Monday, November 15, 2010

The Sin of Racism

RastusThe photo at right serves as a Rorschach blot for postmodern race-consciousness.

The majority of white Americans who see it will react with a sense of distaste and unease — and maybe even guilt, if their politics lean towards the Progressive.

Some of our regular readers will be concerned that I may harm this blog’s “reputation” by posting such inflammatory images.

Strangers who happen upon this post will probably say to themselves, “Aha! Here’s another racist hate site! I knew it!”

And conservatives of a certain stripe will think I’m a limp-wristed candy-ass coward for failing to follow through completely and embrace whatever racial ideology they subscribe to.

No matter what, it’s impossible to look at the image and see it for what it is.

A package of Rastus Cigars.

A cultural artifact from the early 20th century.

An hommage to a well-known Vaudeville tap-dancer.

A product designed to appeal to the tastes and predilections of a particular time and place.

At the time the package was printed and sold, the design was not particularly remarkable. Fans of Rastus would have appreciated seeing his picture. Most white people probably found it vaguely amusing, in a low-class way. Some must have been disgusted at its vulgarity. A certain proportion were undoubtedly repelled by an insulting caricature of a Negro.

But, all in all, it wasn’t that big a deal. It was just another product on the market.

How times have changed.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

ChinkThe Episcopal Church (ECUSA) is very concerned about racism.

Back in the 1990s, when I was active in our diocese, the head office in Norfolk would periodically organize workshops to combat the “Sin of Racism”. They insisted that each parish host a traveling Episcopalian dog-and-pony show on the topic, a workshop designed to bring racial awareness to local churches and help them own up to the sin of racism, of which each and every parishioner was guilty.

When you think about it, this was rather peculiar, since the modern Episcopal Church — along with most other mainline Protestant denominations — has mostly given up the idea of sin. Adultery and fornication are no longer considered particularly sinful. Sodomy, far from being a sin, is now officially celebrated. Some other practices that were formerly considered sinful are still frowned upon — gluttony, avarice, and so on — without being labeled as “sin”.

But not racism. That’s a real sin.

Postmodern moral philosophy declines to recognize absolute right and wrong. Our prevailing moral judgments are merely “narratives” deriving from the dominant power structure inherent in our oppressive patriarchal capitalist society. All competing moralities are equally valid. There is nothing that can be considered inherently “wrong”.

Except, of course, for racism, sexism, homophobia, and failing to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Now those are absolutes.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Cartoon: Israel DevilThe “racism” card is the first thing that’s played against anyone in our line of work — in fact, against anyone who displays even the slightest of conservative tendencies or flouts politically correct orthodoxy in any way.

There is no way any of us can win on the playing field of race. The game has been decided against us in advance.

It follows that the most important thing is to decline to play the game on that field:

  • Don’t engage in any arguments about racism.
  • Don’t try to prove that you’re not racist.
  • Don’t attempt to demonstrate that your opponent is a hypocritical racist himself.
  • Don’t be drawn into any debate where the primary topic is race, unless it is a specific discussion of biological attributes with a scientific purpose.

Just because they built it doesn’t mean you have to show up.

It’s very difficult to avoid the pitfall of race, because the entire structure of political vice and virtue has been founded on the topic for nearly fifty years. To stay away from it means going against the grain of all political discourse, whether liberal, conservative, socialist, anarchist, or libertarian.

To escape the trap, you have to give up worrying about whether anyone else considers you a racist for what you say. Conversely, part of the process of de-programming yourself from the “race” virus entails not caring whether others are racist, or seem to be racist, or might be racist. Why should you care?

Whether or not others perceive me as “racist” is irrelevant. I simply decline an obsession with race.

Therefore I don’t particularly mind if other people decide to group together according to their ethnicity. It’s a completely natural thing for human beings to do; they always have. Seeing that sort of behavior as inherently evil is a very recent, entirely modern peculiarity.

Racism — whether its practice, or an obsession with it — is a relatively modern invention. There were no racial ideologies as we understand them until after Darwin. “Racism” as such has no empirical existence, and it can be shrugged off like any other acquired ideology — including Socialism and Islam.

As far as “racism” is concerned, evil only enters the picture when one group decides to enslave or exterminate another based on race. But that is no more evil than enslaving or exterminating people based upon their social class, or their political preference, or any other way in which human beings can categorize one another.

That’s why I don’t freak out when I see the letters “BNP”. I can agree that the BNP is “racist” in the sense that until recently it restricted its membership to white people. But why twist your knickers over that?

It’s just like the Congressional Black Caucus: no white people allowed! Nobody minds that, of course, because only white people can be called “racist”. But still — why worry about the BNP’s “racism”, given that Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters get a free pass?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any organization limiting membership to a particular ethnic group. It may be a political hindrance, but it some circumstances it might even be an advantage. In any case, it need not carry any special opprobrium — except for the habits that have been deeply engrained in us for so long.

Look at it another way: according to the UN itself, there is such a thing as the “rights of indigenous peoples”.

Thus the EDL is following orthodox UN doctrine when it decides to defend the English people. The BNP may be on shakier ground, given that “British” is not a defined ethnicity. But it’s still the same basic UN-approved principle.

In reality, of course, the UN resolution is malignant and malicious, because it is intended to apply only to “brown” people. Hutus, Hmong, Kurds, Ainu, Navajo — all these have rights as “indigenous peoples”. But not white Europeans and their descendants.

Nor do Jews. According to the UN, the Palestinians have a right of “return”, which allows them to flood Israel and destroy the Jewish character of the state. Thus the Palestinians have rights as indigenes, but the Jews don’t.

However, if all of us disgusting racist white devils decided en masse to make an issue of it, we could hoist the UN on its own fetid petard. Whites are an indigenous people. European ethnicities do have rights.

So stand up for the rights of indigenous peoples, even if they have (gasp!) white skin. Try it — you’ll find it’s not as scary and dangerous as you’ve been led to believe.

But don’t let yourself be trapped into proving that you’re not a “racist”. It’s a mug’s game.

You can never prove yourself non-racist, except by adopting the entire leftist-progressive program, every finicky jot and tittle of it.

If you don’t do that, you’re a WAYCIST! And you always will be.

It doesn’t matter how many of your friends are Jews, or how many Negroes or Red Indians you have your picture taken with, or how many Samoans you appoint to important offices. You’re still a nasty, bigoted, WAYCIST.

The only way out is to cut the Gordian knot and refuse any discussion on the topic. No anxiety, no defensiveness, no rancor. Just: “Sorry, I have no interest in talking about such foolishness.”

Or to ignore it completely.

Because you can’t win.

You can’t be absolved of the sin of racism.

Not ever.


Sol Ta Triane said...

Was thinking about the hobbled Episcopal Church just today. Where you learn to ignore your own shortcomings and concern yourself instead with the imagined sins of others. I see an old cigar package and didn't have a second thought. No imaginary guilt.


It is mainly the negro that has preserved racism,for he has no other talents,and the only life choice that he has is to shake down whites,he has no pride for he knows that societies judgement of him is correct,so he fulfills his own steriotype as the rapist,mugger,murderer,drug dealer and pimp,since he can only impact society with violence to assuage his sense of self-inflicted victimhood,and any "culture"that he lays claim to is meerly primitive reaction,on the whole it would have been much kinder to leave him where he was,for civilisation is beyond his comprehension.

Anonymous said...

You can’t be absolved of the sin of racism.
Not ever.

Never say never! (Or "not ever" in this case).

Tim Wise showed the way just last week.

He joined the hallowed ranks of such luminaries as Ignatiev ("Abolish the white race"), Sontag ("Cancer of human history"), Kaufman ("Germany Must Perish"), and Dr. Kamau Kambon ("Exterminate white people").

The way to cleanse ourselves of the original sin of being white is to magnanimously cease to exist. Bonus points go to those whites who help speed up the process of white disappearance upon this planet. (Sarrazin's book title used the term "Abschaffen", or "To abolish", in this spirit).

gsw said...

Racism is such a waste!
Why restrict your dislike of idiots to any particular ethnic group or hue.
Much better to be indiscriminate and snigger at them all!

dienw said...

I have a lawyer friend who has been able to pursue his frustrated lifelong love of art. In his very cramped lawyer office/art studio is a set of shelves containing his collection of antique tobacco jars: many are depictions of black stereotypes.

dienw said...

Let's stir the pot: define being white; which groups - European - appear white but aren't; and which are?: the Nazis thought there was a difference.

Unknown said...

What I see is a clumsy 21st century fake. It has all the grace and skill of a high-school graphic design student, only any student who submitted such a thing would earn a suspension (for promoting smoking as much as racism). The "vintage" calendars associated with this (exact same--that's a giveaway) image are even more laughably bad--the whole thing simply doesn't pass the smell test for anyone even passingly familiar with 20th century American graphic design and advertising. Now, why someone went to all the trouble of ginning up something like this is another question.

ChrisLA said...

Why is it that Islam seems to be exempt from any charge of racism? Sharia Law, as embodied in "The Reliance of the Traveller," is filled with racist rules. An Arab woman cannot marry a non-Arab man even if he is a Muslim. (Paragraph m4.2(1)). A caliph must be an Arab, even though 80% of Muslims today are not Arab. (Paragraph o25.3(e). Indemnity for a Jew is one-third that of a Muslim. (Paragraph o4.9)

Elan-tima said...

I'm afraid the defence of "indigenous" people is no longer a viable argument. For one the current scientific meme is that all humankind originated in Africa, that were all from that continent and therefore were all one "race". Second, the "indigenous" people of North America are faced with the evidence that they wandered over to this continent at some point so they cant claim that status. Thus they've morphed into a new cultural class known as "First Nations" where their ethnic background is secondary to the claim of having been a settled culture in North America first. Thus gaining hedgemony over "colonial whitey".

At this point in time the cry of Racism is more a attempt to enforce the contemporary theory of the "One race from Africa" meme. So we've arrived at a photographic negative of National Socialism's utopic dream of a one pure race lie. Except we've gone around the circle of that logic in the opposite direction to arrive at the tired tyranical cliche--"There's only one race, the human race." We see the oppression enforced by the proceedings against Mr. Wilders and Ms. Wolff.
Instead of the SA we have the Antifa.

Nick said...

Regarding one of the points made in the original article: people looking out for their own 'kin' has been written about in books like 'The Moral Animal' by Robin Wright and of course 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins.

We've all heard certain people criticise Christianity because in their view certain passages from the Old Testament are not compatible with their own 21st Century beliefs. It's often said in response to such criticism that the Old Testament rules and regs were for a specific place and time. Wouldn't it be proper to bring in the concept of 'kin selection' and 'the selfish gene' here too though, and say that the overriding goal for the Israelites at that time was to become a people. Therefore the aspects of the OT which trouble the secular critic so ought to be understood in that light.

Richard Dawkins' arguments may therefore be used against his own devotees!

Van Grungy said...

There is no such thing as race.

See, wasn't that easy.

EscapeVelocity said...

Nick, you might also be interested in the speech given to the US Naval Academy by Robert Heinlein (who has libertarian political leanings).

The Pragmatics of Patriotism 1973

Here it is on Jerry Pournelle's site.....scroll down to July 4, 2002 and look for the heading A Letter from Robert Rocansky. Read the whole thing.

Nick said...

I was goin to ask, is the Robert Heinlein the writer, then I saw that the link went to Jerry Pournelle's site ...

EscapeVelocity said...

Yeah, Heinlein and Pournelle are both Science Fiction writers of some renown.

Nick said...

Escape Velocity,

That was quite a speech he gave, I particularly liked the way he put it about baboons graduating their class on 'morality' - the leopard is the judge.

I read some Jerry Pournelle quite a few years ago, so I recognised the name. I also have a copy of one of Heinlein's books on my bookshelf, which I can see from where I'm typing on my laptop just now.

Spaceship Troopers - and he puts another interesting speech in the mouth of one of his characters talking to sailors/cadets - in fact I think I came across that speech here at GoV originally, which is why I got the book.

ZZMike said...

Nice try, Will, but no cigar.....

King Rastus

""King Rastus" was probably not his real name, as many Minstrel and Vaudeville performers often times used a racially stereotypical stage name such as Sambo, Rastus, Jazzbo, Hickory, Moke, Coon etc. to appeal to white audiences."

[my emphasis]

More than that, anybody remember "Aunt Jemima"?

Another problem is that too many people throw around the word "racism" the way they threw around "Nazi" not too long ago - "anyone who disagrees with me".

Professor L said...

If all else fails, charge them for it. And make sure it's in pounds sterling!

Unknown said...

I notice your source (such as it is) uses exactly the same image--the *only* such image I've seen--of the alleged cigars. And a cursory glance at the text says nothing about any product endorsement or tie-in (who made these?)--correct me if I'm wrong. But that wasn't my point. There are plenty of so-called racist portrayals of blacks in American commerce--I never had a problem with Aunt Jemima, or the real Rastus (from Cream of Wheat), or even the fellow on the tube of "Darkie" toothpaste my older brother brought back from the Far East 40 years ago. My point is, this particular artifact is a *clumsy* *fake*--and the product of an agenda. What that agenda is, exactly, I'm not sure I really care, but it is a shoddy, shameful thing--*not* because it points to, or represents, anything shameful in our past, but because it is a work of smirking self-importance.

Zenster said...

Lost in all of this flagellation is the fact that it remains a constitutional right to be racist. You can discriminate in your own mind to your heart's content. By any legal definition it is a protected personal right.

Putting into practice such discriminatory activities within the public realm is another thing entirely; especially in the commercial and business sectors. At that point, for better or worse, many very specific laws come into play.

None of that changes the fact that anybody and everybody can entertain the most racist notions imaginable. Until thought crime is prosecuted in its most actual sense, racism will remain a personal right.

That said, let there be no doubt about the manner in which Politically Correct Multiculturalism is doing its best to prosecute thought crime. The fact that thought crime cannot be proven and is totally impossible to document gives these anguished handwringing bleeding hearts not a moment’s pause.

Geert Wilders and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff stand as crystal clear evidence of this.

The only ghastly aspect to modern racism is the utterly contrived manner by which, supposedly, all white people are racist . This utter distortion of reality has been further extended to the point where only white people are even capable of racism. A person of color is magically allowed to engage in the most discriminatory practices with nary a squeak of protest from any quarter. But let a white person, especially a Pale Male™, conjure up even a faint semblance of the same patently offensive behavior and suddenly the world grinds to a halt in horrorstricken panic.

Should sanity manage to prevail, the eventual outcome of all this nonsense will be to strip away all meaning from the original concept of racism. The same process is currently abrading away any meaning from the concept of indigenous culture.

All of the Multiculturalist hand waving and prestidigitation has but one eventual goal and that is to render even the most foundational concepts of reality subject to interpretation by those who hold the levers of power.

To quote Lewis Carroll:

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

Nick said...

All of the Multiculturalist hand waving and prestidigitation has but one eventual goal and that is to render even the most foundational concepts of reality subject to interpretation by those who hold the levers of power.

Yes, very well put.

Sol Ta Triane said...


While you're unconsciously putting yourself out as an example of one of the Baron's points, how about that mysterious "agenda" you seek? Oh, mercy at that original thought.

Isn't it most likely the original "agenda" was to put a famous entertainer on a product in order to create memorable and stylish packaging and sell more products?

And the point of this article is to show how we are trained to imagine that negative racist attitudes and objectives exist in others. I see it as an astute observation, one that deserves my consideration.

Sean O'Brian said...

Good speech. Unfortunately in Stranger in a Stranger Land, Robert Heinlein's satire on religion, he compares the Old Testament negatively to the Koran. In 1961, this was quite original and daring but there's no doubt in my mind it was an early manifestation of irreligion leading to multiculturalism. When a neutral atheist (in this case Heinlein) has decided that Christianity is bunkum he needs must give equal consideration to alien religions. Soon enough he 'discovers', with an affected pose of disinterestedness, that Buddhism or Islam is actually superior to Christianity.

Nick said...

It's always been a strange pose, that of the atheist who decries Christianity but defends Islam. How can that be? And yet I've seen it time and again.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, racism.

1-Esp. when the Africans themselves had slaves in the old country.
2-Africans sold their own people and Africans of other tribes into slavery.
3- The Arabs brought the Africans from the interior to the African coast.

4-Black people in the U.S. Had African slaves themselves.

5-Light skinned Black people in the U.S. disdained dark-skinned Black People.

6-There is terrible discrimination among Africans in that continent, ex. the Ruanda Massacre.

And there is right now, an inter-tribal war in the Congo.

And don't even let me go into the tragedyt of Zimbabwe, Uganda, etc.

Racial bias, indeed!

goethechosemercy said...

The atheist submits to Islam because he feels that he hasn't given up anything.

Anonymous said...

Atheism doesn't necessarily lead to submission to Islam. Other personal and political factors are necessary. I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but as long as some people are still telling the big lie that the non-religious are a fifth column, I have to keep insisting otherwise.

There are many, many Christians and Jews who are serious about their religion, and take the dhimmi position in the name of their religion; in other words, their self-talk is, in order to be a good Christian or Jew, I have to love everyone and try to blend in with them, even if some of them seem...hostile. Likewise, there are atheists who can rationalize their submission to Islam, based on their own brand of atheism. But there's nothing in any religion or lack of religion, per se, that inclines any individual to be a dhimmi. It's more complicated.

I have a real concern that people who take these gratuitous potshots at allies are undermining the coalition. I'd estimate that at least half of the potential counter-jihadis are secular. Do some of you religious people really want me and other agnostics/atheists to think, why should I make common cause with these people who insult me? Just because the Muslims will cut off my head, and some Christians only want to call me a traitor, I should ally myself with Christians? Is it possible for us all to be more polite and pragmatic in public?

Sean O'Brian said...

Atheism doesn't necessarily lead to submission to Islam.

No, of course not. I was just trying to demonstrate one of the thought processes by which some atheists become multiculturalists and show how early in the 20thC it was happening.

Baron Bodissey said...

latté island --

Hear, hear!

I've been banging that drum in this space for a while. Civility and tolerance -- the real kind, not the PC/MC nonsense -- is absolutely necessary to forge a coalition that will stop the Islamic juggernaut and roll it back. Infighting will be the death of us.

Working together means we accept each other's languages, cultures, and histories. It means we cease recriminations amongst ourselves over events that happened 75, 100, 500, or 1,000 years ago.

It means we accept differences of class and wealth.

It means that atheists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and even Socialists must put up with one another.

Some of my best friends are atheists, of necessity -- it's hard to be a Christian and an intellectual if you don't hang out with atheists. Otherwise, you have to live near a Catholic seminary or a military academy or some such if you want to have anyone to talk to.

There are religious people who can't tolerate atheists, and atheists who can't tolerate believers. In my personal experience, there is a higher proportion of the latter than the former. But that may just be my prejudice speaking.

Sean O'Brian said...

I don't accept that what I wrote was uncivil or intolerant. We've had intelligent criticism of Christianity and it didn't cause any fights. Besides none of the atheists involved in counterjihad fit my characterisation of Heinlein as a "neutral atheist" since they are definitely not neutral between Islam and other religions. Plenty of atheists are, and deserve criticism for it.