Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Seeking Alienation," Ch. 26 from BUT...AT WHAT COST

I find it very hard to believe the Left isn’t accomplishing exactly what it set out to accomplish – more alienation among the races. To think otherwise I would have to believe they are stupid, and I certainly don’t believe they are stupid!

The special treatments designed to help blacks in the sixties were probably well-intentioned policies. I know they were for me and most Democrats; however, after decades of declining results, it seems to me these policies should have been questioned and analyzed. Well, many of us did just that… and are called “racists” for our conclusions. It didn’t matter that we were trying desperately to solve the problems in the ghettos; it only mattered that we appeared to be “blaming the victims,” and not just those nasty white people.

We were, indeed, blaming the so-called “victims”… but not because we are racists. We believe personal successes and failures are much more dependent on the personal choices one makes than on any presumed pain a racial event might inflict. We don’t see black people as “victims.” We see them as we see everyone else – as independent people, responsible for their own choices. We don’t make allowances based on skin color or ethnicity; we might make allowances for temporary or “special” circumstances like illness, but we don’t presume neediness based on group membership. We judge each black individual by the same standards we judge everybody else. It’s the very antithesis of showing a bias.

Granted, I‘ve never experienced racial prejudice, but I have experienced anti-smoking prejudice and anti-Tea-Party prejudice. Is racial prejudice any more hurtful than any other kind of prejudice? Prejudice toward me tends to make me angry, not hurt. I don’t believe the epithet; I reject it… and the person who offers it. I move on, and in my experience, that’s what most people do when they encounter a jerk. Don’t get me wrong – when the prejudice is perceived as a majority opinion (such as the anti-smoking bias in today’s culture) it can instigate a behavior change in many. It can also do the opposite and strengthen one’s own contrary convictions. You never know.

Anyway, to initiate a behavior change, a belief usually needs to be seen as a majority belief. Otherwise, we merely reject the naysayer as a jerk. That’s the problem now. Instead of rejecting a few racist comments as the ravings of an ignorant jerk or two, the culture has been trained to believe there are racist jerks everywhere. The Democrats achieved that by changing the definition of “racist” to include anyone who describes a difference (a Pakistani with a turban), stereotypes, or says an unacceptable word in anger or in conversation. The list of PC rules for white people is very, very long, now. No wonder all conversation has stopped. White people are scared to death to open their mouths… which, I might add, can also be perceived as racist. It’s a “no win” situation for all of us.

Many chapters ago, I promised a more thorough look at race relations before and after the early sixties, from my perspective of having worked and played with black people both before and after. I don’t pretend any knowledge of how anyone else “felt” – only what they said or didn’t say.

I said previously that I wasn’t particularly aware of racism before I was sixteen. That is not to say it didn’t exist in overt forms; it just hadn’t registered with me. When I was about thirteen (1955), I brought a black friend home for us to do homework together. My grandmother (looking rather harried), explained she was sorry, but we had to go somewhere, so Gayle couldn’t stay. After Gayle left, I asked Gram, “Where are we going?”

She said, “Nowhere. We can’t have coloreds visiting us; what will the neighbors think?”

I don’t remember my response, or if I even had one. That I recall this event is significant in that it certainly made an impression on me, but apparently, I accepted Gram’s excuse as a normal one. I had no reason to doubt Gram’s explanation. She did not display any animus; she wasn’t angry or rude; she simply was worried about what the neighbors would think. I don’t know which neighbors she was worried about or why she assumed they’d be a problem… or if they actually would have cared, but it was her perception that they would.

I’m assuming Gayle had to have felt rejected (and hurt or angry), and I’m not discounting her perception at all, but neither did she know the whole story. Gram had rejected her and that was bad, but it wasn’t as bad as Gayle might have perceived it to be. All of us were still learning how to get along, and were filled with misconceptions – many of which were generationally dictated.

I had no idea there would be a problem with bringing a black person home; my parents probably thought there might be a problem with some neighbors, but did invite them into our home anyway. Grandmother was living by the rules of a more segregated past: don‘t mingle socially.

The next incident will blow your mind – at least it blew mine. We were visiting Nana and Poppy, my father’s parents, and they were relating the story. If the reader will recall, Poppy was a lieutenant on the police force and a bigot. Nana was nicer. She didn’t get out much; I doubt if she had ever met a black person before this event: It was Christmastime and Poppy’s driver, a black patrolman, drove him home, as usual. Poppy invited him in for a drink to celebrate the season. As the story goes, they had a pleasant visit. Then Nana said to us, “Don’t worry I scalded the glass he used.”

Needless to say, my parents and I were flabbergasted. When he recovered, my dad said, “I don’t think that was necessary, Mother.”

It’s hard to imagine such profound ignorance, but it existed in many older white people of that era. I’m not sure how old I was then, maybe fifteen or sixteen, but in hindsight, I am absolutely blown away by the dichotomy of thought and action apparent in their behavior. I mean, how can you like a person enough, or be polite enough, to share your table and still think this “lesser” person might give you a disease? Absent cold symptoms, it makes no sense, but perhaps for many, that’s the way it was then. They didn’t know any better, but were learning, at least, to be polite.

I’ve already touched on my travels with the band and my experiences in high school regarding race relations, but there’s more… this time from this seventy-year-old white person’s perspective. Then, I was angry and emotional; now, I’m seeking logical explanations that better reflect the cultural influences of the times.

I no longer judge most white people from that era as evil or hateful as I did then. Yes, many were ignorant and/or out of touch with the realities, but not necessarily racist in the sense many black people may have perceived them to be. Their ignorance in many cases was due to a lack of positive exposures which allowed them to continue to embrace the old stereotypes. My son-in-law offered this assessment in the eighties when I said Nana might say the "N-word." “Well, it was when she was raised,” he said. And so it was. She was not an “evil person;” she was a product of the times. Andrew understood that then, but very few blacks who have been subjected to today’s political rhetoric seem to understand that now. It’s not about being “evil;” it’s about the language your peer group uses – and ignorance.

Granted, the South had a lot of catching-up to do, but all considered there was very little institutional or overt racism practiced in the North in the fifties. If my grandfather had been a true racist, he would not have invited his driver in for a drink any more than he would have invited in a criminal (black or white). He was, in fact, starting to judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. The biases he exhibited were more biases in language usage – just as I say “God help me,” even though I don’t believe in God. Good, bad, or completely illogical, we tend to use the language of our era and our cultural groups. Thus, for him, “N,” “Spic,” etc. were still terms he used – often with malice, but sometimes not.

In 1957, in upstate New York, Rod, my drummer friend, was elected vice-President of his class in a school that was over ninety percent white. His band (with two blacks, two whites and a white girl singer) traveled together without incident. We performed at country clubs, schools, Elks Clubs, wherever. Our rehearsals, as far as I could tell, had no topics that were off-limits. The room was elephant-free.

Debra Dickerson, a college professor and writer on race wrote that most black people wear masks when they’re with white people. If my friends did, they deserve Academy Awards for acting. Though Rod thought he wore a mask of sorts, I don’t think he did. Yeah, that’s very presumptuous of me, but I don’t think his “mask” was in place for all white people, just the white people for whom we all wore our masks – the hirers and firers. Many black people seem to forget that white people have to play these “fitting-in” games, too. My language changes, and even my behavior might change, in response to circumstances. We all do it – even Ashley creates a different persona sometimes... albeit not the one we might prefer.

My point is, not all that is assumed to be racism (or caused by racism) is racism. Not then, and especially, not now!

Many black people in our current culture see racism everywhere. Some of their assumptions of prevalence come naturally as a result of their own experiences with ignorant jerks. It is natural for sensitivities to bloom with any racial incident. However, now we all are bathed in tales of presumed racist behavior every day… which tends to further the perception of prevalence. Five powerful groups of people operating in our culture today are hell-bent on maintaining that false perception.

The first group is comprised of the charlatans – the Sharptons and the Jacksons of our country. They have a huge stake in maintaining the perception of black victimhood in America. It’s how they make their livings and why their opinions are largely discounted by reasonable people (unless it suits their own agenda to quote them). This group strongly influences the beliefs of uninformed black people. They are listened to and believed.

Worse influences, perhaps, are the opinions spouted by more “acceptable” representatives, like villains number two, three, and four: journalists, academics and entertainers (including screen writers and producers). Even informed folks tend to believe them without questioning their motivations. These groups are generally trusted because it’s assumed they are objective observers, but are they?

Some are well-meaning, but politically ignorant do-gooders as I was for years, some have a purely political, often socialist agenda, and some are just looking for a good story. Few are objective, thoughtful observers or reporters of reality. To my mind, their assessments of any situation rely much more on their almost religious-like adherence to politically-correct orthodoxies than to any common-sense assessment of the facts. Think about the Martin/ Zimmerman case. Before any investigation into the facts, most of the media reported it as a racial incident simply because the two involved were of different races. NBC outlets were particularly dishonest in their reporting. Someone there edited out critical parts of Zimmerman’s conversation with the police to make him seem like a racist.

Imagine yourself in a similar situation of reporting a suspicious person in your neighborhood which was plagued with break-ins by black youths. When asked about the race of the person, you reply, “I think he’s black.” Then when NBC reports the story, they leave out the question making it seem you were offering the information. (I think your offering the information would be extremely relevant whether you were asked or not, but the PC press doesn’t see it that way. They often withhold the race of a black perpetrator.) Anyway, the presumption, from the start, by eighty percent of the press and probably upwards of ninety percent of black people, was that it was a racial incident.

The FBI looked at Zimmerman’s life through a microscope, but found nothing remotely racist in his background. He voted for Obama, dated a black girl, and was mentoring black youths, yet Sharpton’s and the media’s presumption won the “perception wars” until the trial. They railroaded the guy (a guy who had been cleared of blame by the investigators) by manipulating or never reporting the facts. The jury, of course, found him not guilty because they followed the law. I watched every minute of the trial and agree with the investigators’ decision: it never should have gone to trial.

Much like religious fundamentalists, PC fundamentalists in the media ignore or deny most of the empirical evidence that would negate their points of view… if they weren’t such dedicated believers. They seem to believe there is a racial motivation behind every interracial disagreement or confrontation and seek to prove it by citing the use of a descriptive adjective. They’re delusional.

An epithet said in anger at an individual should not be used as proof of racism, let alone, of a hate crime. Yet, that’s what the fundamentalist PC sect presume all the time. A racial slur = racism. Not! It’s indicative of gross insensitivity and/ or ignorance; however, I would never assume an objection to ONE person’s behavior, at that ONE moment in time is intended to apply to ALL people of that description ALL the time. I don’t assume a guy who calls his girlfriend a “bitch” hates me too. Swearing in anger isn’t like that. It might be nicer if everyone used general terms like “asshole” to describe anyone who is an “asshole,” but angry people don’t always make sense. “F***ing cars” comes to mind -now, there’s a picture for you. The epithet is clearly nonsensical and clearly intended for only that ONE car that is refusing to start, not all cars.

The fifth major group is the Democrat Party. I think most of them are strict “believers,” too, but with an added incentive: power.

We hate politicians of all stripes, don’t we? I mean, as a group, they tend to be more narcissistic, more dishonest, and more corrupt than any other group I can think of. There are exceptions, of course, but in the main, most will say just about anything to preserve their power. What I find highly deceitful in their pursuit of power is their use of focus groups to determine what should be said to their voting blocs. They all do it. They all try to manipulate our perceptions about their opponents. I suspect there are more shrinks and wordsmiths employed by the politicos than there are policy wonks.

In my opinion, the political strategists are responsible for a very high percentage of our misconceptions – especially about the presumed prevalence of white on black racism in America. When one considers the twenty-four-hour news cycles, our TV watching habits, and the PC agendas practiced in our schools, one can begin to see the level to which we have been indoctrinated into many false beliefs. The repetition does it. It’s very true for many people: if they hear a lie often enough, they will come to believe it.

Democrats have been obsessed with race for decades. As I’ve noted before, one doesn’t even need to be paying attention to politics to soak up the conventional wisdom. It just creeps in and becomes a part of one’s belief system, as in: I need to buy some deodorant. It does require some thought to question the dogma, however. That is the part few people seem willing to do, and why so many (like me) have allowed these false perceptions about everything racial to influence their voting habits.

Sometime during my conversion from Democrat to Republican, I tepidly defended the strategies of politicians. There was still a tiny bit of “the ends justify the means” mentality left in me. I thought both parties had the same or similar goals and differed only in the ways they wanted to achieve those goals. I’m much more cynical now… and, I hope, much more rational in my assessments of political goals and strategies.

Any lingering belief I had in “the ends justify the means” philosophy vanished when I saw and felt the alienation and animosity created by the political tactics employed by the Left. They convinced huge blocs of voters (namely blacks and women) that they were victims of the evil Republican agenda. Hey, it gets nasty out there on both sides, but in general, Conservatives think Liberals are ill-informed idealists. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to think Conservatives are evil racists. The Libs are much meaner.

There can be no better example than what they and their media did to us Tea Partiers. We had to adopt a defensive posture in no time. With no evidence to back up their assault, they convinced the majority of their constituents that Tea Partiers were racists. It became the running joke at our gatherings. Black speakers usually started their speeches with, “How are all you racists out there doing?” It was a certain applause line, because we sought validation from any and all black comers. It was such a relief to know at least some black people understood our intentions – among other things, to help release poor black people from the government plantation.

I don’t pretend to know what policy changes will work, but I do know all this PC crap has made communication between the races and between Republicans and Democrats much, much harder. In many respects, conditions in the black ghettos are worse now than they were in 1960. I and others sought to explain why, but as white Republicans, we dared not challenge the presumed cause (racism) without being presumed a “racist” by all the people who have been steadfastly indoctrinated into that belief. My advice is to question every damn word you hear or read, and never listen to a Democrat strategist; they exist to spin the truth – that is, to lie. For them, it’s all about getting votes – the consequences of the alienation they’ve caused between the races be damned!

I know that’s a very harsh accusation – right up there with their calling me a racist. However, black Conservatives and even an occasional black Democrat (Juan Williams) have cited much of the same statistical and empirical evidence in their books that I used to form my rationale. Look past the rhetoric and study the evidence critically. You too might see the alienation Democrat tactics and policies have wrought.


We are serializing here Judy Axtell's book, BUT...AT WHAT COST: A Skeptic's Memoir, published by Outskirts Press and available from OP as well as from and other on-line booksellers. I am proud to have coached Judy and edited her book.

See also my writing-coaching-editing site,

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