Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Conservatives and Racism

A couple of weeks back, Michael Jackson’s parents, Joe and Katherine Jackson, spoke to ITV interviewer Daphne Barak about how they were dealing with the recent travails of their son.

Joe told Barak that he believed that racism played a part in why America had turned against Michael.

Predictably, commentators at Free Republic and various conservative blogs began their knee-jerk diatribes against Joe’s accusations of racism.

A thought occurred to me. Maybe the right wing bashes political correctness because for them such bashing is the next best thing to out-and-out racism. Since the latter no longer works in America, this is the only way they can express their basic intolerant impulses.

These are the people, had they been adults in the early 60’s, who would have voted against integration of schools. In the 30’s, they would have been the ones supporting broad-based Jim Crow segregation. In the 1800s, they would have been the good-ole boys supporting slavery.

I am not saying that every single conservative out there is a racist but I suspect that a large number of them would be in slightly modified circumstances. Conservatism in a nutshell is the worldview is that life is a battlefield and you have to bunker down and look out for number one. You could be a perfectly nice person at heart, and many conservatives I have met are, but as long as you hold this worldview you are going to be more susceptible to racism and xenophobia than someone whose worldview is based on kindness and inclusiveness.

As for Joe Jackson’s comment? I certainly do not believe that racism is to blame for all of Michael’s troubles. He has shown incredibly poor judgment. He may be guilty as charged. But I think it is true that when a black man in America is successful, wealthy and powerful, it helps him to be polite and deferring to the establishment like Colin Powell. If he speaks his own mind, there will often spring up a movement to take him down. So many famous blacks actually end up doing jail time. How many famous white people end up in the big house, besides Martha Stewart?

At the end of the day what really got me was the alacrity with which any accusation of racism gets attacked by the right, without any discussion of the possibility that there may actually have been some racism in the situation.


Seppo said...

Take a look at the Miguel Estrada/Alberto Gonzales bullshit, if you want a clear, shining example of the fact that conservatives are being complete hypocrites about racism. Their notion that Democrats are inherently racist because they're voting against these people is racist in itself.

Rather than voting say, against Gonzales' policies that have defended torturing captives, or Miguel Estrada's refusal to answer direct questions about his ideology during his confirmation hearings, the notion that the *only* thing that the Dems could be opposing them is because they're Hispanic is so monumentally absurd, that it makes me wonder whether they're even marginally capable of anything remotely like intellectual honesty.

It just boggles the mind. re: Michael Jackson, though - I think it's weird how he really opportunistically is able to rally the black community. Here's a guy who's done little to nothing for the black community, despite his immense influence and wealth, but any time he's being hounded by the media, he's suddenly a paragon of the black community, and he's somehow able to marshall their support.


I dunno. It's odd, is all.

Arka Roy said...

Exactly, complete hypocrisy on the part of the right.

As for Michael Jackson, I agree, he has done squat for the black community. I think the reason he is able to marshall their support is because blacks may just be tired of unrelenting images of black criminality in the media.

I understand their feelings when a yet another high-profile black person gets arrested and they collectively pray for it not to be true.

I know because I feel the same thing in Japan when I read about foreigners being charged with a crime. The last thing we want is a backlast against us!


Seppo said...

Good point, for sure. It just feels to me sometimes like Michael Jackson exploits that feeling to marshall the support of a community that he otherwise does his best to avoid during the good times. Seems exploitative to me.