Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence

By Fred L. Pincus; Howard J. Ehrlich | Go to book overview

24
"New Racism" and
Old Dogmatism

THOMAS SOWELL

Increasing hostility toward blacks and other racial minorities on college campuses has become so widespread that the term "the new racism" has been coined to describe it. For example, a dean at Middlebury College in Vermont reported that-- for the first time in 19 years--she was now being asked by white students not to assign them black room mates. There have been reports of similar trends in attitudes elsewhere. A professor at the University of California at Berkeley observed: "I've been teaching at U.C. Berkeley now for 18 years and it's only within the last three or four years that I've seen racist graffiti for the first time." Another Berkeley professor, recalling support for the civil rights movement on the campuses of the 1960s and 1970s, commented: "Twenty years later, what have we got? Hate mail and racist talk."

Much uglier incidents, including outright violence, have erupted on many campuses where such behavior was unheard of, just a decade or two earlier. At the University of Massachusetts, for example, white students beat up a black student in 1986 and a large mob of whites chased about 20 blacks. A well-known college guide quotes a Tufts University student as saying, "many of my friends wouldn't care if they never saw a black person again in their lives."

Racism, as such, is not new. What is new are the frequency, the places, and the class of people involved in an unprecedented escalation of overt racial hostility among middle-class young people, on predominantly liberal or radical campuses. Painful and ugly as these episodes are, they should not be surprising. . . .

The passing years have seen an ever-widening double standard of behavior, by race, on many campuses. At the University of California at Berkeley, for example, when some partying fraternity members pinned a confederate flag outside the frat house, the administration imposed "sensitivity" training on the whole fraternity and asked them to seek more minority members, but it took a very different view when the feelings of Jewish students were involved:

____________________
Editors' note: Footnotes deleted. See original source for documentation.

-291-

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