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Eric The Divider: Founding Racism

September 26, 2014

The founding of our country took place in an environment where racism was a part of the culture, as were many injustices, but none so “egregious” to the likes of Abigail Adams, as the market for African slaves.  The founders, like John Adams, knew what Americans (& Abigail) did not yet realise, that the issue of slavery and the culture of racism was going to generate a far greater conflict than a simple debate would solve.  They knew that the changes necessary to end slavery were going to require a sea-change in our society encompassing economic activity, trade relations, and a serious cultural upheaval.  The founders, of course, were right, and we lost 600,000 Americans in a civil war that nearly brought an end to our union.  But Liberals continue to blame slavery upon men who abhorred it and were compelled to start a country despite its entrenchment.  This argument is a red herring, of course, used to focus attention on the heroes of the conservative Right in an attempt to impeach their characters with their supposed support of the evil of slavery.

The same type of ruse is used contemporaneously by the great Eric Holder who finally found it necessary to resign today in the face of orders by a judge to release important information in the Fast & Furious scandal.  Not only has Eric Holder perpetuated this red herring lie, he has mastered the language necessary to incite racial tension in post-racial America.  As the young victim of real racial tension in early 70’s Chicago, I can attest that the children of the civil rights revolution had yet to evolve beyond pure hatred for their white brethren.  The memory of being punched in the stomach by a young black kid for daring to slide down a slide in his playground should have scarred me for life, but not having the slightest clue why he had punched me (hard) and run, I was far more focused on the pain than the motivation behind the action.  I remained oblivious to my encounter with racial hatred throughout my school years in mostly white New Hampshire.   I knew that there were those who truly hated other races; I had heard all the racial epithets in movies: nigger, ho, wetback, cracker, and worse, but I still felt no animus toward races different from mine.  What was all the hubbub about?

In college, I finally read some literature that attempted to explain racial tension from both a historical perspective in Flannery O’Connor’s stories, and from the perspective of an immigrant as ignorant of racial tension as I, but with a deeper understanding about the reasons behind racial behaviors in Illiberal Education by Dinesh D’Souza, an Indian immigrant to America.  Flannery provided the cultural perspective to a young white girl whose encounter on the playground was still a mystery.  What I learned from Flannery was that though race may provide humans with the weapons of hatred, evil permeates human nature regardless of race and ignorance affects us all equally.  Honestly, her stories simply affirmed what I already knew in my heart, that I should not be afraid to recognize and call out evil behavior from any human being, white black, or green.

In Illiberal Education, Dinesh D’Souza examines racial relations from the perspective of a minority immigrant removed from a caste society and newly arrived in a Republic that claimed to be color-blind.  The simple revelation that Dinesh was not able to easily distinguish the facial features of northern European or black people was a revelation to me.  I had always wondered why I had difficulties distinguishing one black man or woman from another, and finally I had found that it was not because I was an inherent racist, but that it was a simple matter of human genetics.  Races also develop unique cultural characteristics that humans of that race tend to prefer and gravitate toward such as music, language, and art.  Finally, I had found the freedom in my own mind to gravitate toward and prefer my own culture.  Not to say that one should not be curious about other cultures, but now I had the prerogative to prefer my own, sans any guilt imposed by those who mistakenly believe that cultural preference equals racism.

The problem with “isms” is that they are usually defined by others and do not recognize individual integrity.  I think that’s the key here: integrity and individualism, two states that when acting in harmony serve to define what should be the civil society.  But when an individual, like Eric Holder, defines an entire culture as inherently racist, the concept of civil society breaks down.  So-called “leaders” can then portion off entire swaths of society for ridicule and even hatred by others.  This is the antithesis of civil society, and for my part, Eric Holder will not be missed.


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