I am racist. So are you. If I see a white dude in a button up shirt and slacks and nice shoes getting coffee at a Starbucks drive-through on Monday at about 8AM, I’m going to assume he’s a corporate drone (like me) off to his cubicle. I bet you’ll think that too. If I see a black fellow wearing shiny things on fingers and around his neck, I’m probably going to assume he likes hip-hop and rap music. So would you.
So isn’t that racist? Or is it prejudice? Food for thought. And prejudice: bad or knee-jerk?
Anyway, you are free to call me naive, but I have grown very weary of the ease and frequency with which folks toss the word ‘racist’ around, particularly in politics. Liberals call the Tea Party racist. Conservatives call liberals who pander to poor folks elitist and racist.
For starters, if you think about it for more than two seconds, you know that Donald Trump’s sheer absurdity with regards to President Obama’s birth certificate and grades does not go back to the man being racist. It goes back, entirely and completely, to the man wanting attention and having the clout and exposure to get that attention. I’m not claiming that he isn’t racist! I don’t know that and, frankly, neither do you.
But is it possible for a person who might have racial prejudices to NOT have those prejudices be THE DECIDING AND PRIMARY MOTIVATING FACTOR in how they behave politically or in life in general? Is it so difficult to consider the possibility that even a very racist person might have other reasons for not liking a political figure who has different colored skin- such as disagreements with policy, philosophy or position?
How about a hypothetical?
Adam says that President Awesome’s approach to health care (and payment) reform will accelerate the bankruptcy of our nation, is in violation of the Constitution, and infringes on individual liberties. Clearly, Adam subscribes to Libertarian and Constitutionalist points of view.
Now say Adam is white and President Awesome is black.
Is Adam racist? Did you assume that Adam was white, because of his political leanings?
Your instinctive answer (be it a reflection of common demographics or not) to that question is telling, friends. It doesn’t mean you ARE or are NOT racist; it means you, like every person on the planet, have had experiences that inform your thoughts, judgements, and decisions each moment of your day. How we deal with our less-than-noble thoughts, judgements and decisions is a measure of our character.
It’s easy to call Adam racist if he’s white and President Awesome is black. Is it true? Is racism motivating the perfectly valid differences of opinion?
Now say Adam is black and President Awesome is white.
Is Adam racist? Is President Awesome racist if he disagrees with Adam’s political positions? Is racism motivating the differences of opinion?
Now this part will reveal a little about me politically- but when assume, you make an … you know how to finish that.
Many people say that it’s racist if Donald Trump questions Barack Obama’s academic credentials, if he wonders what kind of grades Obama got in college. I think Trump is doing his best to milk his far more than 15 minutes. And again, I think it’s pretty clear that the limelight is Trump’s motivation. I also think the man needs to accept baldness, go Kojak, and stop taking himself so seriously. (Didja see his scowl at the White House Correspondents’ dinner?) But do you remember when it seemed perfectly fine for liberals to make fun of President Bush because of his so-so grades at Yale?
How is that different?
Hypocrisy abounds on all sides of the political spectrum because we’re human, but it seems even more apparent to day. Haven’t some liberals referred to black people who are part of the Tea Party or are otherwise conservative as Uncle Toms? And truth to tell, it’s pretty clear that liberals are very comfy tossing out ‘racist’ as an argument against those who disagree with them.
Now, my friends who refer to themselves as liberals are being done a disservice by these screeching, specious, and useless ad hominem attacks on conservatives. My friends have real, valid arguments, in many cases they are well-versed on their positions, and when Matthews and Olbermann and Maddow cry ‘racist’ instead of settling into a lucid and civil argument, my friends are being ill-served.
So for the sake of well-meaning liberals everywhere, the noisy liberals who screech racist all the time need to zip it. I will admit that there are certainly racists out there who hate on President Obama, but I am confident that they are not a significant percentage of the people who didn’t vote for him and currently dislike the job he is doing.
Now all of this does NOT excuse the racism that DOES exist in this country, from white to black, from black to white and all points in between. The color of one’s skin does not determine the content or quality of one’s character, to paraphrase Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, as I pointed out earlier, we ALL have our presumptions and we ALL make quick judgements.
Our character, who we truly are at our core, is strengthened when we fight our presumptions and prejudices and transcend them.
So the question is, what can we do to fight presumptions in ourselves? What have you done that has helped you look past your natural prejudice?