“Antiracism, Our Flawed New Religion” (2015) is an opinion piece written by John McWhorter, a Black American writer and professor of linguistics at Columbia University in New York. In the past, he has argued that racism is pretty much dead. In this piece, he argues that anti-racism is a religion, one that merits a capital A: Antiracism.
Like a religion, or McWhorter’s stereotype of one, it has holy writings, priests, unquestioned beliefs, original sin, rituals, people who spread the faith, an End of Days and a lack of policy proposals to make this world a better place.
It is strongest among the educated in blue (left-leaning) states of the US, stronger than even Christianity, particularly among the sort who read the New York Times, the New Yorker and listen to NPR. Even right-wing David Brooks is counted a believer. News to me.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a priest: New York magazine called him “revered”. A.O. Scott said his new book, “Between the World and Me” (2015), is “essential, like water or air.” Toni Morrison “anointed” him the next James Baldwin. McWhorter said the readers of “The Case for Reparations” received it “as, quite simply, a sermon.”
Some Antiracist beliefs:
- America’s past was built on racism and that racism still permeates the national fabric, as preached by Father Coates.
- Police brutality is a more appalling threat than Black-on-Black crime.
- Standardized tests are racist.
- Black people have just as much intelligence as Whites.
- Questioning these beliefs is inappropriate, if not racist.
Antiracists cannot give the facts and reasons for their beliefs and do not like being questioned about them. It is a faith.
Original sin: At the heart of this religion is the idea that all Whites are born into the original sin of White privilege. They can lessen their guilt by the Acknowledging: regularly “acknowledging” that they possess White Privilege. Antiracists bring those in the outer darkness into the light.
The End of Days comes when America as a whole “owns up to” or “comes to terms with” structural racism.
And that is all. It is all about making White people feel less guilty. Antiracists say that understanding White privilege is just a step in fighting structural racism, but say little about what the other steps are, other than pie-in-the-sky stuff like reparations.
McWhorter seems to have in mind mainly the Tim Wise sort of anti-racism, but then uses that to dismiss anti-racism as a whole.
The main drawback of Antiracism, according to McWhorter, is that it leads people to believe that racism is the only thing holding Black people back. That means Antiracists waste time on fighting stuff like police brutality instead of Black-on-Black crime.
It is hard to believe that McWhorter would not know that there are reasoned arguments against things like standardized tests or his beloved Black-on-Black crime argument, that they are not just unquestioned beliefs. It is also hard to believe that he does not know why some Blacks do not like being questioned by the wilfully obtuse – like McWhorter himself.
– Abagond, 2015.
- external links
- wilfully obtuse
- Coates v McWhorter
- White privilege
- The Black-on-Black crime argument
- Tim Wise
- Rented Negroes
- Don Lemon
- John McWhorter
- Black counter-frame
- Anti-racism as (not) taught in American high school history books