The way that American radicals are using language displays how they situate themselves. They adore moral language, and use it all the time. two things they love most. First, to feel themselves as righteous, superior to all others. Second, to castigate those who differ from them as benighted, the unrighteous, to evil.
Leftists, who reject the classical-Christian heritage of moral thinking, have no access to the balance which classical philosophy provides, or the way that Grace balances Judgment in Christianity. Instead they take up the shattered pieces of our heritage, and use them to aggrandize themselves and damn everyone else.
Their moral thinking is largely limited to a handful of issues, which change year-to-year. The destruction of something called the ‘patriarchy’ occupied Leftists for decades. But that’s grown old, given that more women now graduate college than men. But racism, ah, now there’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Racism as a moral charge is a serious one, and today it is taken very seriously indeed. Any misstep by a white person, like Paula Deen, which trespasses against ideas of racial harmony and justice, can result in the loss of reputation and career.
As they avidly seek out any hint of racial bias, Leftists have becoming increasingly silly. As they desperately search for racial animus where none exists, they have gone from useful to stupid. One article argues that terms like ‘shariah law,’ ‘illegal alien’ and ‘inner city’ are code words, meant to arouse white peoples supposed fear of non-whites. When conservatives hammered Obama for his vacations and golfing, his defenders claimed these were really code words for ‘black.’ Nothing is so innocent that you cannot find racism behind it, unless we’re speaking of a minority. Only whites are guilty of racism.
The Left uses ‘racism ‘as a political tool, in pursuit of power. They care little for racism as a moral issue. They care more for the moral authority the charge of ‘racism’ grants them.
Why do they not care about the morality of racism? Because the Left has no morality which would allow them to discard race as relevant in looking at people. Conservatives and libertarians can stand upon individualism, and say that a person is what they make themselves, not what their melanin makes them.
But racism today is about politics. And in politics if you can keep the opposition on the defensive with charges of racist thought, then you control the terms of the debate. And you can win it. If you force the enemy to live up to their own moral standards, you can point out their every flaw, no matter how small. Conservatives claim to despise racism, so they have to be hammered for every apparent slip. By constantly attacking them, progressives avoid having to face the charge themselves.
As scholar George Hawley has recently shown, conservatism has had its share of struggles with racist thinking. Thomas Jefferson thought blacks unequal to whites, as did Abraham Lincoln. The Southern Agrarians, authors of the manifesto I’ll Take My Stand, were men of their time, and some defended the injustices of Jim Crow as a good thing for blacks. Southern thinkers later turned their backs upon this, but the stain remains. In the early 90s, David Duke ran for political office as a Republican. Duke’s odious views forced then President Bush to denounce him as a man who called himself a Republican, but really wasn’t part of them.
Even today, conservatism’s fringes see a few who have racist notions. Racist members of the “alt-right” have long-embraced beliefs in racial realism, and are still trying to mainstream their beliefs. Even mainline conservatives like Sam Francis wandered, and ended his days as a racial realist.
What has changed is that conservatism abandoned any racial beliefs as morally wrong, and as ultimately extraneous to a conservative philosophy. Race plays no real role in conservative thought. We treat of men as God made them, bearers of the Divine Image, and due, as individuals, equality under the law.
Where Progressives have gone wrong is that they cannot face their own racial past. They don’t face up to their forebears leading role in the pseudo-science of eugenics. They airbrush the racism of Margaret Sanger and forget Al Sharpton’s history of anti-Semitic comments. The Progressive looks eternally forward, to what he wants to build. If that future matters most, then the past doesn’t matter much at all. The past becomes a source of guilt. It is by guilt that they control us. Ayn Rand knew that a society of men without guilt is a society that cannot be ruled by evil men. But by making us all feel guilty for supposed racist thoughts or deeds or statues, we are made morally incapable of opposing the Left.
In a recent article Shelby Steele writes that, The great problem for conservatives is that they lack the moral glibness to compete with liberalism’s “innocence.” But today there are signs of what I have called race fatigue. People are becoming openly cynical toward the left’s moral muscling with racism.”
As long as ‘racism’ is used as a political tool, its power as a moral indictment will fade. We may see the day when real racists are ascendant and no one can denounce them, because our weapons for doing so have lost their power. America has succeeded in destroying open racism throughout our society. But ‘racism’ will never go away, not as long as the Left profits by its use.