The Corner

Culture

Ten Non-Legal Thoughts

I’m just a poor but reasonably honest civil-rights lawyer, not a political expert or psychologist, but I did have a few thoughts on the post-election fallout that I’m observing:

  1. No one can deny that there is racism in America’s past, and no one can deny that there are still racists. But the problem with the Left is that it willfully exaggerates the amount of racism that still exists — such as when it tells Americans about the racism in their past to the exclusion of everything else, and especially everything positive. That is, its problem is obsession with race and exaggerating racism. But my sense is that we are at a point where a critical mass of Americans is telling the Left, “Enough.”
  2. Jonah Goldberg nailed it recently when he wrote about the incompatibility of race-obsession with reason. Alas, the Left has long been race-obsessed, and so our campuses have come to share that obsession. Don’t believe me? Pick up any issue, any issue, of the Chronicle of Higher Education, or visit Insider Higher Ed on any day, any day. Again, my sense is also that the Left has, with Black Lives Matter and the various campus pubic wars, finally jumped the shark. It has dwindling credibility, and the election results underscore that.
  3. I should note here that you also have to wonder about the good faith of the other side, given the Left’s agenda. The premise of a racist society is helpful to everything in that agenda, and essential to much of it. Thus, the hard Left’s agenda now includes both “diversity” uber alles and reparations; we may be stuck with some form of the diversity shibboleth, but reparations are a political nonstarter — indeed, political kryptonite, and rightly so — that are conceivable only if one believes the worst about this country.
  4. Likewise, one wonders if race relations are actually exceptionally bad right now, or if it is just more fashionable now to say they are bad. The media have no interest in telling the truth on this, because bad news sells. And, again, the Left has its own reasons for wanting race relations to be bad and to be perceived as being bad. I admit that one feels a little silly saying that race relations really are pretty good, looking out at urban riots and campus protests, but in fact they are, if one has any sense of historical perspective at all.
  5. Not that there isn’t unfinished business. But the glass is more than half full — more than three-quarters full — and conservatives want to identify the problems and fix them. The Left is more interested in talking about them forever. Practical solutions are not really what it is after. Indeed, the Left doesn’t want to acknowledge that there can even be solutions, short of the wholesale destruction of current American society.
  6. So part of what’s going on here is ideological. Getting people to believe that there is widespread, intractable racism helps advance the Left’s agenda. And part is psychological. The Left is filled with Atticus Finch wannabes. They want to be the good guy (or gal!) in a drama that has already ended, so they end up being melodramatic. They want to talk about problems forever, rather than solve them. They want to feel sorry for people.
  7. One of the uglier aspects of the Left is its desire to denigrate the accomplishments of the successful. “You didn’t build that!” That’s because undercutting accomplishment is the flipside of making excuses for the dysfunctional, who have to be excused if we are to feel so good about helping them. In both cases, it’s all about removing personal accountability so that the state has more power. Study hard, work hard, and above all quit having children out of wedlock: Are you crazy? No, the solution is more government that I can help run!
  8. Another point related to that is this: It is better to underestimate than overestimate the amount of racism in society and, especially, the degree to which it may deny one opportunities. Racism should not be ignored or excused, but it’s worse for individuals to give up before trying, or to blame the system for what are more likely to be their own failures. Again, if you like personal accountability, you don’t want to worry overmuch about how your best efforts may be thwarted; if you want to excuse those who aren’t trying, then it’s helpful to pretend that their efforts would likely be futile anyhow.
  9. Ask yourself: Is a backward-looking, blame-assigning mindset better for black progress and interracial cooperation than forward-looking, forgiving one? Sure, there is racism, but it’s a bad idea to oversell the amount of it, not only because it discourages hard work, but because it is divisive.
  10. In the end, it’s not that complicated: People should not be treated differently because of their skin color (by governments, private entities, or individuals), and it’s a bad idea to have children out of wedlock. Imagine a country where that was what the elites told us — without exaggerating the amount of racism or obsessing about race. Imagine a country where we celebrated how open all the doors are. We can do that, too, you know. When it comes to race relations, a period of benign neglect is long overdue.