Shelby Steele’s September 24 Op-ed in the Wall Street Journal is worthy of being quoted in its entirety, because every sentence is quotable. But I chose a couple of the choicest parts. Steele opines that the left’s descent into hatred started in the 1960s, when:
America finally accepted that slavery and segregation were profound moral failings. That acceptance changed America forever. It imposed a new moral imperative: America would have to show itself redeemed of these immoralities in order to stand as a legitimate democracy. The genius of the left in the ’60s was simply to perceive the new moral imperative, and then to identify itself with it. Thus the labor of redeeming the nation from its immoral past would fall on the left. The left … would set the terms of this legitimacy and deliver America from shame to decency.
…[So, the left] established the great menace of racism as American’s most intolerable disgrace. But the left’s success has plunged it into its greatest crisis since the ’60s. The Achilles’ heel of the left has been its dependence on menace for power…. But what happens when the evils that menace us begin to fade, and then keep fading?… The left’s unspoken terror is that racism is no longer menacing enough to support its own power. The great crisis for the left today — the source of its angst and hatefulness — is its own encroaching obsolescence.
Hatred is a transformative power. It can make the innocuous into the menacing. So it has become a weapon of choice. The left has used hate to transform President Trump into a symbol of the new racism, not a flawed president but a systemic evil. And he must be opposed as one opposes racism, with a scorched-earth absolutism.