Friday, October 22, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 44

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About the Cougar

With every race comes oppression

By R. Alex Whitlock

During a heated discussion on racism in our decade, a white youth began crying. When asked why he was crying, he said something to the effect of, "At least you know what's oppressing you."

There is a certain sense of power that comes along with being oppressed. All of your failures are excused and successes ennobled. Either you are a victim of injustice or you overcame it.

No matter what happens, it makes you seem smarter and stronger than you might otherwise appear. "Oppressed" is a very powerful word. Not surprisingly, it's also a word used very often by many people.

Women are oppressed by men. Blacks are oppressed by whites. White men are oppressed by affirmative action. Christians are oppressed by nonbelievers. Non-Christians are oppressed by Christians. The sociology of our nation has become a virtual orgy of victimhood and oppression.

There are large discrepancies between the success of African-Americans and Caucasians -- but Asians, who are no less discriminated against than any other group, are represented at top universities in higher proportions than are whites.

Some people wonder what the white male has to be angry about. Frankly, he has very few specific things to complain about. It isn't, however, the target of the anger -- it's the anger itself. It's human nature to be angry.

White men are without means to vent their frustrations at historical injustices, so they find other scapegoats: Jews, immigrants or affirmative action. The irony of the situation is that being oppressed is not a badge to wear, but rather a cross.

Unfortunately, like the abortion debate, the victimhood debate has been defined by those least prone to discussion. Radicals like Al Sharpton or David Duke all have the same message: "They're out to get you!"

If it were only Pat Buchanan and Louis Farakhan, it wouldn't bother me. However, the race-baiters have taken more subtle and respectable forms. Former California Gov. Pete Wilson preyed on white fear and resentment during his eight year reign. Rev. Jesse Jackson has preyed on black fear and resentment of blacks to scare them into voting Democrat.

Whenever the affirmative action debate pops up, the black race-baiters will try to scare minorities into thinking they cannot survive without it. Similarly, white race-baiters will use suggestion that affirmative action is making it impossible for whites to get into good schools. Asian-Americans have proven that neither racism nor affirmative action alone can keep a race out of good schools.

Our generation is positively more race-conscious than the last. I grew up in the "milky white" suburbs. However, my best friend from early childhood was half Cuban, and one of my most intense relationships was with a Latino. I say this not because I am "racially hip" or especially open-minded, but because I am normal.

Unfortunately, the seeds of discontent that drive racism will not disappear. The "angry white male" who dedicates his life to ending immigration and bilingual education and the "angry black man" who preaches of the great white enemy are generally malcontents who are angry with life. They actually have more in common with each other than with any of us normal folk.

Pat Buchanan, Louis Farakhan and Patricia Ireland have much more in common than not. I suspect that their successors will scream at real or perceived injustice hand in hand, where they belong.

That will be something to see.

Whitlock, a junior information systems technology major,
can be reached at Whitlock@eastmail.com.

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