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August 15, 2007

White Guilt

How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era
Shelby Steele – ISBN – 9780060578633

Left or Right, Black or White, this book is required reading. If you want to understand black power, affirmative action and the racial dilemma in which we now find ourselves, you must read this succinct masterpiece.

Ordinarily when I read a book I plan to review I use the mini-post-its to mark issues I want to include. This 180 page book is festooned with 97 little flags! No way to touch on all of that.

Steele begins by reviewing the civil rights movement, and explains his meditation over what went wrong. He describes his passage thru black power to his authentically “conservative” status. He draws the stunning conclusion that White Guilt and exploitation of that guilt is the cause, whether it be by the conniving, race-bating, “keep-em on the plantation” folks from Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton, or well-intentioned white liberals who refuse to see the product of their endeavors, or to accept that they have assumed a paternalistic attitude toward blacks which is not all that different from slave times.

Under the leadership of M.L.K blacks won their freedom—and became visible as individual humans--only to surrender it to black power and reconsideration of themselves as members of a race rather than individuals free of racial considerations. From “black studies” to affirmative action he demonstrates how damaging this really is to the progress of the black population.

For centuries blacks have been required to be responsible without accruing any of its benefits. Now they are encouraged to be irresponsible as they suffer no consequence. Liberals ask: how can you ask them to be responsible for pulling themselves up? They need help. By acquiescing to liberal ministrations they are again placed in their former degrading and dependent situation. “Blacks have constructed a political identity with no purpose beyond manipulation of white guilt.” Self esteem is awarded rather than earned.

Whites, in acknowledging slavery and subsequent black oppression, authored the destruction White supremacy. As well, however, they destroyed the moral authority vested therein. A vacuum created which left no place for moral choice. Instead of resting upon the good will of decent people who had acknowledged the brutality of the past, it depended on fear of being called racist.

The power to shame, silence and muscle concessions from society on the basis of past victimization has become the new “black power.” This militant inferiority assumes the continuing inferiority of the people it claims to represent.

Yet black achievements in music and sports have demanded full responsibility, making no concessions. These artists and athletes are engaged in the mainstream and succeeding. So why is there a need for help in other areas? More importantly, why is there no demand for responsibility in other areas?

Western societies were indeed racist and imperialistic, but they were also the centers of a great civilization. When white supremacy was delegitimized, whites did not simply lose the authority to practice racism. Lost, as well, was their authority to stand proudly for the values and ideas that made the West a great civilization despite its many evils. The loss of moral authority went too far the other way. “After America admitted to what was worst about itself, there was not enough authority left to support what was best.”

Coterminous with this the baby-boomers prevailed as they humiliated their parents for being insensitive, and part of the problem of acquiescence to the status quo. This was a devastating loss to society. As white guilt weakened America’s moral authority youthful rebellion represented a further challenge that authority and its societal institutions. Change for the sake of change became the norm. Boomers forsook such authority, despite the good it has done, and they served up a rich menu of social and moral contradictions and hypocrisies with which to hammer away at the moral authority of mature American society. Unique in world history, the impoverished, hormonally driven, inexperienced, altruistic young were in charge of the asylum without adult supervision. They still are. They, too, benefit from white guilt, and have undertaken to invent America all over again. And they have failed!

And now we have “A society . . . which lacks [even] the authority to ask its most brilliant, wealthy, and superbly educated minority students to compete freely for college admission with poor whites who lack all these things;” one in which the post-sixties liberalism again adheres to a hierarchy of whites over blacks. Worse, it views this as a virtue, granting these new men superiority because of their enlightenment.

And, then, there’s Bill Cosby, amongst others, who has had enough, and is chastised for it by many blacks. There’s also the rightist cadre including O’Reilly, Limbaugh, etc. who rail against these ineffective approaches, but are censored by the Left. Much of what they say is true and the Left is frightened by the fact that it is.

“The problem is that the dissociational left destroys the principles that would realize its goals, and the right lacks the moral authority to enforce those selfsame principles.” The result is impotence.

You might also read a permutation of this argument presented in a superb and challenging column which you can read by pasting this address into your search engine:

Posted by respeto at August 15, 2007 4:27 PM