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Yes, alas, it is true. Oh, I am a poor sinner, and have offended against the Lord, and lived in the dark night of racism, and it presses hard upon my soul. Oh, how it does. But now, having seen the light of goodness, I repent and will own like a man to my transgressions. Yes, I will say it here, before God and man:
I have believed that things should be done without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin.
The shame, the shame.
I will make a clean breast of yet more. I have been against all discrimination by race or sex, against affirmative action, racial set-asides, special treatment for women, quotas, and favoritism by the government and the media. Oh the guilt I feel! I have been a beast, worse even than the Grand Flagon of the Invisible Umpire of the Ku Klux Klan.
There is still more. I have read, and believed, and steeped myself in the pernicious theories of known racists, such as Martin Luther King, who once said openly, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Yes, yes, I too thought this and – oh, woe – was even proud of thinking it. I believed that behavior counted, not race – that if a mob of teenagers gang-robbed a convenience store, they should be horsewhipped, regardless of their race. I thought they should be judged by the content of their characters. I could not see the injustice of equal justice. I did not yet grasp that being against racism was proof positive of racism.
Understanding was not yet upon me. I thought before my salvation that people should take responsibility for their actions. If jackbooted Nazis beat a black unconscious because of, well, pretty much anything, I figured the newspapers should publish their names and photographs, and the courts should give them a minimum of thirty years, no parole, in which to ponder the wisdom of doing it again. Crimes should not be hidden, I believed, nor the criminals protected, according to race. Or anything else. The same laws for everyone, I told myself. Oh, fool that I was.
I was wrong. I now see that a belief in equal treatment under the law is the foulest form of racism. It discriminates unfairly against criminals. All I can say in defense of myself is that other racists, such as Thomas Sowell, led me into these moral swamps.
Sowell: “Similar episodes of unprovoked violence by young black gangs against white people chosen at random on beaches, in shopping malls or in other public places have occurred in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles and other places across the country. Both the authorities and the media tend to try to sweep these episodes under the rug, as well.”
In Washington, where I once worked, Intensely Good people encouraged me to correct my thoughts. For example, I was told repeatedly by my moral betters that crime and illiteracy flourished among our black population because blacks were deprived and oppressed. I didn’t believe it. No. Instead I hearkened to Walter Williams, a perilous Simon Legree and known Klansman. A very devil, he wrote “I graduated from Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School in 1954. Franklin’s students were from the poorest North Philadelphia neighborhoods – such as the Richard Allen housing project, where I lived – but there were no policemen patrolling the hallways. There were occasional after-school fights – rumbles, we called them – but within the school, there was order. Students didn’t use foul language to teachers, much less assault them.” He also asserts that the kids could all read. Racism, pure and simple.
This, note, was when discrimination and oppression were real. So why, I asked myself, heartless racist that I was, can’t black kids read and behave now when discrimination favors them?
Yes, I know, now I know, when it is too late, that only a racist could think that black children could learn to read, and therefore damned well ought to if other people were paying for it. You see, I was in those days socially dangerous without realizing it. Being a racist, I thought that everyone could learn to read, obey the laws, avoid beating people into brain damage, and behave civilly.
Now, permit me to turn to the environmental consequences of racial virtue. This is a more serious matter than many know. It is a question of clogging. When I was in the nation´s capital, a strange, gummy, yellowish substance began washing up on the banks of the Potomac. It killed fish. Chemical analysis showed it to be PSAG, Polymerized Self-Admiring Goodness.
The sources seemed to be the neighborhoods around the Washington Post, and the socially conscious regions of upper Connecticut Avenue and Montgomery County. I began to study the racially virtuous whites who lived there.
I found that those who were most vehemently Self-Admirigly Good regarding blacks didn’t know any blacks. They didn’t send their children to the city’s black schools. They stayed out of black neighborhoods. I had known some of them for twenty years and never been with them in a restaurant with more than a token black or two. Thais, Chinese, Italians, Salvadorans, yes. Blacks, no. They had no black friends that I saw. I didn’t ask them when they had last gone to dinner with a black family. Being a racist, I didn’t think I needed to ask.
The devastation wrought by PSAG. Fred with the last alligator of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. A lot of gringos live in the hills above the lake, many of them self-admiringly good, and PSAG washes into the lake in the rainy season. Note that the alligator appears to be gagging.
In fact, these Righteous Washingtonians seemed to have no interest in blacks at all, other than avoiding them, but just wanted to feel good about themselves. If I mentioned that the black schools of Washington were horrible, which they were and are, the response was to call me a racist. Which I was, of course. But how does that help black kids who, generation after generation, are being turned into adults whose only ability is to produce similar generations?
Being deeply in error before my enlightenment, I mistook their hypocritical condescension to blacks for hypocritical condescension to blacks. This latter is a known ingredient of Polymerized Self-Admiring Goodness. Everything fits.
Now I shall go and slit my wrists.
Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be, Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet Nam, and A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about Mexico. Visit his blog.