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“White guilt”. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

White guilt…huh…yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Uh ha haa ha
White guilt…huh…yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing…say it again y’all
White guilt..huh…look out…
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…listen to me ohhhhh

Link

Hat tip virgomonkey

White Guilt

Frontpage Interview’s guest today Shelby Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of The Content of Our Character, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and A Dream Deferred. He is the author of the new book White Guilt

FP: So tell us how white guilt has set back progress in civil rights.

Steele: White guilt effects everything having to do with race in America. For example, your question uses the term “civil rights” when you probably mean the progress of black people or the state of relations between the races, or whether or not racism is still a problem for blacks. White guilt has given us a euphemistic language with which to discuss race. Civil rights, as articulated in the ’64 Civil Rights Bill, are unchanged.

That said, white guilt undermines black progress and race relations because it generates disingenuous racial policies–diversity, affirmative action, and welfare without expectations (until the late 90s). These policies enable whites to fend off the racist stigma they live with but rob blacks of the incentive to work harder for their own advancement. All these “white guilt” policies ask nothing whatsoever of blacks. They are an incentive to weakness rather strength. Black high school students did worse on the SAT in 2000 than in 1990. These students know that low performance is no bar to the racial preferences of affirmative action. So why work harder? Yet American institutions almost fanatically support “white guilt” policies because the legitimacy of these institutions now depends on their proving themselves free of racism. White guilt means that America’s racial reforms serve the innocent whites while facilitating weakness in minorities.

FP: What are some destructive things about affirmative action?

Steele: Affirmative action stigmatizes minorities as second rate. How could it do otherwise when its operating mechanism is the lowering of standards for minorities? The tragedy is that, today, no high achieving black (Clarence Thomas and Condolezza Rice come to mind) is free of this stigma. Affirmative action smears and denigrates those it claims to help by casting them as “dependents” on white goodwill: “you wouldn’t be where you are if it weren’t for affirmative action.”

As if to worsen this cruelty, it is precisely the liberal supporters of affirmative action who are the first to smear blacks with it. Unless they smear blacks by telling them they owe their positions to affirmative action, they don’t get the credit for not being racist that they are looking for. This is the torturous double bind that causes affirmative action to duplicate the racial oppression of old. Like all white guilt policies, affirmative action enables whites to once again see blacks as inferior even as they steal credit for black achievements. In these policies both white supremacy and black inferiority are once again imposed on American society.

FP: Can you illuminate some ways that white liberals are self-serving?

Steele: Today the entire civil rights leadership is devoted far more to the manipulation of white guilt than to the development of their own people. The former is so easy, the latter so hard. The tragedy is that this leadership must constantly assert the weakness of black people and the power of continuing white racism in order to win favors from guilty white America. Not very inspiring to black youth to constantly hear from their own leaders that they can’t be expected to compete with others and that racism is a relentless barrier to their advancement. Only two statements are guaranteed to make a civil rights leader truly angry: to say that racism is no longer a formidable problem for blacks in America and that blacks are now free to make of their lives what they will. White racism and black weakness are the keys to white guilt, which is the same thing as black power. Without white evil and black inferiority, today’s civil rights leaders would be as impotent as Samson without his hair.

FP: Why do white liberals reject personal responsibility?

Steele: Why do white liberals reject personal responsibility? Because the symbiosis between white guilt and black power requires that only whites be responsible for racial equality. Only by literally stealing responsibility from blacks can white liberals claim the moral authority that protects them from the racist stigma. And of course, in this moral authority is very real political power. Here is the power to stigmatize the right as racist–and thus to weaken its power by showing it to be illegitimate in a free democracy. The point is that white guilt has set the terms for political legitimacy in America. This means the left will have political power far beyond its numbers and that the right will have less power than its numbers warrant. If the left began to say that personal responsibility was the best–if not the primary–way for blacks to reach equality in America, it would lose its power, a power completely dependent on the idea that whites are responsible and that blacks are victims.

White collective responsibility is the great fount of power for contemporary liberalism. This formula for power–seizing responsibility for correcting the damage done by America’s sins–is now being applied even to the environment. Liberalism casts the environment as a victim because it then gains power by taking responsibility for it. It also gains the power to further stigmatize the right as indifferent (racist) to the environment, and to assert that the right, in its “indifference,” is an illegitimate and unworthy steward of power in America. Al Gore must assert that “we cause” global warming so that he and the political left can take responsibility for fixing it. Without this responsibility there is no moral authority, no power, and no ability to stigmatize the right. If nature caused global warming, the left has no path to power.

So personal responsibility is anathema to liberalism because it cuts off the possibility of collective responsibility. White guilt is what made collective responsibility a source of liberal power in America. And it remains a source of power regardless of who or what is cast as a victim–blacks, the environment, gays, illegal immigrants, etc.. The only thing liberals cannot abide is the idea that they are not collectively responsible. And they will scratch the earth for victims in order to avoid this prospect. […]

Hmm…

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