Saturday, October 5, 2013

Have We Evolved Beyond Racism?


First, consider the biological reason. The brain physiology underlying our minds has not evolved appreciably since the stone age. Not only every race but every tribe considered itself chosen by God to kill the others. There has not been enough time for our brains to have undergone significant biological evolution. We have their stone age brains.

Second, the cultural reason. Surely we have evolved beyond ancient mindsets by cultural evolution? I am afraid that the answer here, also, is no. Certainly, we have made progress in the past 150 years. But we have not left racism behind. Instead we have just pushed it into our subconscious minds. It still calls the shots in many cases, and often determines what we do, but we may not be aware of it.

The major example of which we Americans, and observers from around the world, are aware is the utter determination of the Republican Party (which is disproportionately white compared to the American population) to destroy Barack Obama. They were confident that Mitt Romney would win the 2012 election. When Obama won re-election, the Republicans went to Plan B: destroy Obama. I consider their subconscious motivation to be racism. Here’s why.

Obama is a lame duck. There is no political need to destroy Obama; if Republicans succeed, they will have President Joe Biden. (Similarly, Democrats held back from impeaching George W. Bush, not wishing to have President Dick Cheney.) If there is no political reason to destroy him, then there must be a personal reason.

How do we know that the Republican attacks on Obama are not merely politically motivated? We know this because we can scientifically test this hypothesis: If the Republican hatred of Barack Obama were politically motivated, then they would hate him less than they hated Bill Clinton. But, as it turns out, they hate him much much more.

And the evidence for this? There are, as I see it, three differences between Bill Clinton (while he was president) and Barack Obama. They are as follows.

First, Barack Obama has high ethical standards than Bill Clinton did as president. Instead of having a Monica Lewinsky hanging around him, Obama is a morally upright husband and father. The Obama family is the picture-perfect American family. (In this way Obama also compares favorably to John F. Kennedy.) This should be a reason that Republicans, who claim to be God’s representatives of purity and morality upon the face of this sordid planet, would like Obama better than Clinton. Therefore the ethical difference between Clinton and Obama cannot be the reason for Republican hatred of Obama.

Second, Barack Obama is more politically and fiscally conservative than Clinton. Republicans decry Obamacare as socialist, but it is much, much less socialist, and incorporates more market forces, than did the ill-fated 1993 health care plan proposed by Bill Clinton. Republicans reacted strongly against the Clinton plan, but not with the ferocity of their attack on Obama. Obama’s comparative fiscal conservativeness should be a reason that Republicans would like Obama better than they liked Clinton. Therefore the political difference between Clinton and Obama cannot be the reason for Republican hatred of Obama.

A third difference is race. Clinton is white and Obama is black (actually, biracial, but he identifies with his black heritage). This is the only reason that I can think of that would make Republicans hate Obama worse than they hated Clinton. And it is clearly a personal, intense hatred.

Of course, Republicans forced a government shutdown during the first Clinton Administration also. The federal government shut down all but emergency services twice: from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996, a total of 28 days. As of tomorrow, the 2013 government shutdown will have reached the same number of days as the first shutdown, in November of 1995. Republicans appear resolved to continue the shutdown even if it means defaulting on contractual funds on October 17. And this time, we have all seen evidence of the extreme antipathy that Republicans have showed toward Obama. They have shown him the kind of disdain that slavery advocates—from the Union states, the confederate states having seceded—showed Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

As further evidence that Republican antipathy is not merely political, consider that the Republicans could achieve their aims in a constitutional manner. They could pass a bill repealing Obamacare in both the house and senate, and have the president sign it. He won’t, because he won re-election in 2012 largely on the issue of Obamacare. The constitutional way for Republicans to have their way would have been to win the 2012 election. Instead, they pass laws creating programs then refuse to fund those same programs.

I believe that in the long run American history will evaluate Obama the same way as it depicts Lincoln. At the time, many strong voices attacked Lincoln as a dictator who wanted to ruin the United States by giving black people the rights of citizenship. Today, those voices are buried in the dustbin of history under a patina of disgust. Similarly, I believe, the Republican voices of our day will be derided in the same way as are the 1865 voices in support of slavery. The party of angry old white men, and a few angry young white men, and a very very small number of angry Latinos and blacks, will dwindle into an insignificance from which their stockpiles of guns cannot resurrect them.

There are other ways in which Republican positions have racist effects. Global warming is caused by carbon emissions from human activity, for which white industrial nations are largely responsible. But most of the burden of famine and disease will be borne by nations dominated by people of color, especially in Africa. Republicans, I assume, do not hold their global warming denialism with racist intent. But subconsciously they might be thinking, who cares about a bunch of Africans?

Of course, Republicans will claim they are not racists. And they may honestly believe they are not. But I conclude for the above reasons that racism is operating in their subconscious minds. We are all cavemen in modern clothes, some of us more than others.

No comments:

Post a Comment