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  • Shelby Steele On Race And The Exhilaration And Terror Of Freedom

    One of the most vomitous and hideous regressions of American culture is the eager embrace of victimhood as a means of self-identification from Americans of seemingly all ages and races. Attendance is down at professional baseball games, perhaps because America’s new pastime is the effort to understand yourself as a victim of “income inequality,” “white privilege,” or some other dubious buzzword that substitutes for its more accurate descriptor – self-pity. Academic jargon and liberal sentimentalization provide a cover story for people who find perverse enjoyment in believing and acting as if they are victims. In their drive to illustrate the defeatism of their philosophy, “to be human is to be a victim,” they reject the empowerment accessible through an acknowledgement of their agency, and their ability of overcome adversity to achieve.

    Shelby Steele, the great social critic and political commentator, makes the point that the Civil Rights Movement has such resounding beauty and inspirational force because it was entirely self-generated. Its spirit of dignity and integrity lived within an independent body. Martin Luther King, Fred Shuttlesworth, Rosa Parks, and the millions of activists and artists they represented received little governmental assistance. In fact, at most times, they encountered vicious government resistance. The heroes of the Civil Rights era were not people quick to identify as victims, but warriors willing to face down the most cruel and bloodthirsty enemy, and prevail. Steele, an African-American born and raised in Harvey, Illinois, is a veteran of the black freedom struggle, and now continues the work as a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

    Comparing the Civil Rights personification of strength with the weakness of trigger warnings, seminars on white privilege, and the whining of occupiers, makes one wonder if a large portion of America has fallen under the spell of some difficult-to-diagnose disorder of the psyche. In such confusing times, it is wise to turn to a man whose brilliance and bravery qualifies him for the task of performing a psychiatric evaluation better than most. Recently, I had the honor and thrill of speaking with Shelby Steele – author of the classics The Content of Our Character, White Guilt, and a forthcoming book on “the polarization of America” – on the phone about race, conservatism, liberalism, President Obama, and the exhilaration and terror of freedom.

    Steele quickly undressed the ethos of an unending episode of “America’s Biggest Loser” that seems to define our cultural transformation by going …read more

    Source: The Federalist