Posted by: JDM..... | August 14, 2013

Race cards & discrimination.….

part I ~ the race card….

The “Breaking News” crossed the screen like a series of mid-day stock quotations, Al Sharpton was once again grabbing photo ops while heading up an angry crowd, and the familiar TV talking heads were obediently couching their non-observations in excruciatingly neutered and Politically Correct terms. Millions of Americans were thus given license to say they had watched the six o’clock news even though the only things they could remember were the commercials.

This time, however, at least for me, the opposite was true. Addressing the issue at hand is no minor undertaking on my part, being of W.A.S.P. extraction and male to boot. The First Amendment for my kind began to encounter Newspeak restrictions before I finished college back in the Sixties, a time otherwise reputed to have been a bacchanal of unrestricted speech and behavior.

In addition to all of the positive changes that era launched for Americans, of course, were a few bruises and skid marks that just won’t seem to go away. One of those is the notorious “Race Card” and another is the bastardization of the word “discrimination”.

Let’s take a look at the issue of the RACE CARD.

As is normally the case in times of change, a lot of things were transpiring during the early years of the Civil Rights movement besides those directly attributable to one Rosa Parks having decided to sit where she damned well pleased on that Montgomery, Alabama bus back in 1955. The Vietnam War, the Women’s movement, and the general rejection of the pre-WW II culture by the emerging Baby Boomer generation were but a few. By the time I embarked upon my own seniority a whole lot of years later, those cakes had been baking for some three to four decades. Things are different now, to be sure, but as the language adapted to accommodate the emerging society, and clever new turns of phrase were coined, we became saddled with at least one tenacious byproduct that we would all be better off without.

The allegorical “Race Card” serves no useful purpose, and whether or not it ever did is open to debate. The term refers to the act of a “qualified” individual exploiting laws and regulations forbidding mistreatment of a person because of his or her “racial” affiliation in order to gain an edge. In this context, it isn’t about justice. The first problem is that the very issue of “race” itself defies consistent scientific explanation, a matter I address elsewhere. Legitimate or not, however, it is a real factor and is acknowledged on that basis here for the sake of argument.

The second issue is the matter of “race” being used as a shelter half a century after the first Civil Rights Act was passed. Unfair and unconstitutional treatment of citizens according to “race” was painfully real and widespread in the Fifties, and a series of “Civil Rights Acts” were enacted between 1957 and 1968 as part of the effort to end once and for all the lingering pockets of nineteenth century mentality. Such conditions were not limited to the South, either, though it was in the South that the more blatant “traditions” were supported by local laws.

Although the term was not yet a part of the lexicon during the early years, the allegorical use of the “Race Card” was, almost by definition, a legitimate action back then. After all, the new laws had been passed to address unfair and unlawful treatment on the basis of “race”, so it stands to reason that the matter would be mentioned when airing a grievance. But today, claiming the same unfair and unlawful treatment on the basis of “race” is rendered ridiculous by the very nature of the society as it exists now. Certainly there are still poverty stricken people of African heritage in America, just as there are poverty stricken people of all descriptions, but whereas differences were being measured in yards forty years ago or so, the gaps giving rise to outrage and shaking fists today are mere fractions of an inch by comparison. It’s no longer a matter of little Johnny being denied access to the local schoolhouse because he is “black”. It has become a matter of course to “pull the race card” virtually any time individuals of differing ethnic genealogies have a difference of opinion and the one of African heritage gets his or her feelings hurt.

There are those who would fault me for saying that, and might in fact even “pull the race card” on me for having had the audacity to even speak on such an issue. They would constitute Exhibit “A”. That is my point. Nevertheless, “race” is inserted as a contributing factor in all too many of the civil and criminal actions we read about today, and because those conditions that so marked the fifties and sixties no longer exist as “norms”, the playing of the “race card” is usually reduced to proving allegations of what an accused offender was or was not thinking or feeling at the time of the incident in question. The “act” itself is reduced to secondary significance.

This trend brought us the so called “hate crime”, which may serve as an illustration because criminal charges are sorted according to presumed attitudes of those accused of objectively describable crimes against “qualified” individuals, with “qualification” be awarded only to those belonging to recognized special interest groups.

We tread on thin ice indeed when we revert to legislating thoughts, emotions, and beliefs.

This plays into one of human nature’s weaker points, in that when Pete is ticked off at Joe, Pete can score a better win over Joe by claiming Joe “hates” him because of his race, religion, gender, gender preference, shoe size or favorite vegetable or whatever provides an edge in the eyes of the law. It is perhaps the most counterproductive and destructive family of laws we have enacted, and “hate crime” laws should be repealed as pointless and unconstitutional.

Not liking some people, or even harboring seething mountains of ill feelings about them is not against the law, although it doesn’t speak very highly of the one hauling such bilious baggage around with him. Beating another person is against the law, however, and should be vigorously prosecuted. Why one person assaults or commits some other illegal act against another does not enhance or diminish the act itself, even though it may generate differing emotional responses. We tread on thin ice indeed when we revert to legislating thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. Such jurisNONprudence has been the downfall of political systems and societies throughout history.

The “race card” has long outlived any justification it might once have enjoyed. People of African heritage now preside over industries and institutions where their grandparents were lucky to have landed a job sweeping the halls. We have a United States President of African heritage. It’s time we began to assess a person, his potential, his value, and the conduct of his life according to what he does, not on what or who he is, in all aspects. At this juncture, it may very well be the brandishing of the “race card” itself that impedes progress.

 

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