GayandRight

My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (www.freethinkingfilms.com)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The politics of shame....

Shelby Steele has an important essay in the Opinion Journal this morning.
In the '60s--the first instance of open mutual witness between blacks and whites in American history--a balance of power was struck between the races. The broad white acknowledgment of racism meant that whites would be responsible both for overcoming their racism and for ending black poverty because, after all, their racism had so obviously caused that poverty. For whites to suggest that blacks might be in some way responsible for their own poverty would be to relinquish this responsibility and, thus, to return to racism. So, from its start in the '60s, this balance of power (offering redemption to whites and justice to blacks) involved a skewed distribution of responsibility: Whites, and not blacks, would be responsible for achieving racial equality in America, for overcoming the shames of both races--black inferiority and white racism. And the very idea of black responsibility would be stigmatized as racism in whites and Uncle Tomism in blacks.

President Johnson's famous Howard University speech, which launched the Great Society in 1965, outlined this balance of power by explicitly spelling out white responsibility without a single reference to black responsibility. In the 40 years since that speech no American president has dared correct this oversight.

The problem here is obvious: The black shame of inferiority (the result of oppression, not genetics) cannot be overcome with anything less than a heroic assumption of responsibility on the part of black Americans. In fact, true equality--an actual parity of wealth and ability between the races--is now largely a black responsibility. This may not be fair, but historical fairness--of the sort that resolves history's injustices--is an idealism that now plagues black America by making black responsibility seem an injustice.

And yet, despite the fact that greater responsibility is the only transforming power that can take blacks to true equality, this is an idea that deeply threatens the 40-year balance of power between the races. Bill Cosby's recent demand that poor blacks hold up "their end of the bargain" and do a better job of raising their children was explosive because it threatened this balance. Mr. Cosby not only implied that black responsibility was the great transforming power; he also implied that there was a limit to what white responsibility could do. He said, in effect, that white responsibility cannot overcome black inferiority. This is a truth so obvious as to be mundane. Yet whites won't say it in the interest of their redemption and blacks won't say it in the interest of historical justice. It is left to hurricanes to make such statements.
Please read the whole thing...

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article, and for your work!

10:09 PM  

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