Saturday, March 21, 2015

Not for the Politically Correct

Shelby Steele’s Thankless Task

Blacks in America have been sold out by the very liberals who ardently claim to wish them the most good

By Joseph Epstein, WSJ
March 20, 2015 5:04 p.m. ET

‘You,’ a character in Ossie Davis’s 1961 play “Purlie Victorious” says to another, “are a disgrace to the Negro profession.” The line recurs to me whenever I see Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson making perfunctory rabble-rousing remarks in Ferguson, Mo., Madison, Wis., current-day Selma, Ala., or any other protest scene where their appearance, like Toni Morrison on a list of honorary-degree recipients, has become de rigueur. I wonder if Shelby Steele has also been called “a disgrace to the Negro profession,” and this for diametrically opposite reasons. Had he been it could only have been by people who, despite their endless cries for social justice, in one way or another have a deep emotional if not financial investment in keeping black Americans in the sad conditions in which so many of them continue to find themselves.

Shelby Steele is one of the very few writers able to tell home truths about the plight of black Americans. Telling truth to power used to be a sign of intellectual courage, but today, when the Internet has made this no great feat, what takes courage is telling truth to listeners who have grown accustomed to thinking themselves victims, have accepted the ultimately inadequate benefits of victimhood and, touchier than a fresh burn, take offense at the least criticism. Mr. Steele has taken on this thankless job with, as I suspect he would agree, less than happy results. Still, he shows no sign of letting up. In “Shame,” an essay on the political polarization of our country and on the want of progress among black Americans, he has produced his most complex and challenging work.


By Shelby Steele
Basic, 198 pages, $29.95

His authority for writing derives in part from his intellectual cogency, in part from his birth. His white mother married his black father in 1944, a time when a more radical act than miscegenation is not easily imagined. A mixed marriage in those days meant that a couple lived in black neighborhoods. Shelby Steele, born in 1946, grew up in Harvey, Ill., a predominantly working-class town just south of Chicago. He has described his biracial birth as “an absolute gift, the greatest source of insight and understanding. . . . [because] race was demystified for me. I could never see white people as just some unified group who hated blacks.” Although he doesn’t say so, being biracial has also allowed him insight into the hypocrisy of both blacks and whites on the subject of race.

(More here.)

Here is one comment to the article:

Pepper Pepper

Ridiculous. The primary objective in politics is always to divide your opponents, and splitting African Americans from the American Left has been a goal of the Right going back at least to the 1930's with J. Edgar Hoover. Parallel today with efforts like Netanyahu and Boehner splitting the Left from American Jews.

The trick of course is thought to be picking perfectly plausible fisuring points to one of the constituencies, and by stretching it and emphasizing the real area of frustration as caused by the ally, the hope is the alliance will crack apart and melt away like a block of ice.

Examples of Liberal perfidious behavior and motives throughout this review reveal their flaws as you examine them. Such as assuming the motives of the law firms interviewing Clarrence Thomas. The author and the reviewer assume they assume the high grades are tokenism, as if these firms are pure meritocracy free of racism. Despite the simpler answer American history provides. Taken as a whole, swollowing the idea that Liberal equal opportunity is the villain where as had American history instead provided rough and real competition, African Americans would have the "character" the author and reviewer seem to believe African Americans lack. Whereas in fact the alternative to Liberal efforts of good will has been before and since the Civil War systematic efforts to destroy the most meritorious, not the opportunity to excell through competition.

Although we have provided a nitche for the Shelby Steele and Clarrence Thomases of our world to exemplify the idea that the people who have been trying to crush you for lo ! how many years are really your advocates, so to pull away 20% of the advocates or give the appearance of a bias-free Supreme Court. As with the example of the efforts of Rightists like Netanyahu and Boehner, although you can see some impact on American Jewish voters, for the most part the very reason most vote Democratic remain true despite the contrived political theater like the recent speech before the Congress. So to with African Americans, appeals to the idea that the Left are a godless bunch with no care about values like Family or morality, have not worked. Because most of those deprived of any real opportunity by those of concentrated wealth an entitlement can see every day those people and that ideology are not their friend.


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