A Libertarian Perspective on Racism

The appalling shooting in Charleston has again brought the American discussion on racism to the forefront.   Motivated by an irrational hatred of black persons, Dylann Storm committed the greatest violation one individual can inflict on another, he took their life; and he repeated that horrendous offense 8 more times.  He murdered not knowing any of those individuals or knowing anything of them but the color of their skin.

Racism is a fallacious creed that fails to understand that every individual is unique and uniquely valuable.  Racism does not recognize individuals, but rather narrow-mindedly fabricates groups based on the color of skin, nationality, or religion and then attributes pre-conceived prejudices to all members of that group.  At its essence, racism is the most evil form of collectivism.

This same prejudicial collectivist mentality underlies all the racial genocides that stain human history:  The persecution of the Jewish people throughout much of European history, culminating in the holocaust; the genocide of the Tutsi by the Hutu in Rwanda;  Muslims and Christians killing each other in Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East from the 7th to 17th centuries; Shiites and Sunnis slaughtering each other in more recent centuries; contemporary radical Islam executing the “infidels” outside of their group.  The list goes on and on.

Racism and persecution pervade in a society to the degree that individual freedom is constrained.  The more authoritarian the state, the more prejudice and discrimination proliferate. Subordination of individual freedom to the authority of the state is the hallmark of totalitarian regimes.  The fascists subordinated individual freedom to the needs of the nation and the race.  The communists subordinated individual freedom to the “collective good”.  Authoritarian states characteristically create and operate within a scapegoat political atmosphere based in group envy and blame. It is no coincidence that the totalitarian governments of the 20th century killed 10s of millions of persons.

Paradoxically, the despicable murders in Charleston occurred only days before the Fourth of July celebration.  Racism’s disregard for the individual stands in sharp contrast to our country’s founding principle that asserts “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  Though some allege otherwise, failure to constitutionally extend protection of individual rights to woman or slaves at the time of the Declaration in no way invalidates its eternal truth.  And when that wrong was rectified, it was because of the principles embodied in the Declaration.

The Declaration was a radical political statement.  Prior to our country’s founding, states functioned in the mistaken belief that monarchs, a ruling class, a conqueror, or some other human authority had the power to bestow or restrict individual rights.  The Declaration rejects this falsehood and affirms that every person has a God-given right to their own life, to live their life as they see fit, and to the right of property so long as they do not interfere with any other individual’s right to do the same.

As we mourn and reflect on last Wednesday’s tragedy, we must not allow ourselves to fall into the same collectivist/racist thinking that motivated Dylann Storm. The white race did not commit this crime against the black race.  Rather Dylann Storm, a hateful and intensely misguided man took the lives of 9 unique and irreproducible persons. Like each one of us, they have family and friends that love them, had their own talents and joys, and crosses to bear, and are uniquely loved and uniquely loveable children of God.  The color of the skin of the murderer or of the victims does not change the nature of the evil that was committed.

Anti-racial discrimination policies including racial quotas, disparate impact analysis, hate crime laws (Is violence motivated by racism any more abhorrent than violence otherwise motivated?), etc., along with concepts such as white privilege, white guilt, black privilege, etc. are all based in the same individual-denying, collectivist mindset that spawns racism.

Only by protecting the individual rights of life, liberty, and property will we end racism.  These rights result in the economic freedom for individuals to engage in voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange. Free exchange punishes bias and prejudice.  A business owner who discriminates selling to or hiring from a particular group not only misses the opportunity to have more sales and a deeper hiring pool but also faces the boycott of customers who find such discrimination abhorrent. Free exchange promotes peace and prosperity.  This is more than empty rhetoric.  Our country’s immigration history demonstrates that individuals who were members of religious groups/races/tribes that had been feuding with and killing one another for centuries came to America and have mostly lived in cooperation and peace with each other, and enjoyed wealth and health their ancestors could not have imagined.

Sadly, societal peace and prosperity in our country has diminished and is further threatened as our government continues to expand beyond its rightful constitutional limits.  Big government is slowing strangling the economy by ever increasing regulation and taxation, imposing collectivist-based anti-discrimination policies that ultimately promote racial prejudice, enacting social welfare policies injuring most the individuals those programs intended to help, and granting subsidies, tax breaks, and protective regulation to corporate special interests to everyone else’s detriment.

Racism still exists in our country, but it is not a matter of “the white race” discriminating against the others, but rather of a small minority of ignorant racist individuals.  Intrinsically within free society, racism is irrational and therefore increasingly resisted as freedom increases. Racism will not be defeated by anti-racial collectivist policies and other limitations on individual freedom; but only by the growing, flourishing, and prosperity of society engendered by expanding individual and economic freedom.

Please join the campaign for liberty.  Our future freedom and prosperity depend on it.

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