Saturday, October 30, 2010

Implied Progressive Racism? (part I)

During a discussion led by David Horowitz, he asked a Muslim American college student if she was for or against Hezbollah's stated goal that all Jews should gather in Israel so that he wouldn't have to hunt them down globally. In other words, Mr. Horowitz sought to determine if she supported the genocide of Jews. To this she responded she was "for it."

Can you imagine the protests, condemnations and calls for action if a Christian student called for the genocide of Jews or Muslims? Campus progressives would demand that the university reprimand the individual, make them attend diversity seminars and then investigate the "right wing Christian student groups" that incited them. Clearly not all individuals and communities are held to the same standards.

This hearkens me back to the Los Angeles Riots when mostly African-American and Hispanic mobs plundered predominantly Korean owned shops. Rather than condemn the (small minority of) individuals who chose to steal, a litany of socio-economic explanations were used to absolve them of their crimes. The first problem that we encounter with this narrative is that it fails to take into account the vast majority of African-Americans and Hispanics who chose to address their grievances in an intelligent, constructive fashion. And if one individual is responsible for their wise decisions, is not the other equally responsible for their foolish ones?

In the past when white mobs terrorized African-Americans and other groups, progressives correctly reproached them as individuals who were morally responsible for their abhorrent behavior. So, why then do most progressive narratives present minorities as passive groups, rather than as morally engaged individuals?

I believe that the problem is that many progressive can only conceptualize minorities as victims rather than perpetrators. And when they do acknowledge examples of hate and violence, usually it is explained away a response to socio-economic injustice. Of course I do not deny the existence of racism and injustice, but such explanations fundamentally reduce individuals to passive agents, products of their environment. By failing to treat individuals as active, intelligent moral agents who are responsible for their actions, we negate their individuality and treat them like children, an endeavor which is implicitly racist and demeaning.

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