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OPINION | BRADLEY GITZ: Our racial meltdown

by Bradley Gitz | August 23, 2021 at 2:01 a.m.

Some observations on our continuing descent into a racial madness that threatens to undo much of what the civil rights movement accomplished.

• The NFL, in its ongoing quest to out-woke other sports leagues, has decided to play the "Black national anthem" ("Lift Every Voice and Sing") before all its games this fall.

How this won't make our real anthem something less than that and thus less capable of serving as a national unifier is left unexplained (if we have a "Black" national anthem, does that make the "Star Spangled Banner" the "white" one?).

Does Juneteenth become a rival to the Fourth of July and the shoddy "1619 Project" an alternative founding to 1776?

How does all this not take us back to "separate but equal" (which, once again, won't be).

• The term "shoddy" is used in regard to the "1619 Project" not just because of all the lies and distortions it contains but because of the shameless way its supporters refuse to even attempt to respond to prominent historians of the American founding on both left and right (Gordon S. Wood, Sean Wilentz, etc.) who have pointed out those lies and distortions.

Contrary to what the "1619 Project" claims, slavery was not introduced to the Americas in 1619 (it was practiced by the Spanish in the New World long before that, and also by a number of Native American tribes), it wasn't a unique, defining American experience because it existed just about everywhere in 1619 (and in many places long after 1776, or even 1865), and the American Revolution was most definitely not fought to preserve it.

There is no reason why the historical equivalent of creationist science should be treated with respect, let alone entrenched in school curricula.

• Those supporting critical race theory (CRT) claim that all they want is to ensure that our history of slavery and racism is taught in schools.

Fair enough, and something we should all be able to agree on.

So, again, a challenge that was issued some time back but no one has been willing to take me up on: Find an American history textbook that is widely used in high schools across the country that doesn't already extensively cover slavery, the Civil War, reconstruction, Jim Crow, Martin Luther King, and the civil rights movement.

Confident prediction: You won't find one, and wouldn't have two or three decades ago either.

The problem with those pushing CRT in schools is that race is just about all they wish to see taught, which would produce a depiction of the American experience every bit as distorted as airbrushed versions that left such topics out.

• The demand for racism is now outstripping the supply; hence the need to find it in all kinds of things that no one even a few years ago would have considered racist (rocks on university campuses, three-time "Jeopardy" winners holding up three fingers, and fans yelling the name of team mascots at baseball games).

The definition of the thing becomes increasingly amorphous and moves purposely into non-falsifiable concepts and claims.

The "anti-racist" movement requires lots of racism for fuel, and when it can't easily be found a rube out in Montana who utters a racial slur under his breath causes a national crisis.

• To point to statistical disparities as evidence of "systemic racism" ignores the fact that disparities have existed across all ethnic and racial groups in all societies throughout history, and in many cases for reasons that have little or nothing to do with racism (usually because of cultural differences we aren't supposed to notice or talk about).

If racial disparities between whites and Blacks are all that are needed to prove that American society is based on white supremacy, couldn't comparable discrepancies between Asians and whites also prove that it is built upon Asian supremacy?

• The most obvious refutation of the idea that America is a land of incorrigible racism is that so many people of color continue to try so hard to get here, and that the vast majority choose to stay despite all of the alleged oppression they experience (and when they could so easily leave because of the "freedom" part).

Perhaps no society on Earth has struggled so hard to provide equality and opportunity (and been as successful at doing so) than the United States, or inspired others to do so.

My belief that America should always be open to mass immigration has been bolstered in recent years by the realization that so many of those coming to our country, legally or even illegally, like and appreciate it more than many of our own citizens do.

• In the end, a fundamental conflict has emerged regarding race and race relations in America.

The original vision of the civil rights movement was based on the idea of color-blindness and integration and instructed us to treat everyone as individuals, regardless of race.

The new "anti-racism" replaces these assumptions with racial essentialism and separatism, and demands that we see people purely in terms of skin color, and then place them in the assigned oppressor or oppressed group.

The first vision embraces American ideals and demands that we do a better job of living up to them. The second condemns those ideals and America itself.

Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

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