Bill Maher has recently discovered that "the new racism is denying racism".
Denunciations of 'denialism' -- of this and that: the Shoah, global warming -- always set my alarm bells ringing. Seems a little too much like a thought crime.
Maher of course is a glib voluble shallow unthinking idiot, and in this case he's also well behind the curve. Racism denial has long been an indictable offense, on campus and in the corporate world anyway.
Racism is like Voltaire's God; if it didn't exist it would have to be invented. People's careers depend on it. Being against it is uncontroversial yet kindles a certain inner glow of enchaféd virtue.
Maybe it's time to retire the term, except in historical discourse. We're not in the 1920s or 1950s any more. We live -- us Amurricans, anyway; can't speak for the Krauts or the Frogs -- in a society which is, if not post-racial, at least post-racist.
Nobody, but nobody, is willing to come out as a racist; a hundred years ago, nearly everybody would. It's not an ideology anymore, but it certainly was back in the day; we have it to thank for Zionism, among other delights, and indeed Zionist discourse is almost the only kind of contemporary discourse not utterly marginal that could accurately be characterized as 'racist' in any un-tortured sense.
Does this mean the same thing has just gone underground? Maybe; but I don't think so. We're dealing with a different phenomenon now, I'd say, and it needs to be thought about in a different way.
It occurs to me, for example, that notions like 'structural racism' need to be related to notions like 'structural inequality'.
The melanin-advantaged still make less money on average than the melanin-challenged. Is this 'structural racism'? How much of it is due to the principle that those who were poor yesterday -- for whatever reason -- need to be, on average and apart from the occasional bootstrap superstar, even more poor tomorrow?
This is of course a principle broadly embraced, by many distinguished people, including the relatively melanin-advantaged current occupant of the Executive Mansion. Pull up those pants, son, and get a job!
Of course people's sense that the really bad stuff is all happening to Others -- towelheads or welfare queens -- makes it a lot more palatable. This seems to be a deformation professionnelle of spending your day as a human being, unfortunately.