Is American society inherently racist?

HOUSTON, July 5, 2013 ― America is inherently racist. This is the unflinching and concrete belief held by many Americans. It is a belief that has permeated American jurisprudence, media and academia since the late 1970s.

In conjunction with the hyper-sensitivity of our politically correct society, this perspective is highly destructive of open and honest political discourse. Understanding how and why this belief persists is the key to suppressing its chilling effects and moving forward with a constructive debate about America’s future.


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Some law schools offer a second-year course called “Race and the Law.” The professor looks at everything through a racial lens. Some legal scholars do not believe that colorblindness, equality before the law and the Constitution are truly intended or capable of providing equality for black Americans. They believe that the American constitution, legal system and government were set up by white people to help white people and to perpetuate racial inequalities by keeping black people down.

Many of us who have taken this course have a hard time understanding this view of the law, but after studying “critical race theory” (CRT), it becomes clear that when we discuss racism, we are using the same word, but with totally different meanings.

My professor’s definition, and that perpetuated by CRT, discards what may be the most critical element of racism: intent. It replaces intent with the subjective feelings of the victim, blurring the lines between true, intentional racism, and a much more nebulous, subjective concept.

Studying CRT makes it clear how and why many people, including those who do not know about CRT, believe America to be inherently racist. With intent no longer a part of the definition, racism is now measured solely on subjective terms ― on how actions, words and institutional arrangements make people feel.


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In this hyper-sensitive, politically correct world we live in, almost any action will make somebody feel discriminated against. The best way to shut down a debate is to call our opponent a racist. Liberals are very good at this, and conservatives often fall for it. Once an individual must prove a negative, that he is not racist, debate on the issue has come to an end.

We must keep debate and lines of communication open in this country, and in order to help foster that, CRT and its effects must be understood and minimized as much as possible.

This new definition of racism is quietly subscribed to by many prominent black intellectuals, including President Obama, and all three of his self-described mentors. CRT has insinuated itself into American society by means of the law, the media and academia.

Critical race theory originated in the late 1970s and really flourished in the 1980s, not coincidentally corresponding with President Reagan’s time in office. This theory originated due to the concern of black intellectuals about the waning influence of the civil rights movement.


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Like the feminist movement, CRT was based on the Marxist idea of “critical theory,” a concept designed to take down the Western power structure. It essentially involves continuous destructive criticism of the main elements of Western culture in order to expose alleged numerous and oppressive inadequacies of Western power structures, without offering any alternatives.

The main point is to avoid considering any alternative to capitalism, but to take down the capitalist system and implement the utopia that Marxist (or “critical”) theorists want. The Marxists would, of course, wield the power in their new “utopia.”

CRT put a new spin on this old Marxist concept but kept the struggle for power and constant destructive criticism as the basis; it just substitutes race for the traditional class struggle. Richard Delgado, one of the founders of CRT, succinctly summed up CRT: “Racism is ordinary, and not aberrational”; and the American “system of white-over-color ascendancy” serves to perpetuate racial inequalities and keeping black people subordinated.

CRT raises the group, or the race, above and beyond the individual. It views every single interaction through a racial lens and argues that the only way to truly alleviate racism in this country is to tear down the American system of government, rule of law and meritocracy which made America the greatest country in the history of the planet; those should be replaced with a system that subordinates whites and lifts up blacks.

CRT’s steady, creeping implementation has been greatly furthered by political correctness, and has used the law, academia, and a servile media with considerable success. Advocates of CRT, including founders Derrick Bell and Delgado, use a variety of semantics and indirect descriptions of elements of this theory in order to make it very difficult to ascertain the real purpose and intent: Overturn the current societal structure; raise blacks to positions of power soley on the basis of race; subordinate white people; and redistribute wealth from whites and Asians to the chosen races.

This tactic of using cute semantics rather than straightforward language is typical of groups and individuals who wish to hide their true intentions and hope that the majority of Americans do not dig deeper.

Examples of these vague and difficult to comprehend phrases include: “interest convergence,” “microaggressions,” “structural determinism,” “differential racialism,” “intersectonality,” “anti-essentialism,” and so on. Using these innocuous phrases is a brilliant strategy, because coupled with the current pervasiveness of political correctness, people are extremely uncomfortable questioning anything regarding race, and especially things that sound as innocuous as “interest convergence.”

But these phrases are not innocuous. For example, “interest convergence” is the idea, as described by Delgado, that white society will only support “racial justice” when white people also benefit, hence the “convergence” of interest.

Microaggressions” are simple, daily acts that allegedly slight black people and that are caused by the deep, ingrained racism in all white people that American culture perpetuates. Delgado gives the examples of a teacher calling on the white child rather than the black one, a jogger giving an acknowledgment to a passing white individual and looking away from a black person, and a cashier making small talk with the white customer and not the black one.

Delgado is sure that race is the sole reason for these actions, regardless whether the teacher, jogger or cashier know it.

CRT has had a very disturbing impact on the law, specifically with the creation of the doctrine of “disparate impact” which applies to employment laws in America. This legal doctrine holds that employment practices can be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate “adverse impact” on members of a protected class, as understood subjectively by the individual making the claim.

To this day there is still no objective definition or way to know whether or not certain actions will be determined to have a disparate impact on protected classes until the fact finder in each specific claim makes that determination. When America was still a constitutional republic, indecipherable laws were considered void for vagueness and ruled unconstitutional.

The doctrine of disparate impact contrasts with the doctrine of disparate treatment, in which actual and intentional discriminatory treatment based on race must be proven. The dichotomy between these two legal doctrines covers the exact same issue at the basis of the argument that I had with my professor: There is either an objective measure for racism (like intent of the actor being accused) or racism is measured without any regard for the intent or purpose of the alleged racist actor, but rather on the subjective feeling of each individual accuser, in each individual situation.

CRT has also had a very clear impact on the media. It is almost a daily experience that some individual’s words or actions, although clearly not motivated by race, are labeled racist. For example, any opposition to Obama’s destructive policies has been considered racist by the media, including, but not limited to: Opposition to food stamps, opposition to the massive expansion of the welfare state, opposition to the 17.5 trillion dollar debt, and support for state laws requiring identification to vote.

CRT makes these views seem reasonable: intent is not necessary, as long as those beliefs, policies and laws, carry even the possibility of having a disproportionate impact on the protected races.

Recently a black state senator in Louisiana, who is also the head of the Democratic party in that state, said on the floor of the state senate that any opposition to Obamacare, the federal takeover of the healthcare system, is because of President Obama’s skin color. Polls repeatedly show that about 60 percent of Americans (over 150 million people) disapprove of Obamacare. Initially her belief that over 150 million people are racist because they have different political views than she does seems silly, but if intent is not required to be racist, and allegiance to the principles that made this country great is inherently racist (because of the alleged disproportionate impact on black people), it is clear how she could come to this conclusion.

Many prominent and influential black Americans, including Obama, subscribe to this theory. Obama’s self-described mentors are outspoken and direct advocates of CRT, including Prof. Derrick Bell himself, and Obama’s scandal prone pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright.

Obama was introduced to Derrick Bell as a student at Harvard Law School when Bell was a professor there. They became very close during that time, to the extent that when Obama was releasing the first of two autobiographies he wrote before he was 40 (must be an exciting life!), he sent a copy of the manuscript to Derrick Bell to review before sending it to the publisher.

Additionally he used Bell’s book (and Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals) as the foundation of the only three classes he taught while he was a “senior lecturer” at the University of Chicago Law School: Current Issues in Racism and the Law, Voting Rights, and The Equal Protection Clause and the 14th Amendment.

The broad spread of the ideals set forth by CRT, and their effects on law, and society generally, coupled with the constant advance of political correctness, explains how and why many influential and powerful people can believe that the founding fathers, the Constitution, and current advocates for the principles enshrined in the constitution are inherently racist without even knowing it.

If, as from CRT’s perspective, American society has been structured from its founding with the intent to subordinate black people and the concept of a colorblind society is just a ruse to lull black people into submission, then it follows that people who advocate for the Constitution, equal protection of the laws regardless of race, and a merit based society are by nature racist, regardless of intent.

Intentional racial discrimination is a scourge on American society and must be recognized as such, but the exaggerated and overused charge of racism in today’s society, demeans the incredible struggles that blacks do face, and have overcome in the past.

America’s past, in regards to slavery, segregation and the internment of the Japanese citizens is during World War Two is disgraceful and will forever be the biggest black mark on our country’s history. However, we must not allow false charges of racism to shut down debate on important topics, and we must re-focus the discussion regarding racism on the traditional definition based on objective factors: intentional discriminatory treatment based upon skin color.

Otherwise, we downplay true racism and shut down debate on serious issues that must be discussed at this critical juncture in American history.


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James Richard Edwards

James R. Edwards is a medical malpractice defense attorney in Houston, Tx. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree from LSU (Geaux Tigers!) in Psychology and subsequently went on to attend the University of Houston Law Center. James became interested in politics in law school because of the consistent and oppressive disgust and revulsion shown by the staff and Professors for the Constitution and for America in general. He is a tireless advocate for federalism and minimizing the impact the federal government has on all of our lives. 

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