The American left are currently cock-a-whoop that lynching has finally been made a Federal crime, linking the passage of the bill directly to the murder of Emmett Till. Which begs the question: why pass a statute for a crime that hasn’t been reported for nigh on forty years, or link it to a case from 65 years ago? Why indeed, is there even a need to outlaw what is already clearly outlawed (kidnapping, torture, murder)?
The answer is two simple words: race baiting.
Put simply, the left are obsessed with race and with keeping alive at all costs the notion that racism is a bubbling stew of hate that indelibly stains not just the United States but everything that is white and masculine.
This is, not to put too fine a point on it, utter garbage. Global surveys show that Western nations are the least racist in the world. Data from dating site OKCupid suggests that women are more “racist” than men. These surveys have their limitations of course: after all, sexual preference for one race need not involve actively disliking others. But the pattern is clear: racism is not a white, male problem, especially in the United States.
So, why are the left so obsessed with racism in defiance of all the facts?
Firstly, because race and racism is the modern left’s founding myth.
The left wing that we see today was founded in the early 1960s and its raison d’etre was civil rights. Not Vietnam, not communism, not free love. As Bryan Burroughs’ Days of Rage clearly documents, the be-all and end-all of the “Movement” was civil rights. “This was never about the war,” states Weather Underground leader Howie Machtinger. “Race comes first, always first,” agrees radical attorney Elizabeth Fink.
It is no surprise and certainly no discredit that civil rights was the foundational motivation of the modern left. In the mid-1950s the children of the post-War Baby Boom experienced a painful awakening. Raised on the notion of America’s unique goodness, Brown v. Board of Education, the Montgomery bus boycotts and, yes, the murder of Emmett Till, made them suddenly, shockingly aware that a rottenness of which they had been all but completely ignorant festered in America’s heart.
Civil rights was a noble struggle – and it was won. With surprising swiftness. Within a decade, Jim Crow was gone and civil rights were law. The Klan, already dwindled to barely 0.1% of its former membership, rapidly ceased to be a significant force. Institutional racism in the US was dead and social racism was making its last gasp. Archie Bunker was an anachronistic joke figure rather than conventional wisdom.
A problem solved is an existential crisis for an activist.
Therein lay the problem for the left. A problem solved is an existential crisis for an activist. By the 1970s, the left faced the choice of either conceding that it had won, or digging in and fighting on, even if the enemy had ceased to exist. Like Japanese holdouts who fought on in the Pacific long after the end of WWII, the left simply refused to believe that the war against racism in the United States was over. For some, it was a matter of clinging to a crumbling world-view.
Then, in the late 1980s, the left hit on new strategies that would keep their golden goose alive for as long as they could ever want. Intersectionality and neo-Marxism declared that all politics and society were nothing but power-struggles between identity groups, race above all.
The left had discovered the lifeline that never runs out and they’ve been playing it to the hilt ever since.
More importantly, “anti-racism” is the left’s fundamental moral litmus test. If racism is bad, then it illogically follows, by the pretzel-logic of the left, that all bad people are racist. In their Manichean world-view, the left, as Jim Goad says, “are drunk on the notion of their moral irreproachability”. If the left are anti-racist and good, therefore, then the right must be racist and bad.
Besides, as even the dimmest bulbs of the left have figured out, as they survey the smoking ruins of the Soviet Union, Romania, Cuba and Venezuela, they’ve lost every other political and economic argument. They need to cling desperately to the moral high ground somehow.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why, as soon as you try to debate a leftist they start screaming “racist!” at you, wonder no more.
You’re just a bad person and they’re not.