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White without Apology
TooGoodReports ^ | 08/13/03 | Bernard Chapin

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 didn’t. 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 Lincoln’s opinions may seem outlandish today, but during the 1860’s 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 McWhorter’s 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 you’re 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 shouldn’t be writing about rap music at all as I don’t know anything about it. He also believes that there is nothing wrong with it and that it doesn’t harm anyone. I countered by stating that, while it’s true that I don’t 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 that’s 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. It’s 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. They’re be no Cedric the Entertainer’s, Deion Sanders’, Tiger Woods’ or Halle Berry’s. 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 can’t 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 “we’ve already played that game.” He argued that blacks have put their blood and sweat into this country’s 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 world’s greatest reparation: United States citizenship. Every single one of the reader’s 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, he’d 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 you’ll 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 .

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: apology; oppression; race; victimhood; white; without
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To: Huck
The article wasn't about Lincoln, but there are plenty of other threads on that issue. Rather, the piece was about how reparations and "white guilt" are not healthy for society.

I prefer not to draw battlelines on this thread; the author's closing statement sums it up pretty well.

41 posted on 08/13/2003 8:16:37 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: bedolido
He argued that blacks have put their blood and sweat into this country’s infrastructure and deserve reparation for their effort.

Okay. Here's $45, thanks for all the cotton.

But seriously, our country's economy isn't based on agriculture. If it were, the South would have won.

42 posted on 08/13/2003 8:18:51 AM PDT by A_perfect_lady (Let them eat cake.)
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To: stainlessbanner
I prefer not to draw battlelines on this thread; the author's closing statement sums it up pretty well.

Thank you, sir! Seriously.

43 posted on 08/13/2003 8:19:18 AM PDT by rdb3 (I'm not a complete idiot. Several parts are missing.)
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To: wasp69
thanks for the correction, and posting the source. It's amazing such things actually happened here. This was thought of as radical as well.
44 posted on 08/13/2003 8:20:22 AM PDT by bedolido (None of us is as dumb as all of us!)
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To: GladesGuru
No sting, GladesGuru, just the facts. But thank you anyway ;}
45 posted on 08/13/2003 8:20:32 AM PDT by wasp69 (Remember, Uday in Pig Latin is DU)
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To: stainlessbanner; Huck; rdb3
I prefer not to draw battlelines on this thread; the author's closing statement sums it up pretty well.

Here, here.
46 posted on 08/13/2003 8:23:02 AM PDT by wasp69 (Remember, Uday in Pig Latin is DU)
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To: bedolido
thanks for the correction, and posting the source.

No sweat. If you ever have the time to look deeper into that period in time, I think you would find more than a few eye poppers.
47 posted on 08/13/2003 8:24:36 AM PDT by wasp69 (Remember, Uday in Pig Latin is DU)
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To: squidly
Perhaps you ought to study a little bit more before you make assumptions. The Lincoln administration was working on plans to free slaves in Delaware as early as the late summer of 1861 and had hoped to expand that program to other states. They formulated a plan that would have compensated every slaveholder for their freed chattel. The plan wasn't implemented because the method of funding missed being passed by one vote.

Lincoln clearly believed slavery was wrong and evil. Anybody who has ever made a serious study of his pre-war writings and speeches knows this.
48 posted on 08/13/2003 8:24:53 AM PDT by XRdsRev
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To: bedolido
OK, let's dance...

I respect everyone's right to express an opinion but I respect no one's right to be wrong in their facts.

The institutional racism did and in some areas does exist. Please refer to any Tuskegee Airman that returned after WWII and were not permitted to submit an application...Anyone who applied for admission to University of Alabama before George Wallace was president...Anyone who wanted to have lunch at the restaurant of their choice in North Carolina...The silencing of Benjamin Davis at the US Military Academy...The fact we fought the world's ultimate racist during World War II with a segregated army(or was that executive decree by Truman simply reaffirming something done earlier...
The racial profiling that is still persistent in many parts of our country today..
Separate but equal...Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 to Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954...1954 to 1957 Little Rock...1957 to 1964 before the Civil Rights Act...And what were these Grandfather Clauses... Oh...and Ladies...How many elections did you participate in before 1920?...

As black conservatives we are never going to have credibility if we accept the opinion of a revisionist who denies that black people have been treated unfairly by both political parties at times when it served their needs.

When the economy gets bad, everyone here knows that there is that fear that they will be laid off and that if an equally qualified black person is competing against an equalified white person for a job or a contract, the black person does not always feel that he is on an even playing field.

We will move forward if we deal with the history and the present honestly.

I would love to have a discussion about how it is that Blacks came to support the Democratic Party so heavily... I have the feeling it may have something to do with the perception that we were sold out so that Rutherford B. Hayes could gain the presidency (removing those federal troops from the south and all)... Then the Jim Crow laws... Somewhere in there, black people must have felt their best interests were not being served by the Republican Party...

We can say that conservatives treat us more fairly TODAY and we can say that conservative IDEALS serve us and empower us TODAY but we also have to understand that our acceptance into the corridors of opportunity and success are based only on what we do...We are not going to be given many second chances (or do you think that JC Watts is going to be running for Governor, Senator, or be appointed to some cabinet or administration post some time in the near or distant future)... Do you think Colin Powell is going to be given a second chance to fail?

Let us all take a breath of reality and realize that we are on our way to becoming an established interest and with the education and opportunity provided to us recently, we have an opportunity to secure our future by joining the conservative movement...

But let us not slip into complacency and think that there are not those that in both parties that will sell us out in a moment if circumstances dictate...

Also, I notice that the writer seems to always point to persons that are not necessarily in the mainstream of our community and define our entire community based on the attitudes of those persons... In other words, they tend to grasp every opportunity to think the worst of us...I think there is room for improvement here on all sides...

I would say that maybe the real truth may be that there are many among us who have outgrown what the Democratic Party has for us but we would be lying to ourselves if we walk around trying to act like conservatives have always been as fair and open minded as they are today.

Live in the present, but learn from the past...
49 posted on 08/13/2003 8:25:13 AM PDT by dwd1 (M. h. D. (Master of Hate and Discontent))
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To: abner; hellinahandcart
50 posted on 08/13/2003 8:25:33 AM PDT by sauropod (Graduate: Burt Gummer's Survival School)
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To: dead
The trouble with mentioning Thomas, Rice etc is that it is very likely the clerks wouldn't know who they are.
51 posted on 08/13/2003 8:30:44 AM PDT by xp38
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To: XRdsRev
Lincoln clearly believed slavery was wrong and evil. Anybody who has ever made a serious study of his pre-war writings and speeches knows this.

So how come he didn't just issue the Emancipation Proclamation upon taking office, or upon the outset of the war? It doesn't appear to me that it was such a high priority for him.

52 posted on 08/13/2003 8:33:28 AM PDT by squidly
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To: rdb3
thanks. putting it up on my FR "about" page under "Great Quotes"
53 posted on 08/13/2003 8:33:42 AM PDT by King Prout (people hear and do not listen, see and do not observe, speak without thought, post and not edit)
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To: Lazamataz
Why, whatever do you mean???

You are wicked bad, sir.

Funny, but wicked bad....[g]

54 posted on 08/13/2003 8:36:44 AM PDT by mhking
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To: mtbopfuyn
Es tut mir sehr leid, mein herr, aber das gehts nicht weil sie habe jede krieg verloren...

I think there is a case to be made that every country has parts of it's history to be ashamed of...We try to forget about the bad and remember the good... However, you may not get that much sympathy from a historical standpoint based on the fact that Germans have buried a few bodies themselves....

As I said, "Live in the present, but learn from the past!"

See you at Octoberfest... I will be driving my Mercedes, we can eat bratwurst, and I will gladly do the chicken dance after we have a weizen beer, but I think we all as American need to understand that we have not always been as fair and just as we are now and we still have more work to do. (3 years in Ramstein...Es war wunderschön)

55 posted on 08/13/2003 8:37:40 AM PDT by dwd1 (M. h. D. (Master of Hate and Discontent))
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To: rdb3
Lends credence to my theory that American blacks are in what I call "The Marxist Laboratory."

And that's the polite way of putting it...

56 posted on 08/13/2003 8:37:49 AM PDT by mhking
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To: squidly
Political suicide...

Also, Lincoln's highest priority was to preserve the union...
57 posted on 08/13/2003 8:39:11 AM PDT by dwd1 (M. h. D. (Master of Hate and Discontent))
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To: dwd1
You don't show any evidence of continuing "institutional racism." All of your examples date to 1964 or before. Additionally, "racism" is not the same thing as "sexism." And you also ignore the fact that division of labor among the sexes isn't necessarily a bad thing -- there were feminists who fought against the right to vote, precisely because they did not want to shoulder the duties that men do. In 2003, now that women are in the armed forces and are raped in war, I wonder if they were right...
58 posted on 08/13/2003 8:45:35 AM PDT by =Intervention= (White devils for Sharpton Central Florida chapter)
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To: dwd1
Political suicide... Also, Lincoln's highest priority was to preserve the union...

Thank you, that's the point I was making all along.

59 posted on 08/13/2003 8:48:32 AM PDT by squidly
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To: A_perfect_lady
Also, I have heard that the South lost because of the lack of manpower, the naval blockade, and the lack of quality manufacturing capability...

The "Thanks for the Cotton" remark does seem to indicate a dismissive, patronizing, and perhaps unsympathetic attitude but that is your right.

60 posted on 08/13/2003 8:50:37 AM PDT by dwd1 (M. h. D. (Master of Hate and Discontent))
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