The people of America need to put aside their differences and come together on common ground. Especially at this crucial moment in our history. How better, I ask, to achieve this goal than to engage in an inconclusive, protracted, ignorant, and superficial examination of the issue of race?
The time for vagueness is now.
Over the past 20 years, our country has become intensely polarized. The gap between rich and poor has grown ever more vast. Voters on both sides are desperate for alternatives. If we ever hope to move into a new era of enlightened multicultural exchange, we must foster, on a national scale, a second-grade-level look into the most painful and difficult issue in America's cultural history.
Black, white, yellow, green, or brown— we can all be callously summed up in a trite statement of unity.
Like it or not, the U.S. needs a stupid conversation on the issue of race relations. Perhaps more importantly, we need this stupid dialogue to be couched in the most self-righteous, know-it-all attitudes on the part of those involved, as if they have no idea whatsoever of how much more complicated the issue is, and how little their one-dimensional approach to it brings to the table.
It's our duty to put aside the complexities of cross-cultural communication and focus on the first idea that comes to mind. Then, after we've wasted 20 minutes discussing whether the term black is offensive, we can repeat the first idea over and over until we have alienated all listeners who did not already agree with us at the beginning.
Is that so very hard?
I'm talking about ill-informed citation of unconfirmed statistics on affirmative action programs. I'm talking about patronizing notions of ethnic identity. I'm talking about multisyllabic, intellectual-sounding terms like "victimization" and "social responsibility" and "self-actualization."
The time has come to start saying foolish, foolish things about the O.J. trial once again.
It's been too long since we sat down and shared long-discredited arguments about welfare mothers eating steak with each other. Terms like "reverse discrimination" should be put back in the spotlight. And while we're being open and honest, why not trot out that old chestnut about the unfairness of black-only usage of "the N-word."
I dare one of our presidential candidates to blanket the media with buzzwords like "Americanism," without ever examining the underlying implications of what they might mean. That would be the day.
Liberals and conservatives alike, hear my plea: We can all say incredibly silly things about who does or does not have the "right" to "act" either black or white, or both.
The Information Age has opened the gates to free and unfettered communication. If we take advantage of that incredible opportunity and technology, we could, in theory, get every single political comment posted on the Internet to relate an embarrassingly simple-minded opinion on some aspect of race in America. We could have every political video clip greeted with literally hundreds of foolish and inane comments from citizens who appear never to have thought about the issue of race beyond their first naïve presumptions, or caricatures they've seen in the media. We could generate blogs—not just hundreds, not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands of blogs—all saying one version or other of the same basic three to five ill-informed viewpoints on this nuanced cultural issue.
Imagine it, if you can!
Since the civil rights movement, race has been our nation's "dirty little secret"—an ugly, shameful reality swept under the rug of polite discourse, emerging only in isolated, angry outbursts about airport profiling, police brutality cases, and gangsta rap. Let's take that issue out from under the rug—keeping that initial phase of ignorance, lack of mutual understanding, and fear—and make sure it dominates American politics for the next century.
Only by opening an embarrassingly one- dimensional dialogue on the most simple and wholly ignorant level can we ensure that we, as a nation, never get down to the deeper issues about race and identity that truly threaten to tear this country apart.
Who's with me?