Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Racism and Power

One of the great truisms of SJWs and the Left in general is that racism requires power. In other words, those without power, as a group, are incapable of being racist because they lack the power, again as a group, to impose racist policies on other groups. Take, for example, this paper by Caleb Rosado, a professor at the Department of Urban Studies, Eastern University. Philadelphia:
Racism--and sexism--are not about color or gender; they are about Power! They can thus afflict anyone of any gender, color, community, culture, or country, who craves power above the need to respect the Other. At the heart of racism (as well as sexism) lies the concept of group competition--the quest for power.
What is power? Power in its essence is the capacity to act.
And therein lies the great contradiction of leftist conceptions of racism (and sexism, etc.). They claim it applies on a group level, because it is institutionalized, but it is by definition expressed at an individual level, at least in modern America.

But this is patently false, precisely because races don't hold or utilize power; individuals do. And that power is both situational and relative.

In a land where the laws specifically prohibit the denial of civil rights on the basis of race or gender (i.e., everyone has the right to vote, there are no legal limits imposed on property ownership, salary, speech, etc.), then the only space in which racism, etc. can exist is on the individual level, and that's where contemporary attempts to categorize racism fail.

It's one thing to say that the government cannot engage in a behavior, and when it comes to discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or gender, I'm all for it.

But it is a completely different thing to say that a particular "race" (or gender, or sexual preference) is capable of a behavior (or, even worse, defined by it), and then using the coercive power of government to prevent individuals who happen to belong to that group from engaging in some behavior strictly on that basis. Such condemnation-by-group-membership is quite literally no different than the racism of years past. It's only being done to the former perceived oppressors.

That is, of course, because all members of a given race are not homogeneous units, nor do the members of a particular race necessarily bear the burden (or inherit the benefit) of what other members of their race may have done. One wonders, for instance, at the difference between "all whites are racist" and "blacks bear the Mark of Cain." Functionally, they would seem to be the same. Guilt is not transmitted by race, or gender, or any other group identifier. Nor is guilt generational; although the Christians' desert mountain god may disagree:
The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.'
If power dynamics are then not on a group level (because there are demonstrably blacks who are well off, and whites who are not), they must by definition be individual. And that, indeed, is where the whole "racism requires group power" equation breaks down.

Are whites in Appalachia, who suffer from grievous, grinding poverty, somehow the beneficiaries of "white privilege"? They can't afford homes in affluent neighborhoods, can't send their children to private schools, and suffer the same sort of drug, education, unemployment, and other problems that their black neighbors do.

White farmer in Zimbabwe watches armed invaders
on the other side of an electrified gate
What about whites in Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia? Their farms, long the backbone of agriculture and the very economy of the nation, were seized based on racial preference, and out of a sense of vengeance, back in 2000. And now the country is a shambles. In Zimbabwe, it was the black government that had the power, and the white farmers that were powerless to resist. The blacks had the power then, and still do. Do events in the United States fifty years before mean that black crimes against whites in Zimbabwe cannot be motivated by racism?

Let's bring it to a very personal, individual level. What about a white family trying to get gas a few years ago in Baton Rouge? All they needed were a few gallons of gasoline, but they were brutally beaten by a group of blacks, for being in the "wrong neighborhood." Who had the power there? The innocent family, who just wanted to be on their way? Or the black thugs, who beat them into the hospital? The blacks had the power there, not the whites. Whatever some white cop might have done in Memphis forty years earlier had no impact on that power dynamic.

And on and on and on the story goes. There are literally thousands of similar examples.

Power is not applied at a racial level. Power is applied at an individual level. Races do not exercise power, individuals do.

Who had the power in this dynamic? 

And institutions? Again, they're made up of individuals. When one is talking about civil rights in this country, there are no rights that white people have that blacks (or hispanics, or asians) do not. Indeed, thanks to the concept of affirmative action, there are rights and privileges that non-whites have that are not open to whites. When the coercive authority of the Federal government is on your side, backed ultimately by the threat of violence, how can you possibly say that you don't hold the power in that particular dynamic? And doesn't that mean that, by your own definition, you're the only one who is capable of being a racist?

I define racism at the only rational level available; that of the individual. You think one race is superior to another? You're a racist. You hold people to different standards because of their race? You're a racist. But a particular race has individuals who hold racist views? That does not make the entire race, racist. It makes those individuals racist, usually because they believe in one set of standards for one race, and a different set of standards for other races.

And in the vast majority of cases, it's not the people who call themselves folkish who do so. It's our critics. One set of standards for whites, and another for everyone else. But "whites" don't have power. Individuals do, and they can exercise that power on anything from a micro level at a Baton Rouge gas station to a macro level to seize farms from whites in Zimbabwe. It's still racism.

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