The New Meaning of “Racism”nThe tedium tliat descended upon the nation’snpolitics last winter when Bush II ascendednthe presidential throne was relievednbriefly in the waning days of thenClinton era by the bitter breezes that waftednaround some of the new President’snCabinet appointments. After repeatedlynmuttering his meaningless campaign slogan,n”I’m a uniter, not a divider,” Mr.nBush suddenly found himself accused ofnthe horrid and unpardonable offense ofndividing when he nominated certain individualsnof whom the real rulers of thencountr)’ did not approve. “Uniting,” asnthe former governor of Texas should havenknown and probably did know, means doingnwhat the Zeitgeist (and those who craftnit) want; “dividing” means doing whatnthey don’t want, and some of the cabinetnnominees seemed for a short time to benthe kind of undesirables who entertainnideas of their own and harbor sneaky inclinationsnto act on them. For a fewnweeks, it was uncertain whether the Presidentnwould cave in to the demand of hisnpolitical opponents in Congress and thenmass media and dump the objectionablennominees or whether he and the nomineesnwould contrive some means of placatingntheir foes and persuading themnthey had no intention of bucking theirnwishes or challenging their power. Wliatnwas never even contemplated, of course,nwas that the President and his prospectivenministers would defy their critics and actuallyndare assert their own authority andnleadership.nThe most controversial of the Cabinetnnominees was former Missouri SenatornJohn Ashcroft, whose opposition to anClinton-appointed black judge as well asnseveral other thoughtcrimes immediatelynsparked the predictable accusations ofn”racism,” “white supremacy,” and “insensitivity.”nA black former congressman,nMissouri Democrat William Clay,nmocked Mr. Bush’s professions of “reachingnout” to blacks by comparing Mr.nAshcroft’s appointment to the Ku KluxnKlan’s attempts to reach out “to blacksnwith nooses and burning crosses,” while ansmall-time left-wing witch hunter in Missourinbreathlessly declared that “an examinationnof Ashcroft’s recent record showsnPrincipalities & Powersnby Samuel Francisnthat he has actively cultivated ties tonwhite supremacists and extreme hatengroups.” The “white supremacists andnextreme hate groups” turned out to benmerely the Southern Partisan, a Confederatenheritage periodical whose editor-inchiefnlast year ran the South Carolinanpresidential campaign of Sen. John Mc­nCain. (It’s interesting that Honest Johnnnever once opened his trap to defend eithernhis ally or his ally’s magazine.) Thisn”linkage” was soon turned into politicalnfodder on which the media, the CongressionalnBlack Caucus, and Senate Democratsnwere able to browse for severalnweeks.nMr. Ashcroft was confirmed as attorneyngeneral, but only because he dancednto the tunes called by his and the newnPresident’s enemies. The nominee hastenednto repudiate any sympathies for thenConfederacy, its leadership, or its politicalnheritage that his interview with thenPartisan might have suggested. “Slaverynis abhorrent,” Mr. Ashcroft gushed to hisninquisitors. “Abraham Lincoln is my favoritenpresident… I would have foughtnwith Gen. Grant… I believe that racismnis wrong.”nOf course, at no time in his life hadnMr. Ashcroft, who seems to be a dim butndecent enough chap, ever uttered anynthought or opinion that would insinuatenhe believed “racism” in any conventionalnor traditional meaning to be right. Howevernvague the word has always been, itsntraditional usage generally had somethingnto do with race and the claim bynmembers of one race that another racenwas in some sense inferior—intellectually,nmorally, etc. By the conventionalnmeaning, not only is Mr. Ashcroft notnguilt)’, but his critics were not able to producenany evidence whatsoever to suggestnthat he was. At tiie most, they merely inferrednhis supposed beliefs about racenfrom his stated views about the Confederacynand his various “links” with peoplenand groups who also were never shown tonbe “racist.”nA few weeks after the Ashcroft hearings,nyet another controversy aboutn”racism” erupted, this time on Americanncollege campuses. Neoconservative activistnDavid Horowitz placed a series ofnads in college newspapers arguing againstnthe budding movement in support ofnnnreparations for slavery, Mr. Horowitz’snads, probably deliberately designed to beninnocuous, offered ten reasons why reparationsnare “a bad idea for blacks— andnracist” to boot. Some college newspapersnactually dared to publish the ads and, notninfrequently, soon found themselves undernsiege for their own “racism.” At thenUniversity of Wisconsin’s Badger Herald,na mob demanded the resignation of theneditor, sporting signs with the slogan,n”Badger Herald Racist.”nSimilar incidents are well known, bothnon college campuses and elsewhere, butnthe point is that what the targets are beingnaccused of has nothing whatsoever to donwith what they have said or thought orndone about race as a biological or socialnphenomenon. “Racism” today has nothingnto do with race; it has to do with politics.n”Racism” is simply a set of beliefs ornactions that oppose a certain politicalnagenda, and that agenda is largely initiatednby and closely associated with nonwhitesnand pushed by their white allies.nThus, opposing reparations, as thenmob indicated, is itself a “racist” act—notnbecause the opponents of reparationsnthink all blacks are naturally inferior andntherefore should have been and shouldnstill be slaves, but simply because reparationsnare now part of the black racial-politicalnagenda, and anyone who opposesnthat agenda is a racist. Opposing affirmativenaction is also racist—not because itsnopponents are said to hate blacks and othernnonwhites and want to repress and exploitnthem, but for any reason. The samenis largely true of supporting Confederatenflags and symbols or opposing immigrationnor arguing in favor of “racial profiling”nby police. Back in the 1980’s, whitenSouth Africans would tell me thatn”apartheid” had been largely abolishednin their countr)’ and that even radical critics,nblack or white, would have to recognizenthat truth. I always tried to makenthem see that “abolishing apartheid” hadnnothing to do with racial equality, thatntheir critics had little interest in that, andnthat what they really wanted was blackndomination, “Apartheid” would cease tonexist not when South African blacks werenable to eat in desegregated restaurantsnand vote in parliamentary elections butnonly when tiiey had taken over the governmentnof the country—which is exact-nJUNE 2001/33n