Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Jason Lloyd Miller and the Question of American Racism

Michael Lumish

I have never in my life met a self-identified White Supremacist.

Not once.

Ever since the 2016 campaign for the presidency of the United States progressive-regressives have continually screamed from the hillsides about the viciously racist nature of the United States.

I disagree. In fact, I would argue that the US, like the liberal democracies, in general, is among the least racist countries on the entire planet. In order to make a reasonable determination on the degree of American racism, however, we must look at the anti-racist gains of the American past and the degree of American racism compared to the rest of the world.

On the first point, Jason and I are in agreement. He writes:

"If you are saying that there is racism in the country, but it’s getting better — I completely agree." That is precisely what I am saying. In fact, not only is the degree of American racism decreased in recent decades, it has decreased by an order of magnitude that we have yet to appreciate. 

In the Civil War, the United States lost around 600,000 men. The war was not fought to end slavery, but to save the Union. However, the reason that the Union needed saving is because the question of slavery was ripping it to pieces. In the South, people were concerned that the industrial North would impose itself upon their way of life. Anyone who knows anything about the Civil War understands the significance of southern fears concerning the nature of northern intentions.

What is less well understood is the fact that the North feared the extension of the southern way of life into northern states. This is why Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) was so important. Scott was born in a slave state, but his "owner" moved to a free state bringing Scott with him. The question then became, does a slave gain his freedom when moved into a free state? The Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roger Taney, said "no." What that meant was that slavery could creep into the North and northerners simply did not want it.

From the Civil War, through Jim Crow and into the Civil Rights Era of Martin Luther King, Jr., American racism steadily declined. If there is one thing that MLK, Jr. and his partners achieved it was not only making racism detested within American society but finally doing away with "de jure" racism, or racism as perpetuated by state laws. Americans despise racism so much that by the time Reagan came into office there were no significant self-identified White Supremacist organizations in the US. The Klan was still out there in a few southern states, but their influence and numbers were (and are) nominal. The same can easily be said about the few Neo-Nazi dingbats hiding out in Montana or northern Idaho. These are people with zero political power and who are widely detested within American society. 

Jason Lloyd Miller, needless to say, does not see it this way.

He writes, "If you are saying that no matter how prevalent individual racists may be, there’s no such thing as “white supremacy” in this country, because it was de jure structurally “corrected” by legislation that was passed 50 years ago — I think that’s a gross simplification..."

What is a gross simplification is Miller's refusal to accept how different the US is today vis-à-vis race relations. Furthermore, the erosion of American racism was not merely due to legislation from fifty years ago. On the contrary. The legislation reflected the changes in American society, not the other way around. 

So, I think that we can agree that the US is not nearly so racist as it once was. Slavery is over. De Jure racism in the form of Jim Crow is over. All the significant White Supremacist organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan, are basically defunct. And not only does the American zeitgeist despise racism but we have put into place a series of laws, and workplace standards, that seek to give certain people of non-European descent a leg-up in hiring and university acceptance. 

Thus not only is there less racism today than in the American past, but there is much less racism. It's not even close. We have so little outward racism in the US that when it is displayed people react in a manner like you may have just urinated on their shoes. Americans absolutely despise racism, but Miller refuses to see it. He writes:

"What I really really don’t understand, is what interest you have in denying that there is structural inequality, and structural racism, still, in this country?"

Structural racism suggests racism as a matter of law. Jim Crow represented str
uctural racism because it was a matter of racism by law. Black people had to give up their seats toward the front of the bus as a matter of law. 

The question that I would ask Miller is, why he seems to have an interest in promoting the notion of American racism, and thereby denying American history, when we have come so far in eliminating it? This is true not only in terms of American history but in terms of the United States compared to other countries.

The US is practically a civil rights Shangri-la compared to most of the rest of the world. In Africa and the Middle East they still practice the slavery of black people, yet no one, including Mr. Miller, seems to much mind. In Iran, and throughout much of the Muslim world, they are still fond of hanging Gay people from cranes or tossing them off of buildings. 

So, if you want to argue that the US is a deeply racist society, as the first black president of the United States suggested, you must ask yourself compared to when and compared to whom? 

What I don't understand is why so many people feel a need to constantly bang the racialist drum without fairly considering the American past, the degree of racism in other countries, or what this incessant harping on the evils of white people will do to the American future.

Demonizing Americans of European descent for the sins of their ancestors is hugely hypocritical in the face of contemporary slavery. It is hugely hypocritical in the face of widespread racism throughout most of the rest of the world. And if you think that continually urinating on "white" people -- whoever they are, exactly -- is going to fix anything then you are sadly mistaken.

All the progressive-regressives are doing, through supporting racist organizations like BLM/Antifa, is considerably adding to the sum total of hatred. I find it both hypocritical and hugely counterproductive.