It has been asserted by various wags, some of them thoughtful, others less so, that there is some fundamental flaw by way of apology of racism in blacks who are conservative and travel in Republican circles. I speak for myself.
My interest in racism is primarily academic, and it has been longer than I actually thought. Race has very little to do with the reason I am a Conservative. In fact, my interest in race and racism was probably the only reason that I was a Progressive so long. It can honestly be said about my interest in racism, that it was a 'special interest'.
The more often the subject of race and politics comes up, the more I tend to be convinced that Cornel West was right about blacks in his 'Breaking Bread'. He essentially implied that African Americans, by and large, do not see their participation in Western Democracy as a 'natural phenomenon'. He said that there is a set of existential dilemmas - a need for meaning - that gets in the way of blacks' ability to play the game of rational self-interest according to the rules of the System. That their interpretation of the System's exclusion of them from it on the basis of color has become a large mental hurdle.
This essentially means that in order for blackfolks to perceive that there is a level playing field, there must be affirmative action. I have come to believe that this is an axiom for a significant number of black people.
I have always asserted, from a cultural black nationalist perspective, that the mental liberation required to beat this existential hurdle is the responsibility of black people - that the solution is known and all that is lacking is the discipline and willingness to accomplish it.
I also have asserted that the diminishing presence of racism in American society requires less attention to this problem, despite its focus in much of black politics and culture.
And thirdly I have always asserted that the success of the civil rights movement and anti-discrimination laws in America is essentially irreversible and that any separatist ideology is doomed to failure. Integration is destiny, all Americans have a multi-racial future.
Something that is new that I see, which was a surprise to me, was that black culture has become transparent. There are no black things that non-blacks cannot understand. It is just as likely that blacks don't understand themselves that whites cannot. That doesn't change the fact that many blacks and whites do not seek any open or honest communications between themselves individually or as players of racial games. They both only own their respective ghetto mentalities.
In the end, I have long had no interest in facilitating 'race relations'. I see no real benefit to establishing any sort of rapproachment between groups of people who find it necessary to assert some irrevocable racial standing for themselves. They are only representing irreconcilable sins of the past into the future. I find such people small minded and morally suspect. And I find intellectuals who advocate for such groups as ultimately foolish.
There are those, and I have been among them, who would agitate for a criminalization of racism, to put additional moral power in the hands of the state. On the issue of 'hate crime' I have been a supporter. But I have come to recognize that the existence of hate crime statutes are not a deterrent to crime and that what anti-racist activists truly desire is to change the way of thinking, not just of would be criminals, but of most Americans. This then is a political and a moral imperative - not a matter of crime and punishment.
The presence of racism as a phenomenon in American society is adequately handled by the law, and all 'subtle' racism that doesn't rise to the level of a crime is a manifestation of sin, of evil. There are no acts of racism that cannot be explained simply, those which are not crimes are simply moral errors, expressions of dysfunctions of personal character and integrity. A morally upright person cannot be racist, nor can any racist be morally upright under any circumstances.
It is clear that in American history whites benefited in numerous ways from the suppression of non-whites, and much legal assistance was given in the maintenance of laws which defined who was and who was not white. The very system of law was poisoned. It is now clean. Those who seek advantage by dint of race must do so in collusion with like-minded individuals. The locus of action against racism, therefore must seek out such individuals and expose them. The moral climate of our society is such that exposure and shame are powerful and effective methods. Obviously if some crime has been committed, appropriate action must be taken.
But above and beyond that there remains a legacy of distrust between blackfolks and whitefolks in various parts of society such that we must contend with a politics and a culture of opposition. There remain unresolved general accusations and scapegoating of a broad racial nature across many quarters in America. And there are always opportunists who try to make the most of this sort of sniping. But any participation in this racial fracas must be approached with the following ideas in mind.
All racist acts are immoral. Some are crimes. All racist people are immoral. Some are criminals. All punishments should fit the offense. Only the guilty should be punished. Vigilance against immorality is central to the maintenance of society.
This is basically all anyone needs to know.
One should always suspect the racial theories of people involved in cultural or political activism. There is a always a great temptation to take one's own racial identity too seriously - to assume that it is or should necessarily be significant. The same is true of one's assessment of others' racial identity. In particular one should be aware of such accusations and scapegoating which assert things of races of people, even in casual observation. This is because the only effort required in the maintenance of civil society is vigilance against immorality. So let me state it plainly. One should never make the assumption or accusation that a group of people is immoral, especially designating that group by its race.
In light of the fact that Americans do exactly that all of the time, what is to be done?
It seems to me at long last rather obvious. That is because I have spent so much time in attempt to be anti-racist, which I now see as a rather expensive and academic enterprise. I had become pedantic to the point of zero tolerance, and I finally realized how foolish that was. The turning point was when I began to look at racism in America, just before 9/11/2001 as a system in equilibrium. At the time, I was debating fiercely the merits of an apology for American slavery and Reparations for same. Ultimately I came to understand that any real reconciliation of people had to come from likemindedness. Which meant that they had to view immorality on similar terms, and crime on similar terms. That is a general problem with societies and people. The only thing that is agreed upon in a free society is what is law. As for the rest, all of us have varying levels of comfort with human vice, sin and immorality. And to suggest that at any point in history that one could get likemindedness on one's response and tolerance of immorality is more difficult the more people one considers. In other words, how can you get people to equally hate racism and fight against it? The same way you get people to hate sin and fight against it. It is a question for the ages, and it is a solution that only exists in paradise.
In the meantime, we all know that moral and upstanding individuals fight against immorality all the time. Everyone does it their own way. Everyone is motivated for personal reasons which vary in intensity, duration and effectiveness. That is the way people operate.
As finally to the narrow question of blacks in the conservative movement and the Republican party, the answer is the same as it would be no matter what the context. Only those whose tolerance of immorality is low are likely to be outstanding in their fight against racism or any other corruption of the soul.