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A big question that emanates out of what Steele is talking about is what kind of damage all this will wreak on the American republic before it finally dissipates, if indeed it ever does. One of the most vexing questions about American race relations concerns the wisdom and fairness of our programs of affirmative action, practices that, in the name of justice and fairness, give one form or another of preferential treatment to blacks (and other victims of prior discrimination), in order to help them overcome the handicaps incurred as a result of prior injustice and deprivation.
“Thus the labor of redeeming the nation from its moral past would fall on the left.
This is how the left put itself in charge of America’s moral legitimacy.
Steele draws a sharp distinction between this kind of politics and that practiced by Martin Luther King before his 1968 assassination.
For him, hatred was not necessary as a means to power. Power came to him because he rejected hate as a method of resisting menace.” Whereas King called on blacks to resist being defined by what menaced them, today’s blacks and “their ostensible allies” wallow in perceived menaces “because menace provides moral empowerment.”Steele has written extensively about how this syndrome harms America.
He is also—and this is significant in understanding him—a mixed-race American whose black father married his white mother in 1944, a time when such marriages brought a lot of social disdain, even hostility.
He grew up in Harvey, Illinois, a working-class town just south of Chicago, where his father, a truckdriver, was kept down financially because of racism in the local Teamsters union.It was, wrote Steele, an example of “so many public moments now in which the old weapon of stigmatization shoots blanks.” To bolster her attack, Warren read from a 30-year-old letter by Coretta Scott King on racial justice.Wrote Steele: “There it was with deadly predictability: a white liberal stealing moral authority from a black heroine in order to stigmatize a white male as racist.” Reacting to the aftermath of National Football League players refusing to stand for the national anthem before games, Steele considered the protests “forced and unconvincing…if they were mimicking the courage of earlier black athletes who had protested.” In contrast to those earlier protesters, he wrote, these new ones demonstrated “no real sacrifice, no risk, and no achievement.” Steele welcomed the backlash to that frivolous protest and wondered if white Americans had finally “found the courage” to “judge African-Americans fairly by universal standards.” entry, on Monday, entitled “Why the Left is Consumed With Hate.” The provocative subhead: “Lacking worthy menaces to fight, it is driven to find a replacement for racism. ” Steele opens the piece by noting that hatred had begun to emerge on the American Left even before Trump’s election.But Steele considers his mixed-race heritage to have been “an absolute gift, the greatest source of insight and understanding.” The reason, he adds, was that “race was demystified for me.I could never see white people as just some unified group who hated blacks.” , “He is a brother, make no mistake, but a brother quite unlike any other.” What distinguishes him, added Epstein, is his “openly stated belief that blacks in America have been sold out by the very liberals who ardently claim to wish them most good.” Consider his response when Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, on the Senate floor, sought to thwart the confirmation of her colleague Jeff Session as attorney general under President Donald Trump.List the various reasons that Steele gives for thinking that blacks may lose more from affirmative action than they gain?Which of these, if any, do you find compelling, and why?“It did rescue America from an unsustainable moral illegitimacy,” he writes.It also established “the great menace of racism” as the country’s “most intolerable disgrace.” But now the Left is in crisis because it is running out of menaces to fight.As indicates, the legal debates turn on whether such racial preferences fall afoul of the Equal Protection Clause (and also the Due Process Clause) of the Fourteenth Amendment.But there are also social and psychological arguments about the benefits and harms of affirmative action, both to the broader society and to the presumptive beneficiaries of the practice.