Equal Rights: Coming to a World Near You

Recently, I wrote that UVM’s conception of multiculturalism was patronizing to minority students. Unsurprisingly, my views were deemed racist. I understand that people disagree, but intelligent replies bridge gaps only widened by label-tossing. To accept only palatable views and slap down all others as hateful will do nothing to further understanding. This is symptomatic of the wider problem of the issue, namely the double standard that places specific viewpoints and groups above reproach and bullies dissenters into silence. Nothing illustrates this point better than reverse racism.

Jesse Jackson, the self-appointed voice of Black America, once labeled New York ‘Hymietown’ as a jab at perceived Jewish influence. Demagogue Al Sharpton railroaded white police officers for raping teenage Tawana Brawley. When her charges were proven patently false, he issued no apology. Louis Farrakhan called Jews ‘bloodsuckers’ and asserted that ‘whites are potential humans…they haven’t evolved yet.’ New Jersey’s poet laureate, Amiri Baraka, used the anti-Semitic lie that Israelis were warned not to come to work on 9/11 in a recent poem (the honor was later rescinded). Bill McKinney, activist and father of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a Palestinian supporter who accused George Bush of complicity with 9/11, explained his daughter’s Democratic primary loss in four letters: ‘J-E-W-S.’ These demagogues will continue to be feted and financed by white liberals, particularly academics, despite their bigotry.

Inaction in the face of such hatred is dangerous. Al Sharpton’s inflammatory rhetoric contributed to the beating death of Yankel Rosenbaum during the Crown Heights riots and the arson deaths of seven in the Freddie’s Fashion Mart fire. A year after the tragic dragging death of James Byrd, Ken Tillery was abducted and killed by three men in the same small town of Jasper, Texas. While everyone recognizes James Byrd’s death as a painful reminder that racism has not yet been eradicated, few have heard about Ken Tillery. Why? Because Tillery was white and his assailants were black. As in the case of Byrd, the crime was horrific and the sole motivator race. The only difference was the publicity.

When I assert that ‘cracker’ should engender the same rage that its disgusting counterpart does, I say this because racism has its consequences. White on black hate crime produces justified outrage. The increasingly common incidents of racially motivated black on white crime are rarely reported as such and almost never identified as hate crimes. Some try to justify it but most simply ignore it. We cannot do this any longer. We must assert categorically that racially-motivated crimes are evil and that hate in any form will not be tolerated.

To stand up at one of America’s most ethnically homogenous, most tolerant universities and assert that racism is prevalent rings hollow. Racism is not dead in this country, but it is beating a hasty retreat. If we are to eradicate it we cannot ignore overt racists such as Farrakhan merely because they are African-American while decrying what we judge to be covert racism from whites, whether or not it exists. Double standards will not produce equality. By tolerating unabashed racists, white liberal guilt perpetuates a patronizing soft bigotry that differs only in degree from that espoused by white supremacists.