What time is the self-flagellation?
April 07, 2008
Kristof suggests that "getting past race" or "getting past gender" is nearly impossible (his penultimate paragraph allows a smidgen of hope). Of course, his article applies this thinking to the presidential contest, but if Kristof is right, we should be far more concerned about how our inherent racist, sexist ways will affect our daily interactions with coworkers, spouses, and family than how it will affect our votes.
Thankfully, he's not right. That people tend to subconsciously generalize and form snap impressions is nothing new. But neither is it new that people use reason and analysis to get past intrinsic, knee-jerk reactions. We demand such from mature adults. In k-12 schools, for example, what good is it to suppose that teachers may unknowingly expect less of black students? Teachers???regardless of their snap impressions, which really are their own business???should behave like mature adults and not let their impulses guide their actions.
I cannot understand why Kristof, whose columns are only occasionally perceptive but rarely thoroughly boneheaded, wrote this piece. Why this fascination with race and gender? He could've easily written a similar article about how we are all, say, naturally snobs (Is "attractivists" a word? If not, it will be.) because babies respond more vigorously to prettier people. Any other impulse works, too???we're all, at base, selfish, sex-crazed, violent, etc. What a bore. Why this pabulum deserves extended vetting on the Sunday op-ed page remains opaque.