CHAPTER 2. WHY AMERICAN SOCIOLOGISTS ARE RACIST
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
American liberalism is a liberalism in a country that is more racist than sociologists ever imagined. The first slaves arrived in America in 1619. This is almost 400 years of racism and at present there is no sign that it will end anytime soon. For those 400 years the left in America has lived with racism. It has had two major upheavals, the first and second civil wars, to lessen the effects of racism, but America still continues to live with racism. While the more virulent forms of racism have been overcome, the United States remains a solidly racist country. Isn't it logical to question the economic-political motives of sociologists who consistently do too little-too late? After 400 years of failure, why isn't it time to question the left's basic approach to racism?
Sociologists Refuse to Recognize the Full and Complete Role of Racism
Sociologists are people of the political left. That might not be a problem if it were not for the fact that the left in America is racist. The left in America is racist because by denying the importance of race in affecting our values, ideas, thinking, and politics, the leftists constantly do too little too late to seriously challenge and reduce the levels of racism. Instead, the left talks about race as a social problem, assuming the basic structure of American government and society is acceptable in its larger dimensions.
There are some truths that are so painful that people either decide not to listen to, deny or ignore them. This is the situation with the variable of race. American intellectuals don't want to think about race so they tend to ("deliberately") misunderstand the nature of American racism. Every American thinker (except members of the Vernon Johns Society) has systematically denied that racism has had a major impact on the United States (beyond the obvious of affecting political outcomes.) Now, for every American thinker to deny the important role of race means that they all share a political philosophy in common (to a certain extent at least). They all deny the real role of race in American society. And in doing so, they all are racial or racist thinkers. This does not mean, as some sociologists have told us, that to call all American thinkers racist is to deny racism any validity. The traditional definition of the political spectrum in America along economic lines still applies; racist thinkers in America come from all the different points of the political spectrum: extreme right wing, conservative, liberal, and Marxist. But they all consistently and deliberately underestimate the role of race in American society.
American liberals, including sociologists, always underestimate, and therefore fail to anticipate, the resistance to racial reforms, such as the resistance in the two reconstruction periods in American history. In fact, sociology's record is a miserable failure in this regard. Why is it not appropriate to question the motives of people who consistently fail to predict this considerable resistance? Currently, sociologists are supporting a new form of racial separatism under the cover of multiculturalism. And in the name of multiculturalism, they are censoring any non-racist alternatives to this way of thought. One has to question the motives of sociologists who will not support any alternatives to the multicultural separatist system.
Sociologists once found Booker T. Washington acceptable -- an acceptance that was politically motivated. The Southerners sought a black man who would symbolize that Reconstruction was over and who could be considered an ally against Northerners and internal enemies, such as populists and labor organizers. They saw Washington as the black spokesperson who could reassure them against the renewal of racial strife. And Northern whites wanted a black leader who could give them a respite from the eternal race problem. They too were ready to declare an end to Civil War and Reconstruction (Harlan 1972:227). If we can question the motivations of those who accepted Booker T. Washington, then why isn't it logical to question the motivation of current sociologists for accepting today's current multicultural separatism?
Sociologists and Other Liberals Do Not Really Understand How the Racist System Works
Liberals don't understand fully the terrible nature of the system. The discrimination against blacks, reinforced by stereotypes and prejudice, actually creates a reality for blacks so ugly that whites are scared of their own creation. This then reinforces stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. But that is the way racist whites designed and want the system to work. (Except that it is working too damn well and creating too much crime even for them.)
Sociologists are too involved in trying to refute every conservative statement made by conservatives to step back and gain some objectivity on the system. If they would do so they would find that the system is actually nastier than they knew. For instance, Feagin and Vera (1996:29) complain that a reporter tried to make the case that white fear was realistic by citing data on black over representation in crime. The fact is that white fear is realistic. It is realistic because of the devastating nature of the treatment of blacks by whites. If people are treated terribly they will act terribly. Blacks do have higher crime rates. This is a sociological fact. But rather than run from this data as most sociologists do, we embrace it as proof of the racism of the system.
The higher propensity for crime combined with black anger and resentment means that whites will continue to be very careful around blacks. Even Jesse Jackson said that he was very careful around young black males, not because he is a racist, but because he understands the damage done to blacks by the racist system.
The liberal lack of knowledge of how the system works is illustrated by Andrew Hacker's test for racism that he used on one of the talk shows on television. Hacker asked which elevator would you go into if confronted with two cars arriving at the same time, one filled with young white males and the other with young black males. He claimed that if you chose the car with the white males you are prejudiced and therefore racist. What nonsense! We would choose the car with the white males every time not because we are racists, but because we, unlike Hacker, understand fully the cruel and devastating nature of America's racist system.
Sociologists Continue to Talk about Racism as Attitudes and Not Structure
Racism is more structure than attitude. America has lived with racism for almost 400 years and it is embedded in every aspect of its life. People often do not want to change because it costs them too much to change. And this applies not just to conservatives. One has to ask if middle class black and white sociologists are not subject to the same concerns -- that is, they also are too comfortable with their positions of influence to change their thinking.
The truth of the matter is that most people are conformists. They want to have a peaceful, happy life and to have this life they conform to whatever norms and structures exist at any given time (see Ogburn 1961). If they live in a racist society, they adapt to that society. In a racist society, it is most rational to be racist. If that racist society can be replaced with a non-racist one, they will happily adapt to that society.
Sociologists constantly mention that the United States is becoming a multiculturalist nation because of massive influxes of immigrants. However, given that racism is structural and not attitudinal, there is every indication that the more talented portion of these new immigrant groups will just adapt to the given system and live within it. They will then have economic motives for not giving a greater share of the economic pie to the underclass.
Sociologists Have Helped Strengthen the Racial Caste System
The sociologists have been major players in pushing multiculturalism as a philosophy and policy approach. They have provided the justification and the apology for a new form of racial separatism in the vein of Booker T. Washington. The United States government in cooperation with social scientists and educators has built a stronger caste system, one that doles out rewards to a very few on the basis of race and ethnicity, as did the Booker T. Washington separate but equal system. (Actually, Booker T. Washington was a better person than those sociologists who presently work for multicultural separatism. In secret, Booker T. worked to promote integration at the very same time he publicly worked for the separate but equal system. But our multicultural separatists of today do not work in secret for integration. They have told the entire world that integration does not work and therefore have given up on it and now support separatism.) When the government starts handing out rewards on the basis of race and ethnicity, they have now created an economic incentive for the various racial/ethnic groups to become super-racial or super-ethnic and stress their differences rather than the common interests that bind us all. Indeed, one could say that sociologists are working for racism, not against it!
Celebrating racial/ethnic separatism leads to contentment among sociologists and others. As sociologists, they are heroes in a system based on racial and ethnic separatism. After all, are not they the experts in the field dealing with race and ethnic groups? In their contentment with the status quo, they censor any attempts to criticize the caste status quo and to start a new civil rights movement. The fact is that sociologists have a conflict of interests. They support a separatist system that in turn rewards them with monies to do racial/ethnic studies that are then used to further bolster the caste system. They are, in a sense, corrupted by the very system they helped create.
The strategy of ethnic minorities, although couched in wonderful sounding rhetoric, is actually racist in nature. There is the rhetoric of sociology and there is the reality of how American society actually works. By spouting non-racist terminology, non-white ethnic minorities can disguise what is really going on and use the economic benefits from the multicultural caste system to step over the blacks, all with the blessing of black sociologists. One would be hard put to think of a more diabolical scheme.
There is very little difference between the racism of white sociologists and black sociologists. It may be that black sociologists are even more perverted than white sociologists, precisely because they support multicultural separatism to a greater extent than their white counterparts. And, in this sense at least, black sociologists are actually less open to alternative ways of thinking than white sociologists. Black and white sociologists at one time supported Booker T. Washington. Black sociologists seem to be back again supporting racist separatism. The multiculturalist impulse in sociology has contributed to the splitting off of African-American studies from sociology and the consequent denigration of racial/ethnic studies in sociology itself. So there is even separatism within the discipline. What idiocy won't sociologists support? For instance, the New Leftist/multiculturalist impulse has brought about the absolute lunacy of Afrocentrism (see Lefkowitz 1996).
It is helpful to point out the subtle racism of white Americans. But what is not helpful is the implication that racism has a specific color. The racism of "white" racism is actually what is best described as sociological racism. Biology is no longer the dominant paradigm used to support the various degrees of racism. Rather the language of biology has been replaced by sociological terminology. We, black, yellow, white, and brown, are all participants in a racist society, and we all have to manifest appropriate attitudes to exist within that racist society. Sociologists concentrate on other peoples' racism while being unaware of their own.
How do sociologists justify their support for separatism? Many of them don't. Rather they continue to hide behind the myth that liberal/New Left/multicultural sociologists are "objective" in their work. But this is just one of the most blatant lies used to hide the fact that they are actually very political beings. To support separatism is not being objective, it is being highly political.
The real perfidy of multiculturalism is that sociologists are doing their utmost to try to make the word multicultural synonymous with tolerance and live-and-let-live. They are trying to make it nearly impossible for anyone in the future to dissent from multiculturalism because it would be equivalent to dissenting from tolerance itself.
Sociology has had a bad influence on political debate in America. They have polarized the nation with their insistence of replacing the old economic political continuum with one based on positions on racial matters. And they have thereby weakened the very people they say they support: the liberals in the Democratic Party.
Sociologists: Comfortable in a Segregated Society
James B. McKee (1993) writes of the sociological work on race as a failure. One of the reasons he cites for this is the inability of people to see beyond the self-interests of their own time and place -- their social context. We would argue that human beings were evolutionarily designed not to see beyond their social context, because to do so would bring ostracism from the group (which, in turn, led to death). In the social evolution of human beings they had to develop all sorts of deceptions and denials and wishful thinking just in order to survive. Do something wrong and see watch how fast the person is ostracized. And since human beings often do something wrong, they have learned all types of deception. The end result is that most people, even the educated ones, are "sheep" that follow within the larger guidelines of their society. It is only the odd-ball thinker who has the combination of the right biological makeup together with at least some courage/persistence and the right set of environmental circumstances who challenges the system and thereby makes a breakthrough in creative thought. (We recognize that this reference to biology runs up against the sociological prejudice against evolutionary theory, but refer to it because it is factually correct, even if not politically correct.)
Sociologists are educated people compared to most of their fellow Americans, but the key word in "educated people" is the word "people," not "educated." Human beings are very weak creatures and are subject to all sorts of self-interested thinking. The trouble here for educated persons like sociologists is that, as people, those denial qualities limit their and everyone else's ability to think freely of their social context. That's why the vast majority of even the educated people are prisoners of their times -- not to mention that any new thinker is most often punished economically and socially for not going along with the society.
Sociologists write beautiful words of equality and mutual understanding, but their actions of support for separatism and their censorship of alternative perspectives show that they are racist at heart. There is an old saying that talk is cheap. And nothing could be much cheaper than the multicultural sociologists' praise of themselves as wonderful people working for racial and ethnic harmony. In reality, the vast majority of sociologists live in a segregated world just like the majority of more privileged Americans. They are very comfortable in their segregated world. They live in segregated neighborhoods; send their children to largely segregated schools; work at universities and other occupations where the higher positions are dominated by whites; and have friends and associates characteristic of a segregated world. They are enjoying their lives within the racist system. Given all this, it does not seem so far-fetched to suggest that part of the inability of sociologists to realize the true nature of racism is their own high degree of creature comfort in American society.
Sociologists never see their own hypocrisy, for sociological (and liberal) theory makes it possible for sociologists to have their cake and eat it too. They can feel good about themselves as regards racial/ethnic matters and yet not really have to sacrifice at all to feel so good. When going to conferences in different cities, sociologists currently love to talk about the multiculturalism of the host city and all the great ethnic restaurants in which they can eat. This obvious feel-good contentedness does not seem to disturb any of the readers of the ASA Footnotes.
Sociologists do not want to see their own racism. They are too happy and comfortable in their sense of superiority to their fellow Americans. And the fact is that many of them have built reputations supporting the lies of New Leftism/multiculturalism. It would be too unpleasant for them to consider that they have been contributing to racism rather than resisting it. It is in their self-interest to stick with and further promote multicultural separatism. Their self-images and academic reputations depend on continued support for separatism.
There is another old saying: You can deal it out, but you can't take it. Sociologists love to call other people racists. They pride themselves on pointing out where racism still lurks. But using the "R" word in application to the sociological discipline brings shock and disbelief to sociologists. Many close their minds as soon as the "R" word is applied to them. A common defensive tactic is to become so offended at being "personally" insulted by being called racist that they do not consider the charge at all, except to censor it. They get this "sincere" indignation that prevents them from really considering just how much they adhere to sociological racism.
Because sociologists are lying about race, and because race is such a fundamentally important factor in American society and politics, they are also lying about almost every major assumption of the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. No matter how much certain sociologists try to tell the larger sociological community that they are ignoring the truth, they continue to ignore it. You can point out that there is no American dilemma, that it is merely a case of the liberal's having their cake and eating it too. But they are not listening. This is just one more way that sociologists continue their racism.
Sidney Wilhelm (1973) wrote a very provocative article on equality as America's racist ideology, but the sociologists merely ignored it. They pretended it was never written and went on with their racist thinking and writings. Wilhelm got so discouraged that he dropped out and became a pig farmer. Maybe he thought to himself, if sociologists are just to write racist articles and books, better it be left to others.
Sociologists will also not take responsibility for their actions. Many New Left sociologists participated in or condoned political events such as the riots at the 1968 Democratic Party National Convention in Chicago that fostered political backlash. They, however, refuse to take any responsibility for bringing on this backlash. The irresponsible and provocative rhetoric of sociologists in their writings, speeches, and conversations gives conservatives a great deal of political ammunition. Given the rhetoric of sociology, conservatives can easily denounce them as anti-American and this sounds a responsive chord in the larger public.
Sociologists Have Lost Their Edge
When one looks at the African-American section of book stores one sees book after book written about what James Baldwin called "feel good" stories. The vast majority of today's books dealing with African-Americans are in this feel good tradition that describes how wonderful is African culture in general and various African-American heroes are or were. There is nothing wrong with promoting African-American heroes. There is, however, something wrong when no books critical of the status quo are being published. And there is something very upsetting is watching intellectuals basically study their own navels.
The books written in the multicultural vein are also pretty much in this same feel good tradition. It is an approach that just reinforces the comfortableness of the reader with the racial caste system and in that sense these various hero stories separatist tales.
Sociology As a Sect
Today multicultural sociology is like a sect dominated by a New Leftism converted into racial/ethnic separatism. Like most sects, sociology recruits strange people on the political fringe, often ones with chips on their shoulders. These people are alienated from the larger society, but actually support, rather than offer any useful alternatives, to the racial/ethnic caste system in America. These strange people then write "politically correct" reports supporting multicultural separatism and censor any "politically incorrect" reports.
Sociologists worship the politics of the moment. Lacking a long range historical perspective, they do not take seriously the old phrase that "This too shall pass." Ways of thinking such as these make sociologists into little more than contemporary politicians. Instead of defending their liberal political views, they should be taking a longer range perspective, focusing on the larger cycles of history and preparing for the next cycle of civil rights initiatives that will change American society.
Part of being in a sect is being socially isolated. Multiculturalism has been largely rejected by the American electorate. This has left sociologists feeling more isolated and paranoid. Rather than adjust their moral compass, the sociologists have chosen to live even more in their hallucinogenic dream world of multicultural separatism.
Sociologists are much like the Southerners we knew as children during the civil rights struggle. We looked around and thought "These people are crazy." They've built up this whole system of lies that they all believe in unequivocally. One could not speak the truth in the white South for fear of the Southerners' hostility, prejudice, and possible violence. These days we have much the same feeling about our fellow sociologists. Sociologists are living in a dream world. How ridiculous are these people who think they can make Americans accept one hundred plus different cultures as equal to traditional American culture when they have never been able even to convince Americans not to dislike, hate, or fear black Americans?
Members of a sect primarily talk to each other and get their sense of truth from the sect. This is largely true of sociologists who are highly isolated socially from the larger society. While the majority of the electorate are to the right of the old liberal position, the vast majority of sociologists are to the left of the majority. And as in any sect, this isolation does not bother the members of the sociology sect, but rather feeds their sense of moral superiority to the larger society. This sense of moral superiority is unjustified, of course, but members of the sociological sect have no idea of this. They are insulated by their own isolation of thought and social interaction from checking their ideas with the larger world. They cannot monitor themselves to regulate their degree of misperception of reality. In a sense, there are no checks and balances on the system of sociological thought.
Since sociologists feed off one another, it is somewhat like the blind leading the blind. One sect member checks his or her thought with other sect members and, even though the whole process is skewed and off-kilter, their own thoughts get reinforced. The dissenter from this perspective is told to be quiet. If the dissenter does not refrain from speaking, then stronger sanctions are applied. In sociology, the most common action is for a dissenting paper to be returned with a form letter with no comment at all. There is a wall of silence from the censors, so the dissenter is often bewildered as just what is wrong with the paper. The paper or papers are sent in again and again and meet the same wall of silent rejection. At this point, most dissenters would be cowed into silence, but if the dissenter is rash enough and calls the sociology sect members on their bias, the sociologists begin to act like an employer accused in a racial discrimination suit.
In a sect as large as sociology, there occur natural cliques of "scholarship." These cliques only let ideologically conforming members into their group. Dissenters are not allowed to speak. The members of the clique publish each others papers, cite each others' works, and write letters of recommendation and commendation for each other, all the while not at all being aware that they are living a life of pseudo-social science.
Sociology, like most sects, are isolated from and hostile to the larger society. Many sect personnel are hateful to the outside world and constantly bad-mouth it. Similarly, sociologists have a special argot that they use. Part of this special argot is to use provocative language, such as cultural "genocide" for the traditional process of assimilation. Sociologists have their own language of multicultural separatism that has been rejected by an electorate who now feels that even the word "liberal" is too far to the political left. The larger world sees the sociologists as largely irrelevant and will only allow them to speak on television on specific micro studies, rather than let them comment on macro approaches to society wide problems. The larger world sees the sociologists as somewhat crazy -- as people who talk only amongst themselves with their special vocabulary of separatism. And the larger public sees sociologists as liberals who have nothing good to contribute..
Sociologists' Resistance to the Third Civil Rights Movement
For the authors, the real proof of just how racists American sociologists are has come in trying to resist the dominance of neo-segregationism in the discipline by proposing a neo-integrationist approach that is in line with the truth. For over ten years we have fought to get our ideas published with very little success. American sociologists have consistently engaged in censorship. In fact, our main thesis, that America's political changes only occur within an overwhelmingly racist society, has still not been permitted to be published by sociology professors and editors. Sociologists have noted the ongoing racism of white Americans with their contradictory positions of nominally supporting racial tolerance while being very critical of nearly all the measures designed to overcome America's racist structures. Sociologists have a similar contradiction between words and action. The overwhelming resistance from the sociological community to attempts to fight the ever-growing neo-segregationism, marked by their arrogant and close-minded attitude that they already have the truth, is proof that their sociological liberalism is a racist liberalism.
Feagin, Joe and Hernan Vida
1996 White Racism: The Basics. New York: Routledge.
1996 Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. New York: Basic Books.
McKee, James B.
1993 Sociology and the Race Problem: The Failure of a Perspective. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Ogburn, William Field
1961 "Social change and racial relations." Pp. 200-207 in Jitsuichi Masuoka and Preston Valien (eds.), Race Relations, Problems and Theory: Essays in Honor of Robert E. Park. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Willhelm, Sidney M.
1973 "Equality: America's racist ideology." Pp. 136-157 in Joyce A. Ladner (ed.), The Death of White Sociology. New York: Random House.
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