Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Monday, February 23, 2009

To Expand

I've had some time to mull it over and I'd like to expand on what I wrote Thursday. I think the point I was trying to get across in the last post is that the fact that most of us don't get into discussions of racial issues with our friends and peers on a daily basis is not emblematic of racial cowardice, but rather of widespread racial acceptance. I'm Irish, but when I hang out with someone of British ethnicity I don't feel the need to discuss Cromwell's repression of the Irish with them (or even the status of Northern Ireland) because it DOESN'T MATTER to either of us. I'd like to believe that, while this country's racial wounds are not entirely healed, and racism does still exist in isolated pockets of American society, most of us are simply OK with each other. I hope my black friends don't primarily see me as their "white friend", but rather as simply their friend, because that is honestly how I view them.

Of course, to say that to someone like Eric Holder is to be labelled either "naive", "willfully blind", or worse, unaware of my own deep racism. But I think it's the Eric Holders who are willfully blind. Racial grievance and ethnic politics are key pieces of American politics, and people like Holder refuse to accept how the vast majority of Americans feel because their own lives are hopelessly caught up in grievance-mongering and racial identity. Think about it. Whatever your views are on American society at large, how do you PERSONALLY feel about friends of another ethnicity or race? How do you think they feel about you? In my (admittedly limited) experience, most people see their friends as "the good guys" while holding on to the idea that society at large has widespread and severe racial problems. Well, maybe it's not true. Maybe your friends are the rule, and the bigots are the exception.