Written by Daniel Greenfield
The civil rights movement is a success story, so much so that any and every movement has found that it can borrow the narrative and tactics of it to ram through whatever measures it likes. And so we come to the year 2012 where civil rights means men in dresses having the right to use the ladies room and the right of terrorist groups to be free from police scrutiny-- among many other equally insane "rights".
Much as the Civil Rights movement went from trying to reverse legal inequality embedded in law to trying to enforce an equality of outcome in every sphere from the commercial to the educational to the social by depriving others of their rights, succeeding movements have borrowed the narrative of inequality and the tactics of achieving equal outcomes, even when such outcomes are physically impossible.
We are for example obligated to believe that surgical intervention can transform women into men and that the only differences between the two can be eliminated with a few incisions and a few hormones. Applying the civil rights model moves the question from the realms of science and philosophy to the moral absolutism of resisting oppression. And that is the left's home field.
The left is constantly on the prowl for the oppressed, even if the new oppressed are men who want to use the ladies room. And the oppressed can never be denied anything they want, instead there is an affirmative obligation on the entitled people who are not confused about which bathroom they want to use, to prove that they are granting every possible privilege and courtesy to the bewildered and confused.
Guilty until proven innocent is the new approach. It is not enough to not actively discriminate, we must prove that we are not discriminating by meeting our diversity quotas. We are forced to become the Stakhanovites of political correctness, exceeding our diversity quotas as a model to the nation. That means everyplace must look exactly like "America", a phrase that is best interpreted as meaning that every workplace must look like the ones on television. And every ladies room must have at least one man in a dress.
Very little of this has to do with the kind of rights that were fought for from Appomattox to Selma. Instead individual freedom and equality before the law has been twisted to justify a state of legal inequality and the deprivation of individual freedoms. Rather than a color-blind society, we have achieved a color conscious society in which everyone knows their place on the great ladder of diversity.
Slavery has not gone away, we are just confronted with it on a day to day basis. Our slaves live in China or in Africa. They serve the same purposes that slaves did before the Civil War, they make things cheaply so that they can be sold cheaply. The only difference is that we rarely pass them on the street or see advertisements for slave auctions.
There is still slavery even in the United States. Mexican and Chinese laborers whose families are held hostage back home, and prosperous Muslim families who bring along their tradition of the house slave, often teenage girls who are treated little better than dogs. But the slave owners are generally members of the same race and culture as the slaves, which makes the entire affair beneath the notice of the political commissars of political correctness.
Open borders brings slavery to the United States, as surely as it brings terrorism and drugs, and it serves the interests of the Democratic Party now, just as it did then. The commercial interests allied with the Democratic Party touched off race riots aimed at blacks in New York and other cities to undermine Lincoln and sabotage the Civil War. A century later they were doing the same thing, only from the opposite racial angle. Back then they needed cheap labor inside the country to turn out exports, today they need cheap labor outside the country to bring in imports.
Today slavery goes on in the name of civil rights. As do many other evils. The term itself no longer has any meaning as its only application is to a government overseen caste system which awards certain privileges on a percent basis. The right to vote, to own property and to own arms has given way to a place on a diversity ladder where privileges are granted in exchange for the endorsement of legal inequality.
Any group is now able to represent its agenda as a new civil rights movement, all it has to do is identify a form of access that it wants and to demand that the courts force any and all to grant that access. Even if it to the ladies room.
The farcical pursuit of statistically equal outcomes led to a Dadaistic election in Port Chester where a Federal judge compelled the village to give all voters six votes in order to elect more minorities. The ability to cast six votes for one candidate certainly proved to be a boon for single-race voting, Maybe next time the village can give every person a hundred votes for a truly democratic solution to the inherent racism of the one man-one vote system.
What's wrong with one man-one vote anyway? The proof is in the pudding. If a system doesn't lead to a diverse enough group of winners, that is proof that it is discriminatory. The outcome is the only proof that is needed to convict a person, a company or a system.
If the outcome is impossible, that's all the more reason to demand it. Gay marriage is a contradiction in terms, but thanks to activist federal judges who think the peasants have no right to vote on issues in referendums, it is well on the way to becoming the law of the land. And what if the outcome isn't impossible, just hideously expensive in terms of human life and dignity? That's what a stroll through your local airport is for, where Muslims cannot be touched, but small children and the disabled can.
Once we begin with the premise that Muslims are no more likely to be terrorists than the Amish, any outcome that says otherwise must be tossed out as a random case of workplace violence or telepathically transmitted PTSD. To monitor Muslims and Muslim groups as if they were more likely to fly planes into skyscrapers than Mennonites is discrimination, no matter how rationally based it may be. Better for thousands of Americans to die than for the tenets of liberalism to be challenged by common sense and statistical evidence.
And thus we have gone from a civil rights movement based on rejecting the absurd notion that race should limit voting rights to a civil rights movement based on an equally absurd notion that religious and ethnic differences play no role in religious and ethnically motivated violence.
When you are being compelled to believe absurdities, you know that something has gone very wrong in the process. It is also an easy way to mark the transition from a rights based movement to something else entirely. Generations after the death of Martin Luther King, we are being urged to accept sexually mutilating children as the next civil rights movement, and you can only guess at whether I am discussing sexual reassignment surgery for children or female genital mutilation for Muslims. And it really makes no difference. Either one is an equally valid horror show that shows how far into the ditch we have gone.
The latest affirmative action case to come before the Supreme Court once again revisits the perversion of civil rights to mean a system of color based quotas. The Court's own rejection of any such system for whites should have innately disqualified such a system as applied to any race or combination of races. Instead we are still having the same old debates over whether discrimination can ever be justified, with the civil rights movement coming out on the side of discrimination.
We have done an excellent job of creating a society where people can be judged on the color of their skin, not on the content of their character. And the judging is being done by the Federal government to a greater degree than it was before the Civil War. This has not led to the great prize of integration, rather it has deepened the balkanization that the Democratic political machine has always set as its objective, from the days when their thugs were storming black orphanages to when their pet banks oversaw the ghettoization and later the destruction of neighborhoods along racial lines.
Power has always trumped justice. Power is not about race, it is about the exploitation of human beings. It is about playing divide and conquer at every level of society, creating and enforcing permanent divisions, even and especially when they are being carried under the guise of an integration program.
A justice based civil rights program was always unsustainable because it offered too few rewards. Equality was the decent thing, but it was not the profitable thing, neither for the government nor for the activists. Instead the status quo was transformed into a mandate for absolute power, there was to be a permanent crisis of race that could never be resolved, but which always had to receive top priority and which could justify any violation of civil rights.
The only way to save the village was to destroy the village, or to give everyone in the village six votes. The only way to implement civil rights was to destroy civil rights in the name of civil rights so that everyone ends up with fewer rights, but learns to feel good about it. This has been the pattern for every civil rights movement since which demands its special privileges. Having run out of races, we are now pandering to such bizarre notions as sexual identity as genetic and permanently fixed, yet existing entirely apart from the body of the person, and that religiously motivated terrorism exists entirely apart from the religion.
This isn't post-modernism, it's post-reason. It's post-everything. The left has always sought out the taboo and the transgressive, but as a society we are swiftly running out of transgressions to embrace and protect with government legislation. The more tolerant that Americans grudgingly become in the name of decency, the harder the commissars of correctness have to search for some new bigotry to charge them with.
We can look to Europe as a model for the future. In France you can marry the dead. In Spain, apes have received human rights. In the United Kingdom, immigrants from within the European Union are receiving refugee status. Alexander wept because he had no more lands to conquer. The degenerate and demented Eurocratic descendants of his empire weep because they haven't figured out how to marry, give human rights and refugee status to their own tables and chairs.
At war are two models of human rights. The negative model which limits government interference with the individual and the positive one in which government enforces its notion of human rights on everyone to achieve a perfect outcome society. The negative model gets government off our backs, the positive one brings government into our schools, our workplaces, our bedrooms, our trash cans and into our minds.
The negative model limits government seizure of human rights by creating a firewall, while its positive twin not only has no firewall, but is a recipe for the unlimited expansion of government and the unlimited deprivation of legal rights, so long as it is done in the name of ensuring civil rights. The positive rights model puts a system that is built for taking away rights in charge of guaranteeing them. The results are as ugly as they are inevitable.
Rights do not come from the exercise of government power, but from the restraint of government power. Once an infrastructure is created to redistribute positive outcomes, the only true beneficiaries of that infrastructure will be the organizers and the administrators. Even that system will be built to fail because the administrations only fully benefit from the system when it does not work properly. To the extent that it works properly the administrations will always be on the lookout for more excuses to justify the expansion of their power. More groups to protect. More civil rights to safeguard. Until no one has any rights at all.