Given the daily attacks of the annulment culture on anyone or anyone showing the slightest deviation from anti-racist norms, it is believed that it was a slander that gave up the ghost and bestowed the title of the worst sin of all time. The new title holder is the vaguely conceived concept that the slightest hint of discrimination, ridicule, or even simple generalization that a Caucasian directs against a person of color is synonymous with sin against the Holy Spirit.
I recently spoke to a liberal friend about the now famous Nick Sandmann incident a few years ago in which a Native American was filmed in Sandmann’s face singing and drumming on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. My friend acknowledged that the original interpretation that Sandman purposely stood in the Indian man’s path so that he could grin at him was factually incorrect. The video showed that Sandmann was in place when the Indian rushed over to him and his concert began, and that Sandmann’s “grin” was nothing more than a confused reaction to the ridiculous situation.
Yet, my friend concluded, the incident was not so straightforward. Why? Because the film of the event showed Sandmann’s schoolmates in the background delivering “Tomahawk chops”. These teenagers mocked Indians with a humorous stereotype, or so the claim goes. That made them guilty of racism, an evil far worse than mere deception – like the misleading media coverage of the event – and far more despicable than the destruction of a young man’s reputation by lying.
A shocking number of people will take this last sentence seriously. The left is united in the view that racism bears the title of the worst sin of all time, even when expressed by children through a cultural stereotype. But many conservatives also assume that this is true. Laura Ingraham, in a casual comment on her Fox News show the other day, described an event as “worse than racism, if there is such a thing.” I recently heard another conservative media personality rage against someone who called them a racist. “And that’s the worst you can be,” he added.
Is it really? Obviously, it is idiotic to judge people as members of a race or ethnic group rather than as individuals. Yes, racism has resulted in murder and destruction as well as fraud, betrayal and defamation. But it is not the only sin by which we judge all actions.
Like other indecent attitudes, racism can become deadly when it leads to hatred, the illustrations of which can be found in the history of most peoples. But in most of the cases currently cited by the politically correct, racism is simply implied and may not exist at all.
In the current climate, eating chop suey, an American dish made based on Chinese food and deliberately given a silly name, could be construed as a throat against Chinese culture and therefore viewed as a racist act. But is eating this dish really an act of moral confusion? Someone who wears a black face for a party shows bad taste but nothing more, and a writer who uses the terminology of his day, like Mark Twain used the word “n” Huckleberry Finnblows for aesthetic realism. A friend who works for American Express told me the company recently issued a language policy prohibiting the use of the term “black and white”. I can assure American Express that until the ban was issued, none of its employees, regardless of skin color, had ever associated this phrase with racism.
A person who has been betrayed sees treason everywhere, a person who is deceived is unlikely to trust, and an segregated society can use the words “black and white” – as well as a variety of other irrelevant phrases – perceive as racist. It is the job of all well-intentioned people to recognize this as a reaction and not as a reason and to stop looking for racism everywhere.
Kenneth LaFave, PhD is the author of Experiencing Leonard Bernstein (Rowman & Littlefield).
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