Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Liberal Racial Ghost Dance

I shouldn't say this, but I probably won’t be reading Shelby Steele’s new book, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, but only because I rarely read any book where I know ahead of time that I will probably agree with every single word.

The point of the book is so brilliant, so simple and so true. And yet, he will be vilified and treated with contempt by all of the usual liberal suspects, just as, say, Noam Chomsky or Edward Said might be vilified by the right. This is one more reason why I despise the left, because how can you respect people who attack truth and thereby undermine the basis of thinking? Anyone who thinks it is somehow equivalent to dismiss a paranoid, agenda-driven hack such as Chomsky is a deeply lost soul.

It is the same moral confusion that causes someone to equate those who are intentionally murdered by Islamic thugs with those who are accidentally killed in our attempt to liberate them from Islamic thugs, or to equate Israel’s attempt to defend itself from terror with terrorists who wish to destroy Israel, or to maintain that putting murderers to death is the same as murder. During the cold war, the left routinely equated the U.S. and Soviet Union as two equally bad empires. This kind of moral and intellectual confusion pervades the left.

Yesterday we spoke of the existence of defense mechanisms against the upper vertical. Broadly speaking, the upper vertical would be the realm of truth, beauty and morality. We can also apply Bion’s concept of “attacks on linking” to the upper vertical. Understood this way, it would involve a sort of willed stupidity that dismantles the ability to think clearly, not just in the realm of truth, but in the realm of morals as well. For that matter, it would also explain the ugliness and barbarity that now pervades the art world. Apparently, one cannot merely attack the true without also damaging the good and the beautiful, since they are all reflections of one another.

One of the reasons you cannot debate a leftist is that they do not (and perhaps cannot) meet your argument on the plane from which it arises. Instead, they attack that plane and try to drag you down to the level from which their minds operate. This is why they never address the content of your argument, but attack your motivations.

This is so pervasive that it is hardly worth commenting on: if you are against government enforced racial discrimination, you are a racist; if you are against the redefinition of marriage, you are a “homophobe”; if you are against the Kyoto protocols, you wish to destroy the earth; if you are in favor of tax cuts, you simply want to line the pockets of the wealthy; if you are in favor of the liberation of Iraq, it’s just for the oil; if you want to control your own retirement, you just want to give a boon to mutual fund companies; if you are against inefficient socialized medicine, it’s because you want poor children to be sick; if you want to control the borders, you hate Mexicans; etc. The list is endless.

Steele sees through the leftist lies about race so beautifully that if he weren't black, he would be tarred as a vicious racist. In his book he addresses the “conundrum” of why black progress began to reverse itself only after all of the liberal “Great Society” programs of the 1960’s. He notes that for any group that has been recently freed from oppression, “freedom shows them their undevelopment and their inability to compete as equals.” For many, this realization is too painful to bear, so it is converted to “black rage,” but Steele is astute in pointing out that this kind of infantile rage can only be acted out when the person knows deep down that the object of their rage is benign and won’t lash back in kind. This, by the way, is why there is no “Arab rage” directed at Arab governments, only at irrelevant and benign targets such as Israel and the U.S.

In psychoanalysis, “projective identification” is a term used to describe what happens when one person projects into another and “inducts” them into their psychodrama. Thus we see a dance of mutual projective identification between rage-filled blacks (which, I should emphasize, is undoubtedly a loud minority of blacks) and guilt-ridden white liberals who can spuriously eliminate their guilt by adopting a condescending attitude toward blacks: in short, as Steele puts it, "we'll throw you a bone like affirmative action if you'll just let us reduce you to your race so we can take moral authority for 'helping' you."

It matters not one bit that most of these liberal programs are not only ineffective, but that they actually harm blacks. The point is not to have an impact on external reality, but on internal reality: to purpose is to reduce black rage and mitigate white guilt. In this regard, the left certainly is the “reality based community,” since it is rooted in the very real and enduring internal world of psychological fantasy. In many ways, as any psychoanalyst can tell you, this world might even be less subject to change than the external world, which by comparison is relatively easy to manipulate.

Thus, in this classic liberal ghost dance everybody feels better. Plus, the fact that the programs won’t work guarantees that “black rage” will continue, so that the dance can go on ad infinitum. In this little charade, blacks are supposed to be grateful to their liberal masters. If, like Steele, or Thomas Sowell, or Clarence Thomas, or Ken Blackwell, they are not grateful, then they will be attacked by the left as "Uncle Toms." But as Steele points out, “When they called you a nigger back in the days of segregation, at least they didn’t ask you to be grateful.”


UPDATE-Classic example of leftist educational nonsense that has no interest in truth, only in feelings. It shows how, once you abandon truth as the criteria, raw power comes in to fill the void and determine what is "true," one more reason liberalism is so illiberal: it makes lying to children mandatory by law. HT: Larwyn.

PC textbooks full of skewed history

California has tinkered with the past in a foolish attempt to make students feel good about themselves.
By Diane Ravitch
May 16, 2006


"TWENTY YEARS AGO, I was invited by then-State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig to join a committee to revise California's history curriculum. Over 18 months, we produced a document that added more time for the study of American and world history and called for the teaching of the dramatic controversies that make historical study engaging and honest.

"Immediately, however, a wide variety of religious, racial and ethnic groups demanded changes in the document to recognize and honor their history. Blacks, Jews, Native Americans, conservative Christians, Arabs, atheists, Armenians, Poles and others lined up to complain at public hearings about references to their groups.

"What made their complaints powerful is that California, unlike any other state, has mandated by law since 1976 that instructional materials used in the schools must provide positive portrayals of specified groups.

"When it comes to males and females, for instance, the Legislature decreed that "equal portrayal must be applied in every instance." That means, among other things, that an equal number of male and female characters must be depicted in "roles in which they are mentally and physically active, being creative, solving problems … " and that male and female characters in textbooks must show a "range of emotions (e.g. fear, anger, tenderness.)"

"California's textbooks and other materials must instill a "sense of pride" in students' heritages and may not include "adverse reflection" on any group. Cultural or lifestyle differences may not be portrayed as "undesirable." Members of minority groups must be shown "in the same range of socioeconomic settings" as those in the majority.

"And it's not just gender and ethnicity that is "protected." Older people, people with disabilities and people who pursue various occupations have been written into the law.

"So it's not surprising that in recent months gays and lesbians have stepped forward to demand a place at the state's capacious table. They too want their roles to be portrayed positively in textbooks purchased by the state....

"Just a few months ago, Hindu organizations appeared before the state Board of Education complaining that they were offended by references to their religion in the history textbooks — including descriptions of the caste system and depictions of the treatment of women (one group wanted a reference to the fact that women had "fewer" rights in ancient India changed to say that women had "different" rights). Even though scholars insisted that the historical references were accurate, the organizations objected that their religion had been subjected to an "adverse reflection."

"Because of its social-content guidelines, California will never see an end to these rancorous debates about who wins recognition in the textbooks....

"The state's social-content guidelines should be abolished. They put the state Board of Education into the absurd position of deciding which facts are historically accurate and which should be included or excluded, a responsibility for which it is manifestly unqualified. The guidelines are an open invitation to interest groups to politicize textbooks.

"Telling publishers that their books must instill pride only guarantees a phony version of feel-good history...."


ELC said...

Your remarks on both moral equivalence and willful stupidity reminded me of what I have called Belloc's Dictum: "Intelligence may be measured by the capacity of separating categories." A simple yet crucial observation. And, if it wouldn't be too impertinent to mention it, I have also written about the peril of failing to make necessary distinctions: "How long can a nation last, that is built upon and must be continually sustained by, individuals who participate in public life — be it by holding public office, by involvement in political campaigns, by membership in civic organizations, by writing to influence public opinion, or by no more than voting in every election — how long can that nation last when public discourse and policy-making is influenced, if not dominated, by people who cannot think straight because they will not — cannot? — make necessary distinctions?"

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, just because you undermine the basis of rational thinking, it doesn't mean that thinking will cease. But instead of growing organically, as does true thought, it will grow chaotically and metastatically.

For example, the conditions for thought do not exist in most of the Muslim Middle East, where they can only use lies as the material of thought. At least here, in the U.S., they don't kill you for thinking rationally, but they will try to demonize or marginalize you with political correctness, a classic form of "attacks on linking."

will said...

(The following may be redundant as Nags may have finally taken flight . . on the other hand, Nag's persistence in beside-the-point editorializing and questioning is almost preternatural . . . )

Nags -

You keep striving for a political fine-tuning, and that's not the point of this blog. It is a given that some on the right overlook the excesses and heavy-handedness of the USA and the democratic system. This blog concentrates on absolute value, eg, the democratic system is morally, spiritually, superior to the totalitarian or fascistic system - this is a Truth which much of the left denies.

The fire-bombing of Hamburg, as morally questionable as it was, did not mean that there was a moral equation between the Allied and Axis powers. The occasional tactical brutality of the Israelis does not mean that they share equal blame with the Arab genocidists for the turmoil in the Mideast. Even though cops sometimes overstep the law in their policing activities does not mean they are equal to criminals in general.

The pathological, spiritually corrupt, state of mind that does equate all of the above is the point of this blog. We are dealing in psychological, spiritual, absolutes here. That's what this blog is about. Your fine-tuning has its place, but not here. That you keep bringing up these fine-tuning points, whether they are rhetorical or not, means that you simply don't comprehend the spiritual significance of this blog or of spirituality in general. Please go away.

Hoarhey said...

Hopefully the history of guilt driven, envy based legislation truly is a ghost dance and we can move along to govern under the founding principles of equality. The time of effective govenment imposition into civil rights (race) matters has run its course and its continuation will just perpetuate more racism.
Of course if the Dems take the house in 06' we can look forward to John Conyers, as head of the Judiciary Commitee, debating slavery reparations.

I've noticed that a few intelligent souls have figured out how to edit their posts once posted. How would one of less intelligence go about doing this?

Gagdad Bob said...

Boy, you got me. I edit mine by deleting and re-posting. Which, by the way, I couldn't do on my old computer.

karrde said...


An economist named Thomas Sowell has done a large amount of research into the education of minority children in America.

Sowell, like Steele, is black. Some of his research into the education of minorities supports the same thesis as Steele's work: that most attempts to help black children are at best irrelevant, and at worse counter-productive.

Some of his speeches might still be available in text-form at his website:

I mention this because I ran into Mr. Sowell's thoughts and speeches on the subject long before I ever heard of Shelby Steele.

When one prominent black scholar claims that the Civil Rights Era has failed its promise, I sit up and take notice.

When two separate black scholars make that claim, I can set aside most of my doubts. I even begin to suspect that the evidence would be plain for all to see, if the racial-grievance-advocates weren't so powerful at clouding the picture.

PSGInfinity said...

Thanks, Bob.

will said...

Nags -

>>So "spirituality" is about seeing and condemning the faults in other people and beliefs but not those in oneself and one's own beliefs<<

No, you don't "see". If you had one inkling of what this blog is about, you'd understand that self-directed criticism, which ideally leads to more self-awareness, is implicit in Bob's postings and the commentary.

All your "why is the grass green, daddy?" questions have been answered in full, and you are simply too spiritually immature to know it.

Lance said...


This is off the subject, but I wanted to leave you with two gold nuggets. First, I just stumbled onto your site and love it. I'll be back frequently. Second, we have a blog here too: The Muslim Question. Check it out.

-Lance, the Secret Chimp

Hoarhey said...


Thanks for minimizing the suffering and relieving nagarjuna of his misery.

Hoarhey said...

You play the the passive aggressive, appearance of reasonability, put upon victim part really well nag.

Hoarhey said...

Great, now it looks like I'm piling on. :)

jwm said...

This is one of my pet peeves. I am utterly weary of hearing the charge "RACIST!" thrown around indiscriminately at any white male who dares criticize anyone.
I'm going to make a radical statement: 'racist' is the default condition of the human psyche. All of us prefer the company those who are most like ourselves. It is second hand smoke on the scale of human evil. What the left has done is conflate racism with bigotry, which is another animal altogether.
Worse, they have made it seem as though racism is somehow a unique by product of the American system rather than the universal property of the human race. Odd that Jesse Jackson never gets called a racist. The moslems who refer to non moslems as 'kufr' are never called racist. The Japanese, who look down on Koreans, Chinese, and just about everyone else are never called racist.
But more important to me- You hear a lot about racism, but you never hear about how well most people in America get along. I live in the Los Angeles area. I'm sure that the Mexicans, Asians, and Blacks that I deal with everyday all have their own racial attitudes towards me and one another. It doesn't stop us all from getting along just fine. For the record, I have no use for bigots. I know a few of them too. They never make it into my circle of friends.


Lisa said...

Geez, Hoarhey! Just kidding, that has happened to me before too!

Anyway, I can relate to this whole problem because of my work as a Pilates teacher. My job is to make sure that bodies are in the proper alignment while doing exercises and that certain muscles are firing while others are relaxing. This is often very hard to grasp when beginning, as old habits and movement patterns are hard to break. I have to catch myself when I become to drill sergeant instructorish shouting out commands like pull your navel into your spine, lengthen your waist, drop your ribs, relax your toes, wrap your sitz bones, oh and yeah don't forget to breathe! This is all before they even start to push the carriage out! Sometimes, I have to just focus on one or two of the more important aspects of the exercise and let the rest of the body flail in its desired way. There is only so much change a body and mind can physically handle in one hour. Usually after a few months of the same repetitions, if we are lucky, my client will actually be capable of following all the cues at once and be amazed at how good it feels. It's funny when they look at me in amazement and say, "Why didn't you just tell me that before?" I just smile and tell them that I have been saying it all the time but their body has finally begun to hear and understand it!

jwm said...

At LGF we have a word for the more obnoxious trolls. I'll apply it here:


Gagdad Bob said...

Indeed. Please GAZE until I can delete this sad obsessive.

Lisa said...

Phew, now I know exactly what we are dealing with when someone thinks Chomsky is a great debater. In fact, I think he probably is a masterdebater!

Work your magic, Bob!

Nagarjuna said...

"Phew, now I know exactly what we are dealing with when someone thinks Chomsky is a great debater. In fact, I think he probably is a masterdebater!"

For the record, I didn't say he was a great debater. I merely said that he could probably clean YOUR clocks in a debate. That wouldn't necessarily make him anything approaching great judging by what I see here. :-)

Nagarjuna said...

"Great, now it looks like I'm piling on. :)"

You are. But that's OK. I can take it. :-)

Nagarjuna said...

"This is one of my pet peeves. I am utterly weary of hearing the charge "RACIST!" thrown around indiscriminately at any white male who dares criticize anyone."

Isn't that a little like hearing rabid conservatives throw the charge "Leftist" arround indiscriminately at any white male who dares question them?:-)

Gagdad Bob said...

Again, please GAZE at this troubled soul.

Nagarjuna said...

Will, I see. So "spirituality" is about seeing and condemning the faults in other people and beliefs but not those in oneself and one's own beliefs. And this blog is about cleverly preaching endless variations of these condemnations to a group that already religiously holds them as self-evident truths and excluding those interested in "fine-tuning" dialogue regarding the psychological, social, moral, and spiritual complexities of real people of every persuasion in the real world. For instance, real people in the real world don't have to be lunatic leftist extremists to believe that capital punishment is murder, and Noam Chomsky can rationally debate U.S. foreign policy with the best of you and probably clean your clocks. But it's easier and more "spiritual" to dismiss the arguments of the former as leftist propaganda and to dismiss those of the latter as stemming from a "paranoid leftist hack" than to deal with them on a rational level.

Steve said...

In California, Charlie Manson's crew should demand and sue for 'positive portrayal' in history textbooks.

Hoarhey said...

Give it time Steve.

Fergus the Feline-American said...

For far too long, we have been historically marginalized and we wish, nay, we demand that our contributions to society, both current and dating back all the way to the misty beginnings of the dawn of civilization when there were big, toothy, really scary-looking cats running around, up to the Egyptian period when cats were venerated, even worshipped as the material manifestations, the living symbols, you might say, of that which partakes of earth and heaven, which is to say that we live "half in, half out" to the degree that we know all kinds of stuff that you don't, which is what makes us kind of scary when we're just sitting there gazing at you with squinted eyes and making this low rumbly sound in our throats, which is particularly effective when we position ourselves so that whatever light source is available at the time is reflected in our glinting eyes, right up to the present era where we're in a lot of tv commercials, be recognized in a warm, positive, bubbly, affectionate, but never condescending light.

And please refer to us as "Feline-Americans".

Thank you.

Fergus the Feline-American

Sal said...

"I'm going to make a radical statement: 'racist' is the default condition of the human psyche. All of us prefer the company those who are most like ourselves."

I was reminded of this exact point recently. My daughter goes to about as racially/ethnically diverse a high school as you can find in the white-bread suburbs, but when the kids are left to choose with whom to hang out, they pick their own kind. So when they entered the gym for Senior Walk, you had a little batch of these and a smattering of those and then a few of something else.

And b/c everyone gets along (or leaves each other alone) it's not a big deal, unless some busybody chooses to make it so.

ben usn (ret) said...

Dr. Bill Cosby is also making waves among leftists and blacks.
He thinks that blacks should
>gasp!< be responsible and accountable for their own actions!
And quit blaming whites too!
Good advice for everybody, including whites.

Jay Leno (OK, yeah, sometimes I watch)
will sometimes ask simple history questions of Californian college students.
The moronic answers would be funny, if it wasn't the norm.
Not surprising, they have lttle problem naming the latest american idol, but know less than nothing about American history or even who Condoleeza Rice is.
Well, OK, they are funny anyway, but you get my point.

John Barbour said...

GB - I'm intrigued by the concept of the upper vertical as 'the realm of truth, beauty and morality'. In an earlier post, you mentioned the left 'deny and split off the upper vertical'.

I can't help but wonder if leftist ideology is their realm (or vertical understanding) of 'truth, beauty and morality'; whereas a conservative might consider leftist ideology a split from the 'true vertical'. In other words, do conservatives split from the leftist vertical, making conservatives the deviant?

Isn't this all perspective?

I really dislike moral relativism, but I try not to avoid (or underestimate) other's understanding of reality.

Dr. Ellen said...

I've lived in small towns; I've lived in big cities. I can see why rural folk tend to be conservative (of sorts) and city folk tend to be, er, 'reality-based'.

If your reality lives surrounded by people, then things that work with people are your mental tools. Being nice, applying truth or bullshit depending upon desired result, and saying 'nice doggie'-equivalents until the problem either goes away or kills you.

If you live surrounded by nature, then you know that saying 'nice doggie' to a blizzard gets you nowhere. You can't bullshit a tornado, nor guilt a hurricane.

Frankly, I do not trust anybody whose sole achievement is talk - no matter how good a line of talk they apply. Nobody understands reality until they've barked their knuckles on it a few times.