Kill the white man?

Posted: Sep 10, 2002 12:00 AM
"Kill the white man," was Eddie Murphy's memorable refrain as a Reggae singer hired to perform at a corporate conference in an old "Saturday Night Live" skit Noel Ignatiev, a Harvard fellow and Marxist activist, now proposes that we adopt Murphy's refrain as the national anthem. Writing in the current edition of Harvard Magazine, Ignatiev argues that "abolishing the white race" (give or take a few murders, of course) "is desirable" because it would rectify the overt discrimination of the past. "Every group within white America," writes Ignatiev, ".has advanced its particular and narrowly defined interests at the expense of black people as a race." Presently, Ignatiev serves as a fellow at Harvard's WEB DuBois Institute. Specifically, Ignatiev argues that the "social constructs known as the white race" confer unfair benefits upon those with white skin. And, indeed, this country's shared history of slavery has created some definite social hierarchies. These cultural divisions were sewn so deep into our social fabric, for so long, that even today there continues to be a wide achievement gap between blacks and whites. Just one thing: encouraging our citizens to "abolish" an entire race keeps us from huddling together as a more perfect union. It also exacerbates racial tensions by encouraging people to regard themselves as tribes, rather than individuals, capable of succeeding or failing on their own merit. This sort of balkanization is never good for progress. Exhibit A: the Balkans. Exhibit B: Cambodia during the late '70s, where dictator Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge army resolved to abolish the dominant tribe - in this case, the educated and the skilled - and create an agrarian utopia of the Marxist variety. Proclaiming, "What is rotten must be removed," Pot's regime slaughtered one quarter of Cambodia's population. This brutal and systematic purging effectively removed the sort of friction of ideas that ensures social progress. This is what happens when one tribe resolves to arbitrarily purge their "class enemies." Somehow, this rousing point remains lost on the fellow from Harvard, who is quite comfortable calling for the purging of the white race. If Ignatiev were a foreign dictator, he would be compared to Pol Pot or Hitler or Stalin. In American academia, we reward him with a position at Harvard. How sad that America's premiere intellectual institution is touting this group hate. Author David Horowitz put it succinctly on his Web site: "Suppose ran a headline 'Abolish the black race? What do you think the reaction would be? But at Harvard, where demonizing whites is merely the standard curriculum, an article like this can appear in a glossy magazine.." Of course, Ignatiev has no intention of retracting his statement. He remains hamstrung by the unwavering belief that the white race is essentially rotten and, therefore, beyond the pale of such subtle considerations as basic human rights. So he resolves to simply abolish them. This sort of disregard for basic human rights never brings us closer to equality.