I think that Americans have done a great job overcoming past prejudices. Unfortunately, we suffer the problem that many of our belief systems still bear traces of racism.
The suffix "ism" implies an ideology. Racism implies that one has a structured belief system formed around race.
I see this as different from prejudice in which one has made judgments about others, but has not necessarily formed ideas about race into an ideology.
While racism and prejudice tend to walk hand in hand, it is possible for ignorant buffoons to be wandering around with prejudices without having formed any larger ideas around the ideas. Likewise it is possible for a person to hold an ideology in which race plays a fundamental role while being open-minded.
Many modern ideology in the Hegelian tradition are built around racial conflicts. Hegel's philosophy of history essentially had racially based nation states pitted in conflict with each others. There were many thinkers in the Marxian tradition who held ugly thoughts about races in conflict. Despite racist aspects of these ideologies. There are many people in this tradition who are committed to overcoming prejudices.
I've written numerous posts criticizing Glenn Beck's revival of "Covenant Theory." This theory holds that history includes a series of covenants handed down by The Heavenly Father. As the people of the world broke the covenants, The Heavenly Father would curse them and write the curses on their skin.
Following is a quote from the prophet Brigham Young as reported on the essay: White and Delightsome on MormonCurtain:
Brigham Young 1859, "You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation ...When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break his covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people" (Journal of Discourses 7:336).
The term "White and Delightsome" comes from the Book of Mormon which, like the Book of Commandments, is a foundational text. below is a quote from 2 Nephi 21 through 24 [http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/5]
21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.
22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.
24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.
Racism was taught to the young. This is from "Juvenile Instructor" (26:635):
"From this it is very clear that the mark which was set upon the descendants of Cain was a skin of blackness, and there can be no doubt that this was the mark that Cain himself received; in fact, it has been noticed in our day that men who have lost the spirit of the Lord, and from whom his blessings have been withdrawn, have turned dark to such an extend as to excite the comments of all who have known them."
The whole Book of Mormon hinges on the idea that Native Americans were descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel. They were split into two groups. The Nephites were white, delightsome and righteous. The Lamanites were dark skinned, loathsome and evil. King Benjamin gave the people an election. The loathsome Lamanites won the election. There was a war followed by genocide.
In recent decades the mainstream Mormon church has done a phenomenal job rooting out prejudices. Unfortunately, the foundational texts of this movement include a discredited racist ideology.
I do not believe that Glenn Beck is either racist or prejudice. I fear that Mr. Beck stumbled on Covenant Theory and saw it as a powerful belief system that explains the problems of the day. Unfortunately, Mr. Beck lit on a theory which is racist in nature. I see no way to revive Covenant Theory without reviving an ugly racist ideology.
Here in Utah, the leadership is adamantly opposed to ObamaCare, but support without question RomneyCare. They are essentially the same plan. The only difference is the leadership.
I am opposed to both plans, and am left to speculate why Utah is the way Utah is.
The problem of a racist past is not exclusive to the right.
If one reads through Leftist Ideology, one will find numerous Leftist heroes invoking race opportunistically. The KKK was a branch of the Democratic Party. Che Guevara made racist comments, etc.. The left and right are mirrors of each other; so one often finds the same train of thought on both sides of the equation.
The American has a deep rift between left and right, but the two sides of the coin are made of the same metal and both sides of this dialectical conflict keep coming to the same bad conclusions.