Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 3:20 PM
From: George Winkel
Subject: Whites v. Las Vegas Weinerschnitzel
Steve and Ruth White describe (5/26/02 letter to editor) their splendid right to recover $9 by way of a lawsuit against Las Vegas Weinerschnitzel, I think. (I recommend small claims court for a $9 cause.)
Their letter also cries out for satisfaction of a discrimination claim of some sort. There may well have been underlying discrimination. But Mr. White's evidence – at least as set out in his letter – is unclear what sort of discrimination? He concedes ambiguity. Was Mrs. White short-changed $9 because she is a woman? Because she is "black"? Or for both? The store owner – out of the blue – gratuitously exclaimed "I'm not prejudiced!" Was this evidence of the opposite? (Maybe.) I see no evidence the store owner discriminated against the Whites for being an interracial couple, because Mrs. White was alone her first two complained-of contacts with the store owner. Without more evidence, any prejudice which the store owner practiced by short-changing Mrs. White $9 was not connected with Mr. White.
Mr. White's letter "noted that the Owner had an accent, and may be from a Middle Eastern country." Shouldn't the Whites be concerned with not appearing racist themselves – picking on a "minority" foreigner with their barely supported charges?
I don't mean to disparage the Whites' claim of racism. I am not unsupportive. There may be more to their case than Mr. White's Sunday letter shows. Anyway, I would like to make certain observations of my own on the general subject.
A few high-profile lawsuits for racially discriminating against we "mixed" people might be a good tactic for public consciousness-raising of our emergent multiracial community. I think maybe that is what the Whites have in mind here. And suing color-struck "minority" defendants may bring home the point better than an old hat "white" racial discrimination lawsuit would. The Whites' case sort of suggests this idea, too – just a little.
But there are roads we should not go down. First, the multiracial identity does not need itself to be yoked to the chronic "victimization" mantra which has hobbled the multicultural "minority," "of color," identity ever since America's Second Reconstruction – our general racial liberation in the 1960s. On the contrary. My wife and I reared our son to be also a "white" man who comes claiming his full right to equal membership in America's mainstream, which absolutely must adjust and include his "color." It is the same with his mother, my Asian-American wife in fact, too.
Another route to avoid is crying "Racism!" at every bump in the road. In the Jim Crow years, before 1967, institutional racism – legal discrimination – was America's lawful way of life. But a conscious, nationwide effort by 80-percent "white" America, as it was back then, ended the institutional racism which before the 1960's had attempted to check racial "amalgamation." This was discrimination's lawful purpose – not to sputter pointless hatred – but to check "amalgamation." Although too many of the Jim Crow era "whites" were gratuitously, hatefully racist, the official Jim Crow segregation rationale was "separate but equal." And "blacks" and Hispanics in Jim Crow years had no particular reputation for lawlessness, which is what they have adorned themselves with since then, under the "guidance" of organized civil rights multicultural "leadership," so-called.
Customer service businesses like Der Weinerschnitzel have absolutely nothing to gain by practicing now forbidden Jim Crow era racial discrimination. However, the risk grows yearly that more business operators will learn fear and suspicion of "black" and Hispanic customers – regard them as potential trouble – prone to criminality, or to unreasonable claims for discrimination (or both). I have watched both these two deplorable reputations growing on "black" and Hispanic fellow Americans in only the last 34 years of "minority" civil rights multicultural "leadership." In 1992 I watched the fiery L.A. Rodney King first verdict riots, for example, literally burning this new racial prejudice into the minds of thousands of Korean-American store-owners. The multiracial community MUST NOT follow "black" and Hispanic "victim"-identity, or multicultural, so-called "leadership" down this sorry path!
About a year ago my wife came home describing to me her brusque treatment by a cranky old "white" man operating a roadside vegetable stand. He had started griping needlessly when she picked up something and looked at it. Her response was to decide not to buy. She said something to him and left. We never have gone back. Who cares whether he is racist or not? We can buy from other vegetable stands. We have rarely encountered racism, so far, in 33 years.
We believe America has evolved to the place where a store practicing arbitrary discrimination risks losing competitive market share to stores which don't discriminate. And most Americans are still quite hostile to the idea of racial discrimination. Mr. White seems to recognize this – that exposing Weinerschnitzel racially discriminating might draw major news coverage. Therefore, a store discriminating takes plain economic risks. Resulting lost business may extend beyond the victimized "race." Just for this, to say nothing of exposure to possible prosecution for civil rights violation, I think that a theory of racial discrimination should not come up without clear, convincing evidence. Instead, I think a "normal" explanation, such as a simple dispute over $9 change, or a poor cranky old man fussing with a roadside vegetable stand, should be the first thought that springs to mind.