Thursday, February 19, 2009

Colorblind

Actor Gary Graham has some interestingly conservative views. First there was this intriguing piece about abortion; now, there's this thought-provoking piece confronting Eric Holder's remarks about race in America:

I am appalled. I just found out that I am a racist and a coward and I did not know it.

Eric Holder said yesterday, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

How could I have been so self-deluded?

Wow. I know, huh? The things you find out about yourself if you just listen to newly appointed/elected government officials.

I always thought that I treated everyone fairly in my daily life with no preference or deference to anyone based solely on skin color. I always loved the words of Dr. Martin Luther King who said so eloquently, that he dreamed of a day when people “would be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. But now…I find out that that philosophy is racist and cowardly. And it is proclaimed by the top law enforcement officer in the land, our new Attorney General, Eric Holder.

Apparently, I’m a racist coward because I want to be color blind. This great national offense of racism doesn’t want to die - even though we just elected our first black president. Just when you thought it was okay to climb out of the past, to put racial injustice and animosity behind us…the Attorney General in the national media yesterday drags it back out. [...]

I don’t believe in Black History Month any more than I believe in White History Month. To me, Black History Month is a complete insult to Blacks. We must prop up an entire race of people, give them special awards, honors, and recognitions, underscoring their accomplishments and achievements and contributions to society, based on their color… as if it’s so truly remarkable that they did it in the first place…and are African American to boot? Stop the presses! A black person accomplished something great! As if they couldn’t have done it on their own, without help. As if they are somehow inferior to whites. That they somehow overcame their blackness…and did all these wonderful things despite the obvious disadvantage, encumbrance, disability…of being a person of color.

Am I the only one in America…who finds this the least bit patronizing and insulting…and downright, well, racist? [...]

So…let me get this straight. If I’m a racist coward because I don’t want to talk about race all the time, don’t want to even think about it, just wish all racism would go away, and everybody just get along as if we we’re all just human beings…and truly do want to judge people not based on skin color, but on the content of their character… Does that mean Dr. Martin Luther King was also a racist? If he were here today, and repeated those words about ‘content of character’ …would Eric Holder call Dr. King a coward?

I hear Eric Holder’s words and I get a chill up my spine. It doesn’t sound like freedom from racism to me. It sounds like reverse racism. It smacks of concepts like “reparations”…”affirmative action” (code for racial preferences)…and “get-even-with-‘em”… So, Mr. Holder, what can I infer from your words…but a tacit warning?

This, Mr. Attorney General…this is what you want to stir up? You should be ecstatic for the ultimate affirmative action as reflected on November 4th. White guilt to a very large extent enabled a charming but inexperienced young socialist to assume the reins of the most powerful nation in the world. And still we are cowards because we don’t talk about race enough?

Dude - are you off your meds??

Pardon me a second. I'm still chortling over the masterful description of Obama as a "charming but inexperienced young socialist." It's just so--apt.

That aside, I think Graham has some excellent points. Race relations in America aren't helped by the constant drumbeat to focus on, recognize, and celebrate what makes us different, as we're constantly told to do via diversity training and so on. Rather, I think we move forward away from racism when we stop the microscopic analysis of all of our often-superficial differences, and focus, instead, on the common humanity that unites us, and draws us together both as members of the human family and as Americans.

It used to be that the goal of improving race relations was to reach the state of colorblindness. Eric Holder seems to think that that's nowhere near enough, and that most Americans are still closet racists who don't have the courage to move beyond the old racial barriers.

I'm not going to deny that actual racism still exists in America. But when Holder says that Americans are a "nation of cowards" unwilling to socialize or worship with people of different races, it's clear that he's seeing racism where none is present. As Graham's essay suggests, wouldn't it be awfully--racist--to seek out the company of others just because their skin color or racial origin is different from our own?

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