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March 29, 2006

Speaking Truth To Powerlessness

My earlier post on Perverse Individualism has generated some interesting discussion. Yesterday evening I started to reply to alau (whose use of the term "evil, soul-sucking law firm" not only caused me to inhale a goodly portion of my morning coffee but derailed my train of thought as I wasted the next 120 seconds or so vainly pondering whether 'evil', 'soul-sucking', or the tried-but-true 'law firm' would have conveyed the same meaning, sans redundancy). In the end, I was loathe to part with 'soul-sucking' - as a modifier, it elevated 'law firm' above the quotidian into a realm all its own.

By that time I had finished about half my drink and (not coincidentally) any hope of summoning up a coherent response.

Alau had remarked (and I'm paraphrasing here, I hope correctly) that it's all very well to expect more of people, but that's not easy to do when the surrounding culture doesn't support your choices. In other words, you are fighting an uphill battle:

The military seems to be a more race-blind place than the rest of America. Now, I'm not trying to take anything away from sucessful black families that raise their kids to go against the expectations of "cool-pose culture." I applaud that.

But where are they doing it? Are they doing it in an environment (say middle-class suburbia) where ALL families are expecting the same thing from their kids, where culture definitely transcends race? Or are they doing it in the bleakest ghettos? If they are doing it the bleakest poorest ghettos, then kudos to them, they're an exception to the general rule

Not that I'm saying that it isn't impossible to rise above the ghetto culture. But it is difficult. I agree, that many If it wasn't difficult, the NYTimes wouldn't be giving scholarships to kids who could.

Actually, I could not agree more. I argue this all the time with some of my more libertarian friends. Although I am something of a cultural conservative, I actually have no real desire to impose my values on my neighbor, except to the degree that I see destructive values impacting children. And I do see that, every day. I see a culture in which, quite frankly, adults are saying to kids, "Do as I say, not as I do".

And children are crazy if they buy off on that proposition. Why should they behave when they don't see adults showing similar restraint?

There is something I used to say when my boys were small, and it is true: no child with an ounce of gumption in him is going to behave when your back is turned - and you cannot be there all the time. And the older your child gets, the more true that becomes. So the surrounding culture becomes more and more of an influence as your children grow up. Parents who don't believe that are fooling themselves. Big time. As soon as those adolescent hormones hit, they will rebel - sooner or later - and then you will have to confront the fact that you supported a culture that openly glorifies all the things you don't want him or her to do: sex, drugs, drinking, disrespect for authority - all at a time when biology has programmed your child to tune you out. It's a scary proposition.

It scared me, and I was a white, middle-class parent. I took one look at my boys and realized early on that I was going to have my hands full during the teen years, with my husband deployed or at work most of the time, if I didn't take control early on. I knew this because I remembered what I was like as a teenager. So I made sure the environment my sons were in was always as supportive of my values as I could make it. I did not want to have to fight the surrounding culture. I paid through the nose for private schools because the parents there, though I didn't like many of them much, were at least serious about education and the children were all headed to college. So that was one battle I didn't have to fight.

I put my sons in Boy Scouts and sports because it kept them busy after school and the boys they met were the kind of kids who for the most part were not getting into trouble. And we got up and went to church every Sunday, though we don't go now, because that was also part of surrounding them with a culture of expectation, and teaching them what we believed about right and wrong. Now, unfortunately, the only congregation that reliably sees me on Sunday mornings is Our Lady of St. Mattress-upon-Springs. The point in all of this rambling is that although I take alau's point (that the military, to some extent, provides a supportive culture for families), it also fails to do so in many ways due to the ephemeral nature of the social connections we form.

We move every one to three years, so children are constantly uprooted. Because they are always something of the odd man out at a new duty station, they are always at the mercy of the wrong kind of kids: sometimes they want to fit in, or make new friends, so badly that they succumb to peer pressure more easily than children with a more established social network.

Parents can take one of two approaches to this problem. They can throw up their hands and say, "It's all too hard - every time we move my kids are unhappy. They lose all their friends and all my hard work is undone.". Or they can learn to be self-reliant; to create the skills that allow them to feel at home wherever they move. Those are the successful people. And this is, in fact, what most of the military end up doing. They adapt, and in so doing, they teach their children to adapt and overcome.

This brings me to a fascinating interview with Shelby Steele, (via Betsy Newmark) in which he looks at why social programs have failed to repair the damaging legacy of racism:

You say many things in black America have not improved as they should have since the 1960s. What do you think happened?

STEELE: Here we were a people who, during the civil rights movement, took charge, fought out a peaceful revolution, and won against a society in which we were outnumbered ten to one.

We won a personal victory, then turned right around and put our future in the hands of the larger society. To understand that, just consider another theoretical option. What if, in 1965, every black person had left America and started a new nation? We would have put all of our energy into education and development because we'd have had to become competitive with this huge American country. We would have focused on hard work and conservative values. There's no doubt that our new nation would have had conservative politics.

But we didn't leave America. We were smack in the middle of a society that knew what it had done to us before. There was a profound amount of guilt. We knew that guilt was there, and we had a U.S. President who was reeling backwards, putting the responsibility on whites to make things up to us, promising to end poverty. We bought into that, and it made us weak. We bought into precisely the opposite of what we should have done.

Our real problem was a lack of development. We weren't educated. We weren't competitive. And so rather than really tackle those problems within our group, we just kept saying, "Well, you guys haven't given us a good enough school yet. You haven't given us good enough this, or good enough that." We had this wonderful excuse.

This has got to be the classic example of winning the battle and losing the war. Steele goes on to point out how blacks who compete freely with whites in fields where there are no excuses made for them have been extremely successful. In these areas, black success is largely a function of expectations and effort expended:

At that point, blacks made the worst mistake in our history: putting our faith in the hands of outside saviors. The idea that somebody else can lift you up, can teach you skills, and make you competitive is just ridiculous. That sort of abject dependence has never worked, and it never will.

Blacks do well in sports, music, entertainment, and literature because there's absolutely no white intervention, paternalism, affirmative action, or anything else. We're asked to compete without any assistance, and sure enough, we compete. We succeed. In these areas, whites never intervene, so we ask the best and we get the best. But in colleges and other places, there are a billion excuses. Whites intervene and convince themselves not to ask much of us. It's the same old vicious cycle.

He is absolutely scathing on the topic of affirmative action:

It smears every single black person.

Look at me, for example. My enemies say my career would have gone nowhere without affirmative action. I don't think that's true, but because there is affirmative action, they can say that. There are no blacks who are free from that stigma, and that's a terrible thing to do to people who are trying to succeed on their own. I think affirmative action is the worst cruelty blacks have endured since slavery.

Affirmative action and all of its sundry manifestations should be completely eliminated. It stigmatizes all blacks, and it's not voluntary. One of the real cruelties of affirmative action is that whether we want it or not, it is imposed on us, simply because of the color of our skin. You don't get to opt out.

You shouldn't be able to go onto a campus and have a separate black graduation ceremony, a separate black student union, a black studies department. Why do I get all these racial things, but you can't have them? Why?

White paternalism and guilt is behind it, because it allows whites to effectively take credit for our advancement. Just like slavery, affirmative action allows blacks to be used, and bestows on us a stigma of being inferior. It's a stunning cruelty. We ought to be marching on Washington to end paternalism and affirmative action; not marching to keep it.

I have to say that I agree. If you truly believe that race is a handicap in America, that it is an impediment to success, then if you want blacks to succeed the only logical corollary is that they are going to have to try harder to get to the finish line than everyone else.

Yet what is liberal America's answer to the problem of racial inequality in education and economic outcomes? Not to say, "Yes, things have not always been right in America, but we have changed the laws to make them more fair. Now the rest is up to you. It won't be easy, but new immigrants succeed here all the time and they don't even speak English. Here are the tools you need - we have confidence in you. Now show us what you can do."

No, our current system tells them, "You are a helpless victim and everyone is out to get you. The deck is stacked. We don't think you can compete with whites even with help, so we'll admit you or hire you even if you don't perform as well. And if you try to go to a charter school instead of that substandard public school you're in now, you're a race traitor. Just stay right where you are, and we'll take care of you. [wink]"

Now who's the racist? Steele speaks of how much things have changed in his lifetime:

I'm old enough to remember segregation. Where I grew up, whites had no shame about being racist. They used to come up to me and explain that racism and segregation were God's will. And they were perfectly comfortable with it.

Today, there's no white person that could do that. Among whites, things have changed. No one wants white supremacists around. Sure, there are some, but America's transformation is just amazing. It's just amazing.

Now it's time for blacks to make a similar transformation, to grow up, and take responsibility for their own future. If they don't do it, they're not going to have prospects that amount to very much. If they do do it, they'll be able to succeed. We've come to a place in our history where the real onus for change is on black Americans.

And the amazing thing is that during this time when there was open, unashamed racism and segregation, black-owned businesses, newspapers, and schools thrived all over America. I am not suggesting by any means that this was easy, or that they were not subjected to incredible difficulties, but if they were able to overcome a hostile legal system and open racism then, why do we lack faith in black achievement now? And why, when we have Black History month every year, do we hear so little about these amazing pioneers? I truly believe it is because they undercut the cult of victimology that keeps blacks in thrall to an utterly corrupt leadership.

We hear an awful lot about speaking truth to power. It takes a lot of courage to speak truth to powerlessness in the racially-charged atmosphere of modern-day America. But if you care about the future of America's black youth, and I do, you cannot remain silent from some misguided fear of being called a racist.

I expect more. I expect more because I know - I know , as I knew with my own babies - these young people can do more. I see it in their eyes, and I am anguished at the wasted potential I see every day.

Those long-ago words, "We shall overcome" need to thunder once more throughout the land. On that day, I will know that we are on the right track to race relations in my country.

Posted by Cassandra at March 29, 2006 06:08 AM


You know, Cass, there are days I wake up and think to myself, "Self, you're a pretty good commentary writer. Bravo!" It's usually on such days that I find a post like this on VC. Then I realize that I still have a long, long way to go.

I admire your strength, your wit, your intelligence, your enthusiasm. Your writing always seems to bring these qualities of yours out every time, even in those posts when you seem to be down.

You cause me to aspire to become better than I am today. I do hope, on those days when you feel overly burdened by life and the stuff it heaps on us all, that you come back to this comment and remember what it is you bring to those of us who have the pleasure of knowing you.

And when you do, I hope that this comment reminds you of who you are and what you offer. And that this comment causes a smile to steal across your face.

Posted by: Robbie at March 29, 2006 09:34 AM

Robbie, I think you have managed to render me speechless, and that is not easy to do.

Lord knows, people are always trying :)

Seriously, thank you. You guys are always far kinder to me than I deserve. It is a pleasure showing up here every day and exchanging ideas with all of you - I wouldn't think of half the things I do if it weren't for things you all say.

A blog is a conversation, and those few times when I have gotten annoyed at the SPAM and been tempted to turn off the comments, I could not imagine doing this without the feedback from you all. So many times you guys say things that make me see things in a new light, or bring out aspects of a topic that I never thought of on my own. It's the best thing about blogging, and the one that inspired the name of this site.

And I really appreciate you all showing up. More than I can say.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 29, 2006 10:10 AM

Steele has always been the fly in the ointment of those wedded to the outdated idea that black Americans are owed special treatment to help them succeed. But I disagree with him one thing. He states that separate black graduation ceremonies, separate black student unions, or black studies departments on campus are the result of "white paternalism... because it allows whites to effectively take credit for our advancement." Poppycock.

Black "separateness" is a condition self-imposed and merely tolerated by those who just don't think the game is worth the candle. What college administrator is going to stand up and say "black students should not have their own fill-in-the-blank?" Not only would the person be shouted down as a racist, but probably run out of town by the likes of Jesse Jackson. It's just not worth it. I believe it's white apathy, not guilt, that permits such otherwise anti-social institutions to go unchallenged.

As far as whites taking credit for the advancement of black Americans, he is correct, in a perverse sort of way. The civil rights movement did not succeed solely by the efforts of black Americans. It was the public scorn of American whites towards the Jim Crow South that finally broke the back of instituional racism in this country. That black Americans have steadily advanced since that time is unimpeachable. So, I suppose that white Americans can take some credit for the advancement of black Americans, just as they can take credit for the wrongs done, too.

But as a white American, I will say that I have never even had such a thought before reading Steele's article. Have you?

Posted by: spd rdr at March 29, 2006 11:00 AM

Spd rdr, yes. :)
I have a good friend who is black/african-american/non-white/take your pick, and though he is pretty liberal/democratic in his political leanings, he is a fairly conservative (and moral) man in his personal behavior (don't say that conservative stuff to him or he'll get mad, though), for which I happen to like him a lot.
We've thrashed this discussion about several times, in a friendly way over the years, and I can see where Steele is coming from, a mile away, so to speak.
Black American families have ALWAYS been under some type of 'stress', and I'm not trying to be mocking here.
1) Slavery
2) reconstruction and the rise of the KKK
3) moving North to find opportunity and finding discrimination and separatism
4) Jim Crow laws in the South
5) Jim Crow-like laws in the North

Then came the Civil Rights movement that started after WWII (desegegation of the Armed Forces), Open Housing/Fair Housing laws, etc., until the peak of the movement in the '60's.

Now the reversal of direction of stress, not negative pressure from white America, but "Equaliztion of Outcomes" type pressure. It's one thing to feel guilty about past wrongs and trying to rectify them, but creating some phony-baloney egalitarian wonderland, where all children are above average, etc. and excusing all kinds of anti-social behavior in the popular culture because of the desire to be "genuine" (whatever that means!) is just so much.....WHATEVER.
I see plenty of black families "making it" in the sense that they are cohesive, rising in the middle class, the kids go to good schools, etc. That's my next-door neighbors to a tee. The flip side, is of course, single-parent (mother) households, where the boy-children usually end up running wild; but hey, that's "genuine". Steele's point, that my friend and I have discussed over the years, is that you can't have two (or more!) standards of behavior for people in this country. His (my friend) specific point once was the behavior of wealthy, black athletes, and how they were, frankly, stupid (his words) for keeping around their "friends" or "Homies" from the days when they were poor street kids. Once they had "made it" with money, they were under scrutiny from the press, and their so-called "friends" were only taking advantage of their money (see Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens). The double standard was at work, up until a capital crime was committed, then the real world intruded.
So when "negative" pressure is applied:
1) don't be negative about out of wedlock births
2) don't strengthen marriage because it's old fashioned
3) don't be demanding about educational standards, because we don't want to hurt anyone's self-esteem.
4) and for God's sake, don't criticize "genuine" African-American behavior, even if it is anti-social in any context.

In short, treat Black Americans as the "Other", but the nice "other", that needs our solicitude and patience.
This is a formula for success?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 29, 2006 11:59 AM

Amazed, But Remaining Hopeful.

I am amazed constantly by the selective memories of the so-called well-informed. When searching for cause and effect of the current state of young black men a HUGE factor has not been addressed. We do not have to revisit slavery to see the effect and affect of a significant historical component upon the current condition of the African-American community and this nation. It is the loss of skill, strength, talent. perseverance, problem-solving, goal/result oriented experience that occurred as a result of the Vietnam War to the African-American Community and this nation.

Those young men, who were educated and trained by their less formally educated parent, grandparent and guardians to continue the growth and dreams of a people rising from the degradation of slavery and Jim Crow, were the transitioning generation. Parental authority and inspiration who, having survived the rapes, lynching and financial depravation of their time period, forged dreams into their sons, brothers, nephews and grandson to achieve and grow beyond their guardian's experience. To become all that they could be.

Enter the Civil Rights era where young minds and hearts begin to invest not only their bodies to the dangers of protest but also their dreams to hope that this struggle when completed will yield a better day, a more open society in which to grow and achieve. Through their own effort and merit. They had a stronger educational system because the teacher invested his/her dream into the student and more students had the expectation that when the college door opened they would be able to compete, survive and thrive. After all, the community had been doing just that for three centuries.

Enter Vietnam which provided the powerful and fearful governmental/private sector interests an opportunity to send the best, the brightest and sometime the most highly motivated albeit understandably angry young black men ever produced in this nation to a war effort the was never supposed to last beyond 1963!

That transitional group of MEN did not get the opportunity to teach their sons/daughters the lessons and dreams of their extended family, to continue a culture of hard work/sacrifice, expectation, familial bond and respect that we would have benefited from today. They were the stabilizing, energizing group to continue the culture of marry the girl of your dreams, raise strong children and build a community, a nation, based upon the experiences of their forefathers and not upon TV/movies and the like. The people who were their teachers, mentors inspiration lived long enough to teach them, expecting that they would teach those who followed. That under-studied, under-valued gap in knowledge, experience and man power has been an almost insurmountable loss. But some survived and passed on the needed knowledge and inspiration. Women, daughters, nieces and granddaughters learned the lessons and tried to pass them on to their children. That is why we have the largest black middle-class to date. Unfortunately not enough to stem the tide of destruction of self-esteem, courage and hope.

It was a well-calculated, HUGE loss to this nation at every level and to our youth in particular. We are only just beginning to emerge from the devastating cost of those lives lost. White guilt is as counter-productive as is black complacency. It allows the better educated among us to distance themselves from the increasingly desperate among us. We need teachers, authority figures with a hope and dreams to invest in the youth of this nation and teach the lessons of accurate history and current event. And Yes we who are citizens of this country have, for some an unrealized, expectation of a living wage to feed, educate and house our families based upon the same expectation as any other citizen born in this country. Through skill, strength, talent. perseverance, problem-solving, goal/result oriented experience and pride. Through their own effort and merit.

Posted by: Deborah at March 29, 2006 01:19 PM


With all due respect, that's hogwash. While the death of ~ 55K men total in Viet Nam (of which not more that 20% were African Americans), was tragic, IS STILL TRAGIC, it was and is not enough of a demographic impact to affect the lives of MILLIONS of African Americans living now, that were not even born 30 years ago.

Look at the problem again, please.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 29, 2006 01:42 PM

Being an Education grad student, I am required to take a "Multicultural Teaching & Learning" class. The textbook is Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations, Curriculum, and Teaching by James A. Banks. The author happens to be a black man. I read that book, and I just get mad. He's putting forth the concept that there is still "institutionalized racism" in America. I just can't see that. But then, some people in my class say that I wouldn't because I'm white.

This is my least favorite class, even over having to write a research paper. It seems that the majority of the class prefers to either keep quiet about their own opinions or spout the same multi-culti drivel.

As long as we treat people differently because of their race, we are never going to get past it. Period. I like reading things from reasonable "persons of color" like Steele and La Shawn Barber. I just wish there were more of them, and that they would get the same kind of press as the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton race-baiters.....

Posted by: Lisa at March 29, 2006 02:08 PM

I have to admit that I am a bit skeptical of Deborah's theory as well. A look at the historical record is interesting.

Vietnam is hardly the first tragedy to befall a racial or ethnic group. Look at the Holocaust. Hard to argue that this was not a calamity of truly epic proportions. Millions of Jews murdered. Genocide on a titanic scale.

Many Jewish families escaped Nazi Germany with only the clothes on their backs: their money and possessions were all confiscated by the Nazis and they had to leave for lands where they didn't even speak the language. And anyone who things there is no prejudice against Jews is just plain nuts.

And yet, their culture went on. They did not lie down and die, and there were no affirmative action programs to help them, no "Civil Rights Bill" to make sure they were taken care of. No excuses. Just a mountain of hard work. They finally got their own nation and on the day UN troops withdrew, seven Arab nations ganged up and attacked them!

It is not adversity, more often than not, that kills progress but the lack thereof. I think Steele had the right of it when he said blacks could handle hardship. It was freedom that many of them couldn't deal with - that and low expectations. Not being expected to measure up.

During Jim Crow when things were rough many blacks managed to prosper anyway - they formed businesses, banks, schools. Now they have all manner of legal preferences and they say it is impossible to succeed in a white man's world.

Well it is less of a white man's world than it ever has been before - how did their great-grandparents do it?

Insofar as Vietnam, the number of black casualties was statistically small - only 5711 combat deaths out of 250,000 who served - OVER 12 YEARS! Add another 1530 non-combat deaths and you are still not talking about a huge mortality rate.

Almost as many died during the very short Korean War (3223 in TWO YEARS!) yet there was no corresponding wave of out-of-wedlock childbearing, young black men in jail, etc. So I think the theory that Vietnam fatalities are a root cause has to be questioned on the merits.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 29, 2006 02:31 PM

The US Civil War was wrong. It was a war of imperialism, a war against independence, a war against self-government.
Lincoln never recognized the Confederacy's legitimacy, never considered the war to be with a seperate nation, but the suppression of America's internal insurrection. After the war,the North did not take reparation, rather, the country engaged in reconstruction. (Lincoln's integrity)
BUT the victory that allowed this history depended on Sherman's conduct of "Total War", a strategy that implicitly recognizes the South as a seperate nation.

The end of slavery is good, but was certain with or without war. Slavery is untenable, could not survive. It existed in other countries, and ENDED in other countries WITHOUT WAR. If it hadn't ended here by war it would have collapsed due to contradictions and convolutions it required of law, or due to its utter incompatability with the American character, or possibly by a slave insurgency.
If it had ended by a slave insurgency, a black on white war, insead of a white on white war (I know, it was a white-and-black on white-and-black) our whole society would have developed differently, and not become as factional as it is.
Look at the relationships between nations, whose independence was acheived through their own war, the relationship between India and Britain, the Phillipines and the U.S., the U.S. and England.
Independence acheived through your own fight results in a relationship of equality and recognition with whomever you'd been a part of or dependent on.

Posted by: sonar at March 29, 2006 03:36 PM

I lost an earlier comment responding to this and my train of thought got derailed by an incoming phone call. I'll try again.

I disagree with him one thing. He states that separate black graduation ceremonies, separate black student unions, or black studies departments on campus are the result of "white paternalism... because it allows whites to effectively take credit for our advancement." Poppycock.

I think Steele confuses cause with effect.

I don't think whites asked for those things, so he's wrong there if he's trying to say whites wanted those things so we could take credit for black achievement. All you had to do was be a fly on the wall when this nonsense came up in the first place. As spd observed, the eye-rolling was almost audible. But hey, was it worth it to get our pantyhose in a knot?

To get called a racist? To point out that we couldn't very well have 'whites-only' ceremonies? Hell no.

But Steele is dead right on one score, the end result of this kind of preferential separate but more-than-equal treatment is that blacks are viewed as weaklings who can't compete on their own merits. And that sucks. As a woman, I bitterly resent some of the more radical feminists who demand the same sort of bull for women. I don't want it or need it. I don't WANT to be singled out, unless it's because I did such a great job on something that it's my MERIT or skill or intelligence or hard work which got me noticed, not my gender.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 29, 2006 06:03 PM

And the germ of this idea is also present in sonar's comment, believe it or not. It's not an easy idea (nor a comfortable one) to contemplate.

But imagine an alternate form of history in which blacks had TAKEN independence for themselves, not been magnanimously "granted" it by whites? Would we even be having this conversation today?

The true irony of this is that if you raise these kinds of questions, (and conservatives do, all the time) people will call you a racist. Liberals will say "SShhhhh!!!! you can't say that!"

But the underlying assumption when you raise this question isn't racist at all. I really believe there is no difference attributable to race. How can it be racist to say that? I think there is a broad spectrum of human ability across racial, ethnic, and gender lines, and furthermore I think hard work blurs an awful lot of the lines. How many book-smart fools do you know?

How many hardworking average guys with street smarts who always come out on top? I score very well on tests, but I'm no millionaire and I only have a BS. My brother has a PhD. I'm an underachiever, I suppose, but that was my choice.

Your values play into what you choose in life too, and your personality and background. It's a total package. I wanted balance and freedom, and I have (mostly) what I set out to get in life.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 29, 2006 06:13 PM

Wow, I'm honored that you singled my comment out for a post :) I would have responded earlier but real life got in the way. (And you're right, perhaps "evil, and soul-sucking" are unneccessary modifiers to law firms. I need to re-read my Strunk & White.)

I really have alot of respect for the military, both people who serve and the families that support them. It offers amazing opportunities for advancement regardless of background, while giving you a chance to make a difference. And although I hope to contribute to change for a world where militaries are unnecessary (which I know is an ideal in the sky, but those are the best ones to shoot for), I am very grateful for their efforts to protect us in a world where not everyone has the same ideals.

On a random side note:

"Slavery is untenable, could not survive. It existed in other countries, and ENDED in other countries WITHOUT WAR."

Actually, slavery ended in the rest of the world largely due to the efforts of the British during the nineteenth century (something Americans don't really learn about that time period because we still had grudges over the War of 1812). Because of religious revival, slavery was increasingly seen as a moral evil, which prompted Britain, who had the world's strongest navy at the time, to blockade all slave ships attempting to come out of Africa. (Of course, this was also during the Age of Imperialism and the British had good economic motive for depriving other places of a labor force).

Posted by: alau at March 30, 2006 12:10 PM

Alau, Thank you. I have read that, and I've heard that history textbooks in the U.K., when refering to our Revolutionary War, describe their impetus/justification as being the opposition to slavery. I'm not leading to any conclusion, just observing, curiously.

Posted by: sonar at March 30, 2006 03:45 PM

Deb,you sound like those even more ignorant black lefty moonbats who know nothing about Vietnam except for what our cowardly communist loving Black "leaders"say.My father was Vietnam Vet,and he would tear your argument to shreds!when he and prior generations of Blacks came along,having babies out of wedlock was shameful!It isn't so now,frankly,had many of the guys that he grew up with and others had not been drafted or in his case volunteered,they would've been dead or in jail.And that is what is happening to our community today,too much apaathy and persmisiveness breeds this sort of crap.You need to read the stories about the Tusgkegee Airemen,real heroes to our community,they had to break the stereotype of the Black man,not being intelligent in military affairs,that he was cowardly,and that he couldn't lead.This is what these great Americans were up against back then.It seems to me upon osbserving my generation gxers got really messed up in the mind,they are clueless to what dignity,honor,pride,and morality and what those things really mean,all liberals do is give lip service to those things because they don't have the will or the spine to do such things themselves.Frankly,I'm glad to be a child of a sheepdog and was taught to respect the flag and the laws of this nation,if my dad had a been a doctor or lawyer I problably would've ended a up being a moonbat marxists and fool like so many of these buffoons.

Posted by: Lisa Gilliam at March 30, 2006 10:50 PM

This message is in response to a column on Shelby Steele:
My husband purchased a copy of White Guilt by Shelby Steele. After finishing it, he suggested that I read it; he thought that Mr. Steele had written a worthwhile book. Having heard Mr. Steele speak on cable TV, I had already formed the opinion that his Black conservative rhetoric just wasn't my type of reading. Nevertheless, since the book was close at hand, I would give it a try. I read several of the first chapters, most of the middle, decided I couldn't take it, and skipped to the last few pages. I called My husband and asked if Steele had talked about his wife in the book, since his father-in-law had been mentioned. My husband couldn't recall. I explained that it had been my experience that mixed-race authors (usually white/black) and black writers married to white women seem to think that their social perspective (being part of a white family) allows them to print all of their musings, criticisms, and conclusions about Blacks without being challenged. Conservative Blacks really don't deserve a separate label from conservative Whites; there is no distinction. I am disappointed that my spouse spent money on this book which is sure to further encourage Mr. Steele to continue to spew his (hard fought for) White perspective on what is wrong with Black America while excusing Whites (their culpability is generation-specific and needs to be contextualized and forgotten) in what he perceives as Blacks' flight from responsibility. Obviously, I agree with your column on Mr. Steele and wish to commend you for not following the blame the victim mentality (most people would agree that slavery, segregation, and institutional racism are not victimless occurrences) that conservatives have today (the gimme intellectuals who want all they can get, but scorn those who are not like them who want to do the same). As for Blacks like Steele and Clarence Thomas, it appears that their efforts to breed a better race of Blacks by marrying white women is gaining momentum. I am all for race mixing and interracial marriage but not at the cost of my being degraded as part of a race not willing to take responsibility for itself. And by the way, unlike Mr. Steele, 53 years of exposure to covert and overt racism has damaged my self-esteem. Perhaps, if I had had a White parent like Mr. Steele to soften the sting of racism, I too would have been less affected. Just imagine what even worse exposure did to generations before me. Near the end of his book, Mr. Steele states, "It is the rare black who gets to live without the world expecting him to pretend. So I don't mind so much that little bit of hot tar the world has poured on my head". I am glad that Mr. Steele found his freedom, due in large part to certain advantages (whether he admits it or not, to his whiteness), I just don't want his ilk to dump on what freedom my family has been able to achieve (despite American racist tendencies) without the same advantages he so freely exploits.

Posted by: tee at October 19, 2006 07:37 PM

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