Tag: Shelby Steele

Quote of the Day: White Guilt


“A fact that has escaped notice in the decades since the civil rights victories is that, after those victories, racism became a bifurcated phenomenon in America, so that we have been left with two kinds of racism. The first is the garden-variety racial bigotry that America has, sadly, always known—the source of racial oppression and discrimination. But the new and second kind of racism is what might be called globalized racism. This is racism inflated into a deterministic, structural, and systemic power. Global racism seeks to make every racist event the tip of an iceberg so that redress will be to the measure of the iceberg rather than to the measure of its tip. It is a reconceptualization of racism designed to capture the fruit of the new and vast need in white America for moral authority in racial matters. True or not, global racism can have no political viability without white guilt. What makes it viable is not its truth but the profound moral need that emerged in mid-sixties white America.”

– Shelby Steele, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, 2006

In 2020, the ubiquitous accusations of systemic American racism struck me as unfair because I had been taught the first definition of racism: bigotry in the service of racial oppression and discrimination. I thought that racism could be identified objectively in speech, behavior, or barriers that limited opportunity based on race. Since I was born after the major victories of the civil rights era, I was neither a witness nor a participant in the systemic oppression of anyone. What would I have to feel guilty about?

Shelby Steele joined host Ben Domenech to discuss the state of the nation and the underlying historical causes into modern tensions. Steele is a renowned author, expert, and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution specializing in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action.

Steele argued that today’s racial tensions are caused by an outgrowth of a change in racial understanding from the 1960s. The ’60s, he said, produced a “redemptive liberalism” in an effort to rid America of past experiences of racism, particularly on the left. The recent trend of corporations publicly declaring their support of Black Lives Matter, which reveals the incessant desire to be innocent of the past.

Facts Over Slogans, Solutions Over Anarchy


If we do not truthfully diagnose the problem in America, systemic and otherwise, we will never make things right. Unfortunately for everyone, if we continue to ignore the body count that rises daily in the African-American community, and continue to focus on the exception to the exclusion of the rule, we’re toast.

What follows is not necessarily pleasant to read, and if I were in the NFL, academia, or a major media outlet, I suppose the wrath of God-knows-who would descend on me. But you know what? I didn’t spend 20 years on active duty and do three tours of duty in the Mideast and a year in Korea so that others can dictate my thoughts and words, and negate the rights I fought to preserve.

Let me start by placing a few facts on the table because ignoring them only makes the situation worse.

Quote of the Day: Shelby Steele on the Left’s Hatred


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.

Quote of the Day: Shelby Steele on Black Protests


“What they missed is a simple truth that is both obvious and unutterable: The oppression of black people is over with. This is politically incorrect news, but it is true nonetheless. We blacks are, today, a free people. It is as if freedom sneaked up and caught us by surprise.” — Shelby Steele, “Black Protest Has Lost Its Power,” Wall Street Journal

I totally agree with Mr. Steele, who is a voice of reason. It’s so easy for some people to blame someone else for all their problems, especially if they have been doing it for decades. As has been said here on Ricochet and elsewhere, these protests by incredibly wealthy, coddled athletes are losing any effect they ever had. And we in the white majority, who quit being the “oppressor” a long time ago, refuse to feel guilty for something for which we do not bear the responsibility.

Shelby Steele on Why It’s So Hard to Argue With Liberals


steeleI’ve finally gotten round to reading Shelby Steele’s Shame. The book is really an extended essay — a superb one at that — and I just ran across a section that goes to the heart of the conservative/liberal schism.

But before the quote, a bit of context:  Steele makes an unassailable argument that liberalism is not based on facts, but on what he calls “poetic truths,” things like the idea that blacks are eternal victims, that whites (no matter how benign) are infected with privilege, that women (even Carly Fiorina or Hillary Clinton) are oppressed by the patriarchy. Having accepted these poetic truths, liberals are immunized against all contrary facts.

Now, the quote:

Repressive Tolerance


In the ’60s, the philosopher Herbert Marcuse proposed a new standard for tolerance that specifically excluded perspectives the Left deemed repressive. Giving air to conservative perspectives was “repressive tolerance,” in Marcuse’s coinage. Far from an underground radical viewpoint, this degenerated view of speech is becoming mainstream in academia.

A recent Harvard Crimson op-ed reprises Marcuse’s theme well: “If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?” And we are already aware of the Inquisition-like tactics used in the climate debate. “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards—some sort of climate Nuremberg.”