Yes, Virginia, there are racists

My last post ended by noting how many people doing important work, especially in these perilous times, are non-whites. Which irks certain whites. My writing this irked certain commenters (on the Albany Times-Union platform).

Some quotes: ” . . . castigate an entire race of people [whites], based solely on THEIR skin color;” “fueled by a sense of superior, and excessive righteous indignation;” ” . . . this tripe — like we’re still living in 19th century America under Jim Crow? . . . who notices the color of one’s epidermis? Fringe nuts and Frank . . . a racebaiter pure and simple;” ” . . . blatant example of the politics of division.”

I’ve always rejected rhetoric calling America an incorrigibly racist society, having seen tremendous progress in my lifetime. Signified by electing a non-white president. I didn’t vote for Obama but was deeply moved, that election night, by a middle aged Chicago black woman jumping up and down, with tears in her eyes, shouting “God bless America! God bless America!” I understood what African-Americans must have felt at that moment after what they’d experienced all their lives.

And I did believe racism was finally relegated to the fringes, the dark corners of our society. Not foreseeing what a backlash Obama’s election would provoke. Some whites’ antipathy toward non-whites had been contained by believing they were still really in an inferior station. For those whites, Obama’s election was a rude awakening. Now America’s reality as an integrated multiracial society, with whites no longer securely on top, hit them in the face. They might tolerate blacks as subordinate but not as equals (let alone in the White House).

So they acted out. Some of the criticism of Obama (like  mine) was principled or ideological, continuing what had been the Clinton wars and Bush wars. But for some Obama’s real sin was governing-while-black. It drove them nuts — epitomized by the idiotic “birther” foofaraw — promoted by Trump.*

Even so, they were still really on the fringe, with no legitimation in mainstream society. Which only deranged them more.

Then came 2016. Careful psephological analyses have shown that the one factor most strongly correlated with voting for Trump was not economic anxiety, nor even religiosity, but racial/ethnic antagonism. Seeing non-whites and foreigners as muscling in where they don’t belong. Not all Trump supporters are racist but all racists are Trump supporters. Because they know he has their back, giving them the seeming legitimacy so long denied them.

And so these racists and white supremacists now feel empowered to push their misbegotten hatefulness as never before (in modern times). Charlottesville was only the most prominent manifestation. Trump made absolutely clear what side he is on, and continues doing so in repeated despicable ways. (Chutzpah: a Trump fan lecturing about “the politics of division.”)

Still don’t think racism is alive and well in today’s America? Three years ago I wrote a blog post titled “Why so many blacks in ads?” It’s my most widely read ever (and not for its analytical sophistication). It’s attracted way the most comments, over 300 and counting. Here’s the link:

Please look at those comments. If you have a strong stomach, to see the face of today’s American racism in all its unabashed Trumped up vileness.

* And don’t spout that nonsense that it was really Hillary.

5 Responses to “Yes, Virginia, there are racists”

  1. Doug Weston-Kolarik Says:

    You are so right. And there are way way more of them than you think.

    On Sat, Apr 11, 2020, 7:29 AM The Rational Optimist wrote:

    > rationaloptimist posted: “My last post ended by noting how many people > doing important work, especially in these perilous times, are non-whites. > Which irks certain whites. My writing this irked certain commenters (on the > Albany Times-Union platform). Some quotes: ” . . . castig” >

  2. WK Says:

    I’m not sure you really want them to put ads like this on your site. It taints you with a dash of fantasy, incredulity.
    You probably don’t have much say over what shows up in that space, but that doesn’t belong there and I have to wonder if it was not a carefully selected choice by someone with too much power.

  3. rationaloptimist Says:

    I neither control nor even see what ads show up on YOUR computer.

  4. Steven Strahan Says:

    The easiest way to understand a person’s attitude on race is to ask them a simple question: would you be willing to change your skin color for that of another. Truthful answers would be rare, but revealing.

  5. DAN FAREK Says:

    People really look at the ads? I had to go back and see what they were.

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