Feature 08.29.2022 9 minutes

Race-Based Idolatry

Beck & Stone Azerrad – Colorblinded

The religion of ethnic caste.

Editors’ Note

The following transcript is from a speech delivered at an event entitled “Lies of the Ruling Class,” hosted in May 2022 at the Claremont Institute’s DC Center for the American Way of Life.

Let’s be honest: is there any other subject about which more lies are told in America than race? And not to make myself out to be some sort of paragon of courage, but are any truth tellers punished more severely than those who call out the regime’s lies on race?

Race, you see, is our central piety. And by race, of course, I don’t mean Hispanic—sorry, Latinx—Asian, Native American, or Pacific Islander. And I most definitely don’t mean white people. By race, of course, I mean black people. For it is our fellow black citizens who now sit atop America’s semi-official racial hierarchy. I’m sure all of you have heard of the new preferred nomenclature, to quote our favorite Jewish bowler. We no longer speak of “people of color” in America, but now say BIPOC—black, indigenous, and people of color— to give blacks pride of first place. In America, all people of color are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

America is not a “blackocracy.” We are not, strictly speaking, ruled by black people. But America is most definitely what I would call a “blackolatry”: black people are collectively viewed as sacred.

As a sacred people, black people may not be criticized, no matter how true the criticism. The logic seems to be that if we say the slightest negative thing about our fellow black citizens, if we ascribe any share of blame whatsoever to them for their lot in life, however good our intentions, then surely the next step will be the repeal of the 13th Amendment. Leo Strauss might have called this the ‘Reductio ad Calhounum.’

As a sacred people, only black people are permitted to utter the one forbidden word in the English language: the dreaded, the ineffable n-word.

Most importantly of all, as a sacred people, their presence is necessary to lend moral legitimacy to any gathering or institution. Any company, college, or conference without enough black people is presumed racist, even though it does not discriminate.

In sum, justice, as it is now understood by the ruling class, means black representation, regardless of accomplishment, competence, or talent. And so, my dear friend Arthur Milikh has asked me to enter into this inner sanctum of the regime and smash some idols. So which of the countless lies about race should I address? I want to look at four different types of lies. I won’t waste a lot of time refuting them since I’m more interested in why people believe them and the role they play in our regime.

First, there are the small lies. Do you remember when Joe Biden claimed that a black man had invented the light bulb? No one but the most ignorant of woke millennials believes this nonsense, but who wants to be called a racist for saying otherwise? And so we keep quiet—or worse, agree—during the mandatory diversity equity inclusion seminar.

There’s a tweet that made the rounds a while back ago. I don’t know who came up with it, but it goes something like this: “A black woman invented the telescope. You might disagree. You might even have some evidence of the contrary. But you have to ask yourself, is this really worth losing my job over? A black woman invented the telescope.” The aim, you see, is not to persuade, but to humiliate. It’s to break the spirit of people by forcing them to say out loud what they know to be patently untrue. It’s to remind ordinary white Americans of their subordinate place under the reigning racial hierarchy.

Of course, not all lies are maliciously told by others to humiliate or deceive us. There are also the lies we tell ourselves. There are the hopes and dreams we so want to be true that we just end up disregarding all contrary evidence. I am reminded of a passage in Thucydides: “It is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope that which it longs for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside that which it does not desire.” I think that Martin Luther King’s dream of brotherhood falls under this category.

Given our country’s very ugly history of race relations, it’s easy to see why many people would be seduced by the promise “to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” This dream, however, is a pipe dream. Even in times of war, Americans have never united in a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. It’s also worth noting that black Americans themselves seem to advance little interest in becoming fully racially integrated with white Americans in all realms. HBCUs have no reason to exist anymore in America today, and yet they continue to thrive.

In giving up on this pipe dream of completely going beyond race, I don’t think we need to resign ourselves to a future of racial strife. We could perhaps set our sights on the much more reasonable goal of peaceful coexistence. Perhaps instead of making Martin Luther King our prophet, we might turn to another King for guidance. You may remember that when South L.A. was being burned down by riots, Rodney King famously asked, “Why can’t we all get along?” Is it really too much to hope that black and white Americans could just get along day-to-day, without however living fully intertwined lives?

Many people will surely do more. They’ll intermarry. They’ll become friends. They will serve together in the military. But I think it’s foolish to believe that the whole country will do so. Intellectual probity does compel me to acknowledge that perhaps even this goal at this point is beyond our reach. After all, the deeply ensconced, forever-metastasizing and fundamentally inegalitarian civil rights regime basically pits blacks and whites against one another. I must admit that it is beyond me how it could be reined in, much less dismantled, to say nothing of what could be done about the fanatical wokeness that pervades the entire culture.

The Central Lie

The central lie of the regime in 2022 is that America is systemically racist against blacks, that it is some sort of a white supremacy. This is the reigning orthodoxy amongst the bien pensants—they either sincerely believe this or, if they don’t, are too afraid to say so. This lie is so utterly preposterous that I won’t even waste my time refuting it. I just want to raise two questions. Can you name a single other white supremacy in human history that had widespread racial preferences to benefit blacks at the expense of whites and in which white people regularly lied about their race, i.e., they tried to pass as non-white on their college applications in order to increase their chances of admission?

Secondly, can you name a single other white supremacy in human history that had canonized a black civil rights leader, in our case Martin Luther King Jr., made his birthday into a national holiday, built him a monument in its national capital, renamed thousands of schools and boulevards after him, and basically made him loom larger in the national consciousness than anyone else?

Preposterous as this lie may be, it is important to understand how it serves the interests of the ruling class. The lie is, first of all, foundational to the Democratic Party and its progressive allies in the academy, the media, and the intelligentsia. As the ultimate arbiters of all racial controversies, they occupy the moral high ground in American politics. And from that vaulted perch they get to condemn at will. The baseless accusation of racism is their most powerful political weapon. There is no more expedient way to discredit and demolish someone in America today than to call them racist.

The lie is also beneficial to all of the non-woke corporate and financial elites because it allows them to morally launder their wealth and privilege. It allows them to direct the ire of ordinary Americans away from urban oligarchs towards the nebulous forces of racism. What well-intentioned Americans of all races need to understand is that the elites have a very powerful self-interest in keeping America racist forever. No set of attainable conditions would ever get them to admit, “Yeah, we solved the racism problem in America.” I would put it to you this way: the end of racism would be an unmitigated disaster for the ruling class. And so, they need to continue to beat the drum of racism. They need to continue to see racism where it doesn’t exist—for example, in policing—and to refuse to see it where it does exist—for example, in college admissions. They need to ensure that anti-racism as they define it remains the dominant moral framework and that the fight against racism remains the overarching national priority.

Thankfully, as you must know, not everyone in America believes this lie that America is systemically racist today. The vast majority of Republican voters don’t. Honestly, the vast majority of Republican elected officials don’t either. Some of them will even occasionally say it! The Right, however, does believe a version of a very closely related lie. You see, the Left doesn’t just say that America today is systemically racist. They also say that every disparity that cuts against blacks can only be explained by one factor and one factor alone: racism. If I may quote America’s leading charlatan on racial questions, Ibram X. Kendi—or as his parents named him, Ibram Henry Rogers—“When I see disparities, I see racism.” To which the Right says, “When I see disparities, I worry that it might be racism.”

But why does the Right even see the disparities in the first place? After all, virtually no one on the Right, or Left for that matter, sees disparities between rural and urban America. Or between Native Americans and white Americans. Why are the black-white racial disparities the only ones that are morally suspect? Why is it that only these disparities weigh, not just on the conservative conscience, but on the national conscience? The answer, I think, is because the Right, to a large extent, agrees with the Left that black well-being is the measure of all things. The Right has embraced a modified form of blackolatry, which makes black outcomes the standard of justice.

I want to end on somewhat encouraging note. It’s not that I believe we’re actually going to have this frank discussion about race that I’ve been promised since I moved to the U.S. almost 20 years ago. That ain’t gonna happen. I do however think that the Left, which sets the moral tone for public discourse in America, has completely lost its mind on race and that they have foolishly overplayed their hand. They are peddling lies that are increasingly becoming impossible to swallow, in part because of their enormity. You will remember that when American cities were burning down—we saw the images with our own eyes on the television—they were telling us that the protests were mostly peaceful. Also, thanks to the internet, there is more easy access to dissenting information in America today than in any regime in human history.

So, they’re not going to relent because they’ve gone crazy, but in so doing, they’re squandering their most precious assets. They’re squandering their credibility. The accusation of racism is starting to lose its sting. I think we all feel it. If everyone’s a racist, then no one’s a racist. They’re also burning through the enormous—but I don’t think inexhaustible—reservoir of sympathy that America developed for blacks after the 1960s. This creates a huge opportunity for the Right. I just hope we will be sufficiently courageous, and impious, to seize it.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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