|Arrested by the Department of Homeland Conformity
The doorbell rings at my Tucson house.
At the door are a young white man and woman wearing black uniforms. Other than the uniforms, they look like they could be college students, and earnest ones at that.
I open the door, and before I can say hello, the woman flashes a badge and says they are from the Social Justice Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Conformity and are here to serve a search warrant and question me.
Knowing that resistance would be futile, I let them in and ask, "What am I accused of?"
"Two crimes," answers the male agent. "First, racism, and second, you've made minorities feel uncomfortable and hurt their feelings."
"But I'm a minority myself," I respond. "I'm of 100% Italian ancestry, and Italians comprise only about 5% of the population."
The female agent, clearly agitated, tells me to stop spouting nonsense. "You are officially classified as white by the government, which means that you are in the majority and have to be held accountable for what the majority has done to minorities since the nation's founding."
With that, both of them walk over to one of my bookshelves and start looking at titles.
"Aha!" exclaims the male agent. "Here's two of Charles Murray's books, Losing Ground and Coming Apart. This racist author claims that IQ follows a bell curve and that minorities aren't as smart as whites."
"No, that's not what he claims," I answer, "but is how his thesis has been purposely mischaracterized."
"Besides," I continue, "if you look further, you'll find books that make the scientific case that intelligence is not genetic, including the book, The Gene, and the book, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes. It's not racism to read all sides of an issue; it's intellectual curiosity."
"Oh, so it would be intellectual curiosity to read Mein Kampf?" the woman retorts.
"Well, yes, and I've read it."
The two agents gasp.
Although I know it will fall on closed minds, I explain how my lifelong interest in fascism (and later communism) began when, in eighth grade, the nuns at my parochial school showed newsreels of the concentration camps being liberated. Wondering how humans could inflict such cruelty on other humans, I read over that summer William Shirer's 900-page masterpiece, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Since then, after reading hundreds of other books on history, philosophy, ethics, anthropology and sociology, I'm still searching for the answer.
The female agent responds with a sneer, "I suppose that makes you an apologist for the genocidal State of Israel?"
With that, I point out two books on another bookshelf: 1) What Price Israel? and 2) The Invention of the Land of Israel.
"These are hardly pro-Israel or pro-Zionism," I say. "Not only that, but if you look through all of the shelves, you'll find scores of books on the history of the Middle East, including how the Ottoman Empire had kept all of the warring tribes and kingdoms from annihilating each other, how France and Britain arbitrarily carved up the region after World War I, and how Arabs saw the Balfour Declaration as the Brits going back on their word. Ironically, three major religions began in the Middle East, but it's hard to find any angels there."
"I ain't buying it," says the female agent in exasperation. "Anyway, there's the matter of your hatred for Latinos."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"We've read your published commentaries that cite the low test scores, high dropout rates, and high crime in predominately Latino neighborhoods in Tucson. You're clearly racist."
Bewildered, I respond, "Those demographics were cited in the context of wanting to do something about the awful poverty in Tucson in general and in the Latino community in particular. In any event, if I hated Latinos, I wouldn't have lived in the barrio of San Antonio for five years, wouldn't have moved to Tucson, and wouldn't own the book, Enrique's Journey; or the book, El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America; or the book, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, by Francisco Cantu."
"Yeah, right," the male agent responds, "someone with all of Ayn Rand's books on his shelf cares about poverty and minorities."
"I see that you conveniently skipped over all of the books on my shelves that counter Randian philosophy, including the book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, as well as the book that blames income inequality on capitalism—namely, Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century."
"Tell me," I continue, "how many books do you two read each year, and how many of those test your hardened beliefs?"
"That's it, you're under arrest for racism," says the woman as she reaches for her handcuffs. "You've admitted that you've read Mein Kampf, which is all the evidence that the Social Justice Court will need to convict you."