Green Room

Why I Am Not a Racist. No, Really.

posted at 6:02 am on January 12, 2010 by

I am unreliably informed that everybody is a racist. This is, of course, a load of ferret kidneys.

To be a racist, one must, at the very least, believe in the concept of race — where “race” means some discrete and self-perpetuating subgroup of humans, defined by skin color and a certain morphology, but that also affects behavior and (some argue) thought itself. Anybody who accuses (e.g.) Clarence Thomas of “acting white” passionately believes in race-determinism.

This seems accurate to most people; but I simply don’t believe in different “races” of Man: The morphology is inconsistent and its connection with behavior and thought is utterly spurious. What most folks imagine to be “racial” is in fact cultural… and I most certainly believe in different and often belligerent subcultures of Mankind.

But — the critical difference — while race is determined by birth, one’s culture is, in the final analysis, consciously chosen… however much it may be influenced by upbringing.

We know that culture (a.k.a., subculture) is not determined by upbringing, because children of identical upbringing often embrace completely different cultures. There is no corner of the globe (does a sphere have corners?) so remote that it does not provide access to more than one culture. Even the most repressive third-world neighborhood, imbued in Islamism or animism or cannibalism or human sacrifice, cannot help but admit American Borg culture (A.B.C. — “Resistance is futile!”) — from Tinkerbell t-shirts to Coca-Cola to McDonalds to reruns of Baywatch.

I doubt there’s even a single country, region, province, or village that doesn’t provide (if unwillingly) access to more than two cultures… perhaps Fundamental Materialist Euroculture or Catholocism or Baha’i or something spawned by historical colonialism, in addition to A.B.C.; so most people have their choice of three or more cultures to choose from, once they’re old enough to notice the difference. Whichever they embrace is, by definition, their conscious choice.

Where am I going with this? Whenever options are available, choice is unavoidable: Of necessity, each adolescent must choose between all available cultureal options. That choice defines the path the individual takes… nothing cultural is carved in stone nor genetically determined.

There’s that pesky word, individual. It crops up whenever we discuss thought, behavior, responsibility, accountability, liberty, conscience, and ultimately behavior. Simply put, we cannot foist upon others, or upon the impersonal Fates, accountability for our own behavior.

If Hutus slaughter Tutsis in Rwanda (or vice-versa), they cannot excuse their behavior by saying “that’s the culture I was brought up in;” because many others brought up in that same culture did not participate in the attempted genocides on both sides and even tried to stop them. Just as a majority of those raised in Compton or Harlem or East L.A. or East St. Louis do not join gangs, do not engage in random violence, do not assault, rape, or murder innocents.

For those who do, their crimes are their own; they cannot blame “society.”

In fact, all of the heresies of civilization, from socialism to racism to tribalism, stem from the same original sin: collectivism. The only way to sustain such cultures of hatred is to dehumanize outsiders; but to dehumanize, it’s almost a logical necessity to view each human being not as an individual, not as a cardinal number, but as an ordinal number — a representative of an entire class.

Thus, Barack H. Obama is not a man with his own strengths and weaknesses, his own ideals and blind spots, but simply “the first black president,” or “a leftist” or “the One We Have Been Waiting For.” George W. Bush is simply “the son of the 41st president” or “a Texan” or “a conservative warmonger.”

When you insist, against all odds, on seeing each person as an individual, not as a cog in a giant collective, then “race” dissipates like morning fog in the noonday sun; the morphologies that define each race are seen as points on a continuum that are interesting to a painter, perhaps, but are orthogonal (at right angles) to all that which makes a man or woman. I’m a pale-skinned white; my wife Sachi is a dark-tinged Oriental; yet we share an intense and dispositive worldview linking us like the strong nuclear force, far more tightly than could possibly be parted by mere melanin level.

Thus I disbelieve in the concept of “race.”

Ergo, by rigorous logic, I cannot be a “racist.” Asking me what race I am is like asking whether I’m a good Martian or a bad Martian: The only valid response is, “will U. kindly F.O.?”

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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GW_SS-Delta on January 12, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Liberals use the term racism to mean hatred or condescension toward specific races. Liberals assume that race exists and is meaningful, so they define the term racism thusly so they can exclude themselves. The truth is that racism would be better defined as “belief in race”… something that most Americans put behind us two generations ago, but which liberals desperately cling to.

joe_doufu on January 12, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Every time I forget about race, there’s always a Democrat or black person to remind me that it’s important to them and that I’m probably a racist.

NNtrancer on January 12, 2010 at 2:27 PM

The only use for the term “race” is to accuse those-who-must-be-smeared of being ‘racist’. You might believe you are not a racist. It may be correct using rigorous logic to PROVE you are not a racist. But for the purpose of the existence of the word itself, you will be ACCUSED of being a racist.

And that is enough.

Mr Michael on January 12, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Damn space aliens… HUMANS FIRST!

malclave on January 12, 2010 at 4:22 PM

Makes more sense then “race”. I never have understood that terminology.

elclynn on January 12, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Whenever options are available, choice is unavoidable…

And because of this, there’s no way to win. If the liberals have difficulty making the “racist” label stick, they will attempt to discredit their opposition by exploring their other “options”. For example, how long do you think it will take before the Demonrats decide to label you…a bigot?

From Wikipedia:

A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

CyberCipher on January 12, 2010 at 5:08 PM

but I simply don’t believe in different “races” of Man: The morphology is inconsistent

I think any forensic anthropologist will disagree with you there.

And I agree with what I think you meant by “behavior”, but what about ability at running? Or surviving cold temperatures? Aren’t those behaviors too?

BlameAmericaLast on January 12, 2010 at 5:58 PM

One of the better points is that cultural traditions, which one chooses, are at the core of group identity. Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of definition of purely American culture. Certainly one may point to the “cowboy” movies and say that’s it, yeah. Or more easily admit that the American melting pot, an assimilation of many people from many backgrounds, over many years, is still simmering. A really wonderful stew is still in the making.

That many Americans believe that identifying solely with a traditional, or newly imitated culture is the best and most reliable way to fit into some group, an American identity of self-determination, a belief in the spiritual equality of all people, value in each life, and a desire to promote and secure these and more ideals doesn’t seem to have settled, a true freedom loving identity that abhors the shackles of any governmental interference in the spirit of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Many people sought these shores believing that those documents were everlasting and were a final reward to be attained in their journey. The dilution, and in current attempts at dissolution, of these cherished founding decrees must have many of them and their descendants disappointed. I hope we don’t have to wait for the exodus to find out.

Robert17 on January 12, 2010 at 6:54 PM

The only valid response is, “will U. kindly F.O.?”

Good one. 🙂

KinleyArdal on January 13, 2010 at 9:44 AM

But — the critical difference — while race is determined by birth, one’s culture is, in the final analysis, consciously chosen… however much it may be influenced by upbringing.

The bolded text destroys your premise of unbelief. If you don’t believe in the concept of race, then how can race be determined by birth? Paradoxes of this sort are only solved by making the antecedent false — because false implies true as well as false implying false.

If one truly does not believe in a concept, they cannot define the concept. It should prove alien and elusive to coherent thought.

I think your essay needs a little rework.

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Why did Dafydd hit and run? Isn’t he going to answer our questions?

BlameAmericaLast on January 15, 2010 at 6:08 AM