A Brief Discourse on Race

We are constantly assaulted–verbally bloodied, really–by the message that we are not beyond the issue of race in this country—that racism/sexism/et al runs rampant in the system, and that we have very little chance of progressing positively on this matter. In light of these facts, it is claimed that we must positively discriminate in order to make up for our past wrongs. 1

And boy, are our past wrongs terrible. Don’t get me wrong on that point, we have certainly not afforded liberty to individuals who should have had it, but I must ask: how in the world are we ever expected to move beyond race, when it is such an obvious factor in determining anti-discriminatory discrimination? That sort of logic is a hell of a thing to figure out.

I don’t believe that we can realistically eliminate the discriminating nature of individuals, however wrong their conclusions may be, simply because we’re wired to do so. We judge situations, we judge ourselves, and we judge others based on actions, our surroundings, and past experience. You cannot eliminate that through legislation, no matter how badly you would like to do so.

To compound matters, we are dealing with a class of individuals who use such language (crying, “Racist!”) in a way that stifles debate on the matter; by many accounts, and by my own experience, I believe we are beyond race or gender being a realistic barrier to any sort of future opportunities. There is an equality of opportunity that surely exists, and there is no question about that. Unfortunately, not all individuals are born rich, well off, in the right neighborhood, attend the right school, etc. but we cannot possibly rely on the government to provide a level playing field in that regard.

Today, I learned of former President Jimmy Carter’s statements concerning opposition to the agenda of President Obama. He feels deep down that any opposition can primarily be attributed to racism, and racist attitudes. Mr. Carter refuses for a single moment to consider that it is opposition to the man’s policies, and not his color or creed, that causes individuals to refuse to support his agenda.

But, once it is claimed that we are racist in our thinking, it becomes difficult to defend our position in a debate–frankly, it is impossible to do so–and thus the debate is ended. In spite of the vitriolic way in which this is done, it is often brushed aside or given legitimacy as an argument against any opposition.

I find it difficult to believe this sort of rhetoric concerning race. In my own life I have not seen the effects of racism on others–though I attended a racially diverse high school–but what I have seen is the unequaled tolerance for diversity my generation has shown.

In brief, the United States seems unwilling to have an open, honest discussion on race simply because it is convenient to maintain the status quo; convenient only because of what it offers in terms of drumming up votes and maintaining the power of the few who would use race, gender, and identity to do so. We will never eliminate discrimination, but we’ve certainly created an environment of equal opportunity, and that is all that we can do in a society that favors liberty.

  1. We’re talking about affirmative action here. The program once had a usefulness in helping to foster equality of opportunity, but attitudes concerning racism today have taken the debate beyond reality.