December 2011, N12  

By Victor Volsky             



If only Herman Cain were elected president, it would put paid to the issue of racism and excise it from our polity for good. I couldn’t believe my ears hearing this wistful nonsense from a good friend of mine. How could an otherwise intelligent and clear-eyed person be so naïve? How could he be so willfully blind to the obvious: that no matter what happens, until the progressive movement gives up its ghost (and I am not holding my breath that it will happen any time soon), race will be an ever-present hobgoblin of the American body politic. Here is why, as the aforementioned Herman Cain likes to say.
No sooner had Richard Nixon abolished the draft than the antiwar movement suddenly lost its steam and collapsed, exposing the true motivation of its participants. It became immediately apparent that the “revolutionaries” actually cared very little about the Vietnamese. The radical verbiage and Ho Chi Minh’s portraits brandished by the antiwar protesters merely served to disguise their reluctance to get in harm’s way for the sake of “a far-away people of whom we know nothing”, as Neville Chamberlain would put it.

The revolutionary leaders, who had hoped to ride the antiwar movement to power by converting “the imperialist war into a civil war” in the footsteps of the Russian Bolsheviks, had to go back to the drawing board and rethink strategy. The solution they hit upon had been suggested as far back as the 1930’s by a noted Italian communist theoretician named Antonio Gramsci. Finding himself with a lot of time on his hands as he languished in Mussolini’s prison, Gramsci pondered deeply the precepts of Marxist theory and came to the conclusion that St. Karl was wrong: the working class was actually a bourgeoisie in the making and could be considered at best as a tool of the revolution, but not its agent. Its lack of revolutionary zeal is particularly glaring in America with its extraordinary economic dynamism and social mobility, where the popular saying “My son will own the factory where I work” reflects the genuine aspirations of the blue-collar segment of society.

According to the Italian communist, cultural hegemony was the only necessary and sufficient prerequisite of drastic social transformations. It followed that the intelligentsia, the sole truly revolutionary class, had to seize control of the leading cultural institutions, above all schools, academia and the media. If the left succeeded in indoctrinating the populace and bending it to its will; if it subverted society from within until it rotted to the core and dropped in their lap like an overripe fruit, the revolutionaries would achieve their goal and seize power without firing a shot. And so the American left embarked upon what it called a “Great March through the Institutions”.

But if not the proletariat, who was to be the “grave-digger of capitalism?” If not class warfare, what was to be the animating principle of the revolutionary movement? The answer readily suggested itself. Slavery was the Cardinal American Sin, the indelible blot on the national conscience. Hence racial guilt, America’s Achilles’ heel, was chosen as the stalking horse of the coming revolution, the battering ram of the forces of progress storming the ramparts. The formidable propaganda machinery of the left geared up for the gigantic task ahead. Racism was proclaimed to be the ultimate of vices and the greatest imaginable crime against humanity, expiation of the sin of racial inequality the only worthy goal of any conscientious human being. All social and economic issues were to be viewed through the racial prism; all societal ills were to be boiled down to the racial ingredient. Black nationalists were recruited as the Left’s natural allies to keep the racial pot boiling and the racial wounds raw and suppurating. Over the ensuing decades, the American people were gradually conditioned to view race as the end all and be all of the body politic. The tactic was highly successful. Ultimately it carried an African American, Barack Obama, to the White House.

So what happens in the (admittedly unlikely) event Herman Cain wins the Republican nomination and then goes on to beat Obama in the general election? Will it quench the flames of racial antagonism frantically fanned by the progressives? Forget about it! How can the left be expected to give up its most effective weapon just because a black man of a conservative bent has supplanted their idol in the White House? Surrendering the race issue would mean a crushing defeat for the progressive agenda centered as it has been on race all these past decades. It would be tantamount to unilateral ideological disarmament - and liberals are notoriously militant when it comes to their own power even as they fervently advocate appeasement in foreign policy.

Too many interests are tied up in the politics of race. Would the progressive left meekly walk away from an issue that has been its most potent weapon lo these many years? Would black politicians who have made a career out of racial grievances suddenly acknowledge that America has achieved spectacular progress in the area of race relations? Would they get down off their high horse to face the wrath of their constituents trained to blame all their misfortunes on racial discrimination and castigate the guilt-ridden Whitey? Would race hustlers like Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharpton, whose livelihood depends on constantly stirring the racial pot, voluntarily step down from their soapbox and go looking for a more honest way of making a living? Would the race pimps, above all the vast affirmative action bureaucracy, close shop and go off into the sunset? Yeah, right - when hell freezes over! They will fight tooth and nail to defend their turf and stop at nothing to preserve the richly rewarding status quo.

The assault on the conservative black president, naturally enough, would be led by the black auxiliary of the progressive army. They would proclaim that far from being a victory for the cause of racial equality, Herman Cain’s triumph is actually a setback for race relations; that Cain is not an “authentic” black; that he is a disgrace and a traitor to his race, an “Oreo” (black outside, white inside); that he is a “lawn jockey”, a stooge of the reactionaries; that he is “the racist Tea Party” in black face…

But maybe black voters, entranced by the sight of another one of their own in the White House, will not listen to the voices of their “leaders.” If history is any guide, like hell they won’t. In 2004, running for the Senate in Illinois, black Republican Alan Keys got all of 8 percent of the African American vote. To be sure, the Marylander Keys was successfully smeared as a carpetbagger (even though a similar accusation had done nothing to dim the prospects of Hillary Clinton running for the Senate in New York four years previously).

But did black Republican Lynn Swan, who has lived in his adopted state of Pennsylvania a lot longer than Barack Obama has in Illinois, do any better in the gubernatorial election in 2006? Running against the Democratic incumbent, Ed “Fast Eddie” Rendell, the highly accomplished Lynn Swan, a genuine Pittsburgh Steelers legend in football-crazy Pennsylvania to boot, managed to garner a paltry 13 percent of the black vote. The most successful African American Republican politicians in terms of support in the black community, Ken Blackwell from Ohio and Michael Steele from Maryland, got just 20 percent of the black vote in their respective runs for state-wide offices. In all cases ideology handily trumped racial solidarity.

So it’s a safe bet that the black community would readily follow the lead of its self-appointed mouthpieces vilifying Herman Cain. The mainstream media would eagerly serve as the echo-chamber of the critics, strenuously warning the public that the election of a conservative African American in no way means that the end of racism is nigh. The evil has not been vanquished, the MSM will scream, the war goes on, the insidious enemy has merely changed his color, chameleon-like, the better to deceive the gullible. The situation is too dire to let our guard down; we must stay vigilant and redouble our efforts. Onward, progressive soldiers!

Like its feminist, green and gay-rights counterparts, today’s civil rights movement is basically a willing tool of the far left. Once a genuine popular movement pursuing the honorable goal of equality, it has degenerated into an ideological/commercial enterprise designed to keep society in a state of perpetual penitence while paying lip-service to the plight of the black needy as a way of advancing the radical cause and securing enough handouts for the self-anointed “civil rights leaders” to support their opulent lifestyles.

In short, if Herman Cain is elected President of the United States, racial politics, far from waning, will if anything, gain in intensity - and so, too, will be the case if any other Republican wins the presidency, or even if Obama is reelected, for that matter. Whatever happens, the hardy perennial of race politics will survive and thrive. It is utterly unreasonable to expect the left to lay down its tools and walk away from a claim it has been mining with such spectacular success for so many years.


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