My Thoughts

According to the most frequently cited critical race theorist, Ibram Henry Rogers, a.k.a. Ibram X Kendi, and his legion of anti-racist hucksters, I am a racist, but he is not. Any denial on my part is proof positive of my inherent racist cant, like the Kobayashi Maru[1] exercise, the “heads I win, tails you lose” no-win scenario. Sorry, Mr. Rogers and your ‘hood, but I, like James Tiberius Kirk, do not engage in no-win scenarios. Playing your game by your rules is a sucker’s bet, a no-win scenario which only fools dare to play.

Kendi, in his vivid imagination, is an intellectual and academic, having received dual B.S. degrees in African American Studies and magazine production from Florida A&M University, a M.A. and a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. Kendi’s dissertation was titled “The Black Campus Movement: An Afrocentric Narrative History of the Struggle to Diversify Higher Education, 1965-1972.” It takes no genius to notice the narrow cant of Kendi’s academic interests. Make no mistake, despite Kendi’s assertions to the contrary, he is no genius nor is he an intellectual. Thomas Sowell[2] is a genius and an intellectual, Kendi is “but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.” Let us hope his hour has well and truly passed.

One of the more egregious examples of his impoverished thought is this gem: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” Think about that for a millisecond. Ok, times up. First up, “racist discrimination,” for which I presume Kendi to mean the unjust or prejudicial treatment of those who show prejudice or antagonism against members of a particular racial or ethnic group; simply put, the unjust or prejudicial treatment against racists. Following that logic therefore “antiracist discrimination” can only mean unjust or prejudicial treatment against antiracists; an antiracist being anyone who opposes racists.

Remove the adjectives to reveal the prize: “The only remedy to discrimination is discrimination.” Now repeat that three times. Where precisely is the remedy? The only remedy to a bite by a venomous viper is a bite by an antivenomous snake? George Orwell once wrote “A man may take a drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”[3]

To be sure, there are racists, they exist and spew their vile vitriol upon those they believe are less than human for whatever reason they see fit to construct. Thankfully, such reprehensible reprobates are few and far between, though according to Ibram X. Kendi it is an immutable birth defect. If it is immutable then what possible remedy can there be? If no remedy is possible then where’s the beef?

In one of his many columns Thomas Sowell once wrote, “Dishonesty has become so routine in discussions of racial issues that perhaps I should not have been surprised at a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle that read: ‘Minority Students Need Access to Honors Classes.’”

Are there honors classes which refuse to accept minority students who meet the same standards as others? If so, that should be the subject of a lawsuit, not a mere op-ed piece. But, of course, this is not the case.

“Access” is one of the great dishonest words of our times. I have had as much access to a career in professional basketball as Michael Jordan had. He just happened to play the game a lot better. Indeed, practically everybody has played the game a lot better than I did.

My problem was not “access” to basketball. Neither is the problem access in most other situations in which this slippery word is used politically. At the very least, we need to distinguish access from performance.

Blurring that distinction is at the heart of many claims of discrimination based on statistics. The claim behind the misleading headline in the Chronicle is that the University of California system is discriminating against black and Hispanic students who apply—by judging them by the same standards applied to others!

One of the factors taken into account in admissions decisions in the University of California system is a grade-point average that gives extra points for grades earned in honors courses. High schools in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods offer fewer honors courses. Therefore, the lawsuit claims, the admissions criteria are discriminatory.

If this argument were meant seriously, instead of politically, then the remedy would be to have high schools in black and Hispanic neighborhoods offer more honors courses. If anybody should be sued, then it should be the public schools, rather than the University of California, which has nothing to do with how many honors courses are or are not taught in various high schools.

The real point of the lawsuit, and of the op-ed support of it, is to get the admissions standards repealed or circumvented, so that there will be a larger body count of so-called “underrepresented minorities” on University of California campuses. If this effort is successful, blacks and Hispanics may not get any better education in high schools, but their symbolic presence will be greater at Berkeley, UCLA, etc.—even if they flunk out before graduating.[4]

Skin color may be one rather obvious discriminating factor, but it is not the only reason for the dehumanization of a people, race, or ethnicity. Just ask the Jews, Christians, Hutus, or Uyghurs, to name but four. Everyone discriminates. Everyone. To discriminate is to recognize a distinction, to perceive a difference, to differentiate. I personally do not eat onions, never have, never will; I discriminate and that is, for me, a good thing. When I see someone who looks like a human being, walks like a human being, talks like a human being, I discriminate, I perceive that what I am seeing to be a human being.

So, no, Mr. Ibram X Kendi, I am not a racist, neither do I accept your argument that my denial proves that I am. I could turn your argument 180 degrees, but I will not for to do so would require that I play your game by your rules. I will, however, simply ask you to look into a mirror and tell us what you see staring back at you.

Just my thoughts for a Thursday for what it is worth.

[1] The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. The test’s name is occasionally used to describe a no-win scenario, a test of one’s character or a solution that involves redefining the problem and managing an insurmountable scenario gracefully.

[2] Thomas Sowell is the Milton and Rose Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of Basic Economics, The Quest for Cosmic Justice, Race and Culture, Knowledge and Decisions, Controversial Essays, and Intellectuals and Society. He has also published in both academic journals and the popular media, including Forbes magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and more than 150 newspapers carry his nationally syndicated column.

[3] George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946.

[4] Thomas Sowell, “Access” to Responsibility, Controversial Essays (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2002), 83-84.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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