You Have Insulted Me": Liberal Defenses of the Existing Racist System in the United States
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
"You have insulted me." This is probably one of the comments I have most often heard from my fellow liberals, used to defend against my criticisms of the existing racist system. But I have heard many more.
At one time I was the leader of an informal group of educated and driven friends that dealt with botany and to some extent other natural sciences. They would often become upset about my criticisms of the existing system of racial inequality. Indeed, upset to the point that the name calling and hostility became so great (and so nasty) that, for my own mental well-being, I had to leave the group that thereafter disbanded. (I went on to the Torrey Botanical Society and became the field chairperson there for seven years.) Below is a good sampling of some of the names they called me. (At the time I wrote these labels down because I knew at one time I would use them against my racist liberal friends.)
dispenser of "bull"
rejected book writer (failed book writer)
destroyer of social values and social structure
leaves no room for individual initiative and responsibility
needs to be patronized
I showed the non-racist history and political theory of the racist American system to several of my wifeís sociological professors at Fordham University. Now what were the comments of these supposedly very liberal people?
"I find it very insulting."
"I donít like it." (That is, It may be true, but I donít like it politically, so I donít accept or support it.)
"A theory that says all people are racist has no predictive validity." (Before the civil rights movement the white people in the Jim Crow South were virtually all racist, but varied as to the degree of intensity of this racism. And calling all of them racist is not valid?)
"Oh, there is just as much racism in other nations as there is in the United States." And then he went on about examples of racism in England. (But the racism in the United States is so all pervasive that it has made us almost a reactionary nation in political thought. Our Democratic Party is equivalent to the conservative parties in other advanced industrial societies.)
At Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, I was not hired to teach a course in introductory sociology because my approach to racism "would probably upset the white students too much." So in the interests of not challenging the racist system and accommodating to the existing racist system, it was better not to hire a heretic.
Such are the excuses. Liberals are so identified with the existing system that any challenge to that existing order is taken as a threat even to their own self-identities. And so they declare they have been "insulted" and turn red in the face and hurl criticisms and invectives.
I have written quite a few works criticizing the existing system of racial inequality in the United States. And I have even suggested other, more progressive, alternatives than the existing system.
And yet for all my hard work, I have received virtually no support from liberals or the liberal community. This refusal to consider or discuss the work by liberals in the United States caused me to wonder what the hell is wrong with American liberalism.
One cannot really see the truly limited nature of American liberalism, until one does think outside the system. Then one starts to see a different side of liberalism and liberals and their fierce attempts to deny their cooperation with a more racist society than they thought existed. Really thinking outside the box appears to be unthinkable to most of them.
Thinking about the results of thinking about the unthinkable proves the case of the serious limitations of liberal thought and liberals. Step outside the paradigm of what is really a liberal version of working within and cooperating with a racist system and one will feel the wrath of the liberals. I personally have found them to be almost completely close-minded and intolerant of other views.
In this discussion it might be useful to make a distinction between racism and racialist. By racism we can refer to the older fashioned racism that said that blacks were inherently inferior and racists had a negative physical reaction to people of color. And by racialist we can mean those persons who are not racist in the old sense, but still support the existing and continuing system of racial and ethnic inequality. The racialist may not make derogatory remarks about other racial groups, but will justify the existing unjust system by maintaining that the existing system really cannot be changed or that it cannot be changed by any of the plans suggested by any person who is trying to see ahead to a system almost free from racial inequality.
Frankly, I find most American liberals to be racialists. And I have seen what most liberals donít see: the nastiness of a liberal version of racism that passes for a non-racist liberalism.
I know that most liberals have no idea of how much they are completely controlled by the larger racist social system. They think they are free-thinking, forward looking individuals who are free to criticize the system. They do not see their own limitations.
They believe that they "think outside the box" and challenge the system, but they are really working within the limitations of liberal thought in a racist system.
Liberals accept the existing racialist system and feel good about themselves because they believe they are working "hard" or "somewhat hard" at improving the existing system. They refuse to consider a different kind of world, a different kind of society Ė one that is neither racist or racialist.
And why are liberals so obstinate in not considering a new approach to the problems of racial injustice? I think the answer is the same as for liberals in the Jim Crow era who merely expressed platitudes about racial justice. Then and now present liberals believe they are the good guys. And many of them have obtained their current positions in the civil rights/larger liberal community through much hard work.
For someone like a Vernon Johns or a Patrick Cooney to come along and criticize that liberal system that they have created, which they now have accepted and for which they will receive awards and rewards, leaves many of them apoplectic. They are somewhat self-satisfied and resent any criticism of their system. Who is this man Johns or Cooney to come along and criticize them, the ones who are the smartest and the brightest and who hold key positions in the civil rights bureaucracy and in the civil rights establishment?
But what our current racialists fail to see is that our modern liberals must be "insulted" to at least let them know there is an alternative to working within the confines of their racist box. And so I keep on writing in the hopes that one day some of them may come to their senses.
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