I was part of a group of several hundred social workers, nurses, and other community health-care providers whose employers shelled out a lot of money for a conference that promised to help us work more effectively with “minority populations.”  In fact, precious little attention was paid to the people with whom we work.  Instead, for six hours the (mostly white) audience was informed how racist it was by a dapper black college professor from New York.

After you have been through a few of these dog-and-pony shows, you learn to come prepared.  Having brought along enough office paperwork and reactionary literature to pass the day quite comfortably, I settled in the back row and prepared to ignore the entire presentation.  At the front of the room, our speaker, Professor Hardy, prepared to start an argument.

After ingratiating himself to the audience with jokes and banter, Hardy showed a video of some young, white American punks saying some very politically incorrect things about black Americans.  The video was an obvious provocation, and, when it ended, the blacks in our audience bit hard, complaining that the kids were racist.  This complaint was quickly generalized to include white America—another fairly obvious provocation, to which the whites in the room bit hard.

The whites agreed with the blacks that everyone in America was racist (except for them) but tended to defuse the race issue by making analogies to other polarizing issues, such as class, sex, and “sexual orientation.”  As I marveled at the number of aging Marxists in the audience who wanted to talk about the class war, a large black woman cut them short with an accusation: “You’re changing the subject because you’re uncomfortable talking about race.”  She was probably right, but from my seat in the back of the room, nobody seemed that uncomfortable.  Professor Hardy gave his audience a (rhetorical) group hug: “I feel totally honored to be here,” he gushed.  “You’re so gutsy, tackling this head on.”  Then it was time for a break.

After the break, the feminists complained that they were being ignored.  Although nobody else seemed to mind this, Dr. Hardy allowed a few of them to make some fairly predictable comments about patriarchy.  Then he smoothly moved from sex back to race.  (I got the idea he had made this segue before.)  The only issue he fumbled was homosexuality—to be precise, “transgender sexuality.”  “I work for the Minnesota AIDS Project,” a woman complained, “and even there, when a person who has had a sex-change operation comes through the door, we act like a devil has walked into the room.”  Our speaker was unusually silent after this remark.  Later in the day, he confessed that his one visit to a gay bar was “a very, very, very enlightening experience,” because he realized “where I need to work . . . my homophobia is so thick . . . my head and my heart are in two different places . . . ”

More interesting than the dimensions and location of Dr. Hardy’s “homophobia” was the intellectual framework in which he placed black and white Americans.  Both are “victims” of  “Eurocentric ideology,” a codeword for Christianity and—from Dr. Hardy’s perspective anyway—the white racism responsible for slavery.  He believes that many black Americans presently suffer from the residuals of slavery, the symptoms of which include rage, violence, “psychological homelessness,” and mistrust of whites.

The doctor’s prescription was a “paradigmatic shift” from “Eurocentric ideology” to a multicultural perspective that “honors differences.”  He spoke so glowingly of “the healing potential of conversation and dialogue” that the very words almost seemed an incantation.  This went over quite well, although an incorrigible ne’er-do-well in the back row noted two flies in the ointment.  First, Dr. Hardy and his audience engaged in dialogue all day, and nobody sounded healed; if anything, people sounded inflamed.  Second, try as they might, the audience had difficulty “honoring differences.”  As one affable, large black man put it, “Why don’t people of color get along with each other?”

No one wanted to dialogue about this, so Dr. Hardy showed another video.  This one contained interviews with middle-class black Americans.  All were well dressed and well spoken.  All believed white Americans to be guilty of a number of unusual conspiracies, including engineering AIDS as a genetic plot against blacks and Snapple Iced Tea being owned by the Ku Klux Klan.  The illustration of the Boston Tea Party on Snapple labels, the blacks in the video believed, contains slave ships.  They also claimed that the “K” on the Snapple label was an abbreviation for “Klan.”  The explanation that the “K” was, in fact, an abbreviation for “kosher” was greeted with skepticism.

The point of the video—that blacks don’t trust whites—was less debatable than the conclusion that this mistrust would dissolve if only whites would admit (preferably over and over again) how awful they are.  While this solution appeared deeply satisfying to many in the room, it seemed an unlikely remedy for what Dr. Hardy quite correctly calls the “spiritual, existential homelessness” of black Americans.

Spiritual homelessness is a condition blacks share with whites, as well as the other races that inhabit our so-called United States.  When religion is banned as a guiding force in society, culture, and government, everyone feels dislocated.  We just weren’t created to believe that religion is unimportant; this is an idea that has to be enforced.

Other ideas that have to be enforced spring from what Dr. Hardy referred to as “Eurocentric ideology.”  He meant “white Christianity,” but the Eurocentric ideology that blacks should really despise is not true Christianity but the unholy blend of Unitarianism, Masonry, and Marxism that passes for religion over here.  Marxism, in particular, has expertly inflamed the natural mistrust between races into hatred and paranoia and has exploited slavery for its own divisive purposes.  One of the more benign, if woefully misguided, consequences is the seminar on race relations.

These days, multiculturalism is making a bid to become the newest man-made religion.  The different races and sexes are its various denominations, and its chief dogma is unity.  Its main tool is dialogue; its main enemy is what’s left of Western civilization.