I cribbed the title above from a chapter in one of the books on my Most Admired list: Jean-Francois Revel’s masterwork The Flight From Truth: The Reign of Deceit in an Age of Information. In that chapter, Revel does a masterful job of delineating the Left’s perversion of what was once a simple, precisely defined phenomenon – the desire to deny or withhold the protections of individual rights from others on the grounds of their race – into a political weapon with no precise meaning. The Left seeks only to redirect the contempt most decent persons feel for the true racist — i.e., the man who judges individuals solely according to their race, rather than on their individual merits — toward their political opponents…which, as any Gentle Reader will already know, means anyone to the right of Stalin.
I hope the soul of the late Monsieur Revel will pardon me for posting a lengthy excerpt from his magnum opus:
The first step…is to reduce a multiple reality to one phenomenon—that is, to reduce diverse forms of behavior which, though reprehensible, are of varying gravity, harmfulness, and above all origins, to a single fundamental concept: that of “racism.” The second step is to assimilate this monolithic denominator, which has been obtained by the artificial fusion of myriad forms of discriminatory and scornful behavior, with the ideological, doctrinaire, pseudoscientific racism of Third Reich theorists. Finally, in a third stage, any measure aimed at selecting human beings and at distinguishing them from one another, even for purely practical, scholastic, hygienic, or disciplinary reasons, is termed “discriminatory.” For example, imposing selective examinations for admission to a university may be a sound measure or a bad one. It can be discussed from a pedagogical or social point of view. But during the lycee (high school) student demonstrations against selection that took place in France in November and December 1986 and slightly later in Spain, technical considerations played no role whatsoever in the discussions. The rhetoric of the protestors was based on antiracist metaphysics. It condemned the very principle of examination as a behavior of exclusion. The dominant slogan was “No to Discrimination!” In other words, a candidate for admission to a university whose knowledge was to be tested was likened to a South African black or a Jew persecuted by Hitler. The conservative Chirac government, which had proposed selective standards for university admission, was accordingly branded as “fascist,” since selective admission, judged in terms of the racist paradigm, could only imply separation, exclusion, discrimination, and—who knows?—perhaps deportation as well.
Revel wrote that passage in 1988. While he was mainly concerned with the use of racism-shouting in debates over the frictions France was experiencing from immigration, note how well his analysis meshes with the racism-shouters in present-day America.
Later on in the same chapter:
Behind the enormously exaggerated to-do over a racist and fascist danger in Europe comparable to what existed before World War II, there lurks in truth a persistent refusal, in the purest Leninist tradition, to recognize the genuineness of liberal pluralist democracy. No matter how stubbornly they may they seek to deny it, European socialists, like American “liberals”—if not all of them, at any rate many of them—consider that the dividing line between the defenders and the enemies of human rights passes between them and the liberals (in the European sense; conservatives in the American sense) and not between democrats as a whole and communists. In other words, the real totalitarians remain in their eyes the partisans of capitalism and the open society, and curiously enough they are even more persuaded of it today than they were in the past.
But pluralism of the original variety – what the late Clarence Carson called “the agreement to agree to disagree” – is only possible when the unit of reckoning, legally and politically, is the individual rather than any group. In other words, pluralism with social harmony requires a political context in which identity politics is itself treated as contemptible.
But of course, one of America’s major political parties has adopted identity politics as its principal tactic. Without it, the Democrats would be a shrunken rump unable to elect third assistant dogcatchers. With it…well, I hardly need to describe the chaos, intimidation, and anarcho-tyranny it has enabled the Left to inflict upon peaceable, defenseless Americans. My Gentle Readers are more astute than that.