Friday, September 02, 2016

What enables Obama to play the race card so effectively: white guilt and therapeutic alienation

"Catching Up" (Old Life, August 30, 2016) observes that conservative Christians frequently believe that they have opened a new chapter on race relations. Mark Galli, for instance, suggests that conservative Christians have been "slow to hear what the black church has been telling us," and now finally begun to see how "racism is embedded in many aspects of our society, from business to law enforcement to education to church life."

The author of "Catching Up," however, notes that he used to "hear a lot about how evangelicals were always about 10 to 15 years behind the times"; and so he wonders when conservative Christians like Galli "will get around to reading John McWhorter whose book, Winning the Race, came out ten years ago." Back then, McWhorter wrote:
It’s not that there is “something wrong with black people,” but rather, that there is something wrong with what black people learned from a new breed of white people in the 1960s. . . . The nut of the issue is that [people who see racism everywhere] want neither justice nor healing. What people like this are seeking is, sadly, not what they claim to be seeking. They seek one thing: indignation for its own sake. . . .

Two new conditions were necessary for alienation among blacks to so often drift from its moorings in the concrete and become the abstract, hazy “race thing” that whites just “don’t get.”

One condition was that blacks had to be prepared to embrace therapeutic alienation, and ironically, this could only have been when conditions were improved for blacks. When racism was omnipresent and overt, it would have been psychological suicide for blacks to go around exaggerating what was an all-too-real problem.

Second, whites had to be prepared to listen to the complaints and assume (or pretend) that they were valid. This only began during the counter cultural revolution, within which a new openness to blacks and an awareness of racism were key elements. . . . Many whites were now, for the first time, ready to nod sagely at almost anything a black person said. And in that new America, for many blacks, fetishizing the evils of the White Man beyond what reality justified was a seductive crutch for a spiritual deficit that we would be surprised that they did not have. It was the only way to feel whole. Even blacks less injured were still injured enough to let the loudest shouters pass, as bards of their less damaging, but still aggravating, pains. (4, 5, 7)
[Hat tip to JM]

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