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The Scale of Evils


In the comment discussion on his post about trying to quantify the effects of racism, Cobb writes:

[T]he weight of the destruction done to the world by socialism and communism that have taken over from the demon of racism. And where modern American white supremacy's damage has been 5,000 lynchings, Stalin's victims are in the millions. And so that now terrorizes me. It set me up to be a patsy for liberty. I deal with racism of course, but I consider myself particularly robust in that regard and I don't have reasons to fear. I say of course we have a black president, I understand perfectly well where he comes from because I came from many of the same places. But does he understand Stalin out there? And the sad fact is that he didn't, and thought his blackness, his muslimness, all of that our generation knows would be sufficient. It's not.

Here’s my feeble attempt to summarize Cobb’s viewpoint. Racism used to be the biggest problem in society. It still has negative effects, but nobody can actually measure them. Without measurement, we cannot make a proper response. Nor can we assess our effectiveness.

With the legal framework that supported racism essentially destroyed, racism can harm only about as much as any person will allow it to harm them. The ghetto need not be a life sentence, and there is no gene that confines men to the projects. The evidence of this abounds as the black middle- and upper-class keeps growing.

But as we continue to bicker about what is as essentially a problem of the past, we ignore—and the self-subjugated blacks ignore—the greater evils that have arisen in the past century or two.

And all that potential spent on fighting long-abolished slavery is wasted or lost. It could be spent facing the greater threats. Or it could be spent just making the multitudes better off in a million tiny ways. To each as each decides.

It seems like some, including the current President, are intent on studying our scars while remaining blind to wounds that still bleed.