Summer 2010 -- With the seemingly increasing polarization of the political landscape in America, and the first black president in office, racism continues to be a frequent topic of news stories. Some paint the Tea Party with the broad brush of racism, failing to apprehend any nuanced picture of the grass roots phenomenon and failing to perceive the prejudice inherent in such a knee jerk reaction. Meanwhile clear incidents of racism continue: including the 2008 burning of a predominantly African-American church in Massachusetts, done in protest of the election of Barack Obama.
In this issue William R Thomas takes a closer look at racism: its causes, manifestations, and antidotes.
"Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism," wrote Ayn Rand
. "It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors." Rand was incisive in her related descriptions of a "quest for the unearned" and for a "tribal self-esteem."
Also consider the widespread popularity of finding one's significance and identity not only in race, but in other "accidents of birth": gender, sexuality, handicap.
What do you find your significance in? Your genes? Or your character and your actions?