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.