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@drbastiat wrote a characteristically insightful post about recent remarks by the President of the United States to the effect that there is a white supremacist behind every tree and bush in America. These “domestic terrorists,” the president would have us believe, are everywhere and heavily populated by former military and law enforcement personnel.
The “rise of white supremacy,” as the president calls it, is really more of a descent in the definition of white supremacy, as I tried to say in the comments. But it is worth reflecting on the motivation for this increasingly desperate attempt to redefine white supremacy downward.
A cynic might conclude that the entire thing is contrived and merely reflects an effort to build political support for left-wing policy prescriptions. It’s certainly not less than that but, IMO, there is more here than mere politics.
Anyone who harbors doubts that racial discrimination provides all the needed explanatory power regarding disparate outcomes between racial groups is now being lumped into the “white supremacy” bucket. This amounts to a giant exercise in deflection. It is far more congenial to blame others for one’s hardships than to consider one’s own contribution.
There is a subtle, but comprehensive, rejection underway of Martin Luther King’s dream that character would be paramount and that color blindness would be universally embraced as a virtue. The notion that color blindness is an aspirational good, where race relations are concerned, is something that was aggressively cultivated in the minds and hearts of everyone who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. But, since then, at least two generations of young people have been brought up with the notion that everything about themselves should be dwelt upon and celebrated. (If you don’t believe me, you have not been watching children’s television.) And we’ve now arrived at the point where a critical mass of people has embraced the idea that skin color controls and defines everything aspect of one’s lived experience.
It gets worse.
There is a longstanding belief, within the urban underclass, that black people are incapable of living with moral constraints. This belief has spilled over into the broader progressive political community. This is the quiet part that isn’t often said out loud. It is a dehumanizing point of view regarding an entire race of people and it is, fundamentally, a resurgence of the racist views of the past, camouflaged in soothing, trendy – but assertive – rhetoric about system this and structural that. Though the dehumanizing core of how progressives view the black community is normally unspoken, sometimes it does leak out.
Last year, the Smithsonian published a graphic on its website on “White Culture” and “Whiteness” in America. The argument put forth by the graphic was that whites, allegedly, hold the commanding heights of power in America and this is a list of things that characterize whites. The graphic stated that, to the extent other races exhibited similar characteristics, it was only due to the fact that those races had been on the receiving end of white oppression and, one can only conclude, they would not otherwise have exhibited those traits. And what are those traits, you ask, that have been crammed down the throats of unwilling recipients by powerful whites? Why, it is uniquely “white” things such as hard work, delayed gratification, a commitment to rationality – even an embrace of the nuclear family.
This graphic raised such a ruckus among people who recognized the degrading, embedded assumptions about non-white races, that the Smithsonian eventually took it down. But the episode is instructive because it reveals a great deal about how people on the left conceive of races and racial diversity.
For reasons I won’t explain here, I have had far more up close and personal contact with the urban black community than you would ever expect for a person with my background. I have been at jails, all over Texas and Louisiana, where I have bailed young men out of jail in the wee hours of the morning so they can make it to work and keep their job. I have carried drug addicts, young and old, to rehab and sometimes paid their expenses out of my own pocket. One memorable morning, I was lectured by a bi-racial woman on the extent to which anyone with a black ancestry is incapable of living with the moral constraints of white society. She implanted that idea in the mind of a 17-year-old who was there at the time, and she was lecturing me because, in my whiteness, I was expecting too much of the 17-year-old black teenager.
As I listened to the lecture that day from the biracial woman claiming that anyone with a black ancestry was incapable of moral restraint, this passage from Aldous Huxley’s Ends and Means kept running through my head:
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
Thirteen years later, the same 17-year-old black teenager who was there to hear the woman object to my white morality, died alone in a hotel room, having overdosed from a combination of fentanyl and meth. (The same cocktail that helped kill George Floyd, as it turned out.) During the intervening 13 years, that young woman not only believed what the woman had told her, but she lived by it as a kind of code. It cost her her life. She left an orphaned, fatherless little boy in her wake.
The late Sen. Daniel Moynihan published a famous study in which he sounded the alarm about the state of the black community in America. He especially called out the worrisome statistic that, at the time, approximately 25% of black children were being born out of wedlock. That number is now close to 75%. Even among whites that number is now around 25%, so they are a few decades behind the black community but on the very same trajectory.
Anyone who claims to care about the plight of the American black community, who isn’t talking about fatherlessness, is not a serious person. Or, at least, their actual interest is not really in helping the black community.
Philosopher Andrew Fletcher was famous for saying “Let me make the songs of a nation. I care not who writes its laws.” He was suggesting, at least, that the power of the arts to influence human beings precedes and informs the making of laws. If you want to understand where things are headed, you should listen to urban music or, at least, read the lyrics. Materialist superstitions dominate the entire genre. Physical pleasure and material consumption are considered the ultimate ingredients of a meaningful life. If you’re black in America, you’re being asked to believe that the only things standing between you and this kind of personal fulfillment are “white supremacy” and “systemic oppression”.
It was not always this way. Not that long ago, even the infantile Michael Jackson understood well enough to say this:
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
The dehumanization of black Americans by the left is picking up steam. The “soft bigotry of low expectations” is being replaced by the “hard bigotry of no expectations.” More people are likely to die as a result.Published in