Condemning a person because of race is the height of racism...indeed, its very definition. Annulling a race or group — annihilating its culture — is one step further.
Through history, annulling a despised group — making them dispossessed — has been a central task of totalitarians and authoritarians in their push to consolidate and maintain power. During China's "Cultural Revolution" of the '60s, Maoists blamed capitalists for their oppression and hoped to elevate the state by substituting Mao's "Little Red Book" for traditional ways of thinking, such as a reverence for elders and ancestors. Nazis made sure to acquire the property and possessions of Jews in a display of their omnipotence and as a further form of humiliation: those possessions are still being discovered today. Slave-owners in the South often separated the families of slaves, which had the effects of reinforcing their power, unsettling the slaves, and fracturing alliances that could lead to an uprising. Pol Pot and Jim Jones worked to nullify the beliefs and culture of the groups they controlled.
No race or group should be annulled: it's inhumane. Annulling a race or group has generally been advanced by totalitarians, but, perhaps for the first time in known history, we're observing people willingly nullifying themselves, voluntarily genuflecting to those invalidating their race or group and accepting idiosyncratic and power-consolidating speech rules and interpretations of historical and current events.
The lives of black people matter, but the (often voluntary) prohibition of phrases like "all lives matter" is reprehensible...and the meaning is never lost on the subconscious mind — that non-black lives don't matter as much as black lives. The howling of self-appointed arbiters of speech that their idiosyncratic interpretation of "black lives matter" precludes the use of "all lives matter" or its ilk does nothing to shift the underlying meaning that, if you're not black, you must self-annul: your life doesn't matter as much as a black life.
There are many other power-consolidating phrases with idiosyncratic, ahistorical, even bizarre meanings that people willingly accept: "white privilege"; "institutional racism"; "curb your privilege"; "Uncle Tom"; "Oreo"; etc. All of these phrases evoke ideas worthy of critical thought and discussion, but it's the absolutist, power-reinforcing element on one side, coupled with obeisance and culture-annulling behavior on the other, that is damaging to society. It's reminiscent of the stance of the Maoists during the Cultural Revolution: the question of capitalism's effects on China was worthy of discussion...but the Maoists insisted that "Capitalist Roaders" — including the relatives and friends of proper Maoist believers — be eliminated or "re-educated." Black Lives Matter is the Maoist "Red Guard" of today, but while indignant Chinese college professors were dragged out of their classrooms for browbeating and torture, we willingly submit.
The acceptance of self-annulment is a sad and, in the end, culture-annihilating spectacle. One wonders about its genesis. I suppose the leading cause would be the nearly ubiquitous "white guilt" that has been vigorously advanced and almost universally, if subconsciously, accepted.
Some obvious problems with racial/cultural annulment — whether forced by the powerful on the powerless or, in this case, willingly accepted — include general loss of contribution to the culture; a unification and eventual congruence of speech and thought patterns in the culture, aggressively modulated by the dominant; generation of ancillary rules and related consequences by the predominant group that are separate from written law; quiet rage of the annulled at being suppressed (even when that person is voluntarily suppressing himself); and the loss of a functional complement or foil to the dominant group, with consequent loss of the dialogues that might advance us all.
I heard a black person succinctly summarize the issue: "Your white guilt is going to kill my race!"
David Harris is the pen name of a writer who fear persecution for thought crimes.
Graphic credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped).