November 16, 2008
Racism is Dead
God is dead . . . and we killed him!
That's the famous epitaph Friedrich Nietzsche announced to Europe in the late 19th century. He believed that European intellectual history had arrived at a watershed moment in which God was no longer relevant. Most people didn't yet realize what was happening, claimed Nietzsche, but future generations would soon learn to live without God.
Nietzsche understood that religious devotees would continue to preach God's existence. History's great causes don't go away overnight. But he believed most people would simply tire of the message and quit listening.
I'm not attempting to defend Nietzsche's atheism. But I did notice an interesting parallel as I watched the presidential election results on November 4.
Why? Because American social history has arrived at its own watershed moment. Something old and outdated has breathed its last breath across our nation. Its demise occurred in public view. And nothing short of a bold new epitaph is in order, courtesy of the American voters.
That new epitaph reads: Racism is dead . . . and we killed it!
Yep, you heard me right. Racism in America is dead. Allegations about inequality of opportunity have been smashed. Deader than a bug on the windshield. You and I killed it.
Over 66 million voters waited in line to deliver the coup de grâce. Many of them were proud blacks who've lived long enough to know what I'm saying. You gotta' feel good about that. Most, however, were guilty whites who queued up to the voting booth to get shed of an ugly stigma. As for the other 57 million voters, they already knew that racism was dead and decided to vote on principle. Well . . . okay . . . that last statement was tongue-in-cheek, but not as much as you think.
So join me, please, as we collectively stab our fingers at the rotting corpse of racism and - in unison with Robert DeNiro's character Al Capone in The Untouchables - shout our eulogy to America's great sin: Black inferiority: DEAD! White guilt: DEAD! Race-baiting: Dead! The U.S. of KKK: Dead! The politics of victimhood: Dead!
On November 4, America took a baseball bat to those notions and knocked them out of the park. It was a grand slam of epic proportions.
Will diehards continue to preach that America is a horridly racist country? Of course they will. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton still aim to make a living. The New York Times hasn't yet shut its doors. And pseudo-intellectual multiculturalists still have tenure in our colleges because . . . well, you know why. But the rest of us in America - red and yellow, black and white - have stopped listening to them.
Actually, racism in America died several decades ago, but the memo got lost.
Last year I read with amusement about a black college student who traveled to Jena, Louisiana with a busload of other protestors - all going to support the "Jena 6" thugs - because she wanted to see what racism looked like. The irony of her comment is an epitaph in itself.
Racism died in America after decades of legislation and hundreds of billions in taxpayer reparations. Professional sports and the entertainment industry also helped. Oprah is one of the richest women in the world.. And college athletic departments have produced far more black millionaires than white ones over the past thirty years. No one had to cross a picket line to get there.
Did I mention Tiger?
I'm old enough to remember what America was like in the 50s and 60s. Racism was nasty stuff. Not horrid like slavery, mind you, or the mob violence and lynchings of the early 20th century, but cruel nonetheless. Major battles were fought and won between 1860 and 1960. Then, after hand-to-hand combat during the 1960s to 1980s, we finally drove a silver stake into the heart of racism and killed it dead. Redundantly dead.
Barack Obama's election to the presidency has simply - but decisively - put an exclamation point on the epitaph.
So the next time you hear someone preaching that America is a horribly racist country, you might follow Barack's advice and argue with them and get in their face.
Or better yet, laugh them off. That's what I plan to do.
Nietzsche, I think, would've done the same.
Racism is dead . . . and we killed it!