The most frequent thing I have been called for opposing Barack Obama’s policies is a “racist.” Many of my readers tell me the same thing.
What is a racist, exactly?
One definition I found cited by Wikipedia strikes me as a good one:
“Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior.”
Ayn Rand, one of my favorite thinkers, stated that racism is a “crudely primitive form of collectivism.” Collectivism refers to the social ideology in which the group is elevated above the individual.
There are many forms collectivism can take, and racism is one of them. A racist, quite obviously, elevates the significance of one’s racial membership above the significance of the individual’s identity, values, convictions, behaviors and attitudes.
Racism is primitive, wrong and irrational. We are all individuals first, and individuals primarily.
Obama’s polices are generally ones of intervention in the economy, taxation for the sake of wealth redistribution and government control, and public ownership (or government management sufficient to constitute ownership) of the means of production. All politicians in both major parties practice these policies. Obama is the unflinching and unblinking proponent of them.
Increasingly, there is evidence that Obama’s policies include restraints or curbs on freedom of speech, as evidenced by his administration’s singling out of Tea Party organizations for IRS questioning, as well as throttling of journalists and private citizens, by collecting their phone records. These are policies normally associated with racists and fascists, rather than the enlightened “progressives” Obama and his supporters claim to be.
What does opposing or advocating these economic and social policies have to do with race, one way or the other?
Obama happens to be a (mostly) black man. But there are plenty of white people, as well as people of other races, who have advocated these very same principles and policies.
Karl Marx was a white man. If it’s racism against blacks to oppose Obama’s socialism, then isn’t it likewise racism against whites to oppose Marx’s same principles of government redistribution? And if whites who oppose Obama’s policies are by definition anti-black racists, then what you do say of black people (such as scholar Thomas Sowell) who oppose them? Are they racists? Also, people who oppose Obama’s policies of high taxation and government nationalization opposed them just as fervently when first proposed by, say, former President Bill Clinton. Anyone who opposes Obama, the black socialist, just as fervently opposes the past policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the white socialist.
If racism is the motive for opposing Obama’s policies, then how do we explain people opposing those same policies when they’re Bill Clinton’s, or George W. Bush’s, for that matter?
Psychologically, I understand the explanation. I realize that when people feel insecure about their ideas, or have no rational defense of their positions, they sometimes feel that they can only resort to name calling.
Racism is something that no rational or decent person wishes to be accused of, quite naturally. The person who hurls the accusation is, quite possibly, seeking to put their opponent on the spot. Instead of offering a moral and economic defense in favor of socialism, it seems easier–to the name caller–to simply say, in essence, “You’re no good.” Calling someone a racist is thought, by such a name caller, to be a conversational and intellectual show stopper. “I’ve called you racist. End of discussion. Defend yourself if you can.”
The moment you try to defend yourself as “not being a racist,” you’re attempting the logically impossible: You’re attempting to prove a negative. In fact, the onus of proof is on the person who’s calling you racist to prove you are one. There are numerous logical fallacies (as just described) showing that whatever motivates your opposition to Obama’s policies, it’s not racism; the person claiming you’re racist should explain or answer these contradictions.
If anything suggests racism, it’s the fact that someone would call you racist because you support limited government, free market capitalism, and individual rights as projected by the original American Constitution and government. Such a person is implying that, “Black people cannot do for themselves. If you don’t have government intervention in the economy to move vast amounts of wealth from those who create that wealth to those whose political leaders demand it, then you’re racist. Why else would you oppose these policies?”
Such an attitude clearly implies that the person holding it does not think black people, or other designated groups, can possibly survive on their own. Only the white man can, and therefore the white man must be coerced to help the black man.
If that isn’t a racist attitude, I don’t know what is.
Not only is this view insultingly racist towards blacks (or any other designated racial group, such as Hispanics, or whomever); it also flies in the face of facts. There are plenty of people of all races who achieve quite significant things without the alleged benefit of government programs; and there are plenty of people of all races (including many whites) who feel entitled to the coerced benefits obtained through the force or pull of big, brotherly government.
Entitlement, envy and hostility to achievement are prevalent attitudes in America, and Obama is surely skillful about exploiting those attitudes; but these attitudes are not limited to racial minorities, and are not present in every member of every minority group. I expect that a lot of black people support Obama not because they’re hostile to achievement or private property, but because they mistakenly believe he is their friend.
The basic issues here are intellectual honesty and human communication. It’s the same, whether we’re talking about social issues or issues in everyday life, as between feuding married couples or family members. When somebody holds a view emotionally, and cannot defend it, but at the same time objects to an opposite view—the human tendency, in many, is simply to attack.
Calling someone “racist” for not holding Obama’s point-of-view, when the opposing point-of-view has nothing whatsoever to do with race, is a sign of weakness and fear. It deserves none of your attention, none of your mental energy, and should be seen as the admission and acknowledgement of error or ignorance that it plainly is.