Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Classical Liberal (Libertarian) Approach To Fighting Racism

Pictured Above: The Great Martin Luther King JR.

As someone who detests the evils of racism and sexism, I very much looked forward to taking a pedagogy class which included an anti-bias curriculum. But, early on in the class I discovered that the curriculum was heavily ideological and used as a platform to promote other political and cultural agendas. Present in this vision was the belief that the American Way was innately racist and oppressive. The driving vision of this class was a multicultural ideology that indirectly encouraged teachers to view their students as members of groups, rather than unique individuals.Among the agendas that it promoted was a curricular transformation that encouraged teachers to de-emphasize "eurocentric literature" with a "white male perspective." While these view points are worthy of debate, one need not adopt them in order to live a life free of prejudice and discrimination. In fact, the strong vein of Cultural Marxism present in anti-bias curricula has done much to dissuade well meaning Americans from embracing its otherwise reasonable message.

Perhaps what I find most troubling about some university level anti-racist programs is their invasive focus on addressing "incorrect" private thoughts, attitudes and ideologies, rather than concrete behaviors. The University of Delaware's  resident life program  even bore resemble to a Maoist era struggle session, in which participants had to confess and atone for their prohibited thoughts. New students faced one-on-one interviews, in which they were questioned by their Resident Assistants (RA) on their views on race, gender, sexuality and the environment. The secession included deeply invasive questions like "when did you discover your sexual identity" and "race?" If the purpose of these invasive sessions were to facilitate open debate and exploration, perhaps they might have been acceptable, but their stated goals were for students to accept preordained conclusions like "systemic oppression exists in our society" and to "recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression." Even more troubling was the fact that RAs wrote up and delivered reports to their superiors, with one student even being written up for stating that she was "tired of having diversity shoved down her throat." 

An approach to anti-bias and anti-racism that is more effective with and attractive to Americans is one that invokes the spirit of Classical Liberalism (Libertarianism), which affirms the importance of individual (economic and social) liberty and rule of law. A key component in the success of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was his ability to present racism as a failure to realize the American Way; for what can be more Anti-American than preventing others from enjoying "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? The engine for progress in the treatment of African-Americans has not been radical efforts to reject or redefine the Great American Vision, but to fully realize it, so that all Americans can enjoy its spiritual and material fruits. And without invoking multiculturalism and other divisive ideologies, we can and should call upon our fellow Americans to reject racist behavior as an affront to civility, fairness and individualism. 

While the constitution protects individual liberty from state and private oppression, it also guarantees freedom of belief and freedom of expression, even for those who hold racist and "incorrect" beliefs. Accordingly, most classical liberals (libertarians) are not so focused on the beliefs that one may hold about groups, but in the manner in which they behave towards individuals. For example, I am not so concerned about the "improper" beliefs that some of my clients hold about my group (Jews), because they fairly treat me as an individual. How is this possible, you may ask? An observant and intellectually honest person can recognize trends that they may or may not like about any given group, while still affirming the uniqueness of each individual and treating them accordingly. When I posed this very question to a client of mine who engages in racist rants against virtually every group, yet has employed and even befriended: African-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Polish and Jewish individuals, his response was "I may be racist, but I am not Stupid!!!" This seemingly paradoxical view highlights the fact that participation in a competitive free market is a far more effective antidote to racist behavior than hours of indoctrination at the University of Delaware. 

I will close this post with a thoughtful speech by Dr. Ron Paul that elaborates on the hazards that even well meaning collectivist campaigns against racism hold and reaffirms the surest protection being an affirmation of individual liberty:

"Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called “diversity” actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist. The true antidote to racism is liberty. Liberty means having a limited, constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than group claims. Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence, not skin color, gender, or ethnicity."

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