The DC “Unite the Right” rally resurfaced the silly “Who’s the real racist?” game. When liberals call conservatives or conservative opinions racist, conservatives respond: “No, you are the real racist!” But conservatives don’t seem to understand that liberals use that term in a different way. Worse, conservatives damage conservatism by arguing. If they are going to play the game, conservatives should do so with open eyes.
Let me start by acknowledging the obvious: racism is bad. The game isn’t silly because the response is wrong; people on the left really are racist. Of course I am generalizing, but it isn’t far off. Does anyone on the left not embrace identity politics, which is about judging people by their group identity as defined by race, sex, and queerness? This seems pretty racist by any textbook definition of racism.
The Terms of the Game
The silliness of the game stems from the fact that the two sides mean different things by “racism.” To people on the right, a racist is someone who judges another person by his race. The problem is that racism denies all men are created equal. To people on the left, who already deny men are created equal, a racist is a member of the oppressor class. Most people on the left know this and most people on the right don’t. That is why both sides play the game.
The Left understands racism this way because they see everything in terms of group identity and power. A case in point: Laura Ingraham made some fairly common-sense observations recently, and even made sure to emphasize she was not talking about race. Ingraham talked about consent, the rule of law, and immigration; she didn’t say a thing about power. Yet CNN’s Brian Stelter cannot see it any other way, claiming Ingraham was pandering to “white, Christian America’s fear of losing power” and is a racist.
To the contemporary left, everything comes down to a didactic world groups that have power and that groups that do not. Every group is either an oppressor or the oppressed, those with privilege and those without.
Why Every White Person Is a Racist
We hear lots about “privilege,” so this should come as no surprise. We don’t use the term “underprivileged” or “disadvantaged” as much. Instead we describe the oppressed as “marginalized,” “minorities,” or “people of color” (or “brown people” as a throwback to the 1960s that we hear sometimes today).
Racism, they say, is not simply prejudice. It is now “prejudice + power.” One cannot be racist if one does not have power, so only white people can be racist. In the Sarah Jeong debacle, why do you think The New York Times highlighted “the fact that she is a young Asian woman [has] made her a subject of frequent online harassment?” This was the “her group doesn’t have power” part of the defense (never mind that she is now an editor at one of the largest press institutions in the country). Her inability to be racist stems, ironically, from her race.
So according to the new left — these neo-Marxists — you are defined by your group identity. You cannot overcome it. If you are white, you are inherently racist because of systemic racism. To some “it is in your blood.”
Put another way, if racism must be a combination of power and prejudice, then racism is less an accusation of wrong opinion and more a label of what class you are in. “Racist” is synonymous with “oppressor.” Since everyone has prejudice (even babies), and power is systemic, people cannot change what class they are in. Those with power are racists and all racists are in power.
The Goal of Neo-Marxism Is War
Overturning the powers that be is the progress with which the left is obsessed. Racism is then merely any attempt to maintain one’s grip on power. Even though conservatives don’t see things in terms of power, contemporary liberals do, and to them all conservatism is racist. Don’t believe me? By what other logic does Antifa call a black woman and black police racists?
This is where it gets scary. When everything is about power and group identity, war is the inevitable conclusion. The oppressed cannot tolerate the oppressors. Remember, Karl Marx did not call for the proletariat to reason calmly and peacefully with the bourgeoisie to persuade them to consent to a new form of government. He called for the use of force to destroy the oppressor class.
If you can’t overcome your group identity by choice — of your own free will — then persuasion is unimportant. The use of force is all that matters. Racists cannot be redeemed.
Don’t believe the left today is alright with the use of force? Why do you think they harass, dox, and purge people instead of talking with them? Where do you think the “Trump is Hitler” “His supporters are Nazis” “Punch a Nazi” logic comes from? The Marxist Frankfurt School made sure to label capitalism and everything not socialism “fascism,” and now the Left carries signs that say “It Takes a Bullet to Bash a Fash.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Is Out, Malcom X Is In
Many leftists probably do not really want to kill all white people even if some do (and try). They just want to “cancel white people” or have them all die out, just sort of disappear so they can avoid that icky genocide stuff. That they are not full-blown radicals is hardly much comfort, however.
Decent conservatives worry about actual racism and want to avoid it. But when they try to defend themselves as not being racist, it is born of the naïve thinking that the debate is about who holds Martin Luther King Jr.’s view of judging individuals by the content of one’s character and not the color of one’s skin.
But when people on the Left talk about racism, they don’t care about anyone’s character or judging an individual. They care about power and they judge by group identity as defined by race, sex, and sexual proclivity. The left uses this difference of terms to their advantage.
The Game Is Rigged, So Stop Playing
Accusing conservatives of racism helps the left in three ways. First, it distracts from our substantive disagreements. Want to get conservatives to stop promoting their own ideas? Call one a racist!
Second, conservatives, acting as if the left actually cares about racism, begin tilting at windmills to avoid any guilt. This is why the label “alt-right” is so helpful to the left. Decent conservatives rightly abhor actual racism.
So when you point to actual racists (and the real alt-right are identity-politics-believing racists) who have associated themselves with conservatives, the right gets concerned. They start looking for the taint of racism in themselves, purging their own people, and silencing their own voices. All of this saps confidence and pits conservatives against one another.
But the alt-right is abysmally small. They love to play along with the game because it gives them an outsized voice. Why do you think they name their rallies “Unite the Right”? They are happy to associate themselves with Trump and hold stupid rallies because the left, using it to attack conservatives, gives them free press and pretends they are a real threat.
None of this is conservatives’ fault. The alt-right comes from the same root as modern leftism. Something about rules for radicals and propaganda comes to mind in all of this.
Third and worst of all, playing the silly game saps our vitality as a nation. Every time someone on the left hurls the “you’re racist” insult and a conservative plays the game, the left wins. In that moment, everything is about race again. While conservatives clutch their pearls and leftists browbeat conservatives with guilt and shame, we lose sight of our common humanity and the principle of free government.
If We Are Not Individuals, War Is All That’s Left
All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. If we lose sight of the first part, we lose sight of it all.
People are to be judged as individuals who possess a conscience, reason, and the ability to choose virtue or vice irrespective of color or sex. If we don’t understand that, than there is no persuasion and there is no consent. There is only war between groups for power.
So the next time some liberal calls someone a racist (or sexist, or a misogynist, or transphobic, or homophobic, etc.), think about what they really mean. More than likely they mean it in the nasty, destructive “power + prejudice” way. In the past, this view was mocked, and pointing out real racism might have made sense. But the Marxist view is now too mainstream. Conservatives ought to keep this in mind.
There is probably no reason to play the “who’s the real racist” game. But if conservatives try, they should do so with eyes wide open.