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A Brief Sigh on MLK Day

I'm sure he would be distressed by the level of deliberate and strenuous efforts to ratchet up racial animosity that are prevalent among certain classes of people now. At least I hope he would.

The shocking thing, the thing which I at any rate certainly did not anticipate in the '60s when the major civil rights legislation was passed, is that the most visible manifestation of this effort now comes from the putatively anti-racist side, in the form of the frenzied rhetorical attacks on white people and "whiteness" coming from the left. Much of it is is open and unashamed racism and would be recognized immediately as such if the terms were reversed. The most alarming aspect of it is that it isn't the work of obscure and generally disdained cranks and yahoos but of respected academics and journalists who wield a great deal of influence. Respected by each other, anyway. And in any case fairly powerful.

King's ideal of a color-blind society is now considered to be an expression of racism, at least if advocated by white people. It wasn't supposed to be like this. 

So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot.


Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.




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I appreciate your pointing out the bad side of the extreme left movement, Mac. It helps me keep perspective. However, the extreme right are also terrible, note neo-Nazis attending the pro-gun rally in Richmond, VA recently. It is good to remember that the extremes of both ideology are pretty awful people (who should be banned from social media).

That's true in general, but just as a point of fact I haven't seen anything saying neo-Nazis attended the Richmond rally. Do you have a source? I mean, anybody could have been there, but the only thing I've seen along those lines was the the FBI had arrested three "alleged white supremacists" who were planning to attend.

It's been kind of funny to see the disappointment of the media types who were hyping up the chances of some kind of violence at the rally.

I have no sources, you can throw my comment on the dust bin if I'm incorrect! :)

However, as a general rule I believe it is fair to say that white supremacists most likely vote Republican and that they are not nice. ;)

HuffPost is where I saw it:

Meh. That's just spin and name-calling, typical HuffPo stuff. "Unfortunately there was no violence, but there could have been, so it was awful."

"as a general rule I believe it is fair to say that white supremacists most likely vote Republican and that they are not nice."

Yes, we can agree on that.

I know I don't comment very often anymore, but I just can't help but point out that tu quoque is a logical fallacy.

Good to hear from you again. I wondered if you were still reading.

Some large percentage of political talk is a variant of tu quoque.

Six or seven years ago, I was involved with an online magazine which does group symposia reviews of books. One symposium became infamous because of the amount of vitriol it generated. One of the reviewers described a book author as a 'white supremacist.' The guy is a once trendy theologian who likes 19th century high church Anglicanism stuff. At the time, I feared, and said I feared, that this kind of wild, irresponsible talk would bring the online magazine into discredit. I do also remember saying, 'what will they do when confronted with actual white supremacists? they will have no words left for the real thing.' I thought it was a one off, weird thing. But it turned out to be a presage of the direction of the academic left as a whole.

We often have a conversation on this blog about whether the culture is more polarized now or in the 1960s. The evidence in favour of things being more polarized in the 1960s is that there was more actual street violence, bombings and mob incidents in the 1960s than today.

Today I thought of a reason why there was more violence then than now. It could be taken in the wrong way, but the young African Americans who took part in riots (in Watts etc) in the 1960s, were more courageous than their grandchildren today. They faced the American police, who can be total bastards, and they stood up to them. No matter how agitated their grandchildren of today - or their white middle class academic advocates - might be about 'white supremacism', they do not have the raw courage to riot about it.

Now clearly this could be taken in the wrong way. Im remembering one time, in the 1980s, when Greenpeace boarded and stopped some kind of whaling vessel, or maybe it was an oil tanker. Some kind of sea vessel that Greenpeace doesn't like. They boarded it with grappling irons in rough seas. I said something disparaging about this act of piracy on behalf of the environment, and my brother said, 'whatever you may think about the goals, it takes a lot of courage to board a gigantic vessel like that in mid seas, and stop it moving with iron chains.

I remember that Greenpeace deal and thought the same as your brother: whatever else you want to say about it, they had guts. Not to mention knowledge and skill.

More later. I am once again in a hospital waiting room (not as the patient).

I figure the current use of "white supremacist" and "white nationalist" is partly due to the exhaustion of "racist." It was so over-used that people were becoming indifferent to it, it no longer had the scare power it was supposed to. So they had to ratchet up. But now those terms are going the same way. Sometime in the past year or so a politician--or maybe it was a judge--yeah, I think it was--gave a speech in which he praised the Anglo-American legal tradition. Some race activist went sort of nuts calling him a white supremacist. The worrying thing was that the activist really seemed to believe that to acknowledge that history is to advocate white supremacy.

I think we are more polarized at least in the sense that the sides are much more comparable numerically. In the late '60s it was a small number of leftists vs the hugely predominant mainstream. Now the mainstream is divided, or rather there is no mainstream in the old sense.

I think it was about five years ago that I got seriously angry at a long-time friend who was hinting very strongly that I was racist. I would have been even angrier if he'd used the word. Now if he said it outright I would just shrug.

Yes, it must be that 'racist' lost its punch so they had to go to white supremacist.

I hope your hospital visit went well.

I did Gulliver's Travels last week with students and was relieved that no one was offended by the Yahoos. It didn't occur to me when I set the text that anyone would be, but as I re-read it when it was too late to change the syllabus, I did have a bit of anxiety. In fact, everyone seemed to enjoy it a lot, and find it funny.

Last semester I had a very bright student who was extremely woke and a compleat cretin with YAF stickers all over his laptop. Its not always as straight forward as one might imagine.

You're talking about one person or two?

Two people. Very bright Asian boy who talked rather a lot about colonialism and a thick American with a laptop plastered in YAF stickers who went on and on about how China was taking over America

I was having trouble putting together "woke" and YAF stickers. That would be very unstraightforward.

I can't think who would be offended by "yahoo." But then I don't remember much about how they were portrayed.

Someone just got fired from ITV for quoting Shakespeare calling someone an ape. Chap had worked there for decades. Yahoos are apish and dark skinned

I've been called a racist simply because I've dared to question the standard liberal explanation (South--Bad! North--Good!) of the Civil War.

(In short, I believe that economics and culture had a lot more to do with it on both sides than is generally acknowledged, and that it's wrong therefore to pin the whole thing on slavery.)

Any attempt at acknowledging the complexity of the Civil War is going to provoke that accusation.

I have to say though that there are a certain number of defensive and usually fairly ignorant southerners who want to say it had *nothing* to do with slavery, which is pretty untenable. Though even there it's usually not so much racism per se as regional chauvinism.

On Facebook a while back, on somebody else's page (can't remember now), someone accused Rod Dreher of racism because of something or other he'd said (which I also can't remember) that didn't hew to the correct line on race. I didn't think it was racist, much less that he is "a racist", and said so. Someone whose name you both would recognize sniffed "White people don't get to say what's racist." (He's white naturally.) The implications of that are kind of startling. It caused me to put that person in the "don't engage" category. Of course that was when I was younger and more innocent and had not adopted a policy of not talking politics etc. on Facebook.

Grumpy, now that you remind me about the Yahoos, I'm kind of surprised that you didn't get in trouble. Or at least wouldn't be surprised if you had.

We started by reading the Modest Proposal so all my Catholic and Irish students were good with Swift

Not surprising.

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