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Smoke Signaling

 

In A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell discusses in great detail the underlying belief systems that manifest themselves as modern conservative and leftist ideologies. Among the most significant is that conservatives emphasize results in determining a policy’s value whereas leftists emphasize the motives behind whatever politician or policy. Thus, when discussing a policy failure like the War on Poverty, the leftist defense will often reflect a variation of “at least we tried to do the right thing (even if it made things worse)”, but Republicans can be dismissed out of hand because they don’t care as much as Democrats do.

You will repeatedly see Democrats deemphasize the likely tangible results of a given policy in favor of the noble goals whatever policy is meant to push forward, and how much the policy’s proponents care. Likewise, they portray our motivations as deriving almost entirely from evil instincts like hate and greed, thus framing out of the discussion whatever might result from what we advocate. Our rotten hearts alone merit dismissing whatever we have to say.

Unfortunately, when regarding the important issue of race, we unintentionally adopt the left’s premise of the overriding significance of the motives of political actors. To the left, as the basest of all human motivations, the very existence of any sort of racism residing anywhere within a political movement delegitimizes that movement in its entirety, no matter how peripheral to the core beliefs or membership of that movement. What actually happens to black people because of leftist policies is altogether irrelevant so long as the motives of certain Republicans can be questioned. Judging from the responses of many prominent conservatives to Trump’s recent comments on the violence in Charlottesville, many of us agree.

When we voraciously renounce racism, we signal that we care about blacks so much that we’ll use the strongest terms our vocabularies can muster to renounce those who want to keep them oppressed. However, how often do we use such terminology to renounce not those who hope to keep them oppressed, but those who actually do keep them oppressed?

Does the KKK hold back school choice programs and thus keep poor kids trapped in failing schools? Do white nationalists restrict firearms ownership in ways that stop law-abiding blacks from protecting themselves from the predators in their midst? Is Stormfront responsible for the stifling bureaucracy, regulations, tax laws, and licensing requirements in inner cities that discourage entrepreneurship and keep jobs out of poor neighborhoods?

Indeed, the actions of past racists set up much of the environment from which many modern problems sprang. However, is David Duke responsible for teaching blacks at every educational level that the deck is stacked so hopelessly against them that unless the Democrats vanquish the Republican Party at every level of government and banish conservative ideology (not just actual racism) from the public square that they’ve no hope of success? Who morphed the civil rights movement from one of “you should judge me by the content of my character” to one of “I blame you for anything wrong with our communities?” How can we expect any segment of our society to survive, let alone thrive, when its leaders foster the mentality that the entirety of its problems is somebody else’s fault?

Although we conservatives criticize leftists who augment such destructive policies and mindsets, we reserve our ire for the fringes of society who’ve no power or influence whatsoever compared to the likes of Maxine Waters or Al Sharpton. Perhaps the KKK would love to murder blacks by the dozens, but they can’t and don’t. Instead, policing policies caused by the likes of Black Lives Matter result in dramatically more actual murders of actual blacks, but we show how much we care by getting really mad at just the Klan.

Which leads me to believe that despite our protestations to the contrary, not seeming racist matters far more to us than actually doing anything that might improve the lives of blacks and other minorities. Indeed, any aggressive political or rhetorical steps we might take to combat the problems plaguing urban America will undoubtedly be met with an increase of “racism” accusations, so it’s safer to engage Keith Ellison in civil discussion than treat him like the oppressor he really is. We’ll blast to hell the people who’d like to destroy black America, but rarely those who actually destroy it, for the latter (occasionally) gets us patted on the back, the former will get us attacked. Thus, I find many of our attacks on evil racists as cover for cowardice, a way to trick ourselves into believing we care when we’d rather let Detroit rot than get called ugly names for trying to do something about it.

Thus, we’ve adopted the leftist frame that showing we care about blacks by renouncing the KKK matters more than neglecting to effectively oppose the policies and mindsets that devastate black society. We shun David Duke from polite society while viewing respectful conversations with the likes of Al Sharpton as some sort of outreach. We agree with the left that awful motivations matter more than awful results.

Yet we consider ourselves lucky if merely 90 percent of blacks vote against us in a given election.

We repeatedly apologize for any Republican who says anything racially insensitive. Like clockwork, we renounce anything David Duke says in support of us. We shrug our shoulders and meekly complain when vice presidents accuse our presidential candidates of wanting to put blacks “back in chains.” We’re downright mortified of being called “racist,” so we fail to directly confront any issue affecting blacks that might actually help improve their lives. We prioritize the hurt feelings resulting from Confederate flags over the deaths resulting from gang violence. On issues of race, we’re always on defense, never on offense, yet many of us complain that the first president we’ve had who doesn’t seem apologetic on racial issues is the reason we’re seen as insensitive. We play the left’s game on race in every way, yet find ourselves perplexed that the left keeps winning. It if has to do with race, we never so much as hint we might ever take a risk or do something bold enough to threaten the leftist monopoly on black votes.

What we’re doing, and what we’ve been doing for decades, simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for us electorally, it doesn’t work for blacks economically or socially. Yet we’re insistent that the key to keeping the “racist!” cries at bay is to renounce the same idiots we’ve been renouncing forever, that if we fail to renounce them blacks will start turning against us and we’ll be seen as monsters who want blacks to die in hurricanes.

How about we consider a different approach?

There are 15 comments.

  1. Member

    That’s what I liked so much about this Federalist article the other day.

    End Planned Parenthood. Stop targeting owners of older vehicles (the poor) with overzealous emissions standards and driving their gasoline bills (along with everything transported by gasoline — everything) higher with taxes and regulation. Ad nauseum.

    • #1
    • August 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm
    • 6 likes
  2. Member
    Martel Post author

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    That’s what I liked so much about this Federalist article the other day.

    End Planned Parenthood. Stop targeting owners of older vehicles (the poor) with overzealous emissions standards and driving their gasoline bills (along with everything transported by gasoline — everything) higher with taxes and regulation. Ad nauseum.

    I never knew that about Spencer. That’s something we should publicize–not just that he favors abortion, but his reasons for favoring it.

    • #2
    • August 17, 2017 at 2:15 pm
    • 3 likes
  3. Thatcher

    Agree 100%. I said in a post two days ago, that we need to stop responding to the word “racist”. Let me add “sexist”. If I hear that thrown, from now on, I am going to assume the person is neither, and the accuser is lying. That is what it has come too. I will conceed no points to the left for any reason. Ever.

    • #3
    • August 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm
    • 3 likes
  4. Member

    Style over substance. So much of modern liberalism is like those anti-aging creams advertised on TV: The creams all say they “reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.” They don’t actually do anything about fine lines and wrinkles; they only reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles.

    Dynamite post, Martel.

    • #4
    • August 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm
    • 5 likes
  5. Member
    Martel Post author

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Agree 100%. I said in a post two days ago, that we need to stop responding to the word “racist”. Let me add “sexist”. If I hear that thrown, from now on, I am going to assume the person is neither, and the accuser is lying. That is what it has come too. I will conceed no points to the left for any reason. Ever.

    I get your overall thrust but have a somewhat different take. Instead of not responding to “racist” or “sexist”, I advocate we use hearing such words as a signal to attack ferociously. Almost every time we hear such words used against us, it indicates our attacker is either ignorant, disingenuous, stupid, or some combination thereof. It’s time we make others aware of it so strongly that the other side will be hesitant to use such words even when they’re actually appropriate.

    • #5
    • August 17, 2017 at 5:44 pm
    • 1 like
  6. Member

    Have you watched the video of the Durham unknown soldier statue being toppled?

    Notice a pattern in who is doing the kicking and spitting on the statue? They’re almost all white. Why would that be?

    I can’t help but think this is some kind of primitive signaling ritual. This is how human primates acquire status in the dominant societal milieu. How else could you be convinced to a) care enough to show up at such an event, and b) participate in a lawless act of vandalism that accomplishes nothing positive? It’s not rational. Makes me think of this:

    • #6
    • August 17, 2017 at 6:41 pm
    • 4 likes
  7. Member

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):
    Style over substance. So much of modern liberalism is like those anti-aging creams advertised on TV: The creams all say they “reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.” They don’t actually do anything about fine lines and wrinkles; they only reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles.

    Dynamite post, Martel.

    I din’t know the ad, but I’m guessing that they mean “appearance” as “showing up” rather than the way you suggest.

    • #7
    • August 18, 2017 at 8:07 am
    • 2 likes
  8. Member

    Except Sowell didn’t put it in terms of left right, liberal conservative, Republican Democrat. He just developed the different ways people approach a range of critical issues and the philosophical schools the different conceptual approaches fostered throughout history. It’s obvious to us who fits where. It’s also important because it explains why we can’t see eye to eye with people who approach these matters differently on anything ever. I don’t like to put the book in contemporary partisan terms because I want liberals to read him and get mugged by reality. If liberals think it’s coming from the right, and it isn’t, they wont read it. That said. Yes right on.

    • #8
    • August 18, 2017 at 8:26 am
    • 4 likes
  9. Member
    Martel Post author

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Except Sowell didn’t put it in terms of left right, liberal conservative, Republican Democrat. He just developed the different ways people approach a range of critical issues and the philosophical schools the different conceptual approaches fostered throughout history. It’s obvious to us who fits where. It’s also important because it explains why we can’t see eye to eye with people who approach these matters differently on anything ever. I don’t like to put the book in contemporary partisan terms because I want liberals to read him and get mugged by reality. If liberals think it’s coming from the right, and it isn’t, they wont read it. That said. Yes right on.

    In that book he called the “visions” “constrained” (ours) and “unconstrained” (theirs). In Vision of the Anointed he referred to them as “”Anointed”.

    Part of what I love about Sowell is that in Conflict he’s as fair as humanly possible. It’s almost only because of his other writings you know what side he’s on. Then, in Vision he tears their side to shreds. He does the same thing in his book on Marx, devoting the first part of the book to a dispassionate description of what Marx truly said and thought. Then, after proving he understands Marx better than most Marxists, in one chapter he shows what an idiot Marx really was.

    Although for Sowell’s purposes it made sense to not label the visions with common terms, it’s obvious whom he believes is who, and for my purposes it made sense to refer to them as such. We’re unwittingly adopting a portion of their vision on racial issues, and when you adopt the enemy’s premise you lose.

    • #9
    • August 18, 2017 at 9:30 am
    • 3 likes
  10. Contributor

    Martel: We’re downright mortified of being called “racist,” so we fail to directly confront any issue affecting blacks that might actually help improve their lives. We prioritize the hurt feelings resulting from Confederate flags over the deaths resulting from gang violence. On issues of race, we’re always on defense, never on offense, yet many of us complain that the first president we’ve had who doesn’t seem apologetic on racial issues is the reason we’re seen as insensitive. We play the left’s game on race in every way, yet find ourselves perplexed that the left keeps winning.

    Absolutely. As you and I have said before, we have to stop being apologetic when we have nothing to apologize for, and we need to start fighting back when we are unjustly accused. I’m tired of it. And I will let a person on the Left know, every chance I get, that this type of labelling and name-calling won’t cut it anymore. Thanks, Martel!

    • #10
    • August 18, 2017 at 10:35 am
    • 3 likes
  11. Member
    Martel Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Martel: We’re downright mortified of being called “racist,” so we fail to directly confront any issue affecting blacks that might actually help improve their lives. We prioritize the hurt feelings resulting from Confederate flags over the deaths resulting from gang violence. On issues of race, we’re always on defense, never on offense, yet many of us complain that the first president we’ve had who doesn’t seem apologetic on racial issues is the reason we’re seen as insensitive. We play the left’s game on race in every way, yet find ourselves perplexed that the left keeps winning.

    Absolutely. As you and I have said before, we have to stop being apologetic when we have nothing to apologize for, and we need to start fighting back when we are unjustly accused. I’m tired of it. And I will let a person on the Left know, every chance I get, that this type of labelling and name-calling won’t cut it anymore. Thanks, Martel!

    We currently see being called “racist” as evidence we’ve done something wrong and therefore need to retreat or change what we’re doing somehow.

    Instead, we need to view it as evidence that our opponents don’t have anything logical or reasonable to say. Their minds are incapable of genuine thought when they resort to name-calling. Therefore, when we hear “racist”, we should interpret it as a call to get more aggressive, not reason for defensiveness or retreat.

    • #11
    • August 18, 2017 at 11:51 am
    • 6 likes
  12. Coolidge

    Yes, the term “racist” is often inappropriately and unjustly used to label conservatives. Yes, the people using it (and sexist, and lots of other “-ist”s are really just trying to get conservatives to shut up or be shut out. Yes, we do often play the left’s game when it comes to this issue.

    But … racism really does exist. No, it’s not the defining characteristic of the GOP the way that the left accuses, and no, most conservatives aren’t racists. But it’s not something that the left just made up out of thin air. Just a few generations ago we had laws and traditions that were explicitly racist. (It’s worth pointing out that many of those laws and traditions were the results of Democrats having power.) No matter how much better it is today, and it is MUCH better, we aren’t perfect and won’t ever be perfect. Conservatives know that. There are people still who are explicitly and disgustingly racist like David Duke. There are people who are quietly racist, and poison society without drawing personal attention. Pretending otherwise is a lie.

    You say we should stop apologizing for Duke? Ignore the KKK? React more aggressively and “fight back”? Perhaps, but we can’t fight back in any way that defends the real racists. We should make it clear that we reject that philosophy and that it has no place in the conservative tent.

    We need to fight smarter. We aren’t going to win by pretending that we live in some ideal color-blind society. We need our actions to speak louder than our words. Fighting for policies like school choice, criminal justice reform, licensing reform, and a whole host of other conservative policies that can make a difference should be a priority for conservatives. The good news is that these policies will benefit all Americans, not just some special interest groups.

    • #12
    • August 18, 2017 at 2:03 pm
    • 1 like
  13. Member
    Martel Post author

    Nick Hlavacek (View Comment):
    […]

    But … racism really does exist. No, it’s not the defining characteristic of the GOP the way that the left accuses, and no, most conservatives aren’t racists. But it’s not something that the left just made up out of thin air. Just a few generations ago we had laws and traditions that were explicitly racist. (It’s worth pointing out that many of those laws and traditions were the results of Democrats having power.) No matter how much better it is today, and it is MUCH better, we aren’t perfect and won’t ever be perfect. Conservatives know that. There are people still who are explicitly and disgustingly racist like David Duke. There are people who are quietly racist, and poison society without drawing personal attention. Pretending otherwise is a lie.

    Yes, there is real racism. Yes, it’s a problem.

    But by no stretch whatsoever is it any longer the predominant factor holding back minorities, nor is it absolutely everywhere like leftists claim.

    The only substantial tangible harm Duke and others like him cause is to people’s feelings. Feelings matter, and we’d all like to avoid having bad ones. Nevertheless, crying “racism” every two seconds unfairly harms conservatives, but it harms minorities far more. Thus, I’d argue that this perpetual “anti-racism” is a much bigger problem than racism itself.

    You say we should stop apologizing for Duke? Ignore the KKK? React more aggressively and “fight back”? Perhaps, but we can’t fight back in any way that defends the real racists. We should make it clear that we reject that philosophy and that it has no place in the conservative tent.

    We’ve made it clear continuously to no avail. If anything, our repeated denials and denunciations have created a “he doth protest too much” effect in which we seem to have something to hide.

    If you (or any other conservative) still feel inclined to issue Republican Denunciation of the KKK #18,714, go for it. However, it should be immediately followed by an attack on the mindsets and politicians who actually hold blacks down. There’s plenty of reason for the left to be on defense regarding race. It’s time to put them on defense for once.

    We need to fight smarter. We aren’t going to win by pretending that we live in some ideal color-blind society. We need our actions to speak louder than our words. Fighting for policies like school choice, criminal justice reform, licensing reform, and a whole host of other conservative policies that can make a difference should be a priority for conservatives. The good news is that these policies will benefit all Americans, not just some special interest groups.

    I agree, but our defensive mindset on this issue keeps us from doing that. The left’s response to anything we do on this will be “racist!”, which causes us to retreat. We’ve got to stay on offense.

    • #13
    • August 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Member

    The really professional anti-racism activists accuse every single white person of racism.

    As many of you will know, my denomination has gotten its collective tighty-whities in a twist about our supposedly “white supremacist” culture. Re-education days have taken place in which false consciousness is challenged and mass mea culpas are enjoined.

    At best, these have encouraged individuals to consider their own biases and presumptions. Not a bad thing, all other things being equal. But all other things are’t equal and so, at worst, we are being invited to kick the statue.

    The former President (and—as he would be the first to tell you—POC) of our nearly-all-white denominational association got into big trouble for asking, plaintively, why the term “white supremacist” was being used. “We aren’t Nazis, or the KKK” he said.

    They shriek! Tear their hair! “Don’t you get that it is more insidious, subtler but no less evil?”

    Okay, but now we’ve got some pretty unsubtle guys carrying torches and wearing swastikas…and what is the response? Do our supposed fellow-congregants and co-religionists amend their ways: Oh dear. I forgot–that’s what white supremacy looks like.We were really just talking about manners and turf. Our mistake.

    No. Instead, we rush to prove the obvious—that the guys with the tiki-torches aren’t us. Though of course, they are “our” fault (meaning white people). “We” somehow have a share in their sin. The blood of Heather is on our hands.

    So we kick the statue.

    Maybe if we kick it hard enough and break our toes, spit until our salivary glands run dry…?

    • #14
    • August 19, 2017 at 6:28 am
    • 5 likes
  15. Member
    Martel Post author

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    The really professional anti-racism activists accuse every single white person of racism.

    As many of you will know, my denomination has gotten its collective tighty-whities in a twist about our supposedly “white supremacist” culture. Re-education days have taken place in which false consciousness is challenged and mass mea culpas are enjoined.

    At best, these have encouraged individuals to consider their own biases and presumptions. Not a bad thing, all other things being equal. But all other things are’t equal and so, at worst, we are being invited to kick the statue.

    The former President (and—as he would be the first to tell you—POC) of our nearly-all-white denominational association got into big trouble for asking, plaintively, why the term “white supremacist” was being used. “We aren’t Nazis, or the KKK” he said.

    They shriek! Tear their hair! “Don’t you get that it is more insidious, subtler but no less evil?”

    Okay, but now we’ve got some pretty unsubtle guys carrying torches and wearing swastikas…and what is the response? Do our supposed fellow-congregants and co-religionists amend their ways: Oh dear. I forgot–that’s what white supremacy looks like.We were really just talking about manners and turf. Our mistake.

    No. Instead, we rush to prove the obvious—that the guys with the tiki-torches aren’t us. Though of course, they are “our” fault (meaning white people). “We” somehow have a share in their sin. The blood of Heather is on our hands.

    So we kick the statue.

    Maybe if we kick it hard enough and break our toes, spit until our salivary glands run dry…?

    It wouldn’t be good enough.

    When there’s no possible conservative threat, leftists sometimes turn on their own. On college campuses and in other monolithic left-wing environments, white male “allies” are pushed around incessantly and continually hectored for showing their bias and such. No matter what you say or do you’re one facial expression away from all sorts of accusations.

    The only way to win their game is to resolutely refuse to play it.

    • #15
    • August 19, 2017 at 7:49 am
    • 6 likes