Way back in those halcyon days of Martin Luther King the charge of racism related to someone’s failing to be colour blind. Instead of judging someone on the quality of her character, or the strength of her work ethic, or the bigness of her heart, the bigot back then was one who judged on the basis of inherited qualities over which the person being judged had no control – the type of skin pigmentation or the variety of reproductive organs. To call another a ‘racist’ back during the days of the US civil rights movement was to allege that that person was unable to ignore skin colour. The transgressor treated those with one skin pigmentation differently than those with another and did so for no reason other than that. Instead of ignoring race, he made it central, and so he was labelled a ‘racist’.
Fast forward half a century and the world has literally turned upside down. Today the charge of racism, at least for those who inhabit the virtue-signalling realms of ‘woke’ central, has transmogrified into the claim that you are – wait for it – ignoring race. In the universe of identity politics, where everyone is either a victim or an oppressor (and this garbage is taught in our ‘worse outcomes than Kazakhstan’ education system that no Coalition government does anything about), ignoring race makes you a racist. Why? Because you’ve failed to empathise with the difficult road trodden by ‘the other’. (And no, don’t ask me what this jargon means because no one knows.)
Take one of the most anodyne, trite and unobjectionable assertions imaginable – that ‘all lives matter’. Mouthing that is getting people fired from their jobs in the US. Why? Good question. Seemingly because all lives no longer do matter. Only those from groups who can cram themselves into the ‘victim’ category – never mind that there are huge numbers of whites doing far worse in life than significant numbers of blacks in the US, loads of women doing miles better than masses of men, some very successful upper middle class people in all groups, the sort who predominantly benefit from any and all affirmative action policies. Nope, that doesn’t matter. You see the charge of racism, today, seems to have inverted itself into its former opposite. The sin today, now, is that you are someone who insists on being colour blind and ignoring skin colour. You know, the sort of behaviour that Martin Luther King looked forward to before he was murdered. And heaven help you if you refuse to play the ‘some are victims, some are oppressors’ game.
Or here’s another puzzle thrown up by recent events. Why is there any value whatsoever in someone apologising for something he or she had no hand in doing? I go out on a limb here, you understand, but speaking for myself I feel no guilt whatsoever, not a whit, for things other people did in the past. The fact such persons from the past might share a sliver of a fraction of a trace element more DNA with me than with the person demanding the apology carries no weight with me at all. Apologising for past persons is empty gesturing; it’s virtue-signalling of the worst, most empty sort. Those who ‘take the knee’ or issue perfunctory pre-approved words of contrition make the world better how exactly? Not at all is the answer. If you had no hand in doing the wrong why do you bear any of the guilt? Why should you apologise?
At this point some philosophers (on my side of the argument) point out two things. The first is that today, right now, is the best time ever to have been alive for humans (at least those born in the ‘naughty’ West our education system dislikes so much). The poorest, most put-upon slob at the bottom of the heap has a better lifestyle than Henry VIII – lives longer, travels more, better health, better food, more entertainment, everything save personal power and the ability to unilaterally end one’s marriage. When you’re in the top 0.0001 per cent of those who’ve ever lived, you’re not a victim. And the fact you can point to a person here or there who’s done a tad better in the lottery of life does not change that. It just lets you wallow in envy.
Secondly, these philosophers make this point. The chances of any of us actually having been born were billions to one against – this man had to meet this woman, this sperm had to meet this egg, these grandparents had to be forced to leave this country, all that times a million. Put bluntly, if the past were different you wouldn’t be here. So we can learn from the past; we can spot heroes and villains; but we also need to remember that a different past would mean a world we, personally, did not inhabit. Are you really wishing for that?
Now we can all see that the political fault line has changed. In the 2016 US presidential election, Hillary won each and every one of the hundred wealthiest counties. Wealthy people now vote left, as a generalisation. Much, much more than they used to do at any rate. They have infected the Labour/Labor parties in fact. Just look at last December’s election in Britain. Boris was given a massive majority by the working classes who don’t genuflect at the feet of identity politics and climate alarmism and who still feel real patriotism towards their country. I’m with them.
In fact the issue of patriotism constitutes a big dividing line in the contemporary West. Some love their country; some believe it to be unworthy (partly because the schools try to pound this into their heads). Those in the latter camp are happy not to stand for the national anthem. They’re inclined to nitpick and miss the big picture – that life in Australia (Canada, Britain, and yes the US) is better than virtually anywhere else, ever. That’s why so many want to come here. And it’s better not just in money terms but in terms of all human rights type questions. If you want real, day-to-day casual racism go to China. I lived in Hong Kong. I know. Or go to Africa. Anywhere outside the West in fact.
Those who can’t see that, who want to topple statues and burn down the existing institutions, are forced to play Orwell and redefine the very notion of racism. Alas, far too many of our corporate, political and university elites are letting them do this. Shame on them all.
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