Archive for the ‘racist arguments’ Category

Some white people tell me I see racism in everything. I used to think it was just a way to dismiss what I was saying. But even whites who are otherwise serious about the subject of racism say it, so it is not merely just a way to get me to shut up.

First of all, I do not see racism in everything. While I do think that racism in America, both white racism and internalized racism, is far from dead, I doubt it accounts for everything. For example, I think fatherlessness and having children out of wedlock have little to do with racism – both were far lower among blacks in the 1950s when racism was worse. And both have knock-on effects on the rates of crime and poverty on top of the effects of racism.

But I do not talk much here about supposed black pathologies because they get more than enough attention elsewhere. And because I know full well whites use them to get themselves off the hook: See, blacks create their own mess – it has nothing to do with us!

Yet compared to most white people I do seem to see racism in everything. Because they see racism in almost nothing. Because they have narrowed the meaning of the word to just a kind of personal hatred. Because it does not affect them in a bad way. Because they do not want to face up to the racism their lives have been built on.

In reading about this on other blogs, it seems that what persuades them that they are right and I am wrong is that most people agree with them, not me. But “most people”, in this case, are white people!

Why in the world would white people be a better judge of racism in American society than black people? That would be like saying men are a better judge of sexism or straight people are a better judge of homophobia. It would be like asking monks about sex or the rich about poverty.

Does that mean that blacks are right about everything they say about racism? Hardly. But it does mean they have a far better understanding of racism than most whites do. They have to – they are affected by it way more.

I am certainly not right about everything I say. I accept that maybe I see racism in too many things – or too few things (some say I am too soft on whites). I have gone back and forth on this issue myself.

But if you do not believe me the worst thing you could do would be to turn to white people or television. What on earth do they they know? But there are tons and tons of books and blogs written by living, breathing black people and other people of colour. Read those, the more the better, putting yourself into their shoes, and see for yourself how much of this stuff I am making up.

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The use of black rape statistics is a common white racist argument. It seeks to prove that black men have a dark and savage nature by showing that they rape women at vastly higher rates than white men. The beauty of the argument is that few whites question it because it plays on two stereotypes they have about black men: they are violent and they have stronger sex drives that they cannot control.

First, as black crime goes rape is rare. Here are the top ten crimes committed by blacks in America according to FBI numbers on arrests made in 2007:

  1. 485,054 Drug abuse violations
  2. 261,730 Larceny, theft
  3. 316,217 Assault (non-aggravated)
  4. 183,810 Disorderly conduct
  5. 109,985 Aggravated assault
  6. 97,472 Driving under the influence
  7. 68,052 Burglary
  8. 62,278 Drunkenness
  9. 57,745 Weapons; carrying, possessing, etc.
  10. 54,774 Robbery

Forcible rape was not even close to making this list: there were only 5,708 arrests.

Second, white men are a far bigger threat. Despite the racism of the police and the stereotypes about black rapists, the police still arrest twice as many white men for rape.

Going by the stereotypes, you would expect whiter countries to be safer. Wrong. Despite the millions of black men in America, women are way safer there than in Canada and Australia, where rape is more than twice as common.

So where are the statistics that show black men are such dangerous rapists? It comes from comparing not all rapes but just interracial rapes. Comments like this often appear on this blog:

Fact – blacks rape white women 2000 (yes 2000) times more than whites rape black women. In New York City, about 300 white women are raped by blacks every year BUT there has not been a black woman raped by a white male in anybody’s memory (going back over 20 yrs.) Consider: Al Sharpton had to go upstate New York to find a hoax and that was almost 20 years ago. (Source NYT 4/22/05)

That looks solid: the New York Times said so! Except that it did not: there is no such article.

I looked up the numbers for myself:

The FBI does not break out numbers for interracial rape but the Justice Department does for “rape and sexual assault” – based on a crime victim survey it does every year. But interracial rape is so rare that there are fewer than ten cases in its sample. So you cannot draw any firm statistical conclusions.

On television rape is a dark-alley crime, but in fact strangers commit only 2% of rapes. Half are done by current or former boyfriends, dates and husbands. Interracial rape is rare for the same reasons that interracial marriage is rare. So rare that there are not even solid government figures on it.

But better numbers would not help: after all, if you applied the same reasoning to numbers on marriage it would “prove” that black men are by nature also more likely to marry.

The argument is built not on sound reasoning and solid facts but on white fears that go back at least to Jim Crow times.

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IQ and income map of the world (click to somewhat enlarge!)

Equality means that all people are born equal and should have equal rights.

Jefferson said it best:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Understanding “men” in the sense of “human”, not “male”.

Not everyone believes in equality. For example, some think that whites are better than blacks. Those who blog about it, like Steve Sailer or Guy White, try to prove this by showing that whites have more intelligence or wealth than blacks.

First, their arguments have huge holes in them. For example:

  • The intelligence argument is based on whites having higher IQs or a longer list of inventions:
    • But IQ tests cannot be trusted – unless you believe that Muhammad Ali (IQ 78) and Andy Warhol (IQ 86) lacked intelligence to a noticeable degree.
    • The inventor argument, if applied fairly to all history and not just choice bits of it, like the one we live in, favours the Chinese (Asian) and Egyptians (40% black), not whites.
  • The wealth argument assumes that achievement is based on merit, that luck and power and naked violence have nothing to do with it, that wealth and poverty do not each have a snowball effect. If there were no North America, one of the biggest pieces of luck in history, most white Americans would be living in the slums of Europe. Everyone knows that. Thus their “merit”.

In short, if whites were truly that much better than everyone else, they would have been on top all throughout history, not just parts of it.

Second, even if you grant these arguments about wealth and intelligence they fail at a much more profound level: equal rights are based on human worth and human worth cannot be measured. No human being can be baked down to a number – their IQ, their bank account, their whatever. To do so is profoundly dehumanizing, turning humans into little more than talking animals or bank machines. Anyone who has ever lost a child – or dated a gold digger – knows that. In fact, most people know it.

That is why racists do not drive their arguments to their logical conclusions:

  1. If IQ is so important and so trustworthy, then why not aristocracy? Why not give all the top positions to those with the highest IQ? Why have elections? Why have job interviews or resumes? Why not have birth licences or sterilization based on IQ?
  2. Likewise, if wealth is such a wonderful measure of who is better or worse, then why not plutocracy? Why not give public offices to the highest bidder? Why bother to hold elections? Why not have a huge maternity tax so that the poor do not have “too many” children?


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“You are the one keeping racism alive” means that talking about race helps to keep racism alive. That it would die a natural death if people just stopped talking about it. That I should stop talking about race and go back to writing about half-naked women or the Middle East or whatever it was I was writing about before race became a big subject on my blog. That I am causing more harm than good.

It is something white commenters often say on this blog. Yes, white. I cannot remember a black commenter or any person of colour ever saying that, not even the right-wing ones. That alone should make you wonder about where this thought is coming from.

And it goes beyond this blog:

  • Rush Limbaugh seems to think racism is kept alive by the “race industry”, by people like Al Sharpton.
  • Three-fourths of white parents do not talk to their children about race.

Some white beliefs that support this:

  1. Race is unimportant: race does not affect whites directly in a bad way. Unlike people of colour, they do not have to think about race unless they want to.
  2. Racism is dead: because it does not affect them, many whites think it has died away. It is just something in the history books: slavery, Jim Crow and all that.
  3. Noticing race is racist: many whites do not see the difference between being race conscious (knowing how race affects your life) and racism (looking down on people because of their race).
  4. If we do not talk about racism it will go away: an odd idea that no one thinks to apply to things like sexism, cancer, crime, dishonest government or any of the other ills of human life. What makes racism so different?

Blacks are one-eighth of America. They could not keep racism alive all by themselves even if they wanted to. They do not control the courts, the police, the newspapers, the schools and all the rest. But whites do.

Whites in America have five times more votes and 50 times more wealth. Like it or not, racism rises or falls with them. Racism goes on because they continue to be racist. It is that simple. There is no huge mystery about it. It does not fall out of the sky or come up through the cracks in the sidewalk. It comes from whites acting in racist ways – not from black people talking about whites acting in racist ways.

Some whites might say “you are keeping racism alive” because they hold to one or more the beliefs listed above, but the heart of the matter is that talking about race makes white people uncomfortable. Because deep down, whether they want to admit it or not, they know that they have an unfair position in society because of the colour of their skin. Instead of living right they would rather live a lie – like they have been doing to different degrees ever since slave days.

– Abagond, 2010.

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“My family never owned slaves” is something you hear White Americans say. Although not racist in itself it has the effect of turning a blind eye towards racism.

The statement by itself is true for most whites: even back in slave days in 1860 fewer than 2% of whites owned slaves! Slaves cost way too much for most people and in half the country it was against the law. On top of that millions of whites came to America long after the slaves were freed, like most Italians and Jews.

The trouble with the statement is not its truth but how it is used: to cut white people off from history. When they say black people live in the past and need to give the slave thing a rest, they are making the very same argument: history does not matter, it somehow magically does not affect anyone alive now. If we are affected at all by history it is only through our families, nothing else.

That is wishful thinking. America’s slave past still profoundly affects its present. Most white people, it seems, refuse to see that: it makes them uncomfortable. By saying “My family never owned slaves” they are trying to buy themselves a pass from American history, both past and present. As if their family had been living on some Robinson Crusoe island all these years – and still does.

Your ancestors did not have to own slaves to benefit – either then or now. If anything the opposite seems to be true: most descendants of slave owners seem to be black, not white, like the descendants of Thomas Jefferson. Most blacks are part white and most of that white comes from slave owners.

A white American saying “My family never owned slaves” is like the daughter of a Mafia boss wearing her diamonds and pearls and saying she never murdered anyone or shook anyone down for money. As if the diamonds and pearls fell from the sky.

America grew rich on the red man’s land worked by black slaves. For a long time cotton was the main thing America sold to other countries. Profits from cotton (made mainly in the North and in Britain, not in the South) in turn helped to underwrite the growth of the country’s industry. The racism that grew out of slavery kept most blacks at the bottom as a supply of cheap labour. That benefited all whites through lower prices.

Even today whites continue to benefit from racism in the form of better education, higher incomes, longer lives and all the other unearned benefits of white privilege that have grown out of slave days.

Whites want to benefit from their ugly past – and their less ugly present – but they do not want to face up to it and set things right. Two attempts were made – the civil war and the civil rights movement – but both were incomplete. “My family never owned slaves” becomes an excuse not to do anything more.

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The black crime statistics argument points out that blacks commit crime at a way higher rate than whites and therefore blacks are more given to crime than whites – you know, because blacks are more violent, dangerous and immoral. It has been used to excuse white flight, bad policing and society the way it is – therefore helping to keep crime at much higher rates than in other rich Western countries.

For the argument to work one must assume the just world doctrine, the idea that America is more or less just and equal. Once you assume that, then you are pretty much forced to conclude there is something wrong with black people.

But for any meaningful comparison between black and white crime rates you need to take into account things like income, unemployment, the rate at which crimes are reported, etc. Further you need to assume that the police and the courts are not racist, which is rarely the case.

A good example is murder. In New York blacks are way more likely to murder someone than whites are. But does that mean blacks are more violent and savage than whites? Hardly.

I used to live in one of those parts of New York where blacks and Latinos were killing each other right and left. I never saw someone killed but I certainly heard the gunshots and knew two people who were shot dead, both black-on-black murders.

It had little to do with the supposedly violent or savage nature of black people and everything to do with the drug trade. In the process of getting drugs from South America to the good white people of North America blacks, as always, get stuck with the most dangerous and dirty work. Of course they are already breaking the law by selling drugs in the first place but blacks also have the highest rate of unemployment and so are more likely than others to turn to it. Not that that makes it right, of course, but we are talking about comparisons here.

But there is more: not only were most of the murders drug-related, the police did little about it: they seemed much more interested in protecting the lives of whites and Asians than those of blacks and Latinos. As with other city services, black ghettos are badly served by the police compared to other parts of the city.

So to just present the bare numbers,while it may seem clear-eyed, hard-headed and fair, is extremely misleading. Especially when presented to people who already have certain stereotypes about blacks. To assume from such numbers that there must be something wrong with blacks – as opposed to something profoundly wrong with how American society functions – is racist and, for white people, self-serving. It also has the effect of making crime a black thing, which means little is done about it other than to hire more police and build more prisons.

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The race industry argument says that racism is no longer a big deal, that it is being kept alive by those who make money out of it or win votes.

Here is Rush Limbaugh in 2009:

The race industry is still around.  One of my most fervent desires and wishes, I’m serious, as a human being, is that all of this racism just be over with, all this group victimization be over with, and I don’t get it, because it’s never going to end.  These are tactics, these are political tactics employed by the left to secure power, and they’ll never give it up.  And while they’re the ones out there practicing all this racism and groupthink and victimization, they’re blaming people like me for it.  And it’s just a shame.  It’s just a shame.

But it is way older than that. Here is Booker T. Washington almost a hundred years before in 1911:

There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do do not want to lose their jobs.

Are there people who make money or win votes by bringing up racism? Of course. But there are also doctors who make money out of curing diseases. While you can argue that some doctors help to create disease or find cures to things that are not true diseases, disease would not go away if all the doctors became house painters. Instead it would get far worse.

In Booker T Washington’s day it was not the “race industry”, the profitable complainers, who hung black men from trees or kept black people at the back of the bus, who kept blacks from voting; they are not the ones who kept blacks out of  libraries, cinemas, hotels, restaurants and amusement parks.

Likewise today it is not the complainers, the whiners, the race card pullers, who make innocent black children go to bad schools, who help to keep blacks  out of white neighbourhoods, who hire them last and fire them first, who would rather spend money keeping black men in prison than in getting them off of drugs, etc.

That a black man could make the race industry argument at the height of Jim Crow shows two things:

  1. A race industry does not prove that racism is just being kept alive by complainers, that if they shut up it would go away.
  2. That some black people can argue that racism is no big deal even when it is.

The main thing that both Booker T Washington and Rush Limbaugh leave out is that they themselves make their living by defending an unjust society as just.

Thanks to commenter Great White Man for bringing the Booker T Washington quote to my attention.

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