Friday, May 29, 2009

Reverse Racism, Sotomayor, and Some Firemen

The term “reverse racist” is about a meaningless term as one can get. What’s the difference between a racist and a reverse racist? The artificial distinction seems to imply that someone who is prejudiced against minorities is a racist, while someone who is prejudiced against whites is a reverse racist. But why is a distinction necessary? Racism is racism, pure and simple. If one is discriminatory based on race, it is racism. That’s it.

It seems that the use of “reverse racist” is mired in a philosophy that systematically separates races and automatically defers to the Democrats’ talking points and language. Racism is often an accusation hurled at the right from the left. Whites have historically been pegged as racist (often because they were). However, it is seemingly un-PC to call a minority racist. It touches on some sort of sensitivity to use the language of victimhood for the supposed [historical] perpetrator. So instead, the right soft-toes around the Democrats’ feelings and coins a new term- “reverse racism”.

This is at best inane and worst outright harmful. Racism, to whomever it is directed at, should be labeled as such. By having two terms, the argument is still one of white vs. black- not one between discrimination and non-discrimination. It is foolish for America’s conservatives to give the Democrats free rein to structure the debate around skin color and claim that only one or two groups in America are truly victims. Rather, Republicans need to brand racism propagated against whites not as reverse racism, but simply as racism. It is the same beast.

This is essential to shifting the focus of the equality and discrimination debate in America from one of skin-color to one of tolerance. In this day and age, skin-color should not matter. The so-called Civil Rights movement should no longer be one of emancipation for blacks and other minorities, but one of eradication of race based thinking, regardless of the racial category of the victim. The emancipation movement for blacks has already succeeded. It is high time we recognize this. The Left is very reluctant to do so, as there are a milieu of special interests and politicians (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) whose existence is based on racial tensions. The Republicans only fuel this mode of thinking by acquiescing to Democrat standards of language use.

This issue has been widely prevalent in regards to Sotomayor’s appointment to the Supreme Court. While I would not go so far as to call her a racist, Judge Sotomayor’s decision in Ricci v. DeStefano is clearly racist and discriminatory (See my prior discussion here She approved of a system that blatantly and unfairly signaled out (and failed to reward) individuals based on skin color. Republicans have been doing a great disservice by terming it reverse racism. It implies that Sotomayor’s decision does not have the same gravity as it would have if the races of the firemen involved were inverted. In fact, the Ricci decision is as heinous as if New Haven refused to promote any black firefighters simply because of their skin color.

It is time to take charge of the debate. Republicans have to move the focus from the partisan, racial agenda set by the Democratic Party to a new post-Civil Rights conversation. We have to appeal to the notions of equality and fairness. We have to seek to eradicate racism and raced-based thinking. We have to stop automatically terming any differences between blacks and whites as racism and focus on true discrimination- regardless of who it is targeted at. Defining the debate not as skin-color versus skin-color, but as discrimination versus non-discrimination will broaden the appeal of the Republican Party to minorities who previously bought the demonized racist image broadcast by the Democrats. Until we do that, the Republican Party will continue to suffer by playing the game under the Democrats’ rules

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