RE: Vicious Racism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Aug 02 2001 - 18:08:08 MDT

Harvey Newstrom has finally done what some of us (e.g. Jerry Mitchell)
were fearing would never be done; namely to say specifically exactly
what was racist about Fred Reed's piece. I, myself, have not made up
my mind about it (one of the difficulties being to determine what is
meant by "racist").

But thanks to Zero Powers for providing one concrete example (as I,
for one, had asked). Zero wrote

> OK, I suppose you expect me to try to pull out a sentence in that "essay"
> which is either false or unduly disparaging of blacks. Well I grant you the
> post didn't contain anything on the order of: "All niggers are shiftless,
> lazy, criminals who have made no worthwhile contribution to society" or "The
> only good nigger is a dead nigger."

> But, how about this:

>> People in, say, Switzerland can walk their streets after dark. We can't.
>> Why? What have we got that they don't, that might cause fear?
>>Elvis impersonators, Johnny. Yep. Switzerland doesn't have any Elvis
>>impersonators. Check for yourself.

> The clear implication (granted while made with tongue in cheek) is that the
> Swiss are safe after dark because, unlike we woeful Americans, they don't
> have blacks to deal with.

I agree. That's the implication. And I think anyone is crazy who believes
that people of only one race in America commits crimes, or even that people
of any particular race don't commit crimes.

> The unspoken suggestion is that if we were to ship all the
> blacks back to Africa the good white folks of this great
> country could take all the locks off their doors and live
> in peace and safety.

Yes; but what would Fred Reed's response be? I think that if he
is at all rational---which of course, he is, then he would have
to admit that he is exaggerating. His real point, he'd contend,
is that black people commit a disproportionate amount of crime.
He notes

> What price do we put on looking over our shoulders? On watching
> to be sure we don't go one subway stop too far? Warning our
> girlfriends not to drive on certain streets? Checking the
> clientele of Seven-Eleven before going in at night?

To me, it's an empirical question about whether people (of any race)
do express the worries that he cites here. I don't live in New York,
but it wouldn't surprise me if caution about what subway stop you
take is real; and the mental imagery that attends the caution may
be not just tough neighborhoods, but black neighborhoods. I don't
know. Yes, I'd look over the clientele of a Seven-Eleven before
I went in. THere are many people of many different races and
complexions (e.g. skin-heads) that would make me cautious. But
I will honestly admit that race is a factor: given everything else
being equal, I am more likely to be apprehensive about a store full
of black people than white people. Moreover, this sentiment is not
confined only to whites: I heard a young black woman on the radio
say one day that if she's walking down the street and sees four black
guys coming, she crosses the street, whereas, she felt less compelled
to take this action if she saw four white guys coming down the street.

I would like to address the points that Harvey Newstrom made, but
there isn't room in this email. I wish to say that for a huge number
of otherwise rational thinkers, I am afraid, the statements that I
made above qualify and overqualify me as a racist. Anyone who thinks so
please give me a careful analysis---not a one line emotionally driven
rejection or put-down. (I hasten to point out that such stupid one-line
emotionally gratifying insults are hardly confined to those who accuse
others of being racist.)

I cannot believe how charged and irrational a number of extropians
become on some issues. Is there really *anything* that is not to
be logically and carefully analyzed?


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