Everyone’s ideas are racist except mine

There are a few ways that a policy gets to be called racist: it is intended to negatively affect one race over another, it results in a negative affect on one race over another regardless of intent, or it has historically been used to negatively affect one race over another regardless of present intent or eventual result.

The first two are justifiably used to disqualify certain policies; of course we shouldn’t enact things that are intended to or serve to foster racial discrimination. But the latter is used as a fallacious smear tactic almost exclusively against conservative and libertarian policies. If that’s how we’re going to debate, it’s long past time the historically racist origins of certain liberal policies got considered too.

Federalism gets a bad rap obviously because of slavery and Jim Crow laws. The mantle of states’ rights was used for a long time as a means to get away with any number of heinous injustices and atrocities. That is almost never the case today, yet one risks being labeled racist for suggesting it, whether the issue to which federalism is to be applied has anything to do with race or not.

Well, if the putative federalist in question is a Republican, that is. Democrats are free to cling to states’ rights when it is convenient without having to worry about similar ad hominem attacks. Even after President Obama’s hailed conversion on the issue of gay marriage, he maintains that states should be free to decide the issue themselves.

This is effectively the same position as most elected Republicans, yet he doesn’t get called names because of it. Even the President’s signature health insurance reform grants states tremendous discretion in how much of the law’s new bureaucracy to implement themselves. Has anyone called Obamacare racist?

Compare also the progressive holy grail of an ever-increasing minimum (living, or prevailing) wage. While the idea itself is older, the first real push for it in the US came during the Progressive Era of the early 20th Century and was (along with much of that agenda) explicitly racist:

The controversy centered on what to do about what Sidney Webb called the “unemployable class.” It was Webb’s belief, shared by many of the progressive economists affiliated with the American Economic Association, that establishing a minimum wage about the value of the unemployables’ worth would lock them out of the market, accelerating their elimination as a class. This is essentially the modern conservative argument against the minimum wage, and even today, when conservatives make it, they are accused of - you guessed it - social Darwinism.

Of course, the left argues for increasing the minimum wage for exactly the opposite reasons today - to help the “less fortunate” and minorities out of poverty by increasing their income. But when do conservatives receive such benefit of the doubt? When a policy on the right happens to have a been advocated by racists in the past (usually for different or even opposite reasons its advocated today), that unfortunate fact becomes the first or even only argument against it.

Or abortion. The much celebrated founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was a vile, abhorrent racist. She advocated birth control and abortion explicitly to “weed out” the classes and races she (and many other progressives at the time) saw as unfit and unhealthy for society. From Jonah Goldberg’s great book, Liberal Fascism:

In 1939 Sanger created the previously mentioned “Negro Project,” which aimed to get blacks to adopt birth control. Through the Birth Control Federation, she hired black ministers (including the reverend Adam Clayton Powell Sr), doctors, and other leaders to help pare down the supposedly surplus black population. The project’s racist intent is beyond doubt. “The mass of significant Negroes,” read the project’s report, “still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes…is [in] that proportion of the population least intelligent and fit.” Sanger’s intent is shocking today, but she recognized its extreme radicalism even then. “We do not want word to get out,” she wrote to a colleague, “that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Even today up to 40% of abortions are performed on black women, even though they are only 13% of the eligible population. In cities like New York and Washington and many Southern states, black women actually receive the majority of abortions. But since abortion isn’t considered a negative by much of society, no one considers this the quasi-genocide that it actually is.

One of the contemporary arguments for abortion (or at least against efforts to ban it) actually explicitly copies the historic eugenic support for the practice. Again from Goldberg:

Just a few years ago, the racial eugenic “bonus” of abortion rights was something one could only admit among those fully committed to the cause, and even then in politically correct whispers. No more. Increasingly, this argument is acceptable on the left, as are arguments in favor of eugenics generally.

In 2005 the acclaimed University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt broke the taboo with his critical and commercial hit Freakonomics (co-written with Stephen Dubner). The most sensational chapter in the book updated a paper Levitt had written in 1999 which argued that abortion cuts crime. “Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime.” Freakonomics excised all references to race and never connected the facts that because the aborted fetuses were disproportionally black and blacks disproportionally contribute to the crime rate, reducing the size of the black population reduces crime. Yet the press coverage acknowledged this reality and didn’t seem to mind.

Do you ever hear abortion and its advocates called racist (outside of pro-life rallies, that is) despite the plain racial historical context and resultant effects? Of course not. Indeed, when abortion opponents point out these ugly truths, they are called racist. How dare you try to tell black women what they can and can’t do with their bodies! Never mind that it’s in the pursuit of saving millions of black babies from the reaping.

In fact, it’s very simple. Through decades of narrative engineering, the left has successfully defined anything the right does as necessarily racist in both intent and effect, and also anything racist as conservative by definition. When a liberal does or suggests something racist, it’s an aberration or a misunderstanding, and a simple apology is the harshest punishment necessary.

When a conservative or libertarian does, it’s a glimpse into their very soul, an uncorrectable genetic defect that is remedied only by eliminating the offender and his entire ideology from public life (similar to eugenic remedies for poverty and crime in the Progressive Era). It turns out the soul of progressivism too is very dark indeed, and its time they were held to the same standards as the rest of us.

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