Originally printed in The Daily Targum, September 16, 1993

Confessions of a Would-Be Racist

I am absolutely sick of all the whining by women and minorities today. Sure, they've had their reason to complain, but look at the situation now--the blacks get into college even though they're not as good as whites, just because they're black. Whites who are more intelligent are kept out because a certain institution needs to admit black students. It is a scenario that is absolutely unfair, especially when you consider the disproportionately high black drop-out rate (and, probably related, the disproportionately high black crime rate).

Even women today are getting special privileges. Sure, the average woman gets paid less in the work force, but that's because many didn't join the work force until recently. A woman in today's society has all the privileges of any man, and fewer responsibilites. For example, women are exempt from the draft. Women can choose not to work without society questioning them, whereas if a man chooses to stay at home, he is considered lazy. And women have won court cases blaming illegal and violent activity on their 'hormones' or their 'time of the month.'

Then you have the Asians. They come in with all sorts of money and superior educations, and they still think they deserve minority status. They complained bitterly when some Ivy League schools announced they were going to limit the number of Asians they accepted, as if they were underprivileged or something. All they're trying to do is buy America, and all they do is complain about it.

I'm sick of all these groups complaining. Don't get me wrong-I'm not a racist or anything. I just think that instead of complaining, they should all try to do something useful. Instead of whining about how white men are screwing them over, they should realize that it's probably their own fault.

I don't personally know anybody who would try to publicly express opinions like these without expressing them on Geraldo. But the opinions still exist. In fact, some of my good friends have told me these things, usually prefaced by, 'Don't tell anyone I think this way, but...' or 'I'm not a racist, but...'

I'm not discussing the talk-show freaks, or the David Dukes/Jesse Helms-type people of the world. I'm not discussing the self-avowed racists who want to go get their friends Jed and Billy Joe and smash some black folks' heads. I'm talking about college students, people who read this paper, the people in your classes. I'm talking about you, the average student going to the average color-blind liberal Northeastern institute of higher education.

The statements at the beginning of this column could come from you. In fact, most of them have. They are reasonably articulate. I won t ever hear nigger, kike, or other such words from you. Even though the accusations made are vague (and in some instances, blatantly untrue), they seem to make sense. They are powerful words, collected in your brain over years surrounded by other 'intellectuals' who secretly harbor these feelings.

The only unfortunate part is that so many people think this way. Perhaps the thoughts are about 'the whining of women and minorities,' and perhaps the thoughts are about 'the white man's abuse of power.' It could be hundreds of other things. Either way, the thoughts exist.

I realize that secretly thinking racist thoughts is probably less dangerous than overtly expressing them. I don't think that most of the people at Rutgers are candidates for lynch mobs. I don't think that in twenty years, the average Rutgers student-turned-employer will hire the white guy even though the black woman who applied was much more qualified. But these thoughts still persist; the fungus most of us wish we could get rid of.

I'm certainly not holier than any of thou. I confess that the errant racist thought flies across my mind, and it shocks me. I don't like thinking this way. I wish I could stop. But this leads to the big question of the day: what can I do about thoughts like these? What should we, as a color-blind liberal Northeastern mass of supposedly free thinkers, do about our closet racism?

The answer seems even more shocking than the questions: do nothing about it. As long as the errant racist thought continues to shock you, it is useful. If you read the first part of this column and were shocked, good. It means you find such thoughts repulsive. It is very difficult to control the way you think, but if these thoughts happen to cross your mind and you are disgusted by them, congratulations.

Every once in a while, we all need something despicable to happen in order to remind us how despicable it is. Every once in a while, we need a group to claim that the Holocaust never happened, so that we can all overwhelmingly reply that we shall not forget. Every once in a while, we need a David Duke or a Louis Farrakhan to spout racist garbage, so that we can all overwhelmingly reject such ways of thinking. Every once in a while, we need to have a racist thought in order for us to be shocked, and overwhelm that thought with lofty ideals of equality. Such an equality will never exist, but we must try to move closer to it by overwhelmingly rejecting any other way of living.

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