Occasionally we’re exhorted by the left to have a “national conversation on race.” But more often this “conversation,” when described, resembles the kind of conversation you might have with your wife when you forget her birthday. It’s always a one-sided affair, a catharsis, an extension of the kind of self-flagellation we’ve undertaken among America’s traditional elites since the watershed social revolutions of the 1960s. I’ve written about this before, at length, here and here.
Eric Holder, the first black attorney general serving under the first black president had this to say regarding the likely contents of such a conversation: “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable”
We’re cowardly all right, but not quite how Holder says. Holder does not hint at a single black failing or shortcoming. Nor does the media. Nor do our college professors, HR “professionals,” movies, books, jokes, comedians, or anyone else. In Holder, there’s not hint of Bill Cosby’s atypical call for black Americans to find some pride in their earlier, austere morality emulating the best in the broader American society, a more proud example that we see in such varied figures as Booker T. Washington, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Jackie Robinson, or the many distinguished success stories of blacks in the American military and business. For Holder, that history and the present-day conversation are all one long J’Accuse, and he won’t be happy until every white knee has bowed.
I”m reminded of Tocqueville’s remarks on why times of progress–such as the material and legal progress of black Americans since the 1960s–often do not create greater comity and social solidarity, but rather increased resentments and friction by the erstwhile oppressed:
Going from bad to worse does not always mean a slide into revolution. More often than not, it occurs when a nation which has endured without complaint–almost without feeling them–the most burdensome laws rejects them with violence the moment the weight of them lightens. The regime destroyed by a revolution is almost always better than the one that immediately preceded it and experience teaches us that hte most hazardous moment for a bad government is normally when it is beginning to reform. Only a great genius can save a rule who is setting out to relieve his subjects’ suffering after a long period of oppression. The evils, patiently endured as inevitable, seem unbearable asa soon as the ide aof excaping them is conceived.
So, conservatives should not be so terribly surprised at the anger, venom, ingratitude, and general demandingness of the Michelle Obamas, Eric Holders, and Al Sharptons of the world. They are angry that they are not on top of the world, that their half-accomplishments are not given the same respect in the real world as they had from brain-dead, indoctrinated educators, inclined towards projection in the case of their less successful coethnics, and fueled by a one-sided tribal storytelling that is enabled by various parties among the majority. Obama’s words and life until becoming president suggest that he offers the healing of surrender, which is bad enough, though his true agenda is shifting, unclear, and wrapped up with his incredible ego and will to power. It could be worse or better, but hopes for saccharine healing seem highly unlikely, not least because the one group of supporters he can’t stand up to will always accuse him of selling out, which is a very painful charge to level against this sometimes insecure and thoughtful man.