Howard Zinn says: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”
Serj Tankian and the rest of System of a Down agrees: “Deer Dance” by System of a Down
But so do a lot of other people. Among them, the far-right emergence of the Tear Party (and the sudden far-right shock to the entire political system) has been seen as a nationwide attempt, state-by-state, to enshrine a far-right agenda by exploiting State Constitutions. Here in Minnesota, we have numerous attempts by State Republicans trying to impose their narrow-minded vision of morality on the rest of us, like the (anti-)marriage amendment and the Voter (Restriction) “ID” amendment.
To a certain extent, everyone engaged in “professional” politics, getting public servants popularly elected, adheres to this sense of civic activism. Without this sense of activism, more people would be less involved in the political system, and it therefore loses legitimacy. We have already seen this happen to a large extent, by the reduced poll attendance numbers (over the long-run). Restricting political participation (that is, passing restrictive voter measures, without the proper assurances that people will be less burdened) is not the way to go. If there is a problem with the electioneering of popular elections, it does not happen wide-spread voter fraud. It happens by these discriminatory behaviors of the right-wing.
But ultimately it does not have to do with the existence of discrimination. Ultimately, we have no choice to discriminate. And I don’t just mean the discrimination of objects, like telling “chair” from “table”, or “apple” from “orange”, but also the sort of elementary determination we make on our perception of other people’s intrinsic worth. Think of all of the people that go into a grocery store, and how many unique and interesting stories the person could tell, indicating the possible existence of a good nature in that person.
But I don’t take advantage of this as much as I could and want to. When I go to the grocery store, I walk earnestly to my required supplies, explore aimlessly until I find something that indicates the right direction, or else I programmatically stick to the shopping list I have developed. It is this type of sentiment that gives legitimacy to the Avenue Q production “Everybody’s a Little Bit Racist”. The moral of the song is that it is not about being “color-blind”, it is being aware of each other’s differences and celebrating each other.
The moral progressivism of Avenue Q comes in when we realize that, most of the time, we are not at fault for our ungraceful ignorance of each other. - it is how demography, social systems, and urban planning were created, to keep us separate. This doesn’t mean we can’t ignore the unjust role that racial prejudice plays in establishing our civil discourse, but we also can’t expect it to ever go away. It’s not enough to merely wish racism away, but we also have to do our part to make sure that outward discrimination, the likes of which are being perpetrated on a mass scale by Tea Party Republicans, is minimized. And it’s not about eliminating discrimination, but what the basis for that discrimination is. Discriminating against people, bad; discriminating against far-right ideologies that discriminate against people, good!
When President Obama utilized a press conference to call out the failed ideology of the right-wing Republicans, Mitt Romney said Obama was constructing a straw-man, meaning that the people he was attacking don’t exist. The notion that the failed ideology of conservative Republicans doesn’t exist isn’t true with economic argumentation (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081006_republican_economic_theories_dont_add_up/) and it isn’t true with cultural arguments either. I am correct that these ultra-rightist discriminatory actions not only exist (and we have well-documented, widespread proof) but are also incredibly hurtful.