The media is reporting Barack Obama’s win in the Democratic primaries as a “triumph” over racism. They are wrong.
Disassociating oneself from racism involves treating people as individuals, not as part of groups.
It’s ironic then, that the media is proclaiming the “first African-American” presidential candidate is within striking distance of the White House. If the media were not racist, and race was no longer an issue, there would be more focus upon Obama’s policies and his character. Looks would be totally ignored. If bigoted voters choose to make their decision based on race, then that would be their personal business. But the fact that the media is going along with such simple-minded thinking in their news reportage shows racism has not yet been eliminated.
The reality is that it’s hard not to be a racist if you live in America, or indeed Australia. It is completely ingrained in the public mindset. And it will continue to be unavoidable so long as affirmative action programs discriminate on the basis of race. Affirmative action programs are considered “good” racism by their proponents. For example, Australia’s racist constitution permits the federal government to make laws based on race, which means we have whole Departments set up specifically for Aborigines. Yet it’s not an excuse to point out that these laws are used for the (supposed) benefit of Aborigines; even allowing the government to think of race as a relevant factor is racist.
To put it simply, you’re a racist if you believe in using the law to benefit a particular race in a discriminatory way. Just as you’d be a racist if you wanted to use the law to harm a particular race. Racism is racism, whether for a “good” purpose or a “bad” purpose.
Libertarians find it impossible to be racist because they tend to treat people as individuals across the full spectrum of policy areas.
My non-racist judgment of Obama is that he’s the least bad candidate.1 If successful in his plan to socialize healthcare, America will begin facing the same problem of queues and shortages that plagues the Australian healthcare system. But on foreign policy, Obama is the candidate least likely to start World War III, and that far outweighs his domestic shortcomings at this point in time. The views of the next administration will decide whether we go to war with Iran.
1: David Friedman, Milton Friedman’s son, also thinks Obama could turn out to be the most libertarian candidate. I’m less optimistic that any of the candidates will prove libertarian on economic policy given the power of special interest groups in Washington, but on foreign policy Obama is clearly preferable.