Guest Post by Ryan T. Lees
“You’re a racist!” Screamed kids (not the NAACP) in response to racial slurs thrown back and forth, from kid to kid; in a class of routinely ill-behaved high-schoolers.
Prior to my current position, I did time as a substitute teacher. Among many anecdotes I have about the students, this one is most pertinent in the current climate.
My experience prevented the chaos from bothering me, but what irritated me was the inappropriate use of the term ‘racist.’
The behavior was somewhat understandable because these were petulant children at an age when sensational expression is sought after. Though when considered in a broader perspective, this is not unlike our politicians and political organizations: using the term outside of its definition, for reasons other than literal meaning.
I quieted the class and said: “You should be careful about saying that. Do any of you know the definition of racism?” Their silenced implied ‘no,’ so we retrieved a dictionary and found it:
Racism: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race (Merriam-Webster Online).”
This can be extrapolated upon. Ethnic cleansing is racist: one race finds the other race not worthy of life. Ethnic slavery is racist, because one race places another in bondage. A statement of ethnic inferiority is racist, such as a particular race has a smaller brain than mine. As are discriminatory statutes like the Jim Crow laws of the South.
If something or someone is racist, they should be outed. These kids needed to understand the seriousness of the epithet. To be leveled, it needs to be valid.
The NAACP made headlines by passing a resolution branding the Tea Party activists as racists. I attend their functions and ascribe to their stated values: Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government and Free Market.
Those values do not concern race. I recall no speech by Tea Party leaders regarding race, let alone denigration. There might have been an inappropriate sign somewhere, but you can also find a pearl if you shuck enough oysters.
I have seen none of these signs or heard any racial discussion. Besides, the people involved in this movement would not tolerate it if they saw it.
What I have seen are some other more obvious representations of racism:
Louis Farrakhan’s assertions that whites are “devils” and that Jews are “hook-nosed liars, murderers and thieves,” while calling for their extermination; Malik Shabbaz’s and New Black Panther Party’s intimidation of white poll watchers and voters; NBPP instructions to “kill some crackers [and] white babies”(I think that is illegal); The NAACP lobby for legislation that benefits only black people, at the expense of other ethnicities; Obama’s assumption that a white cop assaulted Professor Gates due to skin color, his reference to “typical white people” or considering minorities incapable of succeeding, without ethnically discriminatory government benefits.
Who is the racist party here? It is not the Tea Party. So many individuals and organizations that paint themselves in rosy, humanistic hues are the racists. These are not examples of singular people, but these are leaders and institutions.
The real institutional racism is the granting of racial preferences in the federal government, the requirement of racial quotas in the new financial reform bill and the silence and lack of prosecution of minority leaders and organizations that practice and purport racist policies.
The truth is black and white (pun intended): either these organizations and individuals are leveraging the charge to cover up there own racism with character assassination or they are no better than petulant children that need a dictionary.
Ryan Lees is the Director of Media Outreach and a Program Coordinator at the Patrick Henry Center