The photo at right serves as a Rorschach blot for postmodern race-consciousness.
The majority of white Americans who see it will react with a sense of distaste and unease — and maybe even guilt, if their politics lean towards the Progressive.
Some of our regular readers will be concerned that I may harm this blog’s “reputation” by posting such inflammatory images.
Strangers who happen upon this post will probably say to themselves, “Aha! Here’s another racist hate site! I knew it!”
And conservatives of a certain stripe will think I’m a limp-wristed candy-ass coward for failing to follow through completely and embrace whatever racial ideology they subscribe to.
No matter what, it’s impossible to look at the image and see it for what it is.
A package of Rastus Cigars.
A cultural artifact from the early 20th century.
An hommage to a well-known Vaudeville tap-dancer.
A product designed to appeal to the tastes and predilections of a particular time and place.
At the time the package was printed and sold, the design was not particularly remarkable. Fans of Rastus would have appreciated seeing his picture. Most white people probably found it vaguely amusing, in a low-class way. Some must have been disgusted at its vulgarity. A certain proportion were undoubtedly repelled by an insulting caricature of a Negro.
But, all in all, it wasn’t that big a deal. It was just another product on the market.
How times have changed.
The Episcopal Church (ECUSA) is very concerned about racism.
Back in the 1990s, when I was active in our diocese, the head office in Norfolk would periodically organize workshops to combat the “Sin of Racism”. They insisted that each parish host a traveling Episcopalian dog-and-pony show on the topic, a workshop designed to bring racial awareness to local churches and help them own up to the sin of racism, of which each and every parishioner was guilty.
When you think about it, this was rather peculiar, since the modern Episcopal Church — along with most other mainline Protestant denominations — has mostly given up the idea of sin. Adultery and fornication are no longer considered particularly sinful. Sodomy, far from being a sin, is now officially celebrated. Some other practices that were formerly considered sinful are still frowned upon — gluttony, avarice, and so on — without being labeled as “sin”.
But not racism. That’s a real sin.
Postmodern moral philosophy declines to recognize absolute right and wrong. Our prevailing moral judgments are merely “narratives” deriving from the dominant power structure inherent in our oppressive patriarchal capitalist society. All competing moralities are equally valid. There is nothing that can be considered inherently “wrong”.
Except, of course, for racism, sexism, homophobia, and failing to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Now those are absolutes.
The “racism” card is the first thing that’s played against anyone in our line of work — in fact, against anyone who displays even the slightest of conservative tendencies or flouts politically correct orthodoxy in any way.
There is no way any of us can win on the playing field of race. The game has been decided against us in advance.
It follows that the most important thing is to decline to play the game on that field:
- Don’t engage in any arguments about racism.
- Don’t try to prove that you’re not racist.
- Don’t attempt to demonstrate that your opponent is a hypocritical racist himself.
- Don’t be drawn into any debate where the primary topic is race, unless it is a specific discussion of biological attributes with a scientific purpose.
Just because they built it doesn’t mean you have to show up.
It’s very difficult to avoid the pitfall of race, because the entire structure of political vice and virtue has been founded on the topic for nearly fifty years. To stay away from it means going against the grain of all political discourse, whether liberal, conservative, socialist, anarchist, or libertarian.
To escape the trap, you have to give up worrying about whether anyone else considers you a racist for what you say. Conversely, part of the process of de-programming yourself from the “race” virus entails not caring whether others are racist, or seem to be racist, or might be racist. Why should you care?
Whether or not others perceive me as “racist” is irrelevant. I simply decline an obsession with race.
Therefore I don’t particularly mind if other people decide to group together according to their ethnicity. It’s a completely natural thing for human beings to do; they always have. Seeing that sort of behavior as inherently evil is a very recent, entirely modern peculiarity.
Racism — whether its practice, or an obsession with it — is a relatively modern invention. There were no racial ideologies as we understand them until after Darwin. “Racism” as such has no empirical existence, and it can be shrugged off like any other acquired ideology — including Socialism and Islam.
As far as “racism” is concerned, evil only enters the picture when one group decides to enslave or exterminate another based on race. But that is no more evil than enslaving or exterminating people based upon their social class, or their political preference, or any other way in which human beings can categorize one another.
That’s why I don’t freak out when I see the letters “BNP”. I can agree that the BNP is “racist” in the sense that until recently it restricted its membership to white people. But why twist your knickers over that?
It’s just like the Congressional Black Caucus: no white people allowed! Nobody minds that, of course, because only white people can be called “racist”. But still — why worry about the BNP’s “racism”, given that Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters get a free pass?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any organization limiting membership to a particular ethnic group. It may be a political hindrance, but it some circumstances it might even be an advantage. In any case, it need not carry any special opprobrium — except for the habits that have been deeply engrained in us for so long.
Look at it another way: according to the UN itself, there is such a thing as the “rights of indigenous peoples”.
Thus the EDL is following orthodox UN doctrine when it decides to defend the English people. The BNP may be on shakier ground, given that “British” is not a defined ethnicity. But it’s still the same basic UN-approved principle.
In reality, of course, the UN resolution is malignant and malicious, because it is intended to apply only to “brown” people. Hutus, Hmong, Kurds, Ainu, Navajo — all these have rights as “indigenous peoples”. But not white Europeans and their descendants.
Nor do Jews. According to the UN, the Palestinians have a right of “return”, which allows them to flood Israel and destroy the Jewish character of the state. Thus the Palestinians have rights as indigenes, but the Jews don’t.
However, if all of us disgusting racist white devils decided en masse to make an issue of it, we could hoist the UN on its own fetid petard. Whites are an indigenous people. European ethnicities do have rights.
So stand up for the rights of indigenous peoples, even if they have (gasp!) white skin. Try it — you’ll find it’s not as scary and dangerous as you’ve been led to believe.
But don’t let yourself be trapped into proving that you’re not a “racist”. It’s a mug’s game.
You can never prove yourself non-racist, except by adopting the entire leftist-progressive program, every finicky jot and tittle of it.
If you don’t do that, you’re a WAYCIST! And you always will be.
It doesn’t matter how many of your friends are Jews, or how many Negroes or Red Indians you have your picture taken with, or how many Samoans you appoint to important offices. You’re still a nasty, bigoted, WAYCIST.
The only way out is to cut the Gordian knot and refuse any discussion on the topic. No anxiety, no defensiveness, no rancor. Just: “Sorry, I have no interest in talking about such foolishness.”
Or to ignore it completely.
Because you can’t win.
You can’t be absolved of the sin of racism.