Thursday, May 19, 2016

- David French: It's Not Wrong To Be Black Either

I simply couldn’t let this piece by David French slip by without comment. In NR yesterday, he published a piece called “It’s Not Wrong To be White” :

Since my law-school days, the problem has only gotten worse. Now the true cultural and historical demons are white — gasp! — “cisgender” males, and any white cisgender woman who doesn’t appropriately check her privilege. The ticket to white acceptability in progressive politics is a form of self-loathing: a constant attitude of repentance not just for the sins of the past but also for the benefits of the present, which are presumably enjoyed only or mainly because of the plunder and exploitation of “brown bodies.”

For starters, David is absolutely correct, and I’m grateful to him for finally taking NRO where no writer dared go before. (Hopefully this is a change of political direction rather than an isolated incident that he slipped by the guardians of the “racist!” gates.) He offers a thoughtful critique of the left’s obviously racist demagoguery, and does so in a way that is socially acceptable for the milquetoast NR editorial staff that has traditionally been very frightened of this topic. It’s a good start.

But from my perspective the issue isn’t about race at all, it’s about behavior. Many of my friends have brown skin (oh spare me) and as a lily white Anglo-Norman Irishman who dares not go into the sun, I’m envious of them for it. Two hours unprotected on a Mexican beach turns my Taiwanese girlfriend into a golden brown delectable little morsel of femininity. It turns me into an emergency room candidate. So while she frolics in the warm surf, I cower under an umbrella trying to find the sunblock with protection factors measured in scientific notation. SPF 6.1x10 to the 24th.

This means that I more than agree with David. Not only is it not wrong to be white, it isn’t wrong to be brown, black, or anything in between. For me, the issue is, and has always been, about behavior rather than skin color.

Black and Latino men commit something like 95% of all the violent crime in NYC. That isn’t about the color of their skin. They do poorly in school and are a disproportionately large percentage of the prison population. That isn’t about skin color. On virtually every social metric they do more poorly than whites, but they also do more poorly than Taiwanese, Koreans, and Japanese. This isn’t a mystery even to the left. But as is typical for them, it’s more convenient to blame the people who are doing it right than to blame the people who are apparently doing it wrong.

The left has also changed its tactics. In the past they would confront the facts and say “It’s not their fault!” They would blame poverty, dysfunction in the home, and the dangerous environment in which these poor performing minorities live. But as the data has become more incontrovertible, they have begun totally ignoring the facts that contradict their view as if they didn't exist, and focusing solely on the emotions those facts bring to the fore for them. Now a discussion of virtually every social problem of any type is met immediately with charges of Racism and “hatred”, and accusations of a view distorted by “white privilege”. Contradictions inherent in this position are totally ignored.

To those of us less interested in feelings than data, this has the sound of someone desperately flailing about to spare their ego the burden of admitting a mistake. That’s the state of the left now. They have greeted the indisputable facts pointing to a quantifiable difference in behavior between social groups, with even more outlandish charges against those who are successful, and even more emotional outrage supporting an increasingly fictional worldview. They have in effect given up ‘thinking’ all together, and have instead fallen back exclusively on their ‘feelings’.

For conservatives like me, (increasingly Alt-conservative I have to confess) this is tragic. To me there has never been a single moment in my life when I have ever judged someone by the color of their skin, and I think this is true of the vast majority of conservatives and at least the leadership of the Alt-conservative movement. I have always judged individuals by their behavior. But to ignore the fact that black people (typically) act one way while Koreans and Japanese (typically) act another is to pretend there is no difference between success and failure. And that’s something I can’t abide.

Barak Obama is more successful than me. He is the perfect example of a black man who has chosen to behave in a way that leads to success. And the left would call it racist of me to say so but if I saw someone who dressed and behaved like Barak Obama walking down a dark lonely street in late night NY, I wouldn’t cross the street to avoid him. Why bother? He’s obviously a man who has figured out the same things I have about the world. He too has something to lose by behaving anti-socially.

But if Obama were walking toward me dressed in ghetto style with a half dozen other men, all behaving aggressively, I’d think about avoiding them. (Ok… not me maybe, but my girlfriend certainly would). So it isn’t the skin color that matters, it’s the behavior. I (… well she) would do the same if a half dozen white men dressed in similar style and with similar behavior were doing the same. The potential threat is the same, only the skin color is different. But it would produce 'exactly' the same result. The problem with this model though, and the real fact that most liberals ignore, is that most white men simply don’t act that way.

Barak Obama’s success should be an excellent example for all black men. The same could be said of Thomas Sowell, or Clarence Thomas, or even Eric Holder. If you work hard, follow the rules, and behave in a way that western society finds acceptable, you can quite literally become the most powerful man in the world and your skin color won’t stop you. Believing it will is just an excuse. A cop out. An accidental admission that there is really something else holding you back apart from the color of your skin.

There is nothing wrong with being black or brown. There is something very wrong about behaving the way that black and brown people typically behave in America. If the left were to figure a way to make that change, all the imagined ‘white privilege’ would disappear like mist.

With all that said, I’m very glad NRO has finally decided that it might be worth fighting the cultural fight. Unfortunately it’s also probably a sign that we’ve reached the saturation point on the charge of ‘Racist!!!!’. But you know what they say, nowhere to go but up.


I guess Rich Lowry slept late this morning. National Review has since changed the inflammatory title of David's piece to "Identity Politics Are Ripping Us Apart". As much as they may be dipping a toe into the culture was over race, I guess it's still important to them to avoid taking a side on the whole 'objective truth" vs "subjective fiction" war of debating styles. Or to put it another way, NRO is still married to the 'left leaning emotional message' communications style that that Mitt Romney used to such glorious effect in 2012.

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