Since author and Obama-disliker Dinesh D'Souza wrote a book declaring The End of Racism (three bucks at Amazon), it was not racist when he on Tuesday referred to the president as the "Grown-Up Trayvon in the White House." Can't be. Racism is over.
Update: He deleted the tweet, but we took a screenshot.
The book, released in 1996, articulates the conservative writer's position on racism. If you're not interested in paying even $3 for it, D'Souza (pictured above at left) explained its argument to PBS shortly after the book came out. In short: Racism was created as a concept to explain why non-Western cultures didn't match the West's cultural achievements. He says "racism is a doctrine of biological inferiority usually accompanied by the practice of systematized discrimination," then arguing that that perception of inferiority has largely subsided.
And then, later, that one problem distinctive to black culture is "the extremely high, virtually parasitic reliance of African-Americans on the government."
So I’m not saying that it’s peculiar or bizarre that blacks rely on the government. I’m saying today, when the government cannot employ large numbers of people, when public confidence in the government is low, the Korean or the Asian strategy of entrepreneurship, of small business, which is very weak in the black community, we need to stress that.
See how it works? There's no racism anymore, so now we can have some Real Talk about African-Americans. Arguments that institutionalized racism — and the obvious and persistent existence of discrimination — somehow affect the black population are dismissed in favor of the argument that African-Americans choose to rely on government assistance.
If this sounds familiar following last year's maker-vs-taker, 47-percent-are-dependent-on-government campaign, it should. D'Souza's theories launched him into the conservative pundit stratosphere. Here was a person of color saying that conservatives are authorized to dismiss entire minority groups. D'Souza didn't invent this argument, but by declaring racism over, he certainly helped clear its path.
D'Souza's role in the 2012 campaign was more direct than obliquely influencing political theory. He also created the (completely unfounded) idea that President Obama was influenced by his father to hate Western culture, by virtue of his father being a Kenyan anti-colonialist. It's an argument that starts with D'Souza's goal — prove that Obama hates America — and then work backward to find the cause. At the time D'Souza released that theory, The Economist applied the same logic to try and suss out D'Souza's motivations, to wonderful effect.
D'Souza is also the person responsible for 2016: Obama's America, a very popular movie among conservatives that hoped (almost explicitly) to scare people into voting against the president in 2012. Obviously, it didn't work, in part because the meme on which it was based — who is this "Obama" guy, anyway? — lost some potency after he'd been president four years.
But back to the tweet. Remembering that this isn't racist, because racism is over, what exactly is D'Souza trying to say? He's most immediately referring to Obama's statement in July that Martin "could have been me 35 years ago," part of the president's empathetic response to the George Zimmerman verdict. But D'Souza is also somewhat lazily walking through a two-step disparagement. First, Trayvon Martin, a kid shot to death by a man with obvious anger issues, was complicit in his own death because he seemed like a "thug." Obama is similarly a "thug" because he (mostly) stands in the way of the conservative political agenda using totally normal tactics that, when performed by the nation's first African-American president, strike his opponents as thuggish. Obama's "Chicago politics" included stealing both elections, keeping veterans away from the World War II memorial, and sort-of-criticizing the Supreme Court. There are many, many more examples, of course, none of which are related to Obama (or Trayvon) being black because racism is dead.
Incidentally, while he he hasn't yet written a book called The End of Sexism, we'll give D'Souza a pass on the tweet that preceded his Trayvon one, below. We're sure there's some brilliant theory behind it somewhere, and he's had enough trouble with women.
If women are the intellectual equals of men, why is there a World Chess Championship and a separate Women's World Chess Championship?— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) November 22, 2013
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.