For all their talk about moving beyond race, liberals sure like to talk about it a lot. Bill Clinton instituted his "National Dialogue on Race." When the anti-white rantings of Barack Obama's mentor and Pastor Jeremiah Wright became impossible to ignore, then candidate Obama called for a "conversation about race." Last week, Eric Holder—the first black attorney general to the first black president—called for a "period of dialogue among the races." [Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Department of Justice African American History Month Program February 18, 2009]
Nothing new here. But Holder went the added step of calling Americans "essentially a nation of cowards" because they live in "race-protected cocoons." Holder proudly noted that our schools and workplaces have been successfully integrated through forced busing and affirmative action, but complained that the country remains "voluntarily socially segregated."
Apparently, who we choose as friends is now the business of the Justice Department.
The dialogue that Holder, Clinton, and Obama want is really a monologue. The only acceptable way to discuss race is to attribute all racial problems in the United States to "white racism"—past and present, conscious and unconscious. Insofar as there is any conversation, it is for Whites to respond to the complaints of minorities by apologizing for this racism, and to redouble their efforts to purge racism through more government programs.
To his credit, Holder said that we are allowed to have a "legitimate debate about the question of affirmative action". But he added that it must be "nuanced", whatever that means.
If anyone improvises away from this "nuanced" script, they will immediately be called a racist, bigot, or some other name. Talk show host Peter Boyles correctly calls the word "racist" a "conversation stopper". Once you are called this, continuing on with the conversation can only have negative consequences.
As the co-discoverer of DNA and a Nobel Prize winner, James Watson was one of the world's most respected scientists. That was until he suggested that there was a link between race and intelligence. Watson was universally condemned by the media, racial activists, and even heads of state. Trying to save his reputation, he apologized and retracted his statements, but still was kicked out of his own Cold Harbor Lab.
I don't really know if Watson is right or wrong. But the reaction from the establishment shows exactly how much of a "conversation" they're willing to have.
And if they could do this to a Nobel Prize winner, it goes without saying that a young PhD student in psychology or genetics will avoid Watson's conversation.
Indeed, even on issues much less controversial than racial differences in intelligence are off limits. When David Horowitz tried to run an ad opposing reparations for slavery in dozens of college newspapers, many refused to print it. Those who did were faced with protests and had their print runs destroyed by left wing anti-racist activists.
Nor are non-whites who challenge the liberal orthodoxy on race given a free pass. Protesters have successfully kept African American affirmative action foe Ward Connerly from speaking at a number of colleges, sometimes holding Orwellian signs like "Protect Free Speech — Shut Connerly Up!"
You don't even have to be talking about race to get accused of racism these days. Recently, the New York Post ran a cartoon suggesting the Stimulus Bill was written by a chimp. This clearly had no racial undertones. Instead it was suggesting that the bill was hastily and illogically written. There's even a scientific theory called the "infinite monkey theorem" that's premised on the idea of monkeys typing nonsensically at a keyboard. And has anyone heard of Thomas Nast?
Nonetheless the purveyors of anti-racism decided that the real meaning of the cartoon was to compare Obama to a monkey and Al Sharpton and his friends picketed the newspaper holding signs "Shut Down the Post." Eventually it apologized, with the result that anti-racists have now upped their demands, calling for the cartoonist and his editor to be fired.
Even non-white liberals can get in trouble for the most innocuous comments. Obama delegate Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski was fired from his campaign when she told black children playing in her trees with her own grandchildren "quit playing in the tree like monkeys." The Obama campaign called this clearly non-racial statement "divisive and unacceptable" and kicked her out (they eventually reversed the decision.) In 2005, Columbus, GA mayor Bob Poydasheff apologized to an African American woman who thought it was racist that police officers ate bananas at a Martin Luther King Day parade.
It doesn't matter how powerful you are. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott became Former Senate Majority Leader when he said a few nice words about Strom Thurmond on his 100th Birthday party. Both liberals and neoconservatives called for his head, and Lott crawled to Black Entertainment Television to apologize and announce his support for affirmative action. Prince Harry made a joke about a friend of his who was non-white, and was disciplined by the army and forced to retake their diversity training.
With the Democratic controlled legislative and executive branch, renewed calls for FCC regulation of "hate speech" and new "hate crime" legislation are designed to put these taboos into law.
If Americans are "cowards" when it comes to talking about race, it's because they have good reasons for fear.
According to Obama AG Holder:
"If we're going to ever make progress, we're going to have to have the guts, we have to have the determination, to be honest with each other. It also means we have to be able to accept criticism where that is justified."
I couldn't agree more. Americans of all races need to stop acting like cowards and challenge the liberal orthodoxy on race—even if it means that Al Sharpton and the New York Times might call them names.
No doubt Holder will defend us.
Marcus Epstein [send him mail] is the founder of the Robert A Taft Club and the executive director of the The American Cause and Team America PAC. A selection of his articles can be seen here. The views he expresses are his own.