tea party protesters versus ferguson looters
Left: White Privilege — Tea Party Protesters?
Right: Black Privilege — Looters in Ferguson, Missouri?

Granted, the juxtaposition of images above is provocative. The point is the perception of “privilege” is highly subjective.

“White privilege” is arguably a term race baiters use to demonize habits and mindsets that foster human capital.

Truth is the “under privileged” are not under-privileged because they are not white.

They are under-privileged because they lack habits of the heart and disciplines of the mind that make them valuable to employers.

More importantly, their disadvantage is invincible as long as they listen to people who alienate them from those habits and disciplines under the slander of “white privilege.”

Blacks are distinctive in American history because they are the only ethnic group that has sought to advance its status primarily through politics rather than the marketplace.

That difference guarantees conflict.

Although neither arena is without defect, success in the marketplace is much more likely to produce human capital with the kind of moral authority that can make claims on the consciences of others. Imagine every Black a Bill Gates versus every Black an Al Sharpton and you get the picture.

The latest racial uproar …

protester holds up sign in aftermath of shooting in Ferguson, Missouri
Protester holds up sign in the aftermath of the
9 August 2014 killing of Michael Brown by a
police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Image author Lovesofbread.

The next-to-last most memorable …

protesters hold up signs in aftermath of shooting in Sanford, Florida
Protesters hold up signs in the aftermath of the
26 February 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin by
neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida.
Image author David Shankbone.

Hopes for a post-racial America following the election of Barak Obama are fading fast.

Barak Obama and Van Jones
Barak Obama and czar appointee Van Jones who was
forced to resign over his racist comments

At least one reason for the failing dream is that the very idea of racism has some intrinsic flaws in terms of its moral dimensions.

Barak Obama and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates
Barak Obama and friend Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates
whose behavior prompted questions about racism across the nation

The increasingly dysfunctional use of “racism” as charge and counter-charge often has more to do with the character of racism as an idea than it has to do with the character of alleged racists.

John McWhorter
“It gets to the point where we don’t have a word that
we use to call people racist who actually are.”

JOHN MCWHORTER, who studies race and language at
the Manhattan Institute, on charges led by former
President Jimmy Carter that opponents of President
Obama’s political agenda are motivated by racism.

Copyright 2009 WORLD Magazine
Oct 10, 2009, Vol. 24, No. 20

Although McWhorter makes a major point, the problem is not just about the overuse or misuse of words. Rather it is the inherent limitations of racism as a concept for weighing vice against virtue.

Rush Limbaugh and the NFL
Rush Limbaugh and his accusers
This image is most likely copyrighted
User here in critical commentary is fair use
Any other use may be a copyright infringement

Decompose racism into traditional categories of hate, malice, favoritism, fear, slander, intolerance, pride, and so forth, and the only thing it offers beyond those categories is an overriding emphasis on race (an emphasis that explains why, for example, the concept of racism as a vice has engendered no general agreement on a countervailing virtue.)

Barak Obama and Pastor Jeremiah Wright
Barak Obama and long-time pastor Jeremiah Wright
whom Obama eventually disowned due to the Wright’s racist rhetoric
Photo of Wright may be copyrighted. Use here in critical
commentary is considered fair use. Any other use may be a copyright infringement

In other words, the racist judges malice as either more or less odious depending upon the ethnicity of its target– and that prejudice is just as necessary for those who exhibit racism as for those who oppose it. This doesn’t just mean that opposition to alleged racism on the part of some will likely function as a cover for real racism on the part of others but that such an outcome is probably unavoidable, being inherent to the concept from the beginning.

In the absence of greater evils, such contradictions and defects do not produce moral progress– they foster regress.

Thus the present use of racism as a lens for discerning good and evil does not raise moral horizons– it lowers them. It does not broaden the scope of moral concerns– it narrows them. It does not elevate the quality of moral discourse– it debases it.

Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton
Race activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton
Sharpton photo copyrighted by David Shankbone and
used under the GNU Free Documentation License
Jackson photo by Eric Guo used by permission

And so we have the present situation, the great irony of which is that no one can preach against racism without wittingly or unwittingly engaging in it– hence the ultimate disutility of racism as a concept for dealing with evil.

None of this is to say that nothing good ever came from opposition to racism. That is simply not true.

What is true though is that lesser evils can only function (or appear) as good things when even greater evils exist. But when the greater evils are overcome (or other evils make their appearance), then the lesser evils becomes manifest (or downright counterproductive).

What is also true is that the effectiveness of racism as a construct for addressing social problems has been in its grounding in classic vices and virtues. Over time though, the very concept of vice and virtue have been so leached out of the culture by a relentless pluralism that about the only thing left in the notion of “racism” is the sense of unequal entitlement to exaggerated race consciousness.

New Black Panters
Members of the New Blank Pather Party
intimidating white voters in Philadelphia
during election day 2008.
Image from YouTube video, which may involve a copyright.
Click here to view video

That is where America is in the matter of racism. To see all the recent racial incidents as lack of progress on race is to misread root causes. So doubling down on racial problems under the rubric of racism will not solve problems– it will make matters worse.

All of this may subtle, but recent evidence of how preoccupation with racism seems to beget the very thing its antagonists claim to oppose should be reason enough to doubt the premise that modern humanity has discovered vices and virtues the ancients overlooked.

The immediate solution is to repudiate hypocrisy wherever it appears.

The larger solution is to raise our moral horizons, broaden the scope of our moral concerns, and elevate the quality of our moral discourse by recognizing the limitations of racism as a moral dimension and returning to classic understandings of vice and virtue.

In the meantime, racism as a moral category will continue to be a dysfunctional way of conceptualizing a dysfunctional thing.

— historeo.com

historeo.comhistoreo 2

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