Monday, January 15, 2018
The Racism Industry
This happened many years ago, when I was in college and living in a student rooming-house. There were a few other tenants who weren't students, and one of them was a handsome young Black woman named Lavern. She was well-educated, and intelligent -- except for her disastrous tastes in men, but we all have failings in that direction. I recall it was sometime in the middle of Fall semester, and for some reason the company she'd worked for went belly-up, and she'd just lost her job.
We were sitting around the common-kitchen table bemoaning our pitiful financial states, and she complained that all the good clerical jobs in "college town" were taken, and she'd have a hard time getting work outside of it -- "because of the prejudice, you know."
"Why?" I puzzled. "Because you're a woman?"
She gave me a shocked look and said, "No, it's because I'm Black!"
"Oh, right," said I, smacking my forehead. "Sorry, I forgot."
Then she gave me a stunned look and asked, "How could you forget? I'm sitting right in front of you."
"Sure," I answered, "I can see that you've got dark skin, but I forgot that it meant anything."
She gave me an odd, unreadable look, got up and wandered out, muttering: "...forgot it meant anything..."
That left me wondering, isn't that the point? Isn't the point of the whole civil rights movement to make everybody forget that skin color, nose-shape, hair-color, etc. means anything? If equality means equality, then why should such trivialities mean anything? Does anybody remember, without stopping to think, whether Seabiscuit was a bay horse or chestnut?
For a few years it looked as if such forgetfulness was possible. Up until a little over 12 years ago, I didn't run into any White people who cared at all about other people's skin-color; race was "old-fashioned crap", and what people said and did was what mattered. Colin Powell was the country's most popular general, Oprah was the most famous TV personality, and Bill Cosby was everybody's favorite comedian. Sure, there were some White-racist groups -- like the LA police department -- still holding out and causing trouble, but for the most part White racism was galloping steadily toward extinction.
So who was it that kept fanning the flames, whipping up constant awareness of race and racism, not letting anybody forget for a moment that anybody's skin-color means something -- or should?
Well, I can readily point to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and a helluva lotta Black celebrities -- all of them successful and economically well-off -- who have, to be blunt, made their careers by hollering racism and stumping for funds thereby. If White racism disappeared -- completely -- tomorrow, just who would be out of a job?
When Obama was duking it out in the primaries with Hillary Clinton, there were plenty of people saying -- like my old Chicago buddy, Cathy Taylor -- "Yes, I think America is ready for a Black president, or a woman president, but not that Black man, and not that woman." There were a lot of planks in the Democrat platform that were worth complaining about, which have become a lot more visible since -- but Democrats, far more than Republicans, made the election all about Rejecting Racism. Never mind Obama's spotty and questionable political background, and backers; no, anybody opposed to him simply had to be "racist!" The success of this tactic has led to its use under amazing circumstances, whereby anybody with a skin-tone lighter than yours can be attacked as a "racist", regardless of what that person is really saying or doing. It's become practically an industry by itself.
Which brings us around to the media -- and a lot of political opportunists -- going ape over Trump's (unofficial, but overheard) comment about "sh!thole countries", like Haiti, and Nigeria, and some other unnamed African countries (and a few South American ones too, but nobody wants to steal the limelight from the Black "activists"). Never mind that Obama named one such country a "sh!t-show", and escapees from those countries call them "hellholes", or that a lot of inhabitants of those countries are saying in public that they agree with him -- oh no, Trump called those countries "sh!tholes", and wanted more immigrants from places like Norway (which has an interesting history of contributions to American industry, but who's bothering to look?), so he's got to be thinking of nothing but the skin-color of the inhabitants. He doesn't mean their cruel, corrupt and incompetent governments, or their disastrous economies, or their vicious and backward cultures, no: nothing but race, race, race! Uhuh.
Who are the real racists here?
Now this whole flap started during a White House discussion about what to do with the immigration problem, and let's face it, having the 3rd biggest population in the world, the US does not need any more immigration. If anything, we need to cut our population down. The obvious solution is to pass a 10-year moratorium on all immigration, build The Wall (concrete and electronic), and seriously hunt down and deport the millions of illegal immigrants here already. As for the DACA "dreamers", any of them who have at least begun the process of becoming citizens, and/or have joined the US military, can stay. Just to be fair, let's make it permanent and retroactive law that anyone who serves in our military, finishes at least the minimum term of enlistment, and gains an honorable discharge, automatically gains citizenship on discharge if s/he didn't have it already. That would be both effective and fair.
Why hasn't Trump done it already, or suggested it to Congress? Maybe because he has to run a few more troglodyte-reactionary Republicans through his hire-and-fire mill. Or maybe because he has to distract the attention of the Democrats, who seem bound and determined to run America's population up to 400 million -- so long as they all vote Democrat.
Now, what could more quickly absorb the attention of Democrats, their politicians, and their media-flaks? Well, what's better than a juicy scandal? Since Trump is a wee bit old, and well-married, for a sex scandal, what's the next best thing? Why, ray-ray-racism, of course! There's a whole political industry built around it, ready to mobilize armies of what Stalin called "useful idiots" to keep the topic hot and howling. Hmmmm...
I'd keep an eye on what else Trump is quietly doing while the news channels yatter 24 hours per day about his "racism".