Skip to comments.White without Apology
Posted on 08/13/2003 6:57:47 AM PDT by bedolido
While doing my weekly shopping at the Jewel-Osco, I overheard a very unusual conversation. It was between two young baggers who were talking about an article one of them had read regarding President Lincoln. Both men happened to be black. One of them informed the other that President Lincoln cared nothing about blacks and was actually a racist. I was stunned. I wanted to interject a million things to their discussion but I didnt. Instead, I silently watched the checker ring up my order. The incident immediately brought to mind the old commercial from the seventies where tears run down the eye of an Indian brave as he paddles across a river filled with pollutants. I felt like that Indian as I listened to President Lincoln, the man who freed the slaves, badmouthed by a couple of assistants in a grocery store.
This was the same Lincoln who, during a triumphant walk through Richmond, told a group of bowing slaves to get up because the only king they should bow to was Jesus Christ. I wanted to explain to the clerks that men should be judged by the standards of the days in which they live. Some of Lincolns opinions may seem outlandish today, but during the 1860s he was one of the most enlightened men on the continent. By the standards of the nineteenth century, black Americans had no better friend than Abraham Lincoln.
Race is the biggest taboo issue in America today. Almost everyone acknowledges this but acknowledgement does not make our dialogues any smoother. I discovered this for myself the other day after I wrote a column about rap music. It was a favorable elaboration upon one wrote for City-Journal by John McWhorter. Based on my observations of urban youth, I supported McWhorters claim that rap music keeps blacks down through its celebration of pointless rebellion, violence, and nihilism. I received many irate responses. One of them turned into a ten email debate with a reader. By the end of the discussion, we knew a great deal about one another and, vicariously, quite a bit about discussing race in America.
Our little dispute could well have been a microcosm of the nation as a whole. It is unfortunate that I, and numerous other Caucasians, do not always emphatically state our views when asked. Yet, there are major hazards to beware of when addressing race. You never know what the reaction of the person youre speaking to may be and no one wants to get fired over a conversation.
I could tell that the young man at the other end of the server was not used to dealing with white people like me. He only knows whites who defer to him and agree when he says that he has been wronged. He has been conditioned into thinking that all whites will apologize for their ancestry. I, absolutely, and under no circumstance, will ever apologize for my ancestors. In fact, thank G-d for my ancestors! I wish there were more Americans like them.
He began our exchange by telling me that I shouldnt be writing about rap music at all as I dont know anything about it. He also believes that there is nothing wrong with it and that it doesnt harm anyone. I countered by stating that, while its true that I dont know all the names of the famous rappers, I have unfortunately been subjected to a ton of it and know firsthand adolescents who emulate the words and actions of their favorite stars.
The dialogue went downhill from there (if thats possible). There was practically no common ground between us, yet I think that is how it should be. White Americans, if they honestly responded to the claims of black separatists and black powerites, would hear little with which to agree.
Most Caucasian Americans are hard-working and middle class. There are very few like Bill Gates or Paul Allen. Most of us make a decent wage and are content with it. We oppress no one. No ancestors of mine were in the United States before 1910, but, even if they were, it would be superfluous as I personally have committed no wrongs to anyone. I told the young man that white guilt is one of the most pernicious influences within our society. Although this white guilt has not hurt our economic success, it has made many whites regard themselves as being morally inferior to the rest of the population.
He made the point that institutional racism is the reason many blacks have not made it. I told him there was no such thing. It is a creation of the university Marxists who have substituted African-Americans, Hispanics, women and gays for the word proletariat. The entire concept of oppressed and oppression is merely idiotic Marxist claptrap. Its a product of juvenile leftists and should be disregarded. Besides, if there were such a thing as institutional racism no blacks would have ever made it. Theyre be no Cedric the Entertainers, Deion Sanders, Tiger Woods or Halle Berrys. If there were any truth in the flawed rubric of institutional racism, all the aforementioned successful blacks would have been poor sharecroppers rather than cultural icons.
We, of course, also clashed on affirmative action. He regarded it as a prerequisite for black success. He said, The Supreme Court finally got it right. I, on the other hand, think, The Supreme Court wrote more legislation. Clearly, affirmative action is one of the reasons blacks have not been more successful since 1970. You cant put an average student in Cal Tech and expect them to flourish. They fail and the race hustlers could care less how the experience impedes their future development. Even more grievous, is that affirmative action gives racism the imprimatur of the state. A federal stamp of approval compounds its evil.
Towards the end of our exchange, the reader admitted that he felt blacks should not have to work more than one job and do overtime to get ahead in life. Their route should be more direct. He felt long hours were for immigrants and that weve already played that game. He argued that blacks have put their blood and sweat into this countrys infrastructure and deserve reparation for their effort.
Honestly, I have no respect for this argument whatsoever. The request for reparations could not be less valid. Blacks in America already have the worlds greatest reparation: United States citizenship. Every single one of the readers racial cousins in Africa, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, would kill to be in his shoes. They would stow away in a mouse trap just to get here and have an opportunity to be Americans. Most of them fantasize about an existence without murderous kleptomaniac dictators and having children who are free from disease. America is opportunity and blacks are no different from whites in that we all should be forever thankful that we somehow got to these shores.
I discovered that I profited greatly from this reader. Christopher Hitchens, in his fascinating book, Letters to a Young Contrarian, informs us that the great thing about argumentation is that both sides refine and modify their positions which doing it. I hold this to be true and my exchange with the young man is evidence of it.
In this particular argument, I realized something that I never had before. Clearly, it is conservatives like me who care about poor blacks (most, in fact, are middle class) as opposed to the pseudo-liberals. We offer them the best route for advancement. We want to challenge them and make them stronger. We resist the desire to infantilize them. By treating them like adults and inculcating responsibility through achievement, they will prosper just as every other group of Americans have before them.
My opponent, perhaps unconsciously, wants them to stay poor so he can continue to berate America and critique our way of life. Were their lot to suddenly improve, hed have no positions and no identity.
Before this conversation, I never realized just how much that I am rooting for poor black folks. I want them to be as productive as everyone else and to make it in America. I want no less for them than I do for myself. It would please me to no end if all our citizens were grateful for what they have. No white people get anything out of a major percentage of the population being resentful and angry.
Racial harmony can only be achieved if we treat one another as individuals and not as members of fictitious classes. If you want to be oppressed youll find a way to be oppressed, and such a condition damages society as a whole. Racism is wrong in any of its manifestations. We will never all get along if we continue to pretend that some of us, due to the melanin content in our skin, are better than others. Period.
To comment on this article or express your opinion directly to the author, you are invited to e-mail Bernard at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The EP only freed the slaves within the states that were in rebellion, straight from the EP itself: all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free
Slaves in states that did not secede, Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, Missouri, were not freed until passage of the 13th Amendment after Lincoln's death.
Why, whatever do you mean???
That gets me applause at my local sports bar. Also at WNBA games.
I usually will add in, "...and the President too".
Most def. Have at it.