Got thoroughly drubbed, by some stalwart faithful readers, commenting on an earlier post, for some incautious musings on the subject of racism. The experience was brutal but bracing; it's painful but it opens up the capillaries, and I find myself bloody but unbowed, and eager to return to the fray, saying Ha, ha amid the trumpets, like the old war horse in the Bible.
Of course I'll admit my ideas are badly formed and worse phrased. But with characteristic mulishness, I think I'm onto something.
Let's start with the concept of 'denialism'. Anything which it is a crime to deny has by definition become a totem: an idol of the tribe. It's a short list: The Shoah, climate change, racism.
Now when an idea becomes sacrosanct enough for middlebrow fools like Bill Maher to treat it as an article of faith, it's time for a closer look. This is not just contrarianism -- or if it is, it's the astute, higher contrarianism: the heuristic principle that anything widely embraced by mainstream media and corporate HR departments needs some unpacking. Conventional wisdom is by definition unthreatening.
So it is with racism. It puts the focus on people's attitudes and feelings and ideas, rather than on the institutions that reproduce those attitudes and feelings and ideas. Like: If George Zimmerman didn't have some crazy bug up his ass about black folks, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.
Clearly, more and better education is called for(*).
People with appendicitis generally run a fever. Aspirin, however, is not the treatment of choice, though it does tend to lower fevers. Being anti-racist in America, in this day and age, is perhaps a bit like being anti-fever at the bedside of a person whose pustulous appendix just burst.
(*) For any newcomers to the site: this is what us New York hipsters call 'irony'.