“Keep being intentionally divisive, and eventually you’ll get division.”
No truer words were ever spoken.
On the anniversary weekend of the incident in Charlottesville the media hammered home the point that I am not worthy to live in their civil ideal society. Why do I interpret their coverage this way you may ask? Perhaps it is because I reject the notion that any person’s opinion should be silenced and I stand with those that reject the proposition that select populations should have the ropes of past injustice be perpetually hung around the necks of those that have neither the personal history, desire nor ability to economically discriminate or oppress anyone. I have no problem with refutations of opinions – I would encourage them – but my tolerance for those that suggest that only they have the right to determine what is good and proper is waning; especially in light that those people often cast wide nets in their sanctimony; which is no different than the behaviors of others they claim results in their oppression.
Why would many marginalize me for my belief that I simply do not believe that because one gender or race is in greater or fewer numbers relative to their overall population than another in a given population it is prima facie evidence of discrimination and bias. For if I did, I would have to believe that males are discriminated against in teaching positions within the primary and secondary grades, in most health occupations today, and within the administrative support positions in many public and private institutions. I would also have to believe that white sports team owners discriminate against whites because they are under-represented on most teams with the exception of perhaps hockey and soccer. Numbers in any occupation are a function of human choices and capabilities. Even if one feels fully capable of running a fortune 500 firm as the CEO, one’s choice is the primary gatekeeper because if one never applies to reach that goal then only those that do stand a chance.
Bias is only ever seen in others and not in themselves.
No group sees bias when deriving benefits of bias as a group. For example, women see no bias when they are treated as superior care-givers and thus courts favor them more frequently in child custody cases. No one sees the abject bias in the violence against women act. Why is that? What makes an assault on a woman worse than an assault on anyone for that matter? I might be able to see different charges based on differential physical stature but not on gender. Why not a violence against the frail and weaker act? I see no outcry from women and minorities when most of the SBA programs favor women and minorities even though the data show that they are creating more new businesses than their white male counterparts for almost the last twenty years. There are no special programs to increase male enrollment in post secondary education even when their numbers are being outpaced by female enrollment and graduations. No one is running to change the selective service rules that create lifetime bars to federal employment, education grants and other federal benefits for failure to register for the draft by age 26 even though women fought for the right to be in forward combat so that promotional opportunities can be afforded to them. Commerce department data show that women control 60 percent of the wealth in the U.S. and 80% of all Consumer spending. One can see the evidence of this in the thematic content in most mass media advertisements. Each of us sees bias through our own lens. Therefore, if a group of white men protest what they think is bias against them that is their right. We can reject or accept their arguments based on the facts presented. When we begin to go down the path of silencing critics we find objectionable we will lose the right to petition for redress of grievances.
Is there any wonder why a growing number of white males may feel less sympathetic to advancing the current notions of progressive policies when the noose of a legacy perpetrated by others is believed to be unfairly tightened around their necks today; which brings me back to Charlottesville.
When facts are denied real truths evaporate over time. The riot in Charlottesville last year was absolutely avoidable. The entire incident was precipitated by a demand to remove a statue of the historically important Confederate General Lee. We have forgotten that this was one of the last statues sought to be toppled by progressive forces. For those that wished it gone the statue represented the glorification of slavery. For others that wanted it to remain it was a symbol of Virginia’s proud history. Both sides have every right to feel as they do.
As a prelude to my point you need to know I grew up in Baltimore and when the riots of 68 took place whites were fearful and had every right to be. As a twelve year old child living well outside the primary area of the riots I was still chased and attacked several times by gangs of older blacks who lived in the neighborhood simply because I was white. At the time my progressive democrat parents taught in a nearly 100% black high school so we never thought of discriminating but we knew of others that did. We never uttered derogatory epithets at anyone. Up until the assassination of Dr. King we blacks and whites went to school together pretty much incident free.
My point is that Eldridge Cleaver and the Panthers who picked up the mantle of Malcom X after Malcom’s death in 66 was in the forefront of the black separatist movement of the day and became a revolutionary figure among local black males. He empowered them to commit violence and rape (see “Soul on Ice”) in the name of liberation against whites. Only later did both men repudiate their racist beliefs. Nonetheless, we have schools and streets in urban America that bear the names of these men. Should those of us who were actual victims of the violence that these men extolled at one point in their lives demand that these men’s names be stricken from the schools for which they are named? I don’t think so. More importantly, I have moved well beyond the beatings I took as a child.
I am reminded of a quote by Sheldon Stern, a professor of African American history and historian at the John F Kennedy Library and Museum from 1977-1999.
“Failure to educate young Americans about the whole story of Atlantic slave trade threatens to divide our nation and undermine our civic unity and belief in the historical legitimacy of our democratic institutions. Education in a democracy cannot promote half-truths about history without undermining the ideal of e pluribus unum—one from many—and substituting a divisive emphasis on many from one. The history of the slave trade proves that virtually everyone participated and profited—whites and blacks; Christians, Muslims, and Jews; Europeans, Africans, Americans, and Latin Americans. Once we recognize the shared historical responsibility for the Atlantic slave trade, we can turn our attention to “transforming the future” by eradicating its corrosive legacy.”
Why do I include the above passage in this essay? I did so because every person alive today is deriving benefits accruing to the enslavement of someone. Great civilizations be they Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Germanic would never have advanced within the limitations of their own workforces. That is not to rationalize slavery as something good for it is an abomination to the notion of free men. But we cannot continue to hold the descendants of ancient cultures liable for the acts of their forebears. Long before the Atlantic Slave trade ever took hold eastern Europeans were enslaved. The etymology of the word slave derives from the Ethnic group Slav.
Does anyone really believe that the words of a small band of disenfranchised white guys whose economic prospects are diminished by their own radical ideas are a threat to greater tolerance of other ideas, beliefs and cultures? Besides, whose voices are enjoined from speaking by virtue of crowd behavior? Or, is this preoccupation with “white nationalists” or, “supremacists”, part of a larger more insidious plan to undermine the real values of American culture; a culture that allows diversity of thought, one that has has a formalized process to welcome and integrate more new people into its way of life than anywhere on this planet, and has been a driving force for upward mobility for anyone that chooses to apply themselves toward those goals. What we should be worried about is that the continuation of identity politics which pits one group against another is more of a threat to democratic republicanism and social tolerance than any outside force. I choose the conservative ideal of e pluribus unum and reject identity tribalism as a cultural imperative.
Unlike the media and the 21 century carpetbaggers who exploit divisiveness, I will choose to forego the ability to profit from creating disunity and division but I will not stop challenging those who sow the seeds of distrust and Nihlism.