Features, Politics

Kanye West and the Future of Black Conservatism

On April 21st, Kanye West sent a tweet out to his 13.4 million followers that read: “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.” A celebrity endorsing his favorite political pundit is hardly unusual, but one of the most famous rappers of all time endorsing a black, pro-Trump firebrand like Owens is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Owens has taken stances against Black Lives Matter, feminism, and various other causes championed by the Left and, although she doesn’t follow the Republican party line on every issue, she has advocated for tax cuts, personal responsibility, and many other traditionally right-wing values.

The core of her message is that there’s a stubborn refusal—among blacks and whites alike—to let go of the narrative that blacks are continually beleaguered by white racism. What we need, according to Owens, is a new story about what black America can be, which looks toward a bright future instead of clinging to an ugly past. It’s easy to see why West—a man with grandiose visions of his own future, who considers himself to be our generation’s Shakespeare—would prefer Owens’s message of black self-creation to the prevailing leftist view that modern systems of oppression recapitulate the overt injustices of the past and therefore constrain black potential.

Like his support for Trump (which he later withdrew), West’s support for Owens has been covered more favorably by the Right than by the Left. Conservative media seizes upon black conservatives as evidence that conservatism has nothing in principle to do with racism, even if the dwindling number of committed anti-black racists in this country tend to vote Republican. By contrast, liberal and leftist media do their best to ignore black conservatives and to pretend they don’t exist, lest they disrupt the narrative that the Left has a moral monopoly on race issues. The fact that Kanye West is a rapper and a black icon—credentials that ‘should’ place him on the Left—makes his fondness for conservatism more disruptive still.

But the Left’s strategy of sweeping black conservatism under the rug, and of pretending that blacks unanimously converge on Left-wing opinions, can’t continue forever, not least because it’s out of touch with reality. When black people are asked what they think about myriad race-related issues, their answers often deviate from liberal orthodoxy. For example, if a white person were to say, “I don’t think racism holds poorly-educated blacks back,” it would mark them on the Left as woefully ignorant of systemic injustice, if not downright racist. But a 2016 Pew poll found that 60 percent of blacks without college degrees say their race hasn’t affected their chances of success. If a white person were to say that “Rap music is a bad influence on society,” it might mark them as subconsciously prejudiced in the minds of many on the Left. But according to a 2008 Pew poll, 71 percent of black people agreed with this statement.

Moreover, most black people don’t care about microaggressions. A 2017 poll carried out by the Cato Institute found that over half of black respondents weren’t offended by the phrases, “You are so articulate,” “I don’t notice people’s race,” “Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough,” and “America is a melting pot.” Nevertheless, phrases like these have been sternly criticized as insensitive by progressives in the name of defending minorities, most of whom don’t seem to care.

The perception that blacks align with ‘progressive’ policies—while understandable given that most blacks vote Democrat—is equally mistaken. Affirmative action is a case in point. Although the policy has been virtually unchallengeable on the Left for decades, this consensus is not reflected among black people themselves. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 57 percent of blacks agreed that race/ethnicity “should not be a factor at all” in the college admissions process. And, as early as 2001, a similar poll conducted for the Washington Post found that 86 percent of blacks agreed that hiring and admissions decisions “should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race/ethnicity,” even if the goal of a preferential policy is to “give minorities more opportunity.”

Whether the majority views within the black community listed above are actually correct is another matter. But there is no doubt that these views, which many white liberals wouldn’t dare espouse or condone, are utterly commonplace among black people. To make matters worse, many progressives seem to be uninterested in, and unaware of, the considerable evidence that enforcing racial preferences actually hurts black students. Richard Sander, a Stanford Law Professor, has argued that affirmative action sets up black students to fail by placing them in environments for which they are academically unprepared—that is, by systematically mismatching them with schools. While this evidence can be disputed in good faith, Sander and others who have made similar claims have been faced with accusations of racism from many on the Left.

The Left may be able to ignore public opinion polls, but it cannot easily ignore Kanye West. In the past, the Left has successfully ignored black celebrities when they’ve challenged prevailing orthodoxies. Witness, for example, Lil Wayne’s refusal to support Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest; or watch Denzel Washington blame the high black incarceration rate on fatherless homes rather than on ‘the system’; or listen to Morgan Freeman argue that racism is no longer a problem. To engage these views seriously would be to legitimate them, which would threaten the myth that left-wing ideas are the only ones that an anti-racist can hold. It’s easier to simply ignore these celebrities, or else to write them off as sellouts, nutjobs, or ignoramuses deranged by their own wealth. It remains to be seen which tactic will be deployed in an effort to discredit West. But if progressives think that they can easily silence the man who famously declared on live TV that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” then they are probably mistaken.

The Left often uses accusations of racism to guard its monopoly on issues of racial justice; and if the dissenter is white, then—as University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax recently discovered—the accusation is likely to stick. That’s why black conservatives like Owens are so threatening: their mere existence disrupts the Left’s power to enforce its taboo on dissenting thought. The fact that prominent black conservatives like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell grew up in an era of overt racism, and lived through the Sixties as activists and Marxists before making a principled switch to conservatism, belies the notion that conservatism is one gigantic front for white supremacy. If the existence of such black conservatives doesn’t exculpate conservatism from the charge of racism, then consider that, according to a 2016 analysis by Theodore R. Johnson in the Washington Post, fully 45 percent of black Americans identify as conservative, compared to 47 percent who identify as liberal. Additionally, blacks tend to be, on average, more religious than whites.

But if blacks are almost as likely to be conservative as liberal, then why do they vote for Democratic candidates in overwhelming numbers? As Johnson points out, “No Democratic presidential nominee has received less than 82 percent of the black vote since Kennedy’s 68 percent in 1960” and “93 percent voted for the reelection of Barack Obama.” Johnson’s research suggests that the answer has nothing to do with blacks preferring liberal policies: “[W]hen presented [with] two candidates who have identical policy positions and who are running under identical societal conditions, blacks still strongly prefer a Democratic candidate over a Republican.” [emphasis mine] Johnson suspects that the true cause of black loyalty to the Democratic party is the general perception that Democrats push civil rights legislation and that Republicans don’t.

But the belief that the Democratic party has a better civil rights record than the party of Abraham Lincoln is dubious at best. As the sociologist Musa Al-Gharbi has pointed out, it was the Republican Dwight Eisenhower who actually enforced civil rights legislation and his Democratic predecessor Harry Truman who was largely unable to do so. And for all the criticism that has been levelled at Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs, Bill Clinton’s crime bill has proved to be hugely unpopular as well. Nevertheless, the perception—born of Lyndon Johnson’s sweeping civil rights legislation in the 1960s—that the Democrats have been the good guys all along has been enough to win the overwhelming majority of the black vote in every presidential election for the past five decades.

In the era of Trump, much ink has been spilled over the fact that liberal elites are out of touch with ordinary white Americans. Less attention has been paid to the fact that liberal elites are out of touch with ordinary black Americans, and less still to the fact that those elites have taken opinions held by millions of blacks and painted them as, at best, unsupported and, at worst, racist. Given his celebrity, one can only hope that Kanye West’s outspokenness will help break the liberal taboos that have arisen around conversations about race and social policy. However, these manufactured taboos are so deeply embedded in the fabric of liberal elite wisdom that they are unlikely to be broken without a fight. But if people like West break them over and over again, then it’s only a matter of time before the Left’s self-image as the last bulwark against resurgent racism, and the only serious option for anti-racists, collapses under the weight of the millions of black Americans who quietly disagree.

 

Coleman Hughes is an undergraduate philosophy major at Columbia University. His writing has been featured on Heterodox Academy’s blog as well as in the Columbia Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter @coldxman

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57 Comments

  1. Joaquim C says

    It’s a Start. The left ‘racism’ narrative is honestly getting booooring…

    • Jack B. Nimble says

      Before comments are closed, I want to note that Trump plans to invite Kanye to a ‘summit’ featuring Black artists, or maybe just to dinner at the White House. There is also talk of a ‘summit’ this summer featuring top Black athletes. Should be interesting…..

      Look, I WANT Kanye to become the face of Black conservatism in the US. With his recent tweets implying that slavery was a choice [enslaved workers could have freed themselves at any time if they just had ‘dragon energy’] and smearing Harriett Tubman with a false quote, he has shown the true face of Black conservatism, even more so than Diamond & Silk or Owens.

  2. Greg says

    Utterly fantastic article. Two small gripes: In this sentence, “Owens has taken stances against Black Lives Matter, feminism..” I’d have included the world ‘radical’ before BLM and I’d have contextualized ‘feminism’ as ‘that which feminism has devolved into in modern times.”

    • I see your point here but I’m not sure Owens would agree with your gripes, I don’t think she takes aims at just the extremes of either of these groups. Perhaps simply using “parts of” where the writer feels applicable would be better suited.

  3. All one has to do is simply look, simply look at how the supposedly “progressive” and “tolerant” Left treat blacks that dare to leave. That simple look is enough to tell you that the Left doesn’t care about blacks and despite calling absolutely everyone that’s not radical left a “racist”, they are in fact the racist ones. Just look at the torrid of abuses hurled at Owens and at Kanye for simply giving a nod of recognition to her.

    • ga gamba says

      Sadly, it’s more of the same old call-’em-coon script. Academics such as Sowell, Walter E. Williams, Shelby Steele, John McWhorter, and Glenn Loury have faced these smears for years.

      Dr Steele speaks on the topic of White Guilt Destroying the Promise of Civil Rights. He cites a few beliefs and behaviours by whites, and more importantly white institutions, that have contributed to this current crisis and actually further disadvantage blacks. By rejecting the supremacy of the past, whites acknowledged a wrong was done. In doing so, they lost moral authority. It shifted to non-whites and is an important source of power; it’s used to cajole and even bully whites into accepting all claims. “White guilt is black power” says Steele. In “the vacuum of moral authority” guilt-ridden whites think they don’t have the authority to speak on a variety of issues – blacks and their white allies are quick to state whites aren’t permitted to have a say. (Feminists have adopted the same gambit when stating men aren’t allowed to speak about certain women’s issues.)

      White guilt is enforced by stigma and they are forced to prove the negative to avoid being labelled racist. The way this is being enforced presently is “listen and believe” and by practicing “good allyship”, which are forms of dissociation. “If they [whites] don’t prove the negative, then the stigma sticks and they must be racist.” A stigmatised institution loses its legitimacy, and the knock-on effects will be top-calibre academics and students going elsewhere, loss of money and prestige, etc.

      We see a variant of this play out with Ms Owens and Mr West. Frankly, Owens isn’t saying something new. Her power is not really in the words; it’s due in part to the colour of her skin, and perhaps she being conventionally attractive helps too. A black woman going off script and attacking progressive blacks and, by extension, their white allies is noteworthy not because of the speech but because of the speaker. The novelty and controversy is that both Owens and West used the privilege of their racialised moral authority against others who believe they hold the moral authority.

      This phenomenon of highlighting black messenger saying uncommon things is not uncommon. What is all too common is the emphasis of their race. For example, two years ago Prof Roland Fryer Jr. of Harvard published a study showing blacks were not disproportionately shot by police. From the New York Times: “Mr. Fryer, the youngest African-American to receive tenure at Harvard and the first to win a John Bates Clark medal….”

      Fox News: “In 2016, Harvard Professor Roland Fryer – an African-American academic who focuses on economics – decided to examine whether the nation’s police officers were killing black Americans more so than whites. When he launched the study, he fully expected to find a clear pattern of unjustified violence.” And the Financial Times: “We are five minutes into our lunch when Roland Fryer asks if he may use my notepad and pen to draw a chart. The youngest African-American to take up a tenured professorship at Harvard University is explaining his new research on racial differences in the use of force by US police.”

      The Washington Post really hammed it up in its article of the study: Roland Fryer Jr. never cared much for the cops. When he was growing up, his family dealt crack in Daytona Beach, Fla., and while Fryer was on his way to becoming a celebrated economist at Harvard University, many of his cousins and closest friends were serving mandatory sentences in prison. During his childhood, encounters with police were fraught with danger.

      “As a kid, I didn’t like the police at all,” Fryer said. “I grew up on one side of the story.”

      Fryer said that after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and other recent cases in which police killed unarmed black civilians, Fryer felt he had to know more. “My emotions are flaring,” he recalled. Though the Washington Post doesn’t state his race explicitly, that excerpt and his photo used in the piece tell the reader he’s black.

      Did Dr Fryer’s race determine the study’s outcome? I think not, yet all these institutions of sense making felt compelled to mention his race, explicitly or not. Why? Was it to cover themselves from accusations of racism? Was it to add to the study’s legitimacy? Was it to out another black academic who doesn’t toe the line? Was it to suggest Fryer was suffering from a lack of race consciousness? Had Fryer been non-black would the reporting have been the same? Would his study been covered with the same prominence or even at all? Each reader will take away different things from the articles.

      Dr Steele notes that it’s whites’ desire, if not obsession, to dissociate themselves from the sins of the past that generate absurd beliefs and behaviours leading to many laws and policies that on the surface appear to help blacks but really don’t. Speaking about positive discrimination and other leg-up measures such as diversity policies to give an institution ‘legitimacy” Fryer says: “I think one of the cruelest things a society can do is to take the best and the brightest young black Americans and say to them, ‘You simply cannot compete with the best and brightest of other races. We won’t allow you to do that. You have to depend on our paternalism.'”

      This can also be seen when students who would likely thrive in second-tier unis are admitted to elite-tier ones where they flounder. They are used to give legitimacy to the uni’s demographic numbers; they are simply a poor answer to an ill-conceived demand. “We promised the protestors x% black, and by God we’ll do so to ensure no one can accuse us of racism.”

      Agree or disagree with Owens, West, Fryer, and others based on the validity of their arguments. “You won’t believe how this fierce black woman shut down Black Lives Matter activists” is just as bad as “Watch this coon serve buttermilk biscuits to massa.” There’s an old sports maxim: Play the ball not the man. It’s used to caution those on the attack, yet it is just as relevant to those who support.

      Dr Steele makes an excellent point about how blacks were able to survive oppression. Their talents and ingenuity were not diminished, in fact they were a very resilient people who accomplished many remarkable things. They had been denied freedom and their challenge since the 60s is to live in freedom. This requires building the cultural capital to live in it. Freedom is not easy; it’s not the promised land of milk and honey. “Freedom was not a kiss,” says Steele. “It was a smack” for African-Americans and those in the decolonialised world. “Freedom became and is experienced by people who newly become free as a shame, as a humiliation.” When the outcomes don’t match the high expectations people declare: “Hey, I’m not really free. Racism is everywhere. Maybe it’s underground. Maybe it’s institutionalised.” Such a mindset is manipulated by leaders who see white guilt ripe for the picking, and they nurture a protest culture that takes pride – “Black Pride” says Steele – in being dependent on society.

      “We’ve got it all completely screwed up and backwards. And of course we punish those amongst our group who are the high achievers, who have used the freedom open to them and achieved great things. They don’t have ‘the flavour’ and ‘aren’t really black.'”

      And what of white America? “Acknowledge and accept one interesting fact. It’s not a theory, it’s a fact. Since 1965 to roughly our own time white America, I think, has made one of the greatest moral evolutions in all of human history. There is no example, that I’m aware of, of a society determining to correct itself morally that’s been more consistent and more relentless than what white Americans have done. Today racism is despicable and seen as disgraceful by whites. They want no part of it. There are certainly fringes out there, but again those fringes have no authority, no real role in American life. And whites have done this. Whites need to accept this as fact. Accept this as reality because it is reality.”

      Contentious stuff. Just look at all the trouble blacks have when declining to buy coffee and instead simply sitting in Starbucks. How can freedom exist when the right to be a non-customer in a business is breached?

      • Evan says

        Hi Ga Gamba. I enjoyed your comment so much I cross-posted it to the Facebook group ‘The Quillette Circle’ for discussion and circulation. I don’t know if you’re reading this comment, but if so, I’d encourage you to submit a version of your above comment as a top-level article to Quillette as an addendum to ‘Kanye West and the Future of Black Conservatism’ because readers would learn a lot from the context on the issue you provide.

  4. Okay so… if this fails can we admit there will be nothing like what we call centrism now in a non-white America? It seems clear that group dynamics explain certain voting patterns better than ideology and that won’t go away for my money. But conservatives, libertarians, and centrists (which I lump Quillette under) all rely on this being malleable enough to trivialize

    • >”But if blacks are almost as likely to be conservative as liberal, then why do they vote for Democratic candidates in overwhelming numbers?”

      Answer? Otherwise you’re stumbling in the dark. Follower said this, stealing it

    • You missed the point of the article. It was not to elevate Kanye into a political rockstar, but to point out how the left reacts and deals with someone who they assume should be on their side when that person publicly says something that doesn’t for within their accepted mantra.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        The author of this article presumably used the Kanye angle as a ‘hook’ to snag the reader’s attention, but that was a poor choice, just as Kanye is a poor role model for anyone, Black or white.

        There are many interesting varieties of Black conservatism, but one of the most important historically is what can be called ‘racial pessimism’ — the idea that Blacks can never hope for fair treatment from whites, so the best way forward is for Blacks to rely almost entirely on family and their Black friends and neighbors. The most extreme form of racial pessimism and Black conservatism is, of course, the ‘Back to Africa’ movement.

        One of the earliest proponents of racial pessimism in the US was Booker T. Washington, but strains of pessimism can also be found in the recent writings of Clarence Thomas and even Ta-Nehisi Coates [who is often mis-labeled as a liberal].

        The author of this article makes some good points including [I think] the idea that Blacks would do well to abandon pessimism in favor of a more optimistic viewpoint, but there are two glaring weaknesses in the article:

        He cherry picks data to support the idea that among post-WWII politicians, the GOP and the Democrats have been about equally supportive of Black progress and civil rights, including voting rights. It may be correct that Truman didn’t enforce civil rights legislation, but he DID integrate the armed forces. And of course Brown v. Bd. of Education [which Eisenhower complained about in private] wasn’t decided until 1954. Since Eisenhower, the GOP has largely stopped courting Black voters, starting with Goldwater’s embrace of states’ rights and culminating in Trump’s coy refusal to dis-avow ex-Nazi and ex-Klansman David Duke.

        He also cherry picks polls to show that Blacks are more conservative than commonly thought. It is certainly true that Blacks are more likely on average than white liberals to think that religion should play a prominent role in public life, but it’s also true that Black concerns about voting rights and police brutality are largely absent from the GOP. Still, the GOP could probably make political inroads among Blacks, if they were willing to meet them half way — like moving a modified Voting Rights Act through Congress, for example. I’m not holding my breath, though.

        The glaring lack of diversity among last summer’s GOP congressional interns shown in Paul Ryan’s famous speakerselfie [ https://cnn.it/2HvF26V ], compared to the diversity among Democratic interns, suggests that the next generation of Republican leaders will also find it difficult to appeal to Black voters. That’s unfortunate, because the US would be better off if the electorate was not so racially polarized. However, that is not my problem to solve, since I’m not a Republican.

      • brian jackson says

        No sorry Jared, I didn’t miss the point. The point being made in this article is the same one raised and rehashed in every fourth or fifth Quillette politics piece. My point was different one, though equally obvious. I’ll rephrase it for you. Kanye West is a global byword for idiocy and it is bewildering to observe so many self important academics tying themselves in knots to critique the ‘left’s’ reaction to the endorsement of a third rate journalist by a talentless imbecile.

    • Hutch says

      I agree and i’d go even further.

      Kanye west is someone whose opinion on anything should not be taken seriously.

      Reason: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/can39t-read-me-nothing/

      Kanye West direct quote” Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books.”

    • ga gamba says

      Perhaps the problem is a reliance on self-appointed ‘spokespeople’ and ‘leaders’. Can you think of the Asian-American leader? The Italian-American spokesperson? Who’s talking for the Indians? Other than the late Cesar Chavez, who was really a leader of migrant fruit pickers, I can’t even think of a Hispanic leader. Yet, amongst blacks the spokesperson-leader sector seems to be a growth industry.

      I would have expected better from Quillette

      Oh dear. You’ve been disappointed. Darn you, Quillette.

      • brian jackson says

        Oh dear, I seem to have offended someone! Having waded through your thesis length comment above it appears I have trespassed upon your specialist field of knowledge! Perhaps the ‘problem’ is self appointed experts spending way too much time writing long winded, pointless, navel gazing dissertations in the comment section!

        • ga gamba says

          Oh poor Brian. The gist of his first comment is “West isn’t the leader. There are other leaders,” which Jared Swenson destroyed by rightly stating Brian utterly failed to understand the point. And the substance of his second comment is “It’s too long.”

          He doesn’t realise neither is an argument.

          Yet he has the neck to complain that Quillette let him down. My aching sides!

        • brian jackson says

          Oh my, what a pathetic little man / woman you are!. Seizing on a casual observation in the comment section to respond with prickly schoolgirl sarcasm! Perhaps if the little princess concentrated on developing her own writing style into something anyone would ever possibly want to read she might actually be able to publish her tiresome commentaries!

          • ga gamba says

            Oh poor Brian. Resorting to the gender-based attack. “Dangnabbit, I’ve been mocked. I’ll show her. I’ll call her a… a… a girl. She’ll crumble before my mighty masculinity.” He-man’s witty retort has slain me.

            A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

        • Gleichstrom says

          Back into the troll den with you, foul creature! God forbid you engage with any of the arguments offered here lest they challenge your worldview. The fact that you trotted out some bogus listicle in lieu of your inability to construct any talking points yourself is shameful. Go back to buzzfeed where you belong!

    • I don’t see why Kanye West’s opinions should be dismissed. He does not have to be a “spokesperson for black Americans” to be allowed these opinions.

  5. TJR says

    Rich Man Is Right Wing is definitely a “dog bites man” story.

    Tried listening to Kanye West and he’s clearly trying to do something a bit more interesting than most rap, but he just ends up sounding like a not very good Linkin Park tribute act.

    • You’re obviously not keeping up and have the narrative all wrong. The people who make up “the right” are all broke-ass, uneducated, opiate-addicted meth-heads living in trailer parks, clinging to the Bible and their guns. It’s those of the Left who live in the gated communities, attend the wine and cheese soirees, hang in art galleries, and name-drop. Remember now?

  6. ‘The Future of Black Conservatism’ aka ‘How to Save America.’ If the GOP can increase the % of blacks that vote for them from 10% to 20%, it be very difficult for the Democrats to win another election for a long time. The GOP should be focusing a great deal of their intellectual effort on this question and on supporting the growing number of black conservatives.

    • In fact, Trump has been assiduously courting native born POCs since the primaries.

      If you want to know what Trump is doing just scan the daily topics on Breibart, you don’t have to read them but they do show who Trump is pitching to at the moment.

    • Jay Salhi says

      I think it is inevitable that this will happen. When a percentage is so high, it can only go in one direction. Automatic black support for the Democratic party will not last forever.

  7. dirk says

    I think, blacks like the male stance, and abhor feminism, as simply as that. I can’t imagine they would vote for Hillary, even if female themselves!

  8. The more interesting part of Kanye West’s endorsement is that he loves how Candace Owens “thinks”. More important than endorsing her, he’s promoting independent thinking. I imagine that strikes fear in those who count on blacks voting as a bloc.

    • ga gamba says

      Yes, that, and it also sends more viewers to her youtube channel. If you check out socialblade the number of viewers and subscribers skyrocketed. Prior to 21 April she was adding about 130 subscribers on about 4000 views per day. Since then she’s added about 12,000 new subscribers and is getting tens of thousand of views. Further, those new to her content will be served recommended videos to other like-minded creators, such as My Name is Josephine and Some Black Guy, so that’s a knock-on effect. Yet, Owens doesn’t have the large inventory of long videos like Jordan Peterson had. Twenty-four videos each of only a few minutes, and the most recent being from two months ago, tells me she herself can’t sustain the message on her own platform. For an intents and purposes, it’s a dormant account.

      If I were a progressive I wouldn’t be too worried. In fact commenting about the topic on twitter or elsewhere and further criticising West only adds fuel to the fire thereby getting her more attention – West has proved over the years he has no fear of jumping into a fray and keeping it going. Not every hill is one to die on, and often the shrewdest tactic is to ignore an opponent.

      • brian jackson says

        Not knowing your gender, I carefully referred to you as a man / woman. Your attempt to hide your intellectual inadequacy behind gender politics is hilarious. Especially so as in your garbled wanderings you seem generally critical of SJW’s and their hysterics. Let’s see, your diatribes, ( that no one ever reads or responds to ) consist of 75% cut and paste, 15% rhetorical questions ( that you actually go on to answer yourself! ) and 10% aspergers like regurgitation of irrelevant fact and statistics. Very much a case of the one trick pony rides again. Giddyup!

        • Paolo says

          I did not want to add uninteresting words to this nice set of comments, but it’s just amazing: you still around? 😀 After such a shampoo anyone with a little sense would hide under the closest rock and decide ‘that’s it, now I am going to study for at least five years, then let’s see if I have something real to share on the Internet, like people like ga-gamba have, and let’s see if I can write anything without humiliating my nickname’. But then, do as you see fit.

          • brian jackson says

            The mysterious Paolo, knight in shining armour appears from over the horizon to defend the honour of his online paramour. Seriously? Am I now being tag teamed by a couple of anonymous superheroes of academe? How will I live with the humiliation?

        • Jay Salhi says

          Give it a rest. Many readers come here just to read ga gamba’s comments.

          • Rae Sanders says

            I’m not sure what is more disturbing; ga gamba’s long-winded tirades or the idea that readers come here to “just to read” them.

  9. Anon says

    The author was doing so well until he equated the present-day Republican Party with the Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower. There was a massive regional realignment in the second half of the 20th century, with many (not all) groups switching affiliations. Southerners and Northerners, blacks and whites, and many others largely (though not entirely, of course) swapped affiliations. For all the differences between the Democrats of today and the Republicans of the Eisenhower era (and likewise the differences between the Republicans of today and the Democrats of the Eisenhower era), today’s Democrats still have more in common with Eisenhower’s coalition than the Democrats of that day (and vice versa).

    • Rae Sanders says

      Yes, how has no one else mentioned this?!!

    • The south has gone from Democrat to Republican. Same people, yet their policies became very different. Arguably, the South is doing better at race relations than many other parts of the country. Perhaps the Republican creed still has the ability to inspire improvement based on principle, like it did in Lincoln’s day. As Frederick Douglas said, Lincoln was the most unlikely friend, but when looking back, he did the right thing for Black People every step of the way. (Quote not exact, but close, I believe.)

  10. Pizza Pete says

    This is 20-30 IQ points smarter than anything I’ve read in the New York Times the past month and all the more impressive coming from and undergrad.

  11. anonnn says

    “most black people don’t care about microaggressions. A 2017 poll carried out by the Cato Institute found that over half of black respondents weren’t offended by the phrases, “You are so articulate,””

    Just because there are people who are not offended by that phrase doesn’t mean it’s inherently inoffensive. The implication behind that phrase is rooted in the assumption that most black people can’t speak. It’s the equivalent of being told, “people LIKE you are stupid, but you’re different/smart.”

    This should just be considered flat-out rude in our culture by now; and yet, certain people on the right are more offended that there are evolving rules of common decency, rather than accept that standards of “being a good person” is culturally expanding to include more than their own personal worldview.

    The sad reality is that the right refuses to acknowledge even the existence of racism in our society, which is a pity because the right has something real to offer, if they could just make themselves tolerable to be around and open their ears to black perspectives of experience. Racism of modern times manifests differently than how it did 60 years ago; just because people aren’t lynched frequently anymore doesn’t mean racism is dead.
    The reason that black people are voting for the left is because it’s the only side at bare minimum paying lip service and pretending to listen when black people claim they are treated differently from white people. The right, in contrast, tends to pretend that all 12 million black people in America are “making it up” or “should get over it”.

    Until the right wakes up to the necessity of actually listening to the people whose votes they’re trying to get, it’s not going to have an easy time winning the black community.

    • Cheester says

      -Just because there are people who are not offended by that phrase doesn’t mean it’s inherently inoffensive. The implication behind that phrase is rooted in the assumption that most black people can’t speak. It’s the equivalent of being told, “people LIKE you are stupid, but you’re different/smart.”-

      Calling something a microaggression is different from deeming it offensive. A microaggression is equated with real violence, and a statement like “you’re so articulate,” while perhaps mildly racist, is a far cry from malignant racism. Furthermore, you don’t acknowledge the fact that blacks tend to do significantly worse than other races in academic achievement, which has much less to do with any economic/social disadvantages than it does with the values that are instilled by parents. If you look at the success of Asians in the past 60 years, who started in America with no more than blacks had at the time, it is clear that poor black communities severely lack an emphasis on personal improvement through education. Given all this, it seems disingenuous to fixate on the remark, which, while insensitive, is perfectly understandable. Furthermore, the person is paying a compliment with that remark, and the person inspiring it could receive it gracefully, which would be the most powerful way to change people’s perceptions about certain groups. If you even partially attribute your own or your group’s failures to innocuous comments like that, you’re just looking for something to abdicate you of your personal responsibility, and doing yourself a huge disfavor by not realizing that you are more than capable of overcoming such trifling difficulties.

      – rather than accept that standards of “being a good person” is culturally expanding to include more than their own personal worldview-

      You seem to be implying that large numbers of racist or close-minded people have a “personal worldview” that is arbitrary. In my experience, having grown up in Asia and knowing a good number of first-generation Asian-American immigrants, they are racist towards blacks/hispanics because they don’t believe that things like personal responsibility, civility, education, and duty to others are sufficiently valued in the black/hispanic communities. While I do not defend this generalization, it is not merely a “personal” set of values. Those values tend to be greatly beneficial to individuals, families, and society as a whole. Your understanding of why people might say something like “you’re so articulate” is shallow and actually does a great disservice to people who, if not for thinking like yours, might see that they can easily brush aside such comments on their path to success.

      -The sad reality is that the right refuses to acknowledge even the existence of racism in our society, which is a pity because the right has something real to offer, if they could just make themselves tolerable to be around and open their ears to black perspectives of experience. Racism of modern times manifests differently than how it did 60 years ago; just because people aren’t lynched frequently anymore doesn’t mean racism is dead.
      The reason that black people are voting for the left is because it’s the only side at bare minimum paying lip service and pretending to listen when black people claim they are treated differently from white people. The right, in contrast, tends to pretend that all 12 million black people in America are “making it up” or “should get over it”.-

      This is a complete understatement of the Left’s claims. Yes, there is racism. I don’t think there is any reasonable person on the right who actually denies this. The Left claims that 1) there is systemic racism directly targeting minorities and 2) that this is the primary reason for the struggles of black/brown communities. You can’t make claim (1) without any proof, and no one seems to be able to come up with any. Also, not all 12 million black people in America are complaining about racism or attributing their failures to it. You discredit yourself by using strawmen, putting words in other people’s mouths, and oversimplifying things. Lastly, “paying lip service and pretending to listen,” intentionally instilling and indulging a victimhood mentality in order to win votes as the Democrats do, does blacks far more harm than good. If I come off as a racist bigot, then don’t take my word for any of this, and go listen to what some smart, black conservatives have to say about these issues.

      • anonnn says

        “Calling something a microaggression is different from deeming it offensive. A microaggression is equated with real violence, and a statement like “you’re so articulate,” while perhaps mildly racist, is a far cry from malignant racism.”

        Well, to start with, I didn’t claim that calling someone “articulate” constituted a microaggression (though I’m sure there are many who would). I merely said that it was profoundly rude, and as a behavior should rightly be shamed.

        ” Furthermore, you don’t acknowledge the fact that blacks tend to do significantly worse than other races in academic achievement,”

        Under any and all circumstances, this is still not a justification for generalizing an entire group and assuming an individual you’re speaking to is uneducated. You can be aware of overarching trends without being a dick and assuming the person in front of you is an idiot. In fact, it’s considered common decency. Give the benefit of the doubt to start.
        (Of course, it’s your *right* to do whatever you want, just like it’s your right to burp and fart in public. But don’t be surprised when you get the side-eye).

        “f you look at the success of Asians in the past 60 years, who started in America with no more than blacks had at the time, it is clear that poor black communities severely lack an emphasis on personal improvement through education.”

        The difference between Asian communities and Black communities is that the Asian communities’ familial structures were left intact. Black communities, under the yoke of slavery, suffered generations of fatherlessness and motherlessness, murder and displacement, suffered a tearing of the familial core so central, the two communities cannot be compared. These problems don’t dissipate after one or two generations; it takes a long time to heal.

        “Given all this, it seems disingenuous to fixate on the remark, which, while insensitive, is perfectly understandable. Furthermore, the person is paying a compliment with that remark, and the person inspiring it could receive it gracefully, which would be the most powerful way to change people’s perceptions about certain groups.”

        Understandable, sure. But you’re focusing the blame on the wrong party – it’s the person making the insensitive remark who should be focused on, not the receiver of the remark. It’s not the responsibility of the black person to receive an underhanded insult to their community so gracefully and suck up, in hopes that ‘white people will see black people as full intellectual, articulate human beings’.

        “If you even partially attribute your own or your group’s failures to innocuous comments like that, you’re just looking for something to abdicate you of your personal responsibility, and doing yourself a huge disfavor by not realizing that you are more than capable of overcoming such trifling difficulties.”

        Here is the crux of the problem communicating between right and left (full disclosure, I’m an independent). Nobody said anything about the black community attributing their groups’ “failures” (as you call it) to innocuous comments. I certainly didn’t, and anything I’ve seen in the above article even referencing that is an assumption.
        It’s brought up and spoken about because it’s offensive, and there are a lot of white people who would prefer to argue about the finer points (like in this comment thread), rather than apologize, decide to do better, and just move on.

        “You seem to be implying that large numbers of racist or close-minded people have a “personal worldview” that is arbitrary. In my experience, having grown up in Asia and knowing a good number of first-generation Asian-American immigrants, they are racist towards blacks/hispanics because they don’t believe that things like personal responsibility, civility, education, and duty to others are sufficiently valued in the black/hispanic communities. While I do not defend this generalization, it is not merely a “personal” set of values. Those values tend to be greatly beneficial to individuals, families, and society as a whole. Your understanding of why people might say something like “you’re so articulate” is shallow and actually does a great disservice to people who, if not for thinking like yours, might see that they can easily brush aside such comments on their path to success.”

        ……..Ok……
        To start, I said nothing about it being “arbitrary”. I said it was limited by their own personal experience. I think anyone claiming an *entire* group of people behaves as a monolith is operating from a limited viewpoint.
        You go on to say that, because certain groups have a genuine belief that other groups (specifically hispanic and black) don’t value things like “personal responsibility”, that because the value of “personal responsibility” is inherently good, their looking down on black/hispanic communities… Is understandable? Or something? What? You don’t actually say in your paragraph. You start out by saying you don’t agree with it, but then you go on to imply that it’s ok.

        Look, conservatives are supposed to be morally consistent, if nothing else. How can you not see that these sorts of generalizations have real and sometimes dire consequences throughout history? The holocaust occurred because of these generalizations about “all” Jewish people; lynchings throughout American history likewise.

        Might you consider that the onus for “changing perceptions” is equally on both shoulders? That perhaps white people have an equal obligation to look within themselves and question why they are driven to label someone as “default: inarticulate” until they are proven otherwise?
        These sorts of things matter; they have far-reaching effects in our culture, and it puts black people at a disadvantage right at the outset because they are obligated to try to prove your subconscious assumptions wrong at the outset.

        Can you “do whatever you want”? Sure, that’s absolutely your right. But you don’t cheat people, you don’t lie, or do other things that are technically “legal” in our culture, but are generally looked down upon. Failing to give someone the benefit of the doubt (and making assumptions about their intelligence based on the color of their skin) falls into that category.

        “The Left claims that 1) there is systemic racism directly targeting minorities and 2) that this is the primary reason for the struggles of black/brown communities. You can’t make claim (1) without any proof, and no one seems to be able to come up with any. ”

        Can you provide proof of unconscious assumptions? Because that’s how most of this manifests.

        “Also, not all 12 million black people in America are complaining about racism or attributing their failures to it. You discredit yourself by using strawmen, putting words in other people’s mouths, and oversimplifying things. ”

        I used the wrong number in my above comment, and was unable to fix it. The black community counts close to 37 million in the USA.
        Regardless – a sizable population of the black community believes racism affects them. I think the statistics quoted above were close to half? Let’s go with 1/4th, just to be conservative. That still leaves 9.25 million black people saying racism is alive and well. Do you believe they’re all lying or making it up?

        “Lastly, “paying lip service and pretending to listen,” intentionally instilling and indulging a victimhood mentality in order to win votes as the Democrats do, does blacks far more harm than good. If I come off as a racist bigot, then don’t take my word for any of this, and go listen to what some smart, black conservatives have to say about these issues.”

        Sigh. This is a sad simplification of the democratic platform. Remember – I’m an independent, who has a love of both Ayn Rand and Upton Sinclair, sympathy for both the left and right.

        If you honestly think that all the Democratic party offers is to instill a victimhood mentality into their voters, you are part of the problem. You haven’t been reading enough or listening openly enough. I don’t know what happened to arguing in good faith, but I sincerely hope it comes back into style.

        One’s argument is meaningless if one cannot even comprehend the rationality of the other side in good faith.

        • Cheester says

          The bottom line is that you believe that the world gets better by telling (or bullying or coercing, as the Left tends to do) the world to change around them, while others happen to think that you should just focus on yourself, because you can’t do anything about others. One course of action produces an attitude of victimhood and bitterness and leads nowhere, and one actually makes your life better and has a real positive impact. You’d rather sit around talking about how the world should be and how everyone else should be, as part of some useless moral posturing, than give someone the tools to make it through a world that can be unfair and unforgiving.

          “Can you provide proof of unconscious assumptions? Because that’s how most of this manifests.”

          Do you have any proof that unconscious bias has any meaningful impact on behavior? Or that any of this unconscious bias training has any benefits? Because all evidence suggests the contrary.

          “You haven’t been reading enough or listening openly enough.. I don’t know what happened to arguing in good faith, but I sincerely hope it comes back into style.”

          Like I said, go listen to some Thomas Sowell or other smart black conservatives. You obviously haven’t.

          • anonnn says

            > “The bottom line is that you believe that the world gets better by telling (or bullying or coercing, as the Left tends to do) the world to change around them, while others happen to think that you should just focus on yourself, because you can’t do anything about others”

            I have sympathy with this viewpoint. As a business owner (and someone who likes Ayn Rand), I understand your assumption.
            But here’s the thing – actively talking about and decrying certain behaviors IS an action. It’s a means to an end, and the goal is to expand our societal common decency to include giving people the benefit of the doubt without categorizing them right off the bat. You cannot create change if you decide to ignore the problem; fighting it, talking about it, discussing it, writing about it, these are all means for change, and they’re legitimate.

            You cannot fix the problem if you refuse to acknowledge it’s existence.

            >”You’d rather sit around talking about how the world should be and how everyone else should be, as part of some useless moral posturing, than give someone the tools to make it through a world that can be unfair and unforgiving.”

            I think this is the most negative possible lens you could look at this through. As I had said above, there is nothing wrong with trying to take an active stance and change our culture for the better. It’s positive and helps all of us grow collectively.

            >”Do you have any proof that unconscious bias has any meaningful impact on behavior? Or that any of this unconscious bias training has any benefits? Because all evidence suggests the contrary.”

            This is wildly broad statement – “all evidence suggests the contrary”. It’s patently untrue – but then, all black/white statements tend to be.

            Here’s some evidence of it’s existence (one study done at Columbia, the college of this article’s author):

            http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/ldeo/dir/academic-affairs-diversity/searchcommittees_files/Best%20Practices%20Bias%20Search%20Committees%20Sep2015%20.pdf

            https://diversity.ucsf.edu/resources/state-science-unconscious-bias

            https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED579284.pdf

        • Sue says

          Here’s a question. Is it offensive to say to a white person, “You’re so articulate?”
          And another comment. In my opinion, “shaming” is never productive. Shaming is nothing more than a psychological attack. Convincing someone to rethink their outlook is vastly more beneficial.

    • Pizza Pete says

      I find this line of rhetoric one of the great ironies of our discourse on race.

      “You are so articulate,” in general, comes from a place of benign ignorance on the right (and, well, from Joe Biden).

      The soft bigotry of low expectations on the Left, however, is truly malignant.

      I was listening to a John McWhorter/Glenn Loury podcast that turned to talk of TNC. Their take: he’s a good writer but shallow thinker who’s treated as a deep thinker secondary to… the soft bigotry of low expectations. What I’ve thought for years but been afraid to say in polite company.

      It’s all around. Look at how no one can get too worked up over how many liberal black politicians are affiliated with America’s most popular anti-Semite and his organization the Nation of Islam. Another example: Al Sharpton tried to lead a 20th century pogrom in Brooklyn. Eh, you can’t expect too much of them, can you?

      So here’s the point. The life story of a Thomas Sowell is universally inspirational even though it is quintessentially black. He’s a hero of the right. The appetite on the Left is for stories of black immiseration that alternate between religiosity and pornography.

      The right is clumsy on race and the Left’s speech on race is much more fluent (see: Ezra Klein). But it is not an insignificant difference that the right wants to see black Americans celebrated for their success while the Left wants to fetishize suffering.

      I don’t know what to think about Owens yet. It’s early in the game for her and hard to know what her trajectory is. I think it’s premature to write her off as, “It’s because she’s pretty and black and saying things conservatives like.” She’s tapping into something aspirational that might be more appealing than the progressive menu options of victimization catharsis and enthusiasm and applause only justified by the bar being set low.

    • If more than half the respondents don’t find it offensive, that does indeed mean it’s not “inherently offensive”. In fact, finding it offensive involves an assumption regarding the speaker’s thought process that may not be true. I’ve had a white person say that to me, and I ‘m white – well, light brown in this refulgent (Australian) summer ?. Should I assume if she said the same thing to a person of deeper pigmentation there is an unspoken subtext of condescension?
      And to call it aggression, micro or otherwise, is simply to mangle the meaning of words.

    • Evan says

      Given how disenfranchised they might feel by both parties, this begs the question of what proportion of black Americans (and where, too) voted at all in the last election.

  12. Anthony says

    I’m not a fan of either Kanye or Owens, but they’re better than anything the left has to offer. You can call them a means to an end.

    I’d encourage everyone, especially Blacks, to look into the “Lily White Movement” of post-slavery America. Black Conservatism isn’t new, and has a long history of being compromised. The umbrella of Conservatism which Owens falls under has some “curious” underlines.

  13. As seems reflected in many of those other replies, those African Americans on the right/center have to find a black champion of the US system of the using the ballot box coupled with a network of middle class POC promoting conservative values–an updated Booker T Washington.

    Tragically, Bill Cosby was at the forefront of that emphasis before he crashed and burned. This person has to offset the race hustlers like Michael Eric Tyson who stoke the fires of rage and resentment. Such a leader can’t be Kanye West nor Ms. Owens (Jeanne d”Arc) who is probably not ready for prime time. Any candidates .??

  14. Not a Black Becky says

    The Black Left, and Black Radicalist have been critical of the White Liberalism for decades. The ideas of self-determination and nation building is not a core value of Black conservatism. These black conservative puppets are co-opting a movement that has been rejected by White liberalism because white liberalism is more in favor of paternalism. The core value of Black Conservatism is assimilation which we have seen in the past does not work to actively combat White Supremacy and oppression in our justice system, healthcare, and education system, and economy. The message of self determination is only now being recognized by black conservatives because it is being used as a tool against White Liberalism for White conservatives. Self determination is a core value of black political groups such as “Black Lives Matter”, Black feminism (Womanism), and Black Radicalism. Unfortunately, it has been unpopular among some Black Nationalist because it addresses the issue of inclusivity of all Black people in the Black community to achieve self determination including women and queer black folks that some Black Nationalists are opposed to.

  15. Not a Black Becky says

    White folks loved Booker T. Washington and despised W.E.B. Du Bois. They hate Malcolm X and championed Dr. King. Why? One side preached assimilation, while the others preached self determination, building the black community from the inside, and that western capitalism profited off of the oppression of black and brown people (Dr. King also taught this later in life).

  16. Not a Black Becky says

    They want to continue to profit off of the oppression of black and brown people and this can only be achieved today by co-opting and repackaging theories that have been circulating among Black academics, activists, and political leaders since Marcus Garvey. They may win some but not those that have studied our history and know better will continue to education our people. These pawns are not new. Kanye is the sunken place, a place where one is not conscious of how assimilation requires the rejection of their soul, their humanity, and right to exist as an individual in a collective of unique human experiences. The sunken place requires you to identify with a system that rejects the legitimacy unique identities and experiences to exist independently, because it exclaims that only legitimate identity and experience is the “dominant” culture in America – whiteness.

    • So Candace Owens is not a true black person, because she is in “the sunken place”, and same for Kanye West. You probably have low tolerance for people that disagree with you, right?

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