One of the subjects that most self-styled conservatives seem incapable of discussing in any depth—indeed, it is one they often flee from like mice before the hungry house cat—is race.  The general feeling always seems to be that anything a prominent conservative might say on the topic—unless he is offering some sort of fearful confirmation or slightly nuanced affirmation of the standard leftist/Cultural Marxist positions—will be construed by the media, politicians, and academic elites as “racially insensitive,” or implicitly (or even explicitly) “racist.”

Many of these accusations are, of course, blatantly political.  We are now accustomed to hearing such charges, such intimations and suggestions, trotted out at election time to slander and vilify a Republican or “conservative” candidate for public office, even if that candidate has already paid due homage to the dominant and standard politically correct views on the subject.  Even such Republican establishmentarians as Mitt Romney and George W. Bush could not avoid the accusation from the media and from the professional race baiters.  To satisfy today’s self-appointed inquisitors, it is not enough to avoid giving an embarrassing answer to their difficult questions designed to entrap; one must actively engage in “combatting racism” to the point of groveling publicly and expressing regret for centuries of “white oppression,” slavery, colonialism, and racial inequality.  Only then may the penitent meekly seek admission into the fellowship of the “new elect” of the elite class; and even then, actually gaining admission is difficult to achieve.  Whiteness is always a powerful impediment that must be overcome.

There is always someone like the Rev. William Barber (the former head of the North Carolina NAACP who now leads the national “Poor People’s Campaign”) to denounce the miscreant who is perceived as less than pure, who certainly must harbor racist sentiments down deep in his heart.  After all, the Cultural Marxism that characterizes not just academia but the public square begins with the assumption that America was, from her inception and founding, a “racist” country, one essentially founded on racialist precepts, with racial inequality (and other inequalities) incorporated into the basic law of the land.

With this template now firmly in place to regulate thought and discourse, is it any wonder that even such mainstream Republicans as George W. Bush, John McCain, and most of the neoconservatives, despite their best efforts to demonstrate their craven fidelity to the essentially leftist narrative on race, equality, and civil rights, still find it hard to make the grade in the eyes of a Maxine Waters, an Al Sharpton, or any of the other racial gatekeepers out there, especially now that their fellow ideologues are in near total control of our university campuses and mass media?

The goalposts of Marxist progressivism are always moving forward and to the left.  Thus, “conservatives” who once believed that, in order to pass muster, all they had to do was endorse the civil-rights bills of the 1960’s and advocate “equality of opportunity” are nonetheless looked upon with suspicion.  Even those who make a point of agreeing publicly with Martin Luther King, Jr. (now presented by Republicans as a great conservative icon) that one should be judged “not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character” are liable to be judged as racially insensitive, simply for noticing that skin has color.  It should be apparent to Republicans and conservatives (but apparently is not) that, in an election campaign, they can never really get to the left of a Democrat on questions involving race, especially if that Democrat is black.

The fundamental problem is that, in a certain and very limited sense, the Cultural Marxist critique of America’s Founding and her founding documents has some validity.  The United States was not founded on the egalitarian idea that all men have an inherent civil right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Those words in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence were directed at the British Parliament, from which the colonists had not received their due rights as Englishmen; they were not aimed at the colonies and the colonists who were attempting to break from the Mother Country.

As the late Dr. M.E. Bradford expertly detailed in Original Intentions: On the Making and Ratification of the United States Constitution (1993) and Colgate University Prof. Barry Alan Shain has convincingly documented in his massive and annotated study The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context: American State Papers, Petitions, Proclamations, and Letters of the Delegates to the First National Congresses (2014), the Founders recoiled at the notion that the words of the Declaration might be applied domestically to the several colonies and those institutions, laws, and usages then in place.  Each new state was free to decide for itself about its domestic institutions, including the continuation (or not) of slavery, the establishment (or not) of a state religion and religious tests, the imposition (or not) of property qualifications for suffrage, and whether (or not) to encourage public education.  Indeed, this was the very reason for the adoption of both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution—to ensure the protection of those inherent rights of the states and the citizenry.  The historical fact is that, by virtue of federalism, inequality was enshrined in our constitutional system, and it was left up to the various states to decide which internal institutions and practices they would maintain.  And this solution, which was agreed upon by all the representatives of the states who met in Philadelphia, served the country well until 1861.

The ideological assumption posited by the Cultural Marxists and parroted by far too many Republicans and conservatives is that the original American founding was by definition tainted with varying degrees of racism.  And once that ideological assumption is accepted, the limits and terms of any future debate are set.  We may then argue only about whether the nation must be completely remade (per the Cultural Marxists) or, in the case of the neocons, “reformed” according to their ideological interpretation of a document designed not to rule the people but to declare independence from England.

In other words, by adopting the faulty assumption that the enshrined inequality in our founding documents is equivalent to and a specific endorsement of racism, we are giving way to the Cultural Marxists’ insistence that “race” is the central, if not unique, theme of all of American history.

Our American ancestors viewed inequality in a much broader and normative sense, reflecting their understanding of human nature, the laws of nature, and, indeed, of both Biblical teaching and their inheritance in the English Common Law tradition.  Of course, race can be placed into that context; but it should also be noted that, historically, the civil institution of the bondage of one person to another, or of classes within a society, did not necessarily imply universal white domination over, or exploitation of, blacks because they were blacks.  Nearly all societies in Africa practiced and sanctified slavery, but that simply meant the enslavement of one tribe to another.  “Racism” was not the reason for this institutionalized “inequality.”

Indeed, it can be argued that economic issues have been just as important, if not more important, in the shaping of American history.  And race has usually receded as a major concern when measured against nationally pressing or disastrous economic issues (e.g., the Great Depression), or the appeal to national solidarity and the defense of the homeland or family in times of war or national emergency.  Historians such as Charles Beard (in his influential An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, 1913) forcefully expressed this view a century ago.  More recently, some writers have challenged the dominant historiography of academia, which insists that race and racism are the only considerations by which to evaluate our history.

The prominent and celebrated historian Eric Foner casts the War Between the States this way: Simply stated, it was a crusade to free the slaves and “overturn racism,” a racism implicit in the American Founding which had to be defeated and must now be erased by continuous struggle.  And Reconstruction was the attempt to realize the egalitarian meaning and results of that bloody conflict.  Foner’s historiography, like that of the majority of today’s American historians, is characterized by a kind of historical reductionism, shaped by intolerant and dogmatic Cultural Marxism. 

Any real dissent from this race-based philosophy of history, even if expressed in the mildest and most respectful form, is forbidden.  Thus, such recent revisionist studies as William Marvel’s Mr. Lincoln Goes to War (2006), John V. Denson’s A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (2006), the late Thomas Fleming’s A Disease in the Public Mind (2013), and Philip Leigh’s Southern Reconstruction (2017), not to mention the scholarly volumes of Thomas DiLorenzo—all of which deviate from the Cultural Marxist template—are dismissed or ignored by mainstream historians.  (It would be of interest to discover how many of these non-Marxist titles have found their way into modern college courses on the War and Reconstruction.  Not many, I suspect.)

The Cultural Marxist hyper-emphasis on race and racism now reaches into and pervades every aspect of our lives, dictating a rigid ideological orthodoxy, an orthodoxy that continues to envelope every word we are allowed to speak.  Thus, until we openly reject the dominant Cultural Marxist ideology of equality and race, denying it the power to control our society both intellectually and practically, our children’s sense of their own history will continue to erode, and our very rights and existence as the American people will continue to disappear.