since the theory of “White Privilege” also includes a component known as racism, America would have been an almost exclusively white society and would have had no reason to invite or encourage the immigration of blacks.  That a “civilized,” first world society would uniformly hold such a racist view is not surprising and we find an excellent example of a modern, industrialized society with just such an attitude towards exclusivity.  It’s name is Japan.

Given our scenario, those who came to the Caribbean, South and North America would have remained in Africa as would their descendants.  If we had an “inner city ghetto” it would be composed of people whose skin color was white.  So given the racism we’ve postulated, would those who grew up in Africa have had a better life than those whom the left purportedly advocates for in this country?  The answer is, probably not.

The quality of life for most blacks in Africa is something that our most despondent black American would immediately reject out of hand.  There is absolutely no measure whether in terms of life expectancy, economics or having access to conveniences which we take for granted by which the typical African black can compete with his American black counterpart.  The recent outbreak of Ebola in several African nations and their mortality rate is an excellent example of how much anyone in this country, irrespective of color, is advantaged over those blacks on most of the African continent.

While the left goes on about “White Privilege” it ignores one very important point in its railing against racism.  That is that, unlike their counterparts in Africa, American blacks have a modern infrastructure, access to education and health care and happen to live in a country where it is less important “what you look like” than it is “what you do with your life.”  It may be that some of us have a tougher row to hoe than others.  But nothing is impossible and people have overcome great challenges throughout mankind’s history.

Perhaps it’s time for those black Americans to get off the “rhetoric bandwagon,” take stock and then take steps to improve their situation.  No one ever said it was going to be easy.  But that statement applies to people of all colors.

THE MOUTH THAT ROARED

“Glad tidings of great joy.”  That is the message of the Nativvity, preached from a thousand pulpits this Christmas.  But for at least one of our clergy, Jesse Jackson, Sr. there is never a holiday so solemn that he can’t refrain from preaching about the ethereal to offer his opinion on the mundane.  In his most recent foray, the Rev. Mr. Jackson decided to express his outrage at the “racist and anti-gay comments” that “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson made in his GQ interview.

Thanks to the controversy of Mr. Robertson’s remarks, there may only be a handful of people in the United States who have not seen one or more episodes of “Duck Dynasty.”  I am one of them.   If I want to watch reality television, I have only to step out on the streets and observe those who pass by.  At least that is unscripted.

I’m not certain how many of us read the GQ interview.  I have and would agree with those who found Mr. Robertson’s remarks to have been phrased in a less than poetic way.  But those are the remarks he made and considering his background as a backwoodsman I’m sure that he expressed himself in the way which is familiar to him.  That is hardly a reason for condemning the man.  If it were, Vice President Biden would be under a gag order.

For those of us who subscribe to a Christian ethos,as I presume the Rev. Mr. Jackson does, there is no reason nor does any of us have the right to condemn anyone else.  We leave that job to a higher authority.  Subsequent to the interview, Mr. Robertson made it quite clear that he personally condemned no one personally.  That is not his job.

What Jesse Jackson categorized as “anti-gay” remarks actually related to sexual activity outside the traditional marital relationship.  Mr. Jackson should be aware that the Bible does condemn all sexual activity other than between a husband and wife, whether that is between two men or two women or a man and woman who are not married.  We all transgress.  The Rev. Mr. Jackson is no exception, having fathered a child outside his marriage.  Hopefully he has mended his former ways.  But it is hard to listen to his condemnation of another on this subject and not have some reservations about his sincerity or the worth of his words.

Then there is the second issue, Mr. Robertson’s “racist” remarks.  As far as I could tell from the interview, Mr. Robertson merely described the condition and the attitudes of those blacks with whom he worked in the field.  Whether his interpretation of their condition was accurate or not, none of us can truly say.  But to categorize his belief that those blacks never expressed outrage at their conditions as being racist seems to be an overreach.

Racism – or for that matter – any form of prejudice is a horrible thing.  All of us should pity those who make it the central point of their worldview.  That includes Mr. Jackson and all others who profiteer by pitting one race against another.  People who truly oppose racism, as Mr. Jackson did back in the ‘60’s should be equally outraged when anyone is attacked solely on the basis of that person’s skin color.  Of course, back then, Mr. Jackson would not have attacked Phil Robertson for his position on homosexuality since he espoused exactly the same view..

Have we heard Mr. Jackson speak out about the “Knockout Game” in which predominantly black young hoodlums attack innocent, defenseless people and try to knock them unconscious with a single punch?  Have we heard him protest the fact that most of the victims have been Jews?  Has he spoken out about the tragic shooting murder last week of Brian Friedland in the Short Hills, NJ mall at the hands of four black thugs?  Of course, this most recent murder might have been the unfortunate result of a car jacking, nothing more.  But whenever a black is attacked by a white person, Mr. Jackson assumes that the motivating factor behind the attack is racism.  Why doesn’t the same logic apply when the roles of assailant and victim are reversed?

Over the years I’ve watched Jesse Jackson morph from a committed advocate for the disadvantaged to a purveyor of racism for the sake of personal gain and prestige.  That is perhaps the greatest tragedy – watching his perversion from a crusader to a succubus.

While his words once had meaning and his message had value, they are now little more than the vitriolic output of a mouth that once roared and whose passion once soared.  And there are fewer people of conscience who  bother to listen to him any more and worse, are embarrassed for him..

“DUMB BROADS”

With the exception of the black community, there have been no more ardent supporters of President Obama in his 2008 and 2012 election campaigns than women.  They have lauded and applauded his “inclusive” policies which they see benefiting members of the female gender.  And the president has, in fact, appointed many women to important posts within his administration – such as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  Perhaps Obama should have appointed a woman to head the Department of Education rather than Arne Duncan.

Secretary Duncan grew up in my old neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago.  He attended the University of Chicago’s Laboratory School which educated children who were generally rather brilliant but seemed to be socially inept, at least that was the consensus of opinion of those of us who interacted with these kids.  He went on to Harvard where he graduated “magna cum laude” with a degree in sociology.

After returning to Chicago, Secretary Duncan was ultimately appointed CEO of the Chicago Public School System in 2001.  In the nearly eight years he served in that position, until his appointment by his neighbor, Barack Obama, the Chicago School system saw some improvement in testing scores.  That was coupled with the closing of 45 elementary and secondary schools, primarily in the inner city which served a black student population.  That was unprecedented until the recent closure of an additional 50 schools in the city this year.

Perhaps these school closures were determined to be the best course of action based on his Harvard senior year thesis, “The values, aspirations and opportunities of the urban underclass.”  If so, they vary significantly from the findings that fellow Hyde Park resident, Nobel Prize winner Gunnar Myrdal concluded in his 1944 work, “AN AMERICAN DILEMMA: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy.”

During the eight years that Secretary Duncan ran the Chicago School system, several important events occurred.  The first is that the union representing teachers was able to extract a combined salary and benefits increase for their members totaling 42% of their previous compensation.  The second is that rather than requesting that parents and others who were concerned for the welfare of our children in the public school system contribute classroom items like scotch tape and craft paper, the school system asked for contributions of toilet paper to replenish the supplies that had been depleted.

Now that Secretary Duncan is running the Department of Education, one of his main focuses has been to implement the educational curriculum known as “Common Core.”  With the lure of receiving Federal grants by accepting this, forty-five states have agreed to teach this agenda.  The stated objective purpose of Common Core is to improve test scores throughout the country – certainly a goal that seems admirable.

But as parents and some school administrators are finding, there is much which is questionable in the material that will be required to be taught.  For example, one text entitled “World History” has an entire thirty-six page chapter devoted to Islam.  There are no similar chapters on Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Hinduism or any other faith, or for that matter agnosticism or atheism.

Perhaps the selection of this particular text reflects the Secretary’s interest in elevating the “downtrodden” and those minimized by our society.  Or perhaps this curriculum is an acquiescence to the unions as teaching Common Core will allow their membership to avoid personal accountability for the development or the lack of it of their students.

During his tenure in office, we have heard little from Secretary Duncan – which is befitting the head of a bureaucracy that probably should be abolished to help balance the budget.  But the other day, the Secretary gained the public limelight by putting his foot in his mouth (and later apologizing for his statement), by saying that those who object to this initiative are “’White suburban moms’ who oppose the educational reforms known as the Common Core State Standards because the benchmarks reveal that their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

That statement is both sexist and racist.  If this were the only such sort of comment, one could and probably should easily dismiss it as an unfortunate gaffe.  After all, sexism and racism is the proper venue of fat, middle aged, conservative white men – or at least the liberal left has so concluded.  So coming from someone in the most “transparent administration” ever in office, how could a member of that team offer such a comment?

Well, let’s turn to Colorado for a moment.  An organization which has developed a website that actually works, is feverishly attempting to interest young people in Obamacare through a series of print ads.  Here is one example.

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I’m not sure but this sexual objectification of women might even have Betty Friedan turning in her grave.  But there is a glimmer of hope.

Perhaps Secretary Duncan can work together with the website’s creators for the common good.  The website, by the way, is www.doyougotinsurance.com.  Apparently, those who created the site missed the Common Core class on English grammar.  Perhaps that’s why this country has been producing so many “Dumb Dudes” and an equal number of “Dumb (although not generally pregnant) Broads.”

EVEN IF IT TAKES A VILLAGE – WHY DID WE PUT THE IDIOT IN CHARGE?

There’s something about Rep. Charles Rangel (D – NY 15th District) that, well, let’s say, is colorful.  He’s never been a person to mince words or observe the finer points of the Internal Revenue Code as his 2011 censure by Congress will attest.  He is also the third longest serving member in Congress and he happens to be darkly complected.

When I think about Charlie Rangel I am always reminded of the story about the man who was speaking to the village idiot:

Man:  “You are without a doubt the stupidest person I’ve ever met.  How did you get that way?”

Idiot:  “Well, I can guarantee you it didn’t happen overnight.”

Charlie Rangel has had 42 years to hone his craft on Capitol Hill and his picture should appear next to any thoughtful argument dealing with the merits of term limits.  Only a Congressional ethics investigation impeded his becoming the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.  Those are the people who spend the money that we send to Washington – plus an additional 20% or even more in a really good year.

Rep. Rangel is back in the limelight over some comments he made the other day regarding the Tea Party.  You’ll remember them as being the people whose applications for tax exempt status were held up for deliberate political reasons by the IRS.

To quote the Congressman, “It is the same group we faced in the south with those white crackers and the dogs and the police.”

Not to dispute the Congressman – but that group that he and other civil rights activists faced in the ‘60’s are probably long dead or at the least they are octogenarians.  I haven’t seen any pictures of Tea Party activities wherein the participants were in wheel chairs with special cup holders to house their dentures.

But let’s return to the statement about “white crackers”.  Every reference (and I looked up seven) refers to the term as an “offensive slur”.  In other words, it is an overtly racial derogatory remark.  Has there been any outburst from the white community demanding the Congressman’s entrails?  Not that I’ve heard.  Nor would one expect that there would be.

The same term, you will recall was apparently used by Trayvon Martin in his description of George Zimmerman – at least according to the prosecution’s star witness.  Once again – there were no expressions of outrage by American whites, no marches, no protests.  This should lead all of us to ask, why do American whites not respond to racial epithets in the same volatile way as American blacks?

I think there is a simple yet profound explanation – one which speaks to the heart of this issue and to the great divide which separates us.  It all boils down to self-image.

It is extremely easy and rather alluring to advance the argument that blacks have been denied opportunity simply because of their skin color.  And it would be naïve to argue that in many cases that is not true.  But this argument assumes that black Americans have uniquely been denied opportunities which have always been open to those who came from Europe and were white.  Any review of the history of immigration to this country will rapidly disprove the validity of that theory.

The Dutch weren’t happy when the English showed up.  Neither of them was too keen on the Germans – and when the Irish made it here they were all concerned that the country was on the road to hell.  Thank heaven for the Italians and the Eastern Europeans.  Now there was a whole new collection of people  that everyone else could look down on.

All of these people came here and ultimately assimilated in what was the great melting pot.  It wasn’t always sweetness and light and there were skirmishes and battles that were fought based on a person’s ethnicity.  But somehow those managed to work themselves out.  The days of seeing a banner over a club that said German-American or Italian-American are long past.  And it was accomplished by the people themselves – without either the benefit or hindrance of government involvement.

There has never been a Polish-American, a Polynesian-American, a German-American or any other kind of (Fill In The Blank)-American caucus in Congress other than an African-American (Black) one.  And if there is merit to the Congressman’s argument that racism is alive and well in this country, he should ask himself why, when a white applicant asked to be admitted to that caucus, he was declined membership.  He should know the answer, I would hope, as he has been involved in the Black Congressional Caucus from its inception.

Racism, like any form of hatred, is a disease.  It is virulent and contagious.  And like all diseases, given the right environment it will spread and become a plague.  What the Congressman may not realize is that if it gets out of control, there is no one who is immune from its toxic effects – not even those who are the carriers.

That’s something which even the village idiot should be able to understand.

COMMON GROUND

Every so often a thought occurs to me that, well modesty prevents me from calling it “brilliant”, but which I believe could fairly be categorized as “insightful”.  Just such an experience occurred the other day – and I’ve been mulling it around so that I could entertain you with it in this post.

I am disturbed that so much of the focus of this election seems to be centered around the skin color of the two candidates for President.  There is no doubt that many people who are black will vote for Obama for that reason alone.  It is equally true that there are people who are white who will not vote for him because he is a black man.  While I consider people in either camp to be racial bigots, their bigotry is not the common ground which is the subject for this post.

I make no qualms about the fact that one of the few gifts that I possess is a keen ability to do math and calculations.  It may be one of my few redeeming qualities.  And so I started to look at the President and his genetic background from the standpoint of pure mathematics.

Now the nice thing about math, unlike political races, is that it is one of those absolute sciences on which we can rely for truth.  In our base ten math system, the correct answer to 2 x 2 will be 4 whether you are an American, a Chinese, a resident of Mali or a charter member of Al Qaeda.  I hope we are all in agreement so far.  I’m further hoping that even recent graduates of our public school systems have mastered this basic bit of multiplication.

But then we turn to the more difficult and challenging question of percentages.  (Please don’t hit the “X” button at the top of the page quite yet because I know even those who struggled with fractions will find this easy).

Moving right along, it is the consensus of belief and without dispute even from Donald Trump that President Obama’s father was a black citizen of Kenya and his mother was a white citizen of the United States.  That would make the President 50% black and 50% white.  Are you with me so far?  After all, this is just really, really basic math.

My question – and I would love to hear from anyone who can explain this to me – is why is it that we consider President Obama to be a “black” man rather than a “white” man since he has equal parts of his genetic material from each of his parents?  Are we saying (much to the consternation of women everywhere) that the male’s sperm contributes more than just its fair share to the fertilization process than does the female’s ovum?  If we make that argument it’s a good thing that Betty Friedan has passed on as it would undoubtedly require her to write yet another book.

And so we find our basis for the common ground between your run-of-the-mill-black bigot who will vote for the President because he is black and your run-of-the-mill white member of the Aryan Nation who will not vote for him because he is black.  We have found a point on which these two groups are in agreement, that the President is a black man.

I hope that members of both extremes will have the opportunity to read this post.  I am certain that knowing that they have found some commonality will allow them to sleep comfortably – although the realization of their agreeing on anything may cause them to endure a horrible nightmare.

As for me, I am going to take the alternate position and, supported by the mathematical analysis I provided, I am going to insist that President Obama is indeed a “white man”.  This simplifies my life and my voting decision since I no longer have even to consider the matter of race as a potential issue.  Hopefully, this might simplify your life too.

So what it all comes down to for me is the President’s track record and the campaign promises on which we relied in 2008.  One of those statements in particular keeps ringing through my mind.  That was, “If I can’t cut the deficit in half in my first four years, I would not deserve to be re-elected.”  Rather than a fifty percent reduction we’ve seen a sixty percent increase.

Relying on the President’s own words, I’m compelled to vote for “the other White Meat”.

THE JOKE’S ON US

We got to the dog park early this morning and I decided to back into the parking space rather than pull in front first.  (We all need a little variety in our lives).  So, of course the rear of my car was at the sidewalk.

Gracie and I puttered around for about forty-five minutes and hob-nobbed with the other people and critters that had come out for their morning constitutional.  But it began to get hot very quickly and we decided to go home.

When we got back to the car a woman was standing and reading the bumper stickers I had placed on it.  I said, “Good morning” to her and as I opened the door for Gracie to get in she looked at me and said, “Why do you hate President Obama?”

I responded, “I don’t hate the President or anybody else.  I simply believe that his policies are bad for the country and for the American people.”

The woman, who was white said, “The way we have treated black people in this country is a national disgrace.  You should know that.  And Romney belongs to a kooky cult religion.”

She had now introduced the two topics that I was taught as a child not to discuss, politics and religion.  It was getting warmer by the minute and I didn’t want to leave Gracie in the car even with the windows rolled down.  I knew this would have been a long and fruitless conversation if I pursued it, so I simply said, “That’s the thing about America that makes this a great country.  We are all free to express our opinions.  Thank you for sharing yours with me.”

I got in the car and we went home.

I learned something from this brief exchange.  Apparently some people actually do read bumper stickers.  And I also learned that there is an assumption of guilt on the part of many that they would be committing an act of racism if they were to vote against the President.  They will find every possible excuse to justify their decision to return the worst President since Jimmy Carter back to the White House for a second term.

Through my life I have heard many jokes – more than a few of which were racist and demeaning.  The repertoire poked fun at blacks, Jews, Catholics, Poles, Italians and gays among other groups.

All such jokes rely on an underlying assumption that there is some specific characteristic about the target group which exists universally among all members of that group.  An example would be that all gay men have limp wrists and lisp when they talk as they flit around the room in an effeminate manner.  Or that black people are shiftless and lazy and not as bright as white people or Orientals.

The late Rock Hudson was the fantasy idol of women throughout America who viewed him as the soul of masculinity and desirability – only to be shocked to learn that he was gay.

Oprah Winfrey started from very humble beginnings to become one of the wealthiest and most influential women in the world.  She did it through hard work and personal effort.

So we know that, just citing these two examples among many, the stereotypes are wrong.  But those who like to pigeon-hole people into convenient slots so that they have a nice orderly and limited view of the world will continue to hang on to their false assumptions rather than be confused by the facts.

And that brings me back to my thoughts on my morning conversation with the lady at the park.  Her argument was that not voting for President Obama is an act of racism.  I would argue the exact opposite.  Voting for an  ineffective person simply because of race merely serves to confirm the old stereotypes that underlie jokes about blacks – that they are shiftless and lazy and not as bright as white people or Orientals.

Then there was the second point this lady made about Governor Romney’s faith – that it was a “kooky cult.”  I am not sure how she defines either of those words, but I do know that when Christianity had its beginnings it also was viewed as a cult.

I am not intimately familiar with the underlying faith to which Mormons hold but I do have a few neighbors who are members of LDS.  They are dedicated to their faith and have raised their children to be polite and thoughtful of others.  If that’s the result of being raised in a cult, we would do well to have more cultists on planet earth.

There will probably always be people who cast their ballot based solely on the race of the individual running for election.  That is, in my view, such a poor way to make a decision – but we often make poor decisions.  I hope never to have developed the narrowness of mind to become a member of that group.

Had the President truly guided us out of the recession and had he inspired confidence through his statesmanship he could have had the greatest legacy in the world.  He could have forever buried jokes about black people.  And had that occurred I would probably vote for him this November.  But his record in office is abysmal and I don’t see how it is likely to improve with an additional four more years.

As to Governor Romney, he wouldn’t have been my first choice as a nominee.  That has nothing to do with his religion.  But to my mind, he is clearly the better choice and, barring a life-changing event, will receive my vote this fall.

Until the election when I need some levity I just think back to the Carter administration.  It was a bad time economically, just as today, but at least we had the President’s brother around for amusement.  And, of course, we had “Billy Beer.”

After four years of that we realized that the “joke was on us.”

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