One of the more repellent tropes of race relations, by me, is the deeply earnest white guy who is trying way too hard to prove he is not racist — which of course proves to me he is. People who have no hatred for baseball don’t feel any huge need to talk about how baseball-tolerant they are. That this fellow is almost always an avowed Marxist does nothing to improve my opinion of him, and, of course, it is avowed Marxists like him who have destroyed education, turning all of America into a vast racial-grievance-mongering machine.
As a doctrine, if you can even call it a doctrine, racism is simply Collectivism-for-dummies, an EZ-reading way to rationalize obvious injustice under the color of ‘even-better-justice.’ This is true no matter what race is hating which other race — or all other races.
Race itself is a useless standard for judging the character and behavior of individual people, just as height or place-of-birth would be. The characteristic being pounced upon, whatever it might be, is meaningless to the task at hand: The person you want to malign absent any valid evidence could not control for the despised characteristic, and being short or from Fiji or black or white or yellow are not indicia of character or behavior in any case.
Racism asserts propositions that cannot possibly be true, because failures of character or behavior — as well as acts of virtue! — can only be attributes of specific individuals, never of identity groups.
But racism as a doctrine is not very interesting to me. Among white people whom I’ve met, it is exceedingly rare. Among black people I’ve met, it is more common. But among all dogmatic racists I have encountered, the characteristic the adherents had in common was a matter of character, not identity: Racists are profoundly ignorant people who are doing nothing to correct their ignorance.
But so what? Ignorant people are powerless people. Racism matters not because dumb people think and say dumb things, but because people can be, in effect, held accountable for crimes they could not possibly have committed. Do you have a right to a house I don’t want to sell you? No. Do you have a right to a job I want to give to someone else? No. But you have every right to expect equitable treatment from the monopoly state, and, ideally, you should not have to wonder if your neighbors are holding you at fault when your conduct has been faultless.
And that’s how I racially profile. Just like you — no matter what color your skin is — when I drive through the ’hood, I have the windows up and the doors locked. I don’t go where rap music fans congregate, even though I would like to take in the spectacle, and I am choosy about the jazz venues I go to — and I love Monk like I love Beethoven. But I’m so middle-class that this is almost never an issue for me. Black criminals prey on black victims, and black politicians make sure those victims never get justice, but all of that happens far away from my home.
My racial profiling works the other way. I know that many black people have worked very hard to hew to the moral strictures laid down by white people — for each other, not for anyone else: Work hard, study hard, apply yourself, save your money, guard your credit, burnish your reputation for integrity. Get married, stay married, lean on your kids, maintain your home, work with your neighbors to make the world a better place. They did it, everything and then some. So I go just a little bit out of my way to show my appreciation for all that hard work.
That’s all. I have zero respect for the Marxist auxiliary of the black middle-class, that vast army of pontificating functionaries who embarrass themselves every time they open their mouths. But for the members of the black middle-class who have prospered by bringing wealth to the marketplace, I say, “Play on! Give me excess of it.” Well, not really. Mainly I say stuff like, “Bless you. Thank you.” Or, “Man, you’re a hard working dog. This is great.” Or, very simply, “You’re the best!” I’m that kind of effusive with everyone who is pulling his own weight, I just make doubly sure I’m delivering the goods when I think the other guy may have walked a lot farther than I did to get to the payoff.
Yes, in this way I am a little like that white-racist alleged-anti-racist I mentioned in the beginning: I am consciously aware of black people — specifically those who are busting ass to get ahead — and I want to give them what I fear too many people, white and black, deny them: A moral sanction. They are doing exactly the right things, and they don’t need for me to tell them that. But they welcome my approbation even so, just as anyone welcomes praise for a job well done.
I admire people who uphold and act upon admirable values — and all I can really see of anyone, when I look closely, are his values. But I am scrupulous — even to a fault — to make sure I am extending my admiration to what we might think of as the most-recent immigrants to Emerson’s America of self-reliance. The real payoff is the middle-class lifestyle: The marriage, the family, the home, the graduations, the grandkids. But no one resents a pat on the back, and no one deserves it more, now and enduringly, than people who have to take heat from all directions to rise above their circumstances.
Am I a racist? To this extent I am: I like people who love their own lives and work hard to make life better for themselves and for the people they love. If a little bit of recognition from me can make that work a little easier for people who may not be getting all the respect they’ve earned, then my thinking about these ideas — and acting upon them — is nothing more than simple justice.