Joseph Kay, American Renaissance, July 24, 2015
American race relations are complicated, but they are surrealistic when it comes to blacks blaming their tribulations on whites. On the one hand, countless blacks (including President Obama) insist that white racism remains ubiquitous and is central to racial inequality. Meanwhile, many whites point out that since the 1960s, trillions have been spent directly to help blacks, and that black have benefitted from anti-discrimination laws, voting rights legislation, affirmative action, and many other measures.
If America is so racist–according to President Obama it is in our DNA–what explains all these efforts, as well as the fact that we have twice elected an African American as president? Accusations of white racism seem to be growing stronger as actual incidents of white anti-black behavior, such as the Charleston shootings, become man-bites-dog rarities.
No objective analysis will uncover secret KKK-type machinations or much out-and-out racial animosity. It is true that many whites avoid blacks and may occasionally make unflattering comments about them, but it is hard to argue that such behavior actually causes racial inequality.
Let me suggest that all of this seems a bit crazy because it is crazy: It reflects a mental disorder. The disorder is called “magical thinking,” and it is well established in the mental health literature. According to one definition, it is:
The erroneous belief, similar to a normal stage of childhood development . . . that thoughts assume a magical power capable of influencing events without a physical action actually occurring; a conviction that thinking equates with doing, accompanied by an unrealistic understanding of cause and effect.
Magical thinking has long been observed by anthropologists, particularly in primitive societies and, no doubt, nearly everyone has at one time or another believed that his fate could somehow be influenced by what others think, even if these thoughts were never voiced or acted upon. The prevalence of magical thinking is a matter of degree.
Let me stress the speculative nature of this assertion, but I would suggest that magical thinking is behind the oft-heard claims by blacks that their sufferings can flow merely from how whites think about them. Blacks are not necessarily claiming that white people behave badly toward them (though that might occasionally occur); rather, it is white thinking that causes harm.
The pernicious impact of white racism resembles powerful but invisible cosmic rays from which there is no defense. This is why a black child, in an all-black, black-run, and well-funded school, using an Afro-centric curriculum will still perform poorly. The poisonous thoughts of even distant whites caused them to fail.
In his eulogy for the black Charleston pastor Clementa Pinckney, President Obama called attention to this powerful yet imperceptible force: “Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it, so that we’re guarding against not just racial slurs, but we’re also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal.” This line received fervent applause as if everybody knew that Jamal was just as qualified as Johnny
Equally important, the evil impact of these poisonous thoughts is independent of whether they are true. A white who believes that blacks are disproportionately crime prone is just as damaging to blacks as one who believes–should there actually be such people–that African Americans are sub-human. All negative views, accurate or not, harm blacks, and even the mildest criticism of blacks can lead to public shaming and loss of employment.
Thus, a black may live 100 miles from the nearest certified act of “racism,” but “racism” still exerts its influence via past events: slavery, lynching, disenfranchisement, Jim Crow, separate and unequal schools, etc. It is irrelevant that most of these injustices are long gone, and that many blacks alive today have only the faintest recollection of them. One hundred fifty years after the end of slavery it still debilitates blacks.
It is an endless loop: blacks behave poorly, whites therefore hold negative views of blacks, and this in turn cause blacks to behave badly.
At the same time, belief in magical thinking absolves blacks of actual anti-white crimes since, according to this backwards logic, whites are the cause of their own victimization. Put another way, if whites stopped being racists, blacks would then not be driven to do things that whites think are pathological. The loop starts with black behavior–not white malevolence–but until the country accepts the reality of racial differences in temperament and behavior, white malevolence will always be blamed.
This is why the pattern cannot be broken. Even if every white were purified of racial hostility, merely knowing about such things as black criminality and welfare dependency is “racist,” and this knowledge sets in motion the mechanism of magical thinking that makes blacks fail. The only effective cure, then, would be to keep whites in ignorance–the media seem to believe this is their appointed role–or to deny obvious reality.
This bodes ill for race relations. When magical thinking is deeply rooted, it is hard to eradicate. You cannot tell millions of blacks that their instinctive thinking is irrational, personally harmful, and scientifically absurd. To do so would be considered aggressive racism. Indeed, the very suggestion that blacks–but not whites–alter their thinking constitutes white racism in the first degree.
This is why, just as medical researchers dig further into the causes of killer diseases, academics must probe ever deeper into the pathology of white racism. Compared to an earlier era when discrimination was plain to see, detecting today’s racism requires more sophisticated tools, such as fMRI, and new concepts, such as white privilege. Demonizing whites in novel ways is a growth industry.
Moreover, magical thinking absolves blacks. Why should Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton look in the mirror or ask blacks to take responsibility for themselves when they can demand that the only way to avoid the next Ferguson or Charleston, let alone black-on-black murders, is for whites to purge themselves of their racism–and that a good start would be to hire black facilitators for racial exorcisms. At the same time we must cleanse society of Confederate flags and hateful movies such as Gone with the Wind that might trigger white racism. Whites are like alcoholics. Even the slightest exposure to temptation provokes pathological cravings.
Magical thinking may therefore be what explains why cries of “racism” only grow louder as whites do more for blacks. It is what explains why progress has come to a standstill even after every item on the black civil rights agenda has come to pass.