On the Cynical Claim that Racism is in Our DNA


The recently celebrated birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us of something he said: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism … that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.” An inspirational message to be sure.

Now contrast that to the words of President Barack Obama: “Racism. We are not cured of it. [T]he legacy of slavery [and] discrimination in almost every institution of our lives [racism] …that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on.” Inspirational? Hardly. Obama’s characterization of racism as part of our DNA indicates a nihilistic viewpoint of race relations. That no matter what we consciously do to rise above racial division we remain – deep to the core – racist; that ultimately positive strides in our cooperative efforts are futile; that our children will also be inherently racist.

Obama’s characterization not only lacks leadership inspiration but trivializes the constructive advances in race relations that have been accomplished during recent years. Those advances were showing important, positive results. That is until Obama became president. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in December 2015 dramatically showed that the positive trend in race relations that had been ongoing for years abruptly reversed early in Obama’s presidency and is now at the lowest point in over two decades.

Obama’s cynical assertions directly contradict Dr. King’s sentiment. King’s message is a rejection of the idea that racism is so embedded in our core as to be “part of our DNA.” Obama’s message on the other hand is one of hopeless racial divisiveness, toned as it is, consistent with other comments by him during the past few years, with an air of vengeful condemnation predicated on a perpetual claim against America’s racial guilt. Those constantly negative comments during the past few years have directly resulted in the degradation in race relations to their present disappointing status.

The idea that our collective DNA makeup is one of racism is not only unrenowned, petty and prejudiced; it is, in fact, acutely defective. Our DNA makeup is actually comprised of the very ingredients compelling the rejection of racism: individual liberty, capitalism and acceptance. These elements are inexorably intertwined, nicely emulating the very double-helix structure of DNA itself.

America’s very existence came about to stop and further prevent oppression, intolerance and injustice. American republicanism, under the tenet that every person is equal in creation and under the law, is a socio-political structure that systemically opposes tyranny and intolerance, is liberating in its impartiality, and is neutral towards favoring any particular race. Capitalism, the only free economic structure, under the American tenet of limited government, is emancipating in its acceptance, liberty and equality, and provides the foundation for a person of any race or creed to rise to any height based on individual self-reliance and determination. America’s core elements, then, provide for equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every citizen, regardless of race.

As the leader of the American people, the U.S. president possesses a grand and special opportunity to uphold and promote the American precepts and core elements, enhancing unity and cooperation among all citizens, across all races. It is truly reprehensible that such an opportunity has been squandered during the past seven years, and that Obama’s personal belligerent vengefulness has so eroded the positive progress made in American race relations.

American precepts, core elements and structure are intrinsically unbiased regarding superficial aspects of the human condition, including race. Our ‘DNA’ has nothing to do with race or racism. The American people are not, and should not be, condemned through perpetuated race-guilt, or eternally doomed to languish in racial division, especially because of trite, racially-divisive dogma. Instead, our collective DNA is one of liberty and justice for every citizen, regardless of race, and our exceptional socio-political-economic structure truly provides the foundation for every person willing to work within the framework of the American core elements to attain success in the American dream.

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