In the 1970s there were three television channels: CBS, NBC and ABC. If you had a show on the air, take an average episode of M*A*S*H for example, you would pull in a bare minimum of twenty million viewers. There weren’t a lot of choices and nobody cared. People didn’t pine for a thousand channels of premium on-demand with a third of the channels requiring you to call your subscriber and another third in Spanish. With all the specific choices and divisions, things have gotten a lot more complicated. I feel like racism has faced the same kind of transformation. It is harder than ever for racists to be politically correct.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that racism is good. What I’m getting at is that if you are racist, which in addition to being a bad thing, must be tremendously difficult if you want to be accurate. There are so many different ethnic minorities, cultural niches and divided sects that make it really difficult to pinpoint the minority group you are trying to degrade.
If you are going to be racist, you want to be politically correct about it, otherwise racists will miss their intended target. Because every community has their own day of pride, or a parade or a national holiday recognized in their American enclave, you want to make sure that you are talking about the right people. If you are trying to be racist against Haitians, is remarkably easy to confuse them with Dominicans, a group that you might not harbor any racist feelings against. If you are trying to be racist against a Puerto Rican, but confuse him for a Mexican, then you look like an uneducated and insensitive bigot. And that’s just Central America and the Caribbean.
That is what I mean about things being much easier for racists back in the day. Much like how networks splintered into a thousand different cable outlets, racists can’t just write off swaths of people into easy-to-encapsulate slurs. One can’t simply say that he dislikes “The Brownies.” What’s that? African-Americans of Nigerian descent? Southern Sudanese fighting for their independence? Pakistanis? Citizens in the autonomous region of Kurdistan? And what if you have gotten them mixed up for the Turkmenistan people? Now your racism is all over the map.
Asia is just as difficult. Racists can’t just throw around slurs like they could forty years ago. Do you know how politically incorrect, backwards and racist-old-man-like it sounds to toss out a comment about how you don’t like people with slanty eyes. All of them? Come on, get with the times, racist. You might hate Japanese people for no apparent reason, but if you love Chinese Food and kung-fu movies then you look like an idiot. What if you had a terrible experience with Mongolian Barbecue, but your full-on racism for the world’s largest continent ignores the fact that you drive a Kia?
When it comes to the Middle East, I feel like trying to be politically correct with racism is sort of like a Who’s on First? routine. Sure, you can decide to hate the entire region, as most people do, but if you want to be an accurate and specific racist, you have to do more research than should ever be required of your average bigot. There are Sunnis and Shiits, Kurds, Arabs, Palestinians, Jews, Hindus. Some wear head covers for uncut hair, some wear cloaks, some wear the things that look like a table cloth. Who knows which is which when you’re trying to hate. Abbot and Costello would have a field day with all the ethnic regions of Damascus.
-I hate the Sunnis.
-Who do you hate?
-When when are you going to tell me?
-I just did.
-After I told you about the Shiite.
-I hate them.
-What are you yelling at me for?
Racism continues to be a blight on our society and one of the worst traits that humans have the all-too-often potential for displaying. At least with the difficulty of being a successful racist, a tremendous amount of work and research is required. And maybe we can hope that somewhere along those studies, a budding bigot can learn that racism is wrong.