Exploiting race issues ignores real problems
In the days following the Supreme Court decision in June to strike down the dated provision of the Civil Rights Act requiring some states to receive permission from the Department of Justice before changing voting laws, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the left this signaled a return to the Jim Crow era of massive discrimination against black voters. What the wailers were saying was America remains a systemically racist nation and only the aegis of federal government keeps those impulses under control.
The latest national sport is analysis of the George Zimmerman-Treyvon Martin criminal case recently decided in Florida, where poor judgment on the part of both parties resulted in a tragic outcome. The narrative spun by the left is the acquittal of Zimmerman is a judicial travesty that demonstrates America remains a systemically racist nation.
Now, it does little good to point out the fact that neither the case nor the verdict had anything to do with race — the defendant showed no history of racial animus, apparently didn’t even know Martin’s race at the onset of the incident and demonstrably (insomuch as it was ably demonstrated to a jury) acted in
self-defense rather than racial hatred.
One is not about to approach Al Sharpton, present him the evidence and walk away satisfied the self-styled reverend will issue an apology and call on his devotees to simmer down.
Sharpton knows full well the facts of the case. But it is deeply inconvenient for him, and others on the left, to let facts intrude on an opportunity to reiterate the victimology of race the Zimmerman-Martin tragedy offers, as would be a recognition national and regional racial attitudes and realities have changed since 1964.
Race is the ultimate causus belli for the left. In his 1985 book “Alien Powers” exploring the theory of ideology, Australian political scientist Kenneth Minogue argued ideology requires an oppressor to garner mass appeal. A glance at any given ideology bears out his point. Socialism, Marxism and other leftist ideologies require a class oppressor; feminism, a paternalistic society; for libertarianism and objectivism the oppressor is the state; for Islamic extremism, it’s anything that’s not extremely Islamic.
So to advance their agenda, the left needs a perpetual oppressor and, by corollary, perpetual victims. Race, especially given its sullied history in America, conveniently, if erroneously, provides this cult of oppression. If society can’t shed entrenched racial inequities, what better justification for governmental engineering and restructuring?
One result of this is the rise of ludicrous symbolism — the elevation of the black hoodie as a symbol of irrational white fear.
The logic stumbles, though. If I were to waltz into a local bank or convenience store donning a ski mask that reflects my Western Canadian skiing heritage, I suspect my day would end rather poorly — even with my white-as-the-Canadian-arctic Northern Irish complexion. Why? Ski masks are legal, aren’t they? Of course, just as hoodies are. But legal things can serve sinister purposes, and both ski masks and hoods on sweatshirts have served to conceal identities in the commission of crimes — not in theory, but in practice. Ignoring this fact in the pursuit of racial sensitivity makes no more sense than pretending most Islamic terrorism isn’t carried out by young Islamic males.
The solemn call is for a renewed national conversation about race. The envisioned conversation will tendentiously focus on how the government can equalize wealth, property and
socio-economic disposition as well as crime rates, prison populations, drug use, illiteracy and other social problems.
A truly meaningful conversation would focus on the root causes of why poverty, drug use and crime are so tragically high, especially among certain populations, including the urban black population. Such a conversation, if honestly undertaken, would confront the problem of the rate of illegitimate births, which is the prime causative factor in all of the aforementioned problems: poverty, illiteracy, drug use, unemployment and crime.
Confronting that question would go much farther toward improving the lot of the young urban black population in this country than calls by certain black leaders to reject rule of law and take to the streets. But it would also dispense with the oppression fantasy that drives the agenda to which those leaders adhere. That’s why that conversation is unlikely to occur — lamentably for all, whether you look like George Zimmerman, Treyvon Martin or Saint Patrick.