Monday, August 18, 2014

The end of white guilt

In the latest of a string of relevant and insightful posts, James Howard Kunstler makes one little oversight:
White America is tortured by black America’s failure to thrive, and all that guilt and anxiety has only gotten worse as a substantial quota of white America loses its own footing in the middle class and plunges into the rough country of joblessness, hopelessness, and government dependency. The usual remedies of even more dependency aren’t working so well for anybody. It’s politically easier for the moment, though. And both the government and the news media are frantically busy manufacturing excuses for everybody’s bad conduct.
White America may be tortured by black America's failure to thrive, but it's only because White America was itself thriving.  When we decided some six decades ago to take seriously the idea that all men were created equal, it came with the expectation that black America would join white America's thriving. For some blacks, that has happened. For many others, obviously it has not. 

Liberals and conservatives can argue themselves blue in the face as to the reasons behind this fact, but I suspect it's not going to matter a bit.  Once America as a whole stops thriving, then the moral impetus that has driven middle class America to make concessions on behalf of poor blacks* disappears.  When you are fighting for your own survival, you have a lot less time and energy to take on pet projects like the moral and economic improvement of other people. The White Man's Burden is only taken seriously by white people with too much time on their hands.

What had been guilt and anxiety is going to turn into apathy at best. White guilt only exists because whites have been convinced that black failure in the midst of white success is ultimately a white failure. But if white America is no longer thriving, if the vast majority of recently-rich feels itself sinking both economically and emotionally into a quagmire of diminishing returns, then there becomes no reason for it to concern itself with black America's similar situation. The best we can hope for is that, once the political crutches used by black America to justify their own failures are kicked away, they might experience a little home grown success in dealing with those failures.

On the other hand, the reason manufactured crises like Ferguson are ultimately so dangerous is that an impoverished people - and especially a recently impoverished one - is a radicalized people. And a radical people may just decide, in their quest for order amidst the swirling chaos that they suffer but do not understand, that niceties like rubber bullets are going out the window.  Rubber bullets are shot by armies that are only partially serious about keeping order.**  As the order that every American adult has known his entire life crumbles around him, I expect that more than a few people are going to get very serious about maintaining order. And there will always be people looking to make a career providing exactly that.***

Once the manufacturing accepting of excuses for bad behavior ends, there will be nothing left to deal with but the bad behavior itself, both among poor blacks and poor whites. That is not a situation that will be welcome or pretty. But neither is it a situation whose outcome is really in doubt.

* And make no mistake, besides being inherently racist, the institutional manufacturing of excuses for bad behavior is a concession.
** It should not come as a surprise that Napoleon did not use rubber grapeshot in the streets of Paris when he suppressed the Vendémiaire uprising.
*** Perhaps it is even less surprising that the slaughter kicked off for Napoleon what turned out to be a pretty successful political career. At least for a while.

5 comments:

  1. Until the "civil rights" movement in the 50's and 60's, blacks were making large inroads toward social, civil, and economic success. More were making it into academia, various professions, the middle class, and other fields and areas. Their divorce rates were also improving, creating more static families. I don't know if, in general, as a people, they will ever be successful in the same way whites are. While I have doubts, I think they could approach it and live more civilly. At this point, that possibility may not be explored as the way to it has been so severely damaged that patience has been used up. It's sort of sad, very sad. But it was a two-way street choice, and the easy path was offered, and chosen.

    Unfortunately, because skin color was pushed when that was allowed as a free pass, it may now be how things are enforced. Be careful with your wishes. I have warned gays, and other minorities, not to fall into the trap but most honestly don't care. They let the talking heads in their midst damage them, and just enjoy the fruits until they go south. No offense about "going south". :p Just as most don't believe the stores will ever close, the roads might not be enough to get them where they are going or even that nowhere will be safe, or that they may lose their job/way of life in a flash. The easy road is sure, simple, and a dead end. But telling the herd is like talking to cattle.

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  2. But it was a two-way street choice...

    I'm rather of the opinion that the choice split the black community more than the nation at large ever understood. It's rather enlightening to see occasional studies that 'prove' racism by showing that Mary Penelope Johnson gets more job callbacks than Molequa Placenta Johnson does. But such studies IMO miss the big question: does the fact that blacks went from naming their daughters Mary to Molequa have anything to do with it?

    Why is it that around the same time as the Civil Rights Act was passed, half of black Americans turned their back on American culture and set up their own, oppositional one? They started making up faux-African names* or taking on Muslim names, wearing faux-African garb, not bothering to learn standard American English. What did they expect would happen? How can you possibly expect your kid to ever get ahead economically if he can't speak English? You are forever an immigrant in your own land.

    I do not know this for sure, but suspect the reason is that many blacks believed in white supremacy even more than whites did. Not believing that they could survive once thrown into the majority culture, they carved out a more comfortable one that voted for a living rather than competing. It's an oppositional culture that, unfortunately, contains feedback loops that guarantee that it's members will, with a few shining exceptions, will never compete again.

    So we look at Ferguson today, and while some complain about the economic gap between white and black America, I look at the half of blacks on the wrong side of that gap and wonder, What the hell did we think would happen to the Americans who took that road?

    * Dear God, one of my daughters was cursed with a 12-letter monstrosity of a moniker that still cannot be found in Google. Had I not given her the whitest name in existence, she would have spent the rest of her life slowly pronouncing it for the benefit of whites and blacks alike.

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  3. "I do not know this for sure, but suspect the reason is that many blacks believed in white supremacy even more than whites did." Yeah, that has crossed my mind. And, for some of that, there is a truth. Why keep trying to be what you can't be? Through adoption, half of my kin is Chicano, through birth, half of it is Indian. I've seen that there, too, just not so keenly in one part, a bit more keenly in the other. It's just not as public, through quietude or separation.

    Unless that group comes back on board, or leaves, there is no hope for anything but separation. And violence to ensure it. Unfortunately, the bag group is the one with the mic, and will force consequences on the rest. But the rest has to act and speak much more than it is. A tough job.

    I've had to make my own choices. I pass, so it's easier. But I bear the name, so. Sure, there is prejudice. Dazzling past that isn't so hard. I have found it to be an excellent reason to excel, not surrender. Some, I understand, can't. But most have the capacity to prove their worth at their level, which goes very far in dealing with prejudice. In any case, a bit of humility is quite useful. That is something I learned from whites. The type of whites I like. Pride, fall, been said before.

    Good call on renaming. While I keep my adopted name, if my first had been 'Jesus', I would have changed it. :p My adoptive parents were working for the American dream, not the Chicano way. Besides, I hate the notion of someone saying, "Snap too it, Jesus!" Something wrong about that. :)

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  4. Shall I go out and apply for all the jobs I can so we can have a white control in the naming market? Even after I pronounce my name for people, they say it wrong. I have yet to figure out what's so hard about it. I've even had people tell me I'M pronouncing it wrong. Geez-Loueez!

    I'm to the point of thinking too many moms are given too many drugs upon delivery. It's not just blacks who have names I have to work at and ask for help with at school. I did have a first grade class when I was subbing for a music teacher last year that had a group of young people whose mothers either couldn't spell or were given so many drugs (either before or during labor) that their names would only serve to confirm that English has so many exceptions to the rules it's a wonder there was enough of a trend to make a rule to start with (hat-tip Uncle Gallagher). It'll be interesting to follow these young'uns to see if any of them can get work in 10 years.

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  5. Once one set of principles is set as acceptable, decay leads to a... well... I prefer to call it the toilet bowl affect. Some of it has to do with trying to be unique rather than trying to assimilate. That has been pushed by bureaucrats, the education system, and social pariah known as advertisers, usually on the take, but secular so uncaring. Possibly unknowingly. Just... doing their job. Soros, and ilk, money spends like all other, and they are offering more of it.

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