Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action

By Frederick R. Lynch | Go to book overview

The mythology also generates an etiquette, a set of progressive proprieties, breach of which can mean embarrassment and even political ruin. . . . The media carefully observe the progressive etiquette, beginning with diction: "black," "gay," "spokesperson." One of liberalism's great coups has been to transmute ideology into etiquette: A code of behavior in minutiae is awkward to argue with. The wrong opinion, the wrong word, can be a headline-making "gaffe," a social blunder, disclosing lack of compassion, unraised consciousness, "insensitivity."

And "Racism." What's that?

It used to mean something definable: a belief in the superiority of one race. . . . The word now has no definition and would lose most of its utility if it did. It's a piece of liberal billingsgate, a name without a thing, though liberal social philosophers discuss it as if it were a real substance. . . . It's not up to anyone to decide whether he himself is a "racist." It's not a matter of squaring things with meanings anymore. We're in ideological wonderland now. If the relevant opinion cartel declares you "racist," you're racist. . . .

Think of all the energy expended nowadays avoiding being declared "racist" (or "sexist" or "homophobic"). The charges emanate from amorphous clouds of attitude and amount to cues to others of like attitude to look, note, smear, ostracize, boycott, denounce, deplore, or bomb, as time and means afford. An informal defamation league takes care of these matters. ( 1987: 33-34)

The implications of Sobran's analysis regarding the mass media's treatment of affirmative action are clear: speaking or writing incorrectly about the issue can get even the most well-meaning person labeled racist.

In his saga of busing in Boston, Common Ground, J. Anthony Lukas found that the press in Boston cooperated in a well-intentioned conspiracy, engaging in pro-busing, anti-Irish self-censorship to, in the words of an operations manager at the NBC outlet, "'use television to create an atmosphere of compliance with Judge Garrity's order. . . ( 1985: 501). Lukas quoted a key reporter for the Boston Globe as stating, "'If they [white Boston Irish] don't like integration, we'll shove it down their throats . . . ( 1985: 504).

Sobran's and Lukas's observations suggest more than the operation of a mere paraideology. Such descriptions suggest a more insidious form of censorship and thought control, which, in the next chapter, I shall describe as the New McCarthyism.


NOTES
1.
Affirmative action-related articles were searched for under the Reader's Guide headings of "Discrimination", "Discrimination in Education", "Discrimination in Employment", and "U.S. Government, President's Commission on Equal Employment Opportunities" (the latter subsequently classified as a government agency). Articles dealing primarily with sexism or Title IX were excluded unless the article title included a direct reference to quotas or affirmative action. Beginning with the March 1975-February 1974 issue, a new category of "Minorities" (along with various subcategories) was included. The March 1979-February 1980 volume also included affirmative action articles under a newly added category, "Blacks".

-107-

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