PERSPECTIVErnWhite Like Mernby Thomas FlemingrnRace is the American religion, which is wh’ no one can talkrnabout it truthfully. I do not mean that no one speaks hisrnmind on the subject. Well-indoctrinated liberals can talk allrnday on why race does not matter, why the whole concept meansrnnothing; and racialists can talk even longer on why it means everything,rnwhy loyalty to race transcends patriotism and friendship.rnFor racists and antiracists alike, faith dictates facts, andrnatheists as well as believers take a pious pride in being fools.rnI heard recently of a would-be filmmaker who had blackedrnhis face to do the “Black Like Me” charade with his white wife.rnMuch to his disgust, he was well-treated everywhere he went inrnthe South; but, he insisted, he was still discriminated against.rnWhen he applied for work, “white” people with inferior resumesrngot the job. Try to imagine the scene. A self-righteousrnliberal thinks he can pass for African simply by putting Shinolarnon his face, and he wonders why people don’t trust him enoughrnto give him a job. He is lucky he was not thrown in jail. In a societyrnin which all privileges belong to designated minorities, impersonationrnof an Eskimo or a deaf-mute is treason to the system.rnMimes beware.rnThe filmmaker in blackface had apparently swallowed thernline that race is only skin deep, as if there were not thousands ofrnphysiological and psychological characteristics defining racialrngroups. Skin colors—white, black, brown, yellow—are onlyrnconvenient labels on a large package of distinctive traits. An-rnone over the age of three used to know that race is a basic factrnof life; today, there are Ph.D.’s in the social sciences who do notrnknow this, which is particulady strange in a place and timernwhere race matters more, perhaps, than it ever has in humanrnhistory.rnIn this sense, the racialists are right. Race is a far more pressingrnconcern today than it was in 1860, when people—^Abolitionistsrnincluded—took racial differences for granted and assumedrnthat the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant race in Americarnconstituted the greatest nation in the history of the worid. Butrnthat WASP nation was divided into North and South, East andrnWest; and in every region there were subsections and states thatrnclaimed a man’s loyalty. Eew Americans were generieallyrnProtestant, unless their neighborhood was being overrun by arnhorde of Irish Catholic immigrants, and even Calvinists wererndivided into sects that reflected ethnic origin and half-forgottenrntheological squabbles back in Scotland or Germany.rnIn those days, a man’s primary loyalty was to his kin, hisrnfriends, his church, and—if he had sufficiently large views—tornhis state. Race hardly entered into the question. Even after therndeastations of war and Reconstruction, some Southern Bourbonsrnopposed Jim Crow laws on the grounds that “decent”rnblacks were better company on a train than ill-behaved whites.rnIn the 20th century, most of these ancient loyalties were underminedrnand eroded by a ruling class that imported millions ofrnaliens and then, in a panic over what to do with so many Southernrnand Eastern European Catholics, passed legislation rcstrict-rn10/CHRONICLESrnrnrn