The view that “racism” is limited to the prejudices of individuals and/or the discriminatory policies of the government dies hard.
Those who have thought longest and hardest on the evil of racism—the “experts”—have been telling us for quite some time that racism contaminates the very institutions or “structures” of Western civilization. The philosopher Richard Wasserstrom is a case in point.
While “institutional racism” is more “subtle” and “unintentional” than more covert or traditional expressions of racism, Wasserstrom tells us, it is also the most intractable for this reason. In fact, institutional racism pervades our very concepts. “Quite often,” Wasserstrom explains, “without realizing it,” our concepts “take for granted certain objectionable aspects of racist ideology without our being aware of it.”
Take for example the concept of “a common humanity,” a concept that supplies the philosophical backbone of such related concepts as the rule of law, equality before the law, the dignity of persons, and the ideal of “color blindness.” Though treated by most people as an antidote to racism, the concept of a common humanity reinforces racism. Moreover, it makes it that much more difficult to defeat the latter.
As the political scientist Iris Marion Young informs us, in spite of posing as “neutral and universal,” the concept of a common humanity is a “culturally and experientially specific” instrument by which whites, and white men particularly, “structure privilege and oppression.” That is, “cultural imperialism” continues courtesy of the ideal of a common humanity. Young writes: “Blindness to difference [color-blindness] perpetuates cultural imperialism by allowing norms expressing the point of view and experience of privileged groups [whites] to appear neutral and universal.”
The verdict is inescapable: white people are incorrigibly racist. How can matters be otherwise when the very ideas that whites use to combat racism are themselves racist?
If racism really is embodied in our institutions, our modes of perceiving our world, then it is as ubiquitous as is the air we breathe. It is omnipresent. And if it is omnipresent, then there is no place to which we can turn to evade it.
Whites are incorrigibly racist.
The great philosopher David Hume observed that the more general and abstract an idea is, the more plausible it is. When we spell it out in the concrete the idea of institutional racism, there is no getting around the following.
If you are a white, you are a racist. So too are your children racist.
Since I am white, I am a racist, as is my three year-old son.
The 20 children gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut last month, are racist.
Gabbie Giffords is a racist.
The four Americans murdered during the latest attack on an American embassy in Libya are racist.
Abraham Lincoln, Joe Biden, FDR, Glenn Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, George Washington, Dick Clark, Andy Griffith, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Sean Penn, Audie Murphy, and the mostly white firefighters who rushed into the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 to rescue strangers are all racist.
Chris Mathews, Ed Shultz, St. Francis of Assisi, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Moore, and Rachel Maddow are racist.
The most saintly of whites no less than the most evil, the most committed anti-racists no less than the most virulent neo-Nazi skinheads and Klan members, are alike racist.
Richard Wasserstrom and Iris Marion Young, both white, are racist.
Those white editors who will refuse to publish this article for fear of being portrayed as racist are as racist as those who have no such fears.
There are still other implications of the claim that racism is “institutional.”
If even the most seemingly innocuous, anti-racist of the concepts in which whites routinely trade are mired in racism, then the concept that racism is immoral is also racist! The thought that everyone deserves to be treated equally regardless of their race is a racist thought, for it is a thought that was conspicuously absent from the Earth until men of European decent fought hard for it.
Translation: in advocating on behalf of measures that benefit, or ostensibly benefit, racial minorities—the abolition of slavery and Jim Crow, say, and “affirmative action”—non-whites prove just how “culturally imperialistic”—how racist—they remain.
If institutional racism is a reality, then every single white person is a racist. And if we want to overcome racism, then the only way to do so is by “fundamentally transforming”—i.e. repealing and replacing—Western civilization.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is being talked about quite a bit as a likely presidential candidate for 2016.
The word among many Republicans is that Rubio’s is among the faces of the new wave, the next generation, of genuinely “conservative” politicians.
As is all too typically the case nowadays, the word is a lie.
Presumably, a conservative in contemporary American politics is an advocate of “limited government.” A “limited government,” in turn, is a federalized or constitutional government, a government within which the vast majority of rights belong to the states. A proponent of “limited government,” that is, does whatever he can do to reduce the size and scope of the national government.
Thus far, Rubio doesn’t come close to satisfying this description.
Arizona is a state that has suffered to no end from illegal immigration, a problem visited upon it by the federal government’s refusal to enforce its own immigration laws. When the ravages of immigration reached crisis proportions, Arizonans passed a bill empowering the state’s law enforcement agents to remedy the federal government’s dereliction of duty by allowing officers to ask identification of those who they suspected of residing within the state illegally.
Though popular with the overwhelming majority of Arizonans, Rubio opposed it. In fact, he likened Arizona to a “police state.”
Rubio argued for permitting illegal immigrants the opportunity to pursue a college degree. He also contended that they should be able to pay “in-state tuition” rates for it.
But it gets worse.
Not only has Rubio gone on record as favoring the DREAM Act. He favors the same “comprehensive immigration reform” for which establishment Republicans have been calling for years—i.e. amnesty by another name. Of course, not unlike anyone else who favors amnesty, he will never call it for what it is. But any “reform” that grants citizenship to millions upon millions of people who entered our country illegally is indeed amnesty.
Rubio once called upon those within “the conservative movement” to “admit that there are those among us who have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable” and “inexcusable.” Presumably, he is speaking of those who oppose amnesty—regardless of what name the Rubios of the world choose to affix to it.
Rubio is typical of Republicans in supporting the Patriot Act, with its “roving” wiretaps, and he endorses as well the characteristically Republican idea that “radical Islam” is the largest threat that America faces. Rubio believes that America’s engagement abroad needs to broaden, and he thinks that only if America is the most powerful nation on Earth can it also be the safest nation on Earth.
While delivering a speech at the Brookings Institution last April, Rubio was clear. For those “voices in my own party” who caution America to “heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go ‘abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,’” Rubio has no sympathy. With such a foreign policy, he couldn’t disagree more strongly, for “all around us we see the face of America’s influence in the world.”
The question needs to be asked: How is Rubio any different from John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, or any other establishment Republican? How is Rubio a real “conservative” while, say, McCain and Romney are “moderates?” For that matter, how is Rubio all that different from Barack Obama and many establishment Democrats who favor Big Government on these and other issues?
From what we have to go on thus far, it seems painfully obvious that Rubio is no conservative; he is a neoconservative.
Neoconservative Republicans are none too pleased by President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to the position of Secretary of Defense.
Anyone who has been listening to neoconservative talk radio for the last couple of days, or reading such neoconservative publications as The Weekly Standard and National Review, is all too familiar with the litany of charges of which Hagel is presumed guilty. When it comes to foreign policy, Hagel is an “appeaser,” “naïve,” and “no friend of Israel.”
These allegations may or may not be true. What is true is that Hagel’s accusers haven’t even come close to substantiating any of them.
Mine is an attitude of indifference toward Hagel. To his credit, he was a trenchant critic of the Iraq War. However, he had none of the prescience of those of the war’s opponents who resisted it from the outset, for Hagel initially voted for it. The point, though, is that it is his opposition to this war that first rendered him persona non grata to his fellow neoconservative Republicans who aggressively advocated on its behalf.
They will not publicly admit this now, obviously. After all, as the elections of 2006 and 2008, to say nothing of poll after poll, proved beyond a doubt, it has been quite some time since the majority of the nation has decided that the Hagels of the world were correct about the war while the Kristols, Krauthammers, Hannitys, Limbaughs, and Bennetts were sorely mistaken.
The Iraq War was a foreign policy disaster of epic proportions. This is how most people view it today—even if Hagel’s neoconservative critics refuse to do so.
The neoconservative’s reaction to Hagel’s nomination is as revealing an indication as any that the Republican Party has not amended its ways. To put it another way, it proves that America’s neoconservative party is as committed to its ideology as Obama is committed to his.
Every election season neoconservative pundits are quick to chastise as “single issue” voters those “social conservatives” who express reluctance to vote for candidates who they believe are, say, insufficiently “pro-life.” Yet these same pundits show none of the tolerance, patience, or flexibility of those to whom they preach, for there is one issue on which they will not compromise.
Of course, that issue is “foreign policy” or “national security.”
And for the neoconservative, this means the following:
First, any politician who isn’t determined to spend even more public monies on the military must be depicted as an “appeaser,” “naïve,” and, invariably, “no friend ofIsrael’s.”
Second, any politician who suggests the need for reductions in military (“defense”) spending must be characterized as an “appeaser,” “naïve,” and “no friend of Israel.”
Third, any politician who refuses to paint any Islamic militant as a “terrorist,” “radical Muslim,” or “Islamist” must be described as an “appeaser,” “naïve,” and “no friend of Israel.”
Fourth, any politician, like Hagel, who makes a point of reminding his colleagues that they have been elected to represent the people of America, not of Israel, must be smeared as an “appeaser,” “naïve,” and “no friend of Israel.”
Finally, any politician who opposes efforts to enlist the American military in the service of fundamentally transforming the planet into a bastion of Global Democracy must be decried as an “appeaser,” “naïve,” and “no friend of Israel.”
The key to understanding the neoconservative’s reaction to Hagel—as well as to understanding everything else that does—lies in understanding his foreign policy vision and the all-importance that he attaches to it.