Blind to Beauty

 

I posted this meme earlier this week on my personal blog. It’s a humorous take on the extent to which our moral vision is 20/20 when analyzing other people, but closer to the myopia of Mr. Magoo in regard to ourselves. The left, in particular, sees the faults of our predecessors much more readily than they see their own.

One of the irksome things about the racialist drama queens who are braying into the media microphone at present, this includes the likes of Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, and a surprising clown parade of trendy Evangelical pastors, is their propensity for looking at historical events and being entirely blind to the beauty that is staring them in the face. When presented with beauty, they see only ugliness. They’re like pinched and provincial germaphobes at the Louvre: having been given an opportunity to gaze at the Mona Lisa, they see only the dust on the baseboards near the floor.

How else to explain their perverse and distorted perspective on American history?

What makes America’s history unique, and the history of the West generally, is not the fact that once upon a time there was slavery, but that western culture embraced a wholesale rejection of slavery and, ultimately, rejected the kind of racialist discrimination now being insisted upon by the CRT crowd. Both the slave trade and the practice of slavery were renounced- largely on the moral basis that flowed out of a Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity. Even then it wasn’t easy.  It was done late and imperfectly. But that it was done at all, and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives, is a beautiful, if painful, thing.

In the 20th century, what made Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King successful was their shrewd understanding that the residual dregs of discriminatory thinking in the west were fundamentally at odds with the entire moral framework there. Gandhi and King succeeded, not by trying to overturn the moral framework, but by appealing to it. This is also a beautiful thing. It is beautiful that the moral framework was in place to begin with, and it is a beautiful thing that the hearts of the people were eventually persuaded to bring their own lives into closer conformity with the moral principles on which much of their culture had been built.

The American constitution is beautiful, in part, because it lit the fuse that made the elimination of slavery in America virtually inevitable.  By contrast, even at this late date in human history, slavery persists all over north Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The fact that we hear not a single word from the CRT crowd about this reality tells us most of what we need to know about the sincerity of their intentions. The racialist scolds of our current moment have apparently never outgrown the inflated egos of their adolescence. They seem congenitally blind to any beauty that does not stare back at them from their own bathroom mirror.

When Ibram X. Kendi tweeted that cross-racial adoption was an act of “white colonization”, and nothing more than a calculated effort by white parents to inoculate themselves against charges of racism, he told us most of what we needed to know about the ugliness of his mind. The hearts of Kendi and his ilk are so deformed that they can gaze at pictures of familial love and see only the color of skin and political calculation.

The racialist obsessions of the Kendi clan blind them to the beauty all around them. We should act without any illusions regarding what they are.

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  1. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you.

    Keith Lowery: Gandhi and King succeeded, not by trying to overturn the moral framework, but by appealing to it.

    And that is particularly perspicacious.

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Yes, and it’s pretty clear that those who condemn Western Civilization are blind to its beauties.

    • #2
  3. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Well said.

    I note your repeated use of the word racialist, rather than racist. While the two are synonyms in some contexts, it’s my opinion that racialist has a much milder connotation, suggesting a mere focus on race rather than the outright hatred and prejudice we associate with racist. I think, therefore, that racialist is far too generous a characterization of what we are contending against. This is a racist movement, and it fully deserves to be condemned in the harsher variation.

    • #3
  4. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Well said.

    I note your repeated use of the word racialist, rather than racist. While the two are synonyms in some contexts, it’s my opinion that racialist has a much milder connotation, suggesting a mere focus on race rather than the outright hatred and prejudice we associate with racist. I think, therefore, that racialist is far too generous a characterization of what we are contending against. This is a racist movement, and it fully deserves to be condemned in the harsher variation.

    This is a fair point. What I really mean by “racialist” is “race essentialist”.  I’m talking about people who think that race, more specifically skin color, is the defining attribute of a human being. In some cases “race essentialists” are prejudicial racists of the primordial kind, but not always.  At any rate, we’re in a situation where the term “racist” is being burdened with meanings ranging from “sinister discrimination” to  simply believing that “delayed gratification”  or “linear, rational thinking” are superior to their alternatives.

    At any rate, your point is well taken and highlights, I think, one of the problems in communicating about these issues. Lest there be any doubt, I consider Kendi, DiAngelo et al to be moral monsters.

    I confess that I have, in other contexts, referred to the kinds of racists you describe as “Orcs”. But I’m a Lord of the Rings nerd, so…

    The Babylon Bee (of course) has cast its gaze on the definitional problems surrounding this question.

    • #4
  5. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Keith Lowery:

     

     

     

    What makes America’s history unique, and the history of the west generally, is not the fact that once-upon-a-time there was slavery, but that western culture embraced a wholesale rejection of slavery and, ultimately, rejected the kind of racialist discrimination now being insisted upon by the CRT crowd. Both the slave trade and practice of slavery were renounced- largely on the moral basis that flowed out of a Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity. Even then it wasn’t easy. It was done late and imperfectly. But that it was done at all, and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives, is a beautiful, if painful, thing.

    Great post Keith! This paragraph above is, I believe, the heart of the matter. No one’s hands are clean on the issue of slavery. It began prior to recorded history, existed on every continent, and people of all races, ethnicity and religions engaged in the practice. It was not until the late 18th century that a significant number of people began to question  the morality of the institution and, as you note, it was Western Civilization with its Judeo-Christian moral foundation that led a moral crusade that involved moral suasion, economic sanction and military force and took about a century to end the practice (not entirely and not perfectly). In a sense all of us (right or left, black or white, Christian or other) who live on the other side of that century-long struggle are stealing a base when we look back on slavery in its long history and in all its forms and ignore that historical context.

     

     

    • #5
  6. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Keith Lowery: When presented with beauty, they see only ugliness

    That’s not an accident. Not valuing beauty has been part of the academic mainstream for decades. Combine that with the commodification of values (being masculine has nothing to do with virtue, it’s about having a man cave and eating bacon.) Define masculinity by consumption of specific goods and you can have contempt for masculinity in general, including the virtues.

    Rinse, repeat for beauty, except there the commodification is pornification.  Correctly objecting to that (except where it falls into conflict with valorizing “sex work” and condemning “body shaming” and you end up with  the reality being devaluing beauty. The opening was the initial debasement, and we’re now on to something that is best described by satirizing it:

     

    • #6
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    YEs

    • #7
  8. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    That’s not an accident. Not valuing beauty has been part of the academic mainstream for decades.

    It’s one thing not to value it. It’s another to celebrate its dethronement. What began as a reaction to the stifling hand of the Academe and the horrors of WW1 became institutionalized. It became a dogma that required the degradation of every old standard, and replaced them with a dun-hued kaleidoscope of ever-shifting theories and schools. Beauty, in this context, was irrelevant. It was also a rebuke, to be turned away with all the authority of the new regime.

    • #8
  9. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Keith Lowery:

    What makes America’s history unique, and the history of the West generally, is not the fact that once upon a time there was slavery, but that western culture embraced a wholesale rejection of slavery and, ultimately, rejected the kind of racialist discrimination now being insisted upon…

    For my own interest, according to wikipedia, the timeline for non-Western/non-Christian Civilization abolition of slavery and serfdom before the abolition of slavery in the US appears to be the following…

    9–12 AD, Xin Dynasty (China); Wang Mang, first and only emperor of the Xin Dynasty, usurped the Chinese throne and instituted a series of sweeping reforms, including the abolition of slavery…  However, … slavery was reinstituted after he was killed by an angry mob in 23 AD.

    956, Goryeo Dynasty (Korea); Slaves were freed on a large scale … depriving nobles of much of their manpower.

    1368, Ming Dynasty (China); Abolishes all forms of slavery, but it continued across China. Later rulers pass a decree that limits the number of slaves per household and extracts a severe tax from slave owners.

    1590, Japan; Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the second “Great Unifier” of Japan, bans slavery except as punishment for criminals.

    1677, Maratha Empire (India); Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj banned, freed and stopped import and export of all slaves under his Empire.

    1703, Ottoman Empire; The forced conversion and induction of Christian children into the army known as Devshirme or “Blood Tax”, is abolished.

    1723–1730, Qing Dynasty (China); The Yongzheng emancipation seeks to free all slaves … wealthy families continued to use slave labor into the 20th century.

    1770, Circassia (Muslim, former Christian North Caucasus area); Classes such as slaves, nobles and princes were completely abolished — coincides with the French Revolution.

    1800, Joseon kingdom (Korea); State slavery banned in 1800. Private slavery continued until being banned in 1894.

    1830, Ottoman Empire; Mahmud II issues a firman freeing all white slaves.

    1846, Tunisia; Slavery abolished under Ahmad I ibn Mustafa bey rule.

    1847, Ottoman Empire; Slave trade from Africa abolished.

    1851, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (China); Slavery nominally abolished along with opium, gambling, polygamy and foot binding.

    1852, Hawaiian Kingdom (developing into a Christian nation); 1852 Constitution officially declared slavery illegal.

    1854, Ottoman Empire; Trade of Circassian children banned.

    1857, Egypt; Banning the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.

    1858, Ottoman Empire; Banning mostly of the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    That’s not an accident. Not valuing beauty has been part of the academic mainstream for decades.

    It’s one thing not to value it. It’s another to celebrate its dethronement. What began as a reaction to the stifling hand of the Academe and the horrors of WW1 became institutionalized. It became a dogma that required the degradation of every old standard, and replaced them with a dun-hued kaleidoscope of ever-shifting theories and schools. Beauty, in this context, was irrelevant. It was also a rebuke, to be turned away with all the authority of the new regime.

    Evil hates beauty 

    • #10
  11. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Keith Lowery:

    What makes America’s history unique, and the history of the West generally, is not the fact that once upon a time there was slavery, but that western culture embraced a wholesale rejection of slavery and, ultimately, rejected the kind of racialist discrimination now being insisted upon…

    For my own interest, according to wikipedia, the timeline for non-Western/non-Christian Civilization abolition of slavery and serfdom before the abolition of slavery in the US appears to be the following…

    9–12 AD, Xin Dynasty (China); Wang Mang, first and only emperor of the Xin Dynasty, usurped the Chinese throne and instituted a series of sweeping reforms, including the abolition of slavery… However, … slavery was reinstituted after he was killed by an angry mob in 23 AD.

    956, Goryeo Dynasty (Korea); Slaves were freed on a large scale … depriving nobles of much of their manpower.

    1368, Ming Dynasty (China); Abolishes all forms of slavery, but it continued across China. Later rulers pass a decree that limits the number of slaves per household and extracts a severe tax from slave owners.

    This is interesting. Thanks for posting. I think the awkward problem presented by this timeline of events is that slavery yet persists in all of the geographies mentioned, with the exception of South Korea and Japan – also Hawaii, although that situation sort of concurs with my argument in some ways.  And even where Japan is concerned, I think a person could argue that slavery has existed in Japan as recently as the first half of the 20th century.  So I guess much depends on how we define the word abolish. Rule changes and edicts are fine, and speak well of those involved, but my interest was in the actual elimination of slavery as a culturally approved practice. Rulers often ban things that continue to be embraced and widely practiced within the culture at large. (e.g. Even though foot binding was “abolished” in 1851 in China, along with slavery, “foot inspectors” were still employed well into the 20th century because, notwithstanding that foot binding had been “abolished” for nearly a hundred years, it was nevertheless still widespread.) 

    Perhaps a shorter way to say this is that my argument was concerned somewhat less with the legal reality than with the existential one.

    • #11
  12. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):
    1703, Ottoman Empire; The forced conversion and induction of Christian children into the army known as Devshirme or “Blood Tax”, is abolished.

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Keith Lowery:

    What makes America’s history unique, and the history of the West generally, is not the fact that once upon a time there was slavery, but that western culture embraced a wholesale rejection of slavery and, ultimately, rejected the kind of racialist discrimination now being insisted upon…

    For my own interest, according to wikipedia, the timeline for non-Western/non-Christian Civilization abolition of slavery and serfdom before the abolition of slavery in the US appears to be the following…

    9–12 AD, Xin Dynasty (China); Wang Mang, first and only emperor of the Xin Dynasty, usurped the Chinese throne and instituted a series of sweeping reforms, including the abolition of slavery… However, … slavery was reinstituted after he was killed by an angry mob in 23 AD.

    956, Goryeo Dynasty (Korea); Slaves were freed on a large scale … depriving nobles of much of their manpower.

    1368, Ming Dynasty (China); Abolishes all forms of slavery, but it continued across China. Later rulers pass a decree that limits the number of slaves per household and extracts a severe tax from slave owners.

    1590, Japan; Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the second “Great Unifier” of Japan, bans slavery except as punishment for criminals.

    1677, Maratha Empire (India); Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj banned, freed and stopped import and export of all slaves under his Empire.

    1703, Ottoman Empire; The forced conversion and induction of Christian children into the army known as Devshirme or “Blood Tax”, is abolished.

    1723–1730, Qing Dynasty (China); The Yongzheng emancipation seeks to free all slaves … wealthy families continued to use slave labor into the 20th century.

    1770, Circassia (Muslim, former Christian North Caucasus area); Classes such as slaves, nobles and princes were completely abolished — coincides with the French Revolution.

    1800, Joseon kingdom (Korea); State slavery banned in 1800. Private slavery continued until being banned in 1894.

    1830, Ottoman Empire; Mahmud II issues a firman freeing all white slaves.

    1846, Tunisia; Slavery abolished under Ahmad I ibn Mustafa bey rule.

    1847, Ottoman Empire; Slave trade from Africa abolished.

    1851, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (China); Slavery nominally abolished along with opium, gambling, polygamy and foot binding.

    1852, Hawaiian Kingdom (developing into a Christian nation); 1852 Constitution officially declared slavery illegal.

    1854, Ottoman Empire; Trade of Circassian children banned.

    1857, Egypt; Banning the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.

    1858, Ottoman Empire; Banning mostly of the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.

    The abolition of the Devshirme seems to have been a confluence of Janissary revolts and changes in military technology expanding the role of infantry creating the need for more infantry officers, which created possible new careers for Muslims.

    I don’t think it’s right to include the 19th century Maghrebi and Ottoman bans in “non-Christian.” I doubt they would have happened without the Royal Navy.

    • #12
  13. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Let’s not leave out

    1723–1730, Qing Dynasty (China); The Yongzheng emancipation seeks to free all slaves … wealthy families continued to use slave labor into the 20th century.

    1770 – Vermont

    1770, Circassia (Muslim, former Christian North Caucasus area); Classes such as slaves, nobles and princes were completely abolished — coincides with the French Revolution.

    1780 – Pennsylvania

    1783 – Massachusetts and New Hampshire

    1784 – Connecticut and Rhode Island

    1799 – New York

    1800, Joseon kingdom (Korea); State slavery banned in 1800. Private slavery continued until being banned in 1894.

    1802 – Ohio

    1804 – New Jersey

    1816 – Indiana

    1818 – Illinois

    1830, Ottoman Empire; Mahmud II issues a firman freeing all white slaves.

    1837 – Michigan

    1846 – Iowa

    1846, Tunisia; Slavery abolished under Ahmad I ibn Mustafa bey rule.

    1847, Ottoman Empire; Slave trade from Africa abolished.

    1848 – Wisconsin

    1850 – California

    1851, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (China); Slavery nominally abolished along with opium, gambling, polygamy and foot binding.

    1852, Hawaiian Kingdom (developing into a Christian nation); 1852 Constitution officially declared slavery illegal.

    1854, Ottoman Empire; Trade of Circassian children banned.

    1857, Egypt; Banning the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.

    1858 – Minnesota

    1858, Ottoman Empire; Banning mostly of the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.

    1859 – Oregon

    1861 – Kansas

    1864 – Nevada

     

    • #13