Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Discrimination? Eh, Who Cares! Diversity Training? A Racist Outrage!

Fox News is busily alerting its audience of white senior citizens that there is a scandal at the USDA. No, it has nothing to do with the discrimination against black farmers that the USDA practiced for decades. It was fine for Fox to ignore that; it involved black people being screwed, after all, so who cares? The current scandal is much, much worse. It turns out the USDA has been -- gasp! -- paying for diversity trainings!

Fox broke this monstrous story last week and then O'Reilly brought Glenn Beck onto his show to say the stuff he's not quite willing to say. What does Beck think of diversity training?
Look at what this government is doing! This government under Barack Obama is hiring people to teach people how to be racist! …This is a coordinated, planned effort to go in and teach government workers to be racist!
Beck went on to talk about how "stupid sensitivity trainings" are in general, and demanded that the speaker and everyone involved in hiring him be fired. In a google search I was unable to find Beck ever calling for accountability at the USDA for its decades of racial discrimination.

Anyway, I bring this silly little episode to our attention because it presents a nice little microcosm of how racism functions on the right. It is a bigotry too cowardly to honestly present itself. Beck and O'Reilly are unwilling to say -- or perhaps even to face in their own hearts -- what they believe, namely, that white males should enjoy all sorts of privileges in life that others do not. But since these guys talk about the news for a living, their belief is constantly leaking out. It reveals itself in the things they ignore as well as that which outrages them.

I have heard Beck angrily respond to perceived slights against white people dozens of times. I have never heard him speak up for people of color or for women, even though they bear the brunt of discrimination. You see the upside down worldview of these guys in their assumption that diversity training is itself racist.

I think a lot of diversity training is poorly done, but I'm unaware of good, justice-loving people who oppose the idea in principle. Yet Beck says all diversity training is "stupid." Likewise, what are all these complaints about "political correctness" if not the frustrated ravings of white men who resent the fact that they are no longer able to define others however they want and thus hold power over them?

In this little episode we see perhaps the fundamental feature of colorblind racism: acknowledgement of diversity and an attempt to deal with it honestly and proactively is itself seen as being racist. Actual discrimination is over and over again ignored or explained away, while attempts to deal with it are attacked. And yet these reactionary forces delude themselves into thinking that, somehow, they're different from the segregationists of old.

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