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The Injustice Of ‘Social Justice’

Oh look, another communal meltdown over supposedly dangerous manifestations of racism at a college, this time at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. A reader writes:

I’ve been following your column for some time now and after reading about DePauw it occurred to me that the exact same pattern is happening at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo right now. A student is accused of racism over a “blackface” photo, protests occur, and within a week horribly racist flyers are found around campus. Things are now escalating fast. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cal-poly-blackface-no-expulsion_us_5ad0e41ee4b0edca2cb9751d [1]

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/education/article209157144.html [2]
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/education/article209235704.html [3]
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/education/article209235704.html [3]

In this case, there really was a frat boy photographed in blackface. The idiot and his frat were rightly sanctioned by the school (though they were also punished for “cultural misappropriation” for a photo in which they masqueraded as gang members). The offending frat boy publicly admitted error and apologized.  [4]

In a grown-up culture, that would be the end of it. But American colleges and universities are not grown-up cultures. At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, SJWs and their administrative fellow travelers are not going to allow the opportunity to hit the fainting couches pass by:

She and her parents said they wanted to know whether she could expect emotional support and safety should Vaghefi decide to attend Cal Poly.

“This is pretty important,” Vaghefi said.

change_me

The question of what to say to minority students and their parents is one San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon said she has heard many times since the blackface photo emerged.

Harmon joined protesters at Santa Rosa Park, where they enjoyed a break from two days of lengthy marches [5] across campus. She said she was there primarily to listen, and to weigh the possibility of a working group consisting of officials from the city, Cal Poly, Cuesta College, local business representatives and students to address the city and university’s “systemic problem with racism.”

“I have had mothers calling my office,” Harmon said. “They’re deeply concerned.”

While she acknowledged her own racial privilege as a white woman, Harmon said she would still answer yes to a person of color considering attending Cal Poly.

“The last thing we need is even less diversity on campus,” she said.

It’s like everybody just wants to be offended, and so offended that they become emotionally disabled, because that’s how they know who they are. I am offended, therefore I am. Not too long ago, to admit to being undone by the least little thing would have been seen as a sign of weakness, of feeble character. The man or woman who was able to endure all kinds of insults and threats to their lives — think James Meredith and Ruby Bridges — without desisting from their path were real heroes.

Now? The therapeutic mindset has triumphed so thoroughly that the faintest flap of a butterfly’s wing will cause an emotional hurricane within anyone who feels the air quiver. It’s the way to achieve power. René Girard foresaw that there is no limit to the violence we will inflict on each other in post-Christian culture, for the sake of protecting the supposed Victim.

Here’s why I fear and absolutely loathe the mob, especially racialized mobs. This really happened in my town. I know the identities of every white person involved (they’re all long dead), because one of them confessed on his deathbed to a friend of mine, who was shaken by the news. I do not know the name of the victim, and my attempts to discover his name went nowhere. None of this was publicly recorded.

Back in the 1940s, in my tiny Southern hometown, word reached the sheriff that a black man had been caught raping a white woman. The sheriff put out a call to some trusted white men to come help him track the rapist down and bring him to justice. The sheriff deputized two white men who showed up. They chased the black man through the woods, and upon catching him, bound him and took him back to the parish jail. There they lynched him. This was what they told themselves they had to do to protect the good order of the community.

A couple of days later, the truth came out: the black man and the white woman had been secret lovers. When they were discovered, she accused him of rape to protect herself. After his murder by the sheriff and his men, her conscience wouldn’t let her rest. She confessed all.

In their shame, the white family moved away. Of course no one — not the sheriff, nor his deputies — faced any kind of justice for their murder of an innocent man. That’s not how things worked under white supremacy.

The reason anybody alive today knows about it is because one of the murderers, as he lay dying decades ago, unburdened his conscience.

In a piece I wrote three years ago, “When ISIS Ran The American South,” [6] I talked about what it was like to be a black person living under white supremacy, specifically in the sense of being powerless in the face of unaccountable power, a power that was eager and willing to inflict severe violence, even death, upon you. What prompted the comparison was the news that ISIS had burned a captured Jordanian Air Force pilot alive in a cage. I wrote:

No, the American South (and other parts of America where racial terrorists ran rampant) was never run by fanatical theocrats who used grotesque public murders as a tool of terror. But if you were a black in the years 1877-1950, this was a distinction without much meaningful difference.

I had the case in my hometown in mind when I wrote that. In that post, I quoted a recent report on lynchings in the American South, 1877-1950. One category of lynchings investigators identified:

Lynchings Based on Fear of Interracial Sex. Nearly 25 percent of the lynchings of African Americans in the South were based on charges of sexual assault. The mere accusation of rape, even without an identification by the alleged victim, could arouse a lynch mob. The definition of black-on-white “rape” in the South required no allegation of force because white institutions, laws, and most white people rejected the idea that a white woman would willingly consent to sex with an African American man.

In the case I’m talking about, the mob — in this case, the sheriff and his deputies, as well as the (false) accuser — did not require a dispassionate examination of the evidence in the case. The accuser’s word was enough. It was assumed by white Southern culture of the day that every black man sexually desired every white woman, and that no white woman was capable of sexually desiring a black man. Even black male desire itself was enough to merit execution; if a black man and a white woman had actually been caught in sexual congress, as in this particular case, that was even stronger evidence of rape. Or so that culture thought.

But again: white culture of that time and place was so racially paranoid that all it took was for white people to feel that a black man sexually desired a white woman for that man to be at risk of extrajudicial execution.

This is not a sin and a perversion unique to white Southern culture, 1877-1950. Nor is a different version of it unique to German culture, 1918-1945, or to a Russian version of it under the Soviets, or a Chinese version of it under Mao, or a Hutu version of it in 1994 Rwanda.  It is universal in human character. The story of the Passion of Jesus Christ lays this bare. As Caiaphas, the high priest, said as an innocent man was being condemned to death, “It is better for one man to die than that a whole nation perish.” When members of the mob feel threatened, they will coalesce as a mob and justify any violence to preserve its sense of itself. This is why when Christians hear the Passion gospels during Holy Week, we are instructed to understand that every one of us is in reality a member of the Jerusalem mob chanting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

It is precisely this kind of thing that the rule of law is designed to mitigate. Human justice is imperfect (this, by the way, is why I oppose the death penalty; I believe that some crimes are so heinous that they deserve capital punishment, but I do not trust the state to be right all the time). We train ourselves to hold our passions at a distance in cases like this, and to subject them to rigorous rational inquiry. Again, it is not perfect — but what else do we have?

As longtime readers know, the way I talked myself into supporting the Iraq War still haunts me. As I’ve explained in this space before, I wanted revenge for 9/11. I should have known that Iraq had nothing to do with that mass murder; indeed, many, including the founders of this magazine, were saying precisely that. I didn’t want to listen. I took too much pleasure in my status as a victim of Arab Muslim evil. I wanted some Arab Muslims to suffer for what “they” did to me. I didn’t much care for precision in assigning guilt.

Of course I didn’t frame it that way in my own mind. Had I presented it to myself in that fashion, I might have resisted the march to the cleansing war, the war that would set accounts to right. Deep down, I didn’t want to avoid that war. I wanted the Arab Muslims to hurt and to fear as much as they had hurt us, and made us fear. It was primitive tribalism at work. I was an educated journalist working in New York City in the early 21st century, but deep down, in my heart of hearts, I might as well have been a tribesman on the plains of Africa, a Viking raider in early Europe, or any earlier iteration of crude, violent tribalism in the long human story. In fact, was this kind of thing not what drove the terrorists of Al-Qaeda to slaughter our innocents on September 11? To avenge perceived wrongs. To achieve justice. To restore honor.

Don’t get me wrong: sometimes war is just. Sometimes a grave injustice really has occurred, and needs to be set aright by violence. And so forth. But we must confront these things with deep seriousness and restraint, recognizing our own near-boundless capacity for passion-driven injustice. It is so great that even within the institutions and procedures of the rule of law, tribalism can triumph. Had that black man in my hometown been charged formally with rape and brought to trial, there is no reason to believe that he would have received a fair trial.

Still: what else do we have?

One of the greatest gifts that the Christian religion has given to the world is the idea that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That is, every single one of us is imperfect, and indeed capable of great evil, because it is in our nature. Christians know, or should know, that all of us are sinners, blinded by our passions. There are times when we have to make judgments — no society could exist without doing so — but we should approach this task with introspective humility. You never see or hear these Social Justice Warrior mobs acknowledging this. As a matter of fact, their entire philosophy banishes humility as weakness and self-loathing. Go back and look at the communications from the faculty at DePauw, the letters to colleagues I quoted in my piece. [7] Mind you, most of the letters I quoted come from white faculty. It’s pure SJW cant, mindlessly parroted by people who wield words and ideas as weapons to gain group power. This is the antithesis of what a university is supposed to be, which is why militant progressivism represents an existential crisis in the university.

If this notion of justice supplants the older, liberal version, then we are doomed to tribal war, which will only end when one group gains the power and the will to impress its hegemony on all others, as whites did to blacks prior to the Civil Rights Era.

Is this the country we want? Do we really think justice will be achievable in a polity like that? There is nothing just about “Social Justice” as conceived by the SJWs at DePauw and other places. It makes achieving real justice impossible, because it construes “justice” as solely a function of group power. We do not have to pretend that the US system produced perfect justice in the past, or that it will ever be capable of producing perfect justice, to affirm that as flawed as it is, was, and ever shall be, it is the best thing we have.

To resist the SJWs on campus, and in corporate America, is to fight for old-fashioned liberalism. There are many aspects of liberalism I see as unsustainable, and am not sorry to see go. But the broadly liberal concept of justice, which entails the equality of individuals before the law, is perhaps the most important facet of liberalism. It is endangered now, and will be even more endangered as the educated young people corrupted by these progressive elites in college move into positions of power throughout our culture.

A society in which people believe that virtue inheres in groups; a society in which loyalty to the group is more important than loyalty to truth; a society that is emotivist (that is, one in which truth is determined primarily by feeling and sentiment instead of dispassionate reasoning) — all of these things are societies that can only be less just than what we have now.

That’s enough for tonight. I’ll stop here. I’m reading Amy Chua’s new book Political Tribes: Group Instinct And The Fate Of Nations. [8]So far, I’m finding it very good, but actually chilling, given what we’re seeing on campuses, in corporate America, and beyond. Nobody is innocent here. Nobody — not whites, not blacks, not Hispanics or Asians, not gays, not straights, and so on — is innocent. I’ll be writing more on it in the days to come.

It’s important to me to say one more thing here. Back in the summer of 2002, I was reeling from rage over 9/11, and over the Catholic sex abuse scandal. I was so overcome by it that I had to see a dentist to get a mouthguard made for wearing at night, because I was grinding my teeth so fiercely that my wife couldn’t sleep. She was so worried about what was happening to me on the inside. I couldn’t rest. The injustices of these two catastrophic events was eating me alive. She compelled me to swallow my pride and go see a therapist.

The therapist was a Catholic, and, as it turned out, a quack. Long story. But he told me something in that first session that was offensive and painful to hear, and that I furiously rejected. But years later, I came to see that he was right.

What he told me was this: “You need to accept that under the right circumstances, you could have been flying one of those planes. You could have been Mohammed Atta.”

No effing way! I said. No way! I refused to admit that I have anything in common with that monster. What is wrong with this guy? I thought. What kind of relativist is he?

He was right about that. I do, in fact, have that capacity for evil within me. So do you. So do we all. Not too many of us are the kind of sociopaths who choose evil for evil’s sake. We first dress it up as good — as justice, perhaps. Read the final words left behind by Atta.  [9] This is a man convinced that he was acting for the sake of God, of justice, and his tribe (Muslims), against infidels, which at one point he described as “animals” to be slaughtered. It is one long rationale for mass murder as an act of high and selfless virtue.

If you don’t think you have it within you to write the same sort of testament, you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do. Nor do you know history, or the human heart. The men of my town who lynched that innocent black man slept peacefully every night for the rest of their lives — except for the man who, in his final days on this earth, confessed to his wicked deed, in preparation for meeting the great Judge. But they all escaped justice on this earth, because they were all living under a system that held the maintenance of  white supremacy as justice itself.

What progressives advocated in 1964 was progress. What they advocate today is not progress, but returning to the older corruption, this time with different supremacists in power. It is still unjust. It is still evil. It always will be. The Social Justice Warriors and their fellow travelers in power at universities, in corporations, and even in government (see Mayor Harmon above), are summoning up demons that they cannot control.

The challenge that Christians among those spitefully mistreated by the power-wielders face today is in loving those who do them wrong. This is because love, in humility, is the higher justice, according to Jesus Christ. That thought is alien to fallen human nature, but it is the only thing that can set us free from our passions. Believe me, I’ve lived through that. It’s a lesson that I will have to keep learning over and over again, all the days of my life.

I read this short story the other day in The Guardian, about contemporary exorcism. [10] The journalist who wrote it interviewed Father Cesar Truqui, a Catholic priest who is also an exorcist. Excerpt:

Truqui also spoke at length about Satan, who he described as a pragmatic foe. “The devil tempts the holy man in his holiness and the sinner in his sin,” he says.

While he is at pains to point out that he does not believe Pope Francis is possessed or vexed by the devil, he says that the devil would know that Francis would not be tempted by lust for a woman. Instead, he would prey on Francis’s sympathy for the poor, and tempt him to ignore the affluent.

The great temptation that I have faced, and do faced, is to love justice so much that I fall into contempt for the unjust, and ignore or deny my own very great capacity for blindly inflicting injustice on others. I invite you to reflect on whether this is also true for you. One thing I know is true: the kind of demonic passionate intensity that fills these SJWs and their allies can only be sustained in the absence of love and humility. They willingly annihilate their individual responsibility for the narcotic pleasures of tribal membership. For them, it is better for one innocent man to die — figuratively or literally — than for the whole nation’s idea of order come into question.

This is the logic of the lynch mob — and lynch mobs come in all kinds. You know this, don’t you?

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100 Comments To "The Injustice Of ‘Social Justice’"

#1 Comment By Peter On April 22, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

The passionate discussion of race needs to be analyzed dispassionately by those who want to change it. My view is that the race conversation long ago became the vehicle of a fraudulent scheme to persuade non-whites to vote for Democrats, who, once elected, throw them a few bones but are mainly out to fry other fish. The Dems wouldn’t win a single election without their 75-90% vote from non-whites. Blacks are in most respects worse off than before the 1964 Civil Rights Act (e.g. per capita wealth, incarceration, substance abuse, births out of wedlock.) Quite possibly, by promoting the view that white racism is to blame for every problem white liberals and “SJWs” are weakening the natural inclination within the black community to stigmatize and root out behavior harmful to it. Movements like the Nation of Islam, though offensively bigoted, get it right that past oppression is no rationale for harmful behavior in the present.
We need a third party which does not see EITHER free-market capitalism nor welfare socialism as the whole answer to problems arising from habitual bad choices. Some think it “hard-headed” to insist on looking only at economic causes of problems but hard empirical data suggest that personal and community attitudes matter.

#2 Comment By Thomas Aquinas On April 22, 2018 @ 3:49 pm

Donald, quotes WaPo: “White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.”

But blacks commit crimes at a much higher rate. So, proportionately, cops kill blacks at a lower rate, given blacks’ criminal behavior.

In that case, whites should be up in arms.

BTW, virtually all people killed by cops are men, yet they make up only 50% of the population.

Must be sexism

#3 Comment By Jonah R. On April 22, 2018 @ 4:46 pm

WillW wrote:

Another example of the mob just celebrated an anniversary. I suppose there are some who were bullied throughout school who were horrified when they heard about Columbine in 99. I myself thought of what the expressions on the face of MY high school tormentors might have looked like looking down a rifle barrel after seeing some of their buddies go down. It was a delicious thought. Mind you, I was ashamed of it and prayed about it, but it was definitely there. It is indeed in all of us.

The thing is, WillW, subsequent reporting has shown that the Columbine shooters weren’t bullied—so not only did you feel something evil (as any of us might have), far more of us were complicit for years in propagating a false story about what happened—another sort of low-level, hard-to-pinpoint evil.

#4 Comment By Alex Brown On April 22, 2018 @ 5:11 pm

There’s good news on free speech on campus, believe it or not:

Professors Support Free Speech
‘With respect to classroom teaching, 80 percent of professors believe that, “Faculty members should be free to present in class any idea that they consider relevant.” Liberal faculty are more supportive of this statement than conservative faculty, with 88 percent of liberal faculty agreeing compared to 67 percent of conservative faculty. Similarly, in the historically liberal humanities and social sciences departments, support for real academic freedom is higher than in the more technical and conservative departments. Over 90 percent of faculty in English, history, political science, arts, and humanities departments support that statement’

More: [11]

#5 Comment By Mrs Friday On April 22, 2018 @ 6:11 pm

There is a book in this post Mr. Dreher. I hope you write it.

#6 Comment By Bernie On April 22, 2018 @ 6:24 pm

@ Oakinhouston: “Besides kindness to all in town, no discrimination, and general fairness, amiability and justice to all, what would you propose people throughout the South do about lynchings 70 years ago? Do you believe in reparations?”

“No, I don’t believe in reparations. But I do believe in contrition, and in apologies – sincere ones.”

I’m very contrite about the way the south treated black people. But when I interact with my black neighbors, I don’t apologize to them. We laugh, talk, and befriend each another. This is real life in the deep south small town where I live – we’re not in the continual, never-ending apology business. I never did any harm to them or vice versa.

@ CharleyCarp: “Bernie, my daughter attended German schools K-12. No one tried to hide, excuse, or downplay stuff that happened 70+ years ago. Or pretend that just because one’s ancestors participated in a thing, one ought to take pride in it. Instead, they talked a lot about it, and about the lessons learned about our common humanity. And how easily civilization can be derailed.”

Our schools do the same thing.

#7 Comment By Anne On April 22, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

This is an insightful post in many ways, and yet its wisdom seems obscured by an unfortunate lack of balance. I mean, consider what you’re comparing: On the one hand, a group of students so offended by another student’s racist gesture and the perhaps overwrought fear on the part of some that they’re in danger that they’re marching around campus protesting what they see as racism everywhere, and on the other, white racist Southerners so irrationally afraid black men will rape their women that they murdered innocents. There’s just no equivalence or evidence of potential equivalence there. I mean, these “SJWs” or snowflakes, or however you characterize tens or even hundreds of college kids marching around yelling complaints (“mobs”?) haven’t killed anybody or even threatened to do any such thing. How are they essentially different from, say, Tea Party protesters? You may not like what they stand for, but marching and protesting is just marching and protesting unless those taking part are actually advocating violence or directly fomenting it, neither of which is the case here. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, some groups did give off that vibe, although most did not, and the police had to recognize the difference. Nothing outside the true mob violence that has occasionally popped up around police shootings of civilians has approached that in decades, and certainly not on college campuses where students are using protest protocols to express strong feelings. Those feelings may be unfounded, even silly, but considering them murderous is overwrought, more so even than the fears that set them off.

#8 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On April 22, 2018 @ 7:06 pm

This is why when Christians hear the Passion gospels during Holy Week, we are instructed to understand that every one of us is in reality a member of the Jerusalem mob chanting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

One of the innumberable intriguing features about that narrative, to me, is the specific charge for which Jesus was sentenced to death. The gospel accounts suggest that there were lots of false accusations made against him, but none of them really ‘stuck’, until some bright boy came up with “He said he would destroy the temple in three days and would build a new one”.

Jesus actually never said anything of the kind, of course, he said: “Destroy this temple and in in three days I will raise it up”, not “I will destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”, which are almost antonyms, not synonyms. Still, isn’t that kind of garbled recollection, half-remembered fragments of a conversation that’s been passed down through the telephone game until the meaning is entirely changed, remind you so much of how most of our public discourse operates (at least, at the lowest common denominator) nowadays? We don’t really discuss facts and evidence as much as we discuss talking points that are vaguely based on exaggerated and distorted versions of carefully edited facts.

#9 Comment By Patrick M On April 22, 2018 @ 7:18 pm

When I was 5 years old the state where I was born outlawed segregation and although I do not have memories of overt segregation, the ideology that allowed it continued for many years. Much of what I was taught and believed, I now know to be wrong and evil. Many who are younger and did not grow up in this environment may be free of this sin but the confession of: “I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, what I have done, and what I have failed to do” applies to me. Awareness of sin allows acknowledgement, confession, penance and reconciliation, and mercy is the greatest for those who have the greatest need.

Fortunately lynching no longer exists but the appeal of the mob remains and if the mob is large enough the sin may be considered a virtue. We see this with violent protests against the free speech as well as recent military invasions and attacks.

With the second invasion of Iraq the president who ordered the invasion professes to be a Christian yet had little regard for the opinions expressed by Pope Benedict or the principles of Just War Theory. The administration claimed the war was preventive and needed to remove weapons of mass destruction that could not be found, while the media portrayed the war as a virtue to free the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and bring democracy to the Middle East. There was then and since has been little concern about the effects of the war upon innocent Iraqi civilians, especially the Chaldean communities. Many of these Iraqi were driven from homes and left all they owned to find refuge in Northern Iraq and Syria. The Christians in Syria, some who fled from Iraq, are suffering greatly from the Civil War in Syria and understand that if the Assad Government collapses they will likely face genocide.

Likewise we are told that the recent attack on Syria is a virtuous signal that our government will not tolerate even suspicion of chemical weapon use. Nobody seems concerned that there are now widows and orphans because soldiers, who had no association with chemical weapons, were manning defensive positions during the attack. There is now suspicion that the attack was a signal that had little to do with outrage about the claims of chemical weapon use, but more that our nation will maintain an active role in the continuing Syrian War.

What could be more sinister than continuous sin claimed as a virtue?
————————————————————-
George McDonald warns of this in his Unspoken Sermons:

“It may sound paradoxical, but no man is condemned for anything he has done; he is condemned for continuing to do wrong. He is condemned for not coming out of the darkness, for not coming to the light, the living God, who sent the light, his son, into the world to guide him home. Let us hear what John says about the darkness.
For here also we have, I think, the word of the apostle himself: at the 13th verse he begins, I think, to speak in his own person. In the 19th verse he says, ‘And this is the condemnation,’–not that men are sinners–not that they have done that which, even at the moment, they were ashamed of–not that they have committed murder, not that they have betrayed man or woman, not that they have ground the faces of the poor, making money by the groans of their fellows–not for any hideous thing are they condemned, but that they will not leave such doings behind, and do them no more: ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men’ would not come out of the darkness to the light, but ‘loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’ Choosing evil, clinging to evil, loving the darkness because it suits with their deeds, therefore turning their backs on the inbreaking light, how can they but be condemned–if God be true, if he be light, and darkness be alien to him! Whatever of honesty is in man, whatever of judgment is left in the world, must allow that their condemnation is in the very nature of things, that it must rest on them and abide”.

From George McDonald; Unspoken Sermons Part III (light)

[NFR: Benedict was not pope in the Iraq War of 2003. G.W. Bush was not a Catholic, and therefore not bound by the Pope’s authority. For that matter, there were many Catholics who were for the war (I was one of them), and understood that the Pope does not have magisterial authority in matters of prudential judgment. Just FYI. John Paul II was right about that war, I now believe, but the American president — certainly not an Evangelical American president — must make his decisions without consulting the Pope. — RD]

#10 Comment By GSW On April 22, 2018 @ 7:46 pm

Beautifully written – thank you!

Now I understand, where I did not before, why you feel guilt over Bush/Blair’s Iraq war. I would not credit someone of your sensibilities and intelligence with being motivated by revenge against “Arab Muslims.” It is our comfort that we worship a merciful God.

“It was assumed by white Southern culture of the day…” Do you mean to say that these opinions were universal among ‘whites’? That there were no people in your community – motivated by Christian conscience or liberal belief in individual rights – that wouldn’t have been horrified by the lynching of an African-American?

If so, why was there a need for secrecy? I’ve seen survey data from the 1950s and 1960s, for example, showing that by 1965 some 53 per cent of southern whites with a college education approved of desegregation.

[NFR: Well, obviously I wasn’t there, but my educated guess is that many Southern white people were so saturated by the white supremacist narrative that it wouldn’t have occurred to them to worry too much about lynching. As I’ve written here before, one thing that got me off my high horse about judging my ancestors too harshly on this point was the realization that until around the time I was born (1967), there were no sources in the segregated South for a counternarrative to white supremacy. It’s very hard for us today to imagine what it was like when there was very limited mass media. Television didn’t start talking about this stuff until the mid to late 1960s. Southern white people born before then were rarely if ever challenged about their beliefs. There were no challenges from most white churches. I had to face the fact that if I had been born and raised in an earlier generation, it would have been an extraordinary thing had I even been able to take any other opinion seriously. And even if I had somehow developed strong convictions against the white supremacist ideology, to have stood up to everyone I knew and loved and respected and told them that they were wrong, and needed to repent — it would have required a staggering amount of courage. Some whites found that courage. A friend of mine’s white ancestors stood for civil rights (in my rural home parish!), and helped register blacks to vote — and got a cross burned on their lawn for it. I love to think that I would have had that kind of courage and vision, but in truth, I probably would not have. And here’s the thing: neither would you have done, most likely. — RD]

#11 Comment By Jrm On April 22, 2018 @ 8:05 pm

“Besides kindness to all in town, no discrimination, and general fairness, amiability and justice to all, what would you propose people throughout the South do about lynchings 70 years ago? Do you believe in reparations?”

YES, but in the form of adequate health insurance. In the form of better policing. In the form of equal access to credit. In the form of increased educational opportunities to people long denied them. In the form of adequate housing. There is a vast number of ways to make amends.

Just use your imagination, for once.

[NFR: Funny, but the only thing you are using here is your imagination. — RD]

#12 Comment By Thomas Aquinas On April 22, 2018 @ 8:07 pm

One more thing. Notice what happens if you add up the two sets of stats from WaPo:

Population Killed by cops
White: 62 White: 49
Black: 13 Black: 24
Total: 75 Total: 73

Who makes up the other 25/27%? Asians, Latinos, right? But in that case, why doesn’t WaPo include the stats for them? Probably because it breaks the narrative. I suspect that the percentage of Asians killed by cops in relation to the total killed by cops will be significantly lower than their percentage of the population. But that would mean that the cops are prejudiced against whites and blacks in comparison to Asians (if you follow Donald’s logic). In fact, the distance between blacks and Asians would likely be so great that it would expose the illegitimacy of the WaPo’s use of these stats to fan the flames of racial unrest.

This is reason number 1,345,555 why conservatives hate the mainstream media and believe they are purveyors of fake news. (Put this in the same file as the stats about income differences between men and women. Same sort of ideologically driven BS).

#13 Comment By hattio On April 22, 2018 @ 8:16 pm

Jonah R, has a great comment, and this is a great article. I do think you have to think more seriously about whether supporting the rule of law is always the way to end mob behavior. After all, the lynchers were “the rule of law.” True, they did not act according to due process, but if you have the Sheriff organizing the mob, it’s probably a distinction without a difference to African-Americans at the time. Similarly, if officers can shoot Philando Castile with no consequences, it likely is a distinction without a difference

#14 Comment By B. On April 22, 2018 @ 8:26 pm

A mob mentality is certainly to be despised.

But it’s deeply jarring to me that you are essentially conflating the (to date fairly trivial) excesses of SJW college students with the horrors of the Jim Crow south. Mob mentalities are scary. Most members of mobs are capable of inflicting terrible harm, violent harm, if given the power.

But as a society, we have not given social justice warriors that power, not does it seem especially likely to me that we will do so, whereas the horrors of lynching in the Jim Crow south were established fact for decades.

When one of my great-grandfathers was a child–I don’t know how old–some men gave him some money to climb a tree and hang some rope from it. He stuck around to see what was going to happen, although unless he was very young, he must have had some idea what was coming.

In midlife, he was hospitalized for depression. I learned about his participation in the lynching years before I learned of his time in the mental hospital. My mother is far more ashamed of the latter than the former. Of course I have wondered about the possibility of a connection between the events.

The poem is deeply uneven, and I believe Auden disavowed it, but I presume you are familiar with “September 1, 1939?”

I and the public know/ what all school children learn/ those to whom evil is done/ do evil in return.

[NFR: Don’t you get it? How could I possibly have made this more clear? I’m not “essentially conflating” SJWs with Jim Crow lynch mobs, but I am most definitely saying they are on the same spectrum of fanaticism. You think these campus mobs aren’t capable of killing somebody if the opportunity presented itself, and they worked themselves up into a sufficient frenzy? I just finished today reading Amy Chua’s new book on political tribalism. I’ll write about it tomorrow. She talks about how deep this goes into human nature. It’s everywhere — and neuroscientists have documented tribalism within the human brain. This instinct is not to be trifled with. — RD]

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 22, 2018 @ 8:38 pm

Oakinhouston, apologies are greatly over-rated. The most sincere apology is a spontaneous one, and the most worthless apology is the orchestrated one. I have read of many instances where an individual who indulged some sort of racist bullying circa 1955 tracked down the target of their ire circa 1990 and offered a sincere apology. This is all to the good, between the individuals involved. But it can’t he done as A Program Of Reconciliation.

Most of those responsible for the most heinous crimes are dead. It wasn’t THAT long ago, but it was some decades ago. Many people who lived in The South were either uncomfortable but felt helpless, or actually tried to undermine Jim Crow in ways they felt they could. I can no longer even say that the southern Dixiecrats of 1960 are now Republicans. Their grand-children, great nephews and nieces, etc. often are, but the Dixiecrats are in their grave.

Collective punishment is something I have fought all my life, starting with the teacher who wanted the whole class to stay after school because she couldn’t identify individual perpetrators. No real difference here.

Pope John Paul II was the titular head of a centralized, hierarchical church. Institutional apology for edicts and practice of that church body were within his jurisdiction. It was within his jurisdiction to offer apologies, and no bad thing when he did. I wouldn’t ask every communicant Roman Catholic living today to write a personal apology for the way Galileo was treated in the 17th century.

Following up on Bernie’s question, I believe that a very carefully considered effort at reparations is appropriate. But its not about what “white people” owe to “black people.” Its about ameliorating the very real gap in inter-generational transfer of capital.

1) Where it can be identified that a given mass of capital includes revenue obtained by the use of uncompensated labor (slave labor or flagrant fraud in sharecropping), commensurate amounts should be disgorged to fund capital development that will actually benefit families and communities concerned (NOT writing individual checks). This would be a bit like the Italian Jews whose bank accounts were stolen when they were shipped to death camps. By the time survivors and heirs tracked down the theft, the banks concerned had been merged, bought out, merged again, etc., but whoever held the assets also held the liabilities to make good on the stolen money.

2) There were not a few instances where “white” mobs chased “black” landowners out of their farms or businesses (there being no more land taken from Native Americans left to obtain for free). Where this can be traced, heirs of those dispossessed should be compensated — although this is probably more appropriate to general public liability than to the innocent heirs holding the property now who may have been entirely unaware.

3) Some continued affirmative action to open opportunities for capable and qualified entrepreneurs to get a toe-hold in commercial markets still has a place.

#16 Comment By Mia On April 22, 2018 @ 8:38 pm

Perhaps the new lynching memorial would have the name of the lynching victim you couldn’t discover:

[12]

“BTW, virtually all people killed by cops are men, yet they make up only 50% of the population.”

That’s because most female victims of police face sexual harassment and/or rape behind bars. The genders get different treatment by the system.

#17 Comment By JonF On April 22, 2018 @ 9:04 pm

Re: My view is that the race conversation long ago became the vehicle of a fraudulent scheme to persuade non-whites to vote for Democrats

Hardly necessary since the GOP manages to do that persuasion job quite well (with a few honorable exceptions).

Re: . Blacks are in most respects worse off than before the 1964 Civil Rights Act

A statement that is nonsense on stilts juggling fruitcakes atop a honking clown car. Its direct ancestor was the claim heard all the up to Gone With The Wind’s publication that slaves had it good under slavery.

Re: We need a third party which does not see EITHER free-market capitalism nor welfare socialism as the whole answer to problems arising from habitual bad choices.

OK, how about guaranteed jobs for all able bodied adults of working age, paying a (very spartan) living wage? If the private sector won’t employ you then WPA 2.0 will.

#18 Comment By Ann On April 22, 2018 @ 9:12 pm

Good post, although it seems like a point of view was missing in the lynching account.

“The reason anybody alive today knows about it is because one of the murderers, as he lay dying decades ago, unburdened his conscience.”

The lynching happened in the 1940’s, and one can be reasonably sure that the man’s relatives and descendants still know about it. Similar to lighting a candle at the grave of an ancestor, family memory can be strong.

The statement that the incidence is only known because of a deathbed confession illustrates the difficulty in walking in another’s shoes.

[NFR: A few years ago, I tried to find out the name of the lynched man by talking with black people in the community. I got nowhere. A lot of black people from that parish have moved away over the past few decades, as the agricultural economy has declined. It’s quite possible that there are no family members of this poor man left around there. — RD]

#19 Comment By Richard Parker On April 22, 2018 @ 9:14 pm

They can’t compete because they are so poorly prepared. So they demonstrate. Saw them in the 60’s.

#20 Comment By Richard Parker On April 22, 2018 @ 9:20 pm

“BTW, virtually all people killed by cops are men, yet they make up only 50% of the population.”

The outrage is even worst than you imagined. Among adults, males are only 48.7% of thee population.

#21 Comment By Peter On April 23, 2018 @ 4:03 am

To JonF: The more I think about it the more it seems to me that the race conversation is not really intended to benefit black people but to help one set of white people feel superior to another. You ridicule my claim that blacks were in many ways better off before the 1964 Civil Rights Act but provide no statistics. Note that I am not claiming the Act was harmful. I am using the Act as a marker. My claim is that the fate of black Americans does not mainly hinge on the passion with which white Americans renounce racism. To think it does is patronizing and linked to a world-view in which individuals lack self-control and cannot be expected to solve problems that even the most basic self-control would solve. While I don’t have time for a major research project, I have Googled a few stats from the Washington Post, Pew, Brookings, and Guttmacher, including this article: [13]

Unemployment: In 1963 the black rate 10.6%. In 2012 it was 12.6%.
Incarceration rate: In 1963 the black rate was 1,313 per 100,000 residents. In 2010 it was 4,347 per 100,000. The Hispanic rate is similarly up, and the ratio of black to white incarceration has worsened.
Income: “The gap in household income between blacks and whites hasn’t narrowed in the last 50 years.” The ratio has gone from 28/48 to 32/54.
Net worth per capita: As of 2010 black median family net worth $4700 vs $97,000 for whites. I don’t know the 1963 figures but could they have been worse?
Marriage rate: WaPo quotes Pew: “Marriage rates have fallen for all groups since the 1960s, but more sharply for blacks than for whites. In 1960, 74% of white adults were married, as were 61% of black adults… By 2011, the black marriage rate had fallen to 56% that of the white rate: 55% of whites were married, compared with 31% of blacks.”
Births out of wedlock: Brookings Institution says: Since 1970, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared. In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants, 18 percent for whites. If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 25 years, it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great.”
Abortions: Since abortion was mostly illegal before Roe v Wade (1973), the current rate is much higher than the 1963 rate for both blacks and whites but the black rate exceeds the white by roughly five to one according to the Guttmacher Institute.
I hope that is enough to give my comment some plausibility.

#22 Comment By Gabriel Conroy On April 23, 2018 @ 7:14 am

Dear Rod:

I often disagree with you, and there are a few points in this OP I disagree with, too. But even so, I really liked this piece. It’s thoughtful, thought-provoking, and introspective.

Thanks for writing it.

#23 Comment By Matthew Bennett On April 23, 2018 @ 7:22 am

“The therapeutic mindset has triumphed so thoroughly that the faintest flap of a butterfly’s wing will cause an emotional hurricane within anyone who feels the air quiver.”

That’s not the “therapeutic mindset”, unless this mindset is something wholly unrelated to psychotherapy. Therapists worth their salt know how and why to encourage resilience in their patients, including people who are emotionally fragile due to extreme trauma. Good psychological science has a lot to say about victimhood/SJW culture, and none of it is good.

[NFR: I use “therapeutic mindset” in context of the long discussions we’ve had on this blog about Philip Rieff’s work, “The Triumph Of The Therapeutic” — a work of social criticism in which he said (back in 1966!) that the West had become a culture acutely attuned to feelings, and in which achieving a sense of well being was the highest goal. — RD]

#24 Comment By Les Govment On April 23, 2018 @ 7:24 am

After reading Rod’s post, I feel like I have a better understanding of who he is as a person. I give him a thumbs-up for seeing the light on the Iraq War.

As a life-long libertarian, my view of wars of aggression has always been negative, to put it mildly. After Sept. 11, I was quite concerned that President Bush might start bombing in Afghanistan willy-nilly. The subsequent bombing of Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan didn’t bother me, but virtually everything else since then that W Bush ordered our military to do in the Middle East (and Obama and Trump as well) has been without any justification. The tribal-like support from some conservatives for the Iraq War in 2003 absolutely baffled me.

I’m old enough that when Desert Storm was first proposed in 1990, I strongly opposed it, and expressed my opposition to it in a letter published in the local newspaper. I got at least one nasty phone call for that letter, presumably from someone on the right.

I was glad to hear that Pat Buchanan and Robert Novak also opposed Desert Storm.

I think those of who are solid libertarians have a certain amount of built-in resistance to bad forms of tribalism. We’re used to our ideas being bashed by some on both the left and the right. And we (libertarians) don’t agree with each other on everything anyway.

However, a huge percentage of solid libertarians believe in something called the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). The NAP is basically an opposition to the initiation of force. And that gives solid libertarians a built-in resistance to wars of aggression.

It has become obvious that since the election of Donald Trump, there is a faction on the left (namely Antifa) that has no use for the NAP.

Well, I have no use for Antifa and its twisted version of tribalism.

I also have no use for Neo-con hawks like Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

— Les Govment [14]
.

#25 Comment By Rob G On April 23, 2018 @ 7:44 am

“the realization that until around the time I was born (1967), there were no sources in the segregated South for a counternarrative to white supremacy. It’s very hard for us today to imagine what it was like when there was very limited mass media. Television didn’t start talking about this stuff until the mid to late 1960s. Southern white people born before then were rarely if ever challenged about their beliefs. There were no challenges from most white churches. I had to face the fact that if I had been born and raised in an earlier generation, it would have been an extraordinary thing had I even been able to take any other opinion seriously.”

This is why bubbles and echo-chambers are so dangerous. The fact that today we are in effect choosing them makes them more so, because it indicates a willfulness on our part that people in the past did not always have. We cannot claim ignorance as an excuse.

#26 Comment By Hoosier On April 23, 2018 @ 8:13 am

All you need to do is read about the Spanish civil war to see that both sides will engage in atrocities. Rod is correct that the SJW lynch mob is completely capable of evil just as white supremacists were in the south.

#27 Comment By Tom On April 23, 2018 @ 9:44 am

Thank you for the thoughtful quality of this post.

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 23, 2018 @ 9:57 am

until around the time I was born (1967), there were no sources in the segregated South for a counternarrative to white supremacy.

That’s actually not true. There WERE “white” voices in the south working against white supremacy, some of them at considerable risk, others more tepidly. When Bull Connor was a much younger police commissioner, he arrested a group of “white” and “black” organizers at a restaurant serving “black” customers (who couldn’t eat at “white” restaurants). Generally “white” people at “black” restaurants were tolerated, but could be arrested, and since this was a group of civil rights agitators, they were. The history of civil rights is much older, and much more complex, than people blinded by the era 1955-1965 are generally able to see or willing to admit.

My claim is that the fate of black Americans does not mainly hinge on the passion with which white Americans renounce racism.

That’s a good point. Although I suspect the higher black incarceration rate reflects the fact that today, police are more likely to actually investigate a crime by one black citizen against another. Back in the day, such crimes were often ignored.

#29 Comment By Ain’t Ben On April 23, 2018 @ 10:24 am

What an extraordinary post. I truly respect the humility of the insight that, under the right circumstances, we could each be suicide bomber or a rage-contorted face in the lynch mob. So many people don’t understand this simple reality of the human condition, and it’s precisely those who don’t understand it – and most especially those who furiously reject it’s applicability to themselves – that are the most susceptible to becoming the instruments of great injustice.

I was lucky enough to be born into a prosperous and confident nation that held up freedom and equality as glorious ideals and great ongoing accomplishments. But had I grown up in prewar Germany, pained by national humiliation and widespread economic pressure, and fed a widely-accepted theory that my race and nation had been betrayed into this situation… I very well might have become an enthusiastic Nazi. If I’d come of age on a plantation in mid-1800’s Alabama, I’d have likely been a slaveowner and willing soldier of the Confederacy (precisely as several of my ancestors were).

I figured this out rather young and, for whatever reason, it wasn’t hard to accept. In fact, it really surprised me a to discover that most people think they would have been brave resistors in those situations, as if their modern American ideals were somehow ingrained on their souls such that they would have possessed them ever if born into some other time and place.

Anyway… all I disagree with is where on the political spectrum you’ll find the people that are most likely to indulge in terror and violence because of fear and hatred and twisted thinking. I think such people are especially concentrated on the right, which is why I can’t possible see campus snowflakes as preeminent threats to our society.

#30 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On April 23, 2018 @ 10:30 am

credit where credit is due. some of our best work. that said, is it not possible your habit of painting anyone who sincerely seeks (social) justice with the broad, pejorative brush of SJW; or when you establish the over/under to determine when political action/activism is “progress” (1964), and when it is “corruption”, you are engaging in a type of editorial, “passion-fueled” violence”? do you not see how it is possible to view sincere justice-driven “post-Christians” in the same manner the lynch mob viewed the black man? to wit; who decides when a person is a romantic partner or a rapist? I accept in history (especially the 21st century age of digital media and the like), the squeaky wheel gets lots of attention, and depending on the level attention; either ‘grease’ or more attention, but again, let’s not equate “attention” with fact. for just as there are unhinged, irrational, narcissistic fools on (for lack of a better word) the “left”; there are just as many on the right. in the end, true strength – what religious people might call faith – lies in being able to respond to passion (emotion) with compassion and understanding of both self and ‘the other guy’. it is said that ignorance is bliss. if so, why are so many (on both sides) so unhappy?

#31 Comment By Ryan W On April 23, 2018 @ 10:55 am

“Donald, quotes WaPo: “White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.”

But blacks commit crimes at a much higher rate. So, proportionately, cops kill blacks at a lower rate, given blacks’ criminal behavior.”

This can get filed under the heading, “Did you even try to research this?” According to the Bureau of Justice’s numbers, white people in America actually commit a slightly disproportionate number of crimes, given their total population. Even if you count only violent crimes, white people account for 60% of violent crimes in America. Black Americans commit a disproportionate number of murders and robberies, but don’t commit rape or aggravated assault at a level much above what would be expected given their share of the population. Therefore, if shootings by police are explained by differentials in crime rates, you would expect 60% of people (at least, more if we go by total crimes) killed by police to be white, whereas of course we don’t.

As for the “analogy” of police killings of men, that’s a downright silly attempt at a counter-example. Men commit the VAST majority of violent crimes in the US, including more than 90% of all murders. The two comparisons (sex and race) are not remotely comparable.

#32 Comment By Adam Loumeau On April 23, 2018 @ 10:57 am

Sorry I don’t have something more original or profound to write other than saying well done Rod. I know making bold comparisons freaks people out in general but your analysis is at worst deeply insightful and thought provoking (at best it’s perfectly spot on). Mob mentality is the enemy of human progress and Christian virtue.

#33 Comment By JonF On April 23, 2018 @ 11:05 am

Re: I hope that is enough to give my comment some plausibility.

No, because you:
A) Ignore the enormous progress we made in ending legal segregation and dismantling the formal structures of white supremacy. To cite one brute example we no longer have lynchings because a black man looks at a white woman sideways.

B) Ignore the fact the stats you cite have changed, in a negative direction, for all population groups– e.g., inequality has increased drastically for all groups. Something should indeed be done about that, but it is not a race-based phenomenon, and certainly was not caused by the successes of the civil rights movement.

C) Technological progress (the digital revolution, medical progress etc.) has benefited black people too over the last fifty years.

D) Finally there is a huge element of subjective judgment in whether people are “better off” or not. I am assuming you are not a black person (correct me if I am wrong) and as such you are not really competent to make this sort of judgment (neither am I of course). Maybe we could ask actual black people if they think the world of Jim Crow was a better place?

#34 Comment By Will Harrington On April 23, 2018 @ 11:21 am

Northmoor wrote

” I sometimes wonder whether the SJW cult could have taken root so strongly without a soil that had been prepared by Christianity.”

Given the strong resemblance between Mao’s Red Guard and the SJWs (granted, the Red Guard was able to operate with much greater power) the answer to your question is yes, most certainly.

#35 Comment By GSW On April 23, 2018 @ 11:22 am

I love to think that I would have had that kind of courage and vision, but in truth, I probably would not have. And here’s the thing: neither would you have done, most likely. — RD

Don’t sell yourself short. A great deal would depend on how you were raised. In my case, growing up in the 1950s, my mother taught me that all God’s children were equal in the sight of the Lord and that’s how we should treat everyone. Never mind what you might hear elsewhere, she said, bigots were ignorant, nasty, and not Christians. And she was hardly alone in this opinion.

Without much in the way of specific knowledge about the U.S. south, I suspect, based on survey data from the 1950s and 1960s. that this lesson was also taught there – perhaps not by most parents but almost certainly by some. (This is not to say that it would have been far more difficult to publically express such views in your social milieu than in mine.)

If I am right in my suspicion then it might be more correct to say “dominant white culture” rather than simply “white culture.” And to pick another nit, in order to avoid the flawed logic of race essentialism, I would be more likely to render it as the “dominant racist culture among whites.”

[NFR: I appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt, but I’m afraid you’re wrong. Twenty-five years ago, an older white woman of my acquaintance, a woman who was at the time working publicly to help a group of black folks in town who were suffering, told me that she wouldn’t have dreamed of standing by on the sidelines. She said, “You know, we have always been good to our nigras.” She had no idea what was wrong with that statement, and I didn’t press her on it, because what would have been the point? She was trying to be helpful, and being an old white lady who had never left that town, she couldn’t grasp why the paternalism of her statement was offensive. But I understood exactly where she was coming from. Local white people of a certain generation told themselves that they weren’t like brutal racists in other parts of the South (this, though the Klan had been active there until the late 1960s). Psychologically, they had to tell themselves that to live with themselves, is my guess. This is human nature. WE ALL DO IT in our own ways, this rationalization. I know well-meaning liberals who are guilty of the same thing. I would have been too. — RD]

#36 Comment By Rick On April 23, 2018 @ 11:33 am

To Thomas Aquinas:

“But blacks commit crimes at a much higher rate. So, proportionately, cops kill blacks at a lower rate, given blacks’ criminal behavior.“

Do they commit crimes at a higher rate? Or are they subject to laws created specifically to charge them with a crime that their white peers don’t have to face?

And if they do commit higher rates of crime (they do actually) why is that?

The brutal vestages of structural racism perhaps?

You can’t marginalize a people for 400 years and then say “our bad” we’re equal after all. Now go get to work.

To understand why blacks might commit more crime let’s look abroad for a comparable example — South Africa.

20+ years after apharteid “ended” S.A. has 3 of the top 50 most dangerous cities ON THE PLANET.

Those cities are mostly black.

Why? Apartheid’s gone. People are equal under the law now.

It’s because that type of brutal suppression creates generational suffering that will take generations to mend.

It impacts people at the epigenetic level. Down to their cells. It’s impacts brain development. And those impacts can be passed down directly to children or even manifest a generation or two later as research in Sweden now suggests.

While Rod focuses on the current mob here, it’s important to realize the permanence of the violence perpetrated by previous mobs either through direct violence or through violent policies that both anihilate lives and expand and compound daily suffering.

So your quip:

“In that case, whites should be up in arms” is disregarding the long term conditions of those still dealing with structural racism.

But you sure showed Donald.

[NFR: Ah. So either black criminals are being charged disproportionately with crimes, or they are committing crimes in disproportionate numbers because white people made them do it. In either case, moral agency does not exist. Got it. — RD]

#37 Comment By mark On April 23, 2018 @ 11:49 am

“SJWs are summoning demons that they cannot control”

What a great line. This is true not just with regard to “social justice” but across much, if not most of modern culture. We have destroyed the idea of objective truth. We are doing our level best to destroy the family today. We have redefined liberty (free to live a well ordered and moral life) as license (the ability to satisfy my urges, however base and destructive). We despise earlier generations because of their faults but also despise their wisdom and virtues. We have sown chaos, I fear my grandchildren will live with a bitter harvest.

#38 Comment By Mike On April 23, 2018 @ 12:09 pm

Race charges issues and events with a toxic significance. If the lynching story substituted into its storyline a white rapist who was then hunted and lynched based upon a false accusation, we would have simply shrugged our shoulders and lamented that the woman’s claims resulted in a tragic death.
If the graffiti in the bathroom stall was some type of crazy rant of violence against women which then resulted in a woman’s march across campus, advocating safety, the matter wouldn’t even have captured a moments pause. We certainly would not be proclaiming that it was an existential threat to the Universities continuance.
I sense that race changes otherwise ordinary tragic events into a colossus of furor but I just cant put my finger on why it does. There is an atavistic force at work which resonates in these campus stories and I am hoping that this page can root out what it is.

#39 Comment By RinTX On April 23, 2018 @ 12:46 pm

Excellent post Rod.

I only have one minor quibble with this statement that falls at roughly the 2/3 mark of the post:

“That’s enough for tonight. I’ll stop here.”

Judging by the 900+ words after this statement, I do not think these words mean what you think they mean. 🙂

[NFR: Hey man, I’m Orthodox! When you hear the deacon chant in liturgy, “Let us complete our prayer to the Lord,” you know that you aren’t anywhere NEAR the end of the thing! — RD]

#40 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On April 23, 2018 @ 1:32 pm

Rod writes about Philip Rieff’ writing: “…a work of social criticism in which he said (back in 1966!) that the West had become a culture acutely attuned to feelings, and in which achieving a sense of well being was the highest goal.”

What I find interesting about Rieff’s work (as far as I know it), is the blind eye he showed toward experience outside of Western civilization.

He understood the dangers of the “devastating illusions of individuality and freedom,” but in a curious turn of mind thought that hierarchy, repression and fear were the proper tools to combat these dangers: dependent origination is more accurate than hierarchy; the repressed always returns (and often triumphs); and over the long haul a person can become acculturated to fear which diminishes its power.

Rieff never understood that the only effective antidote to pursuing “amplitude in living itself” (a most dangerous pursuit–his diagnosis was spot on) is the practice of emptiness since to rank, repress and fear is to keep engaged with desire and, thereby, feed amplitude (even if in a negative fashion).

Ending suffering and achieving well-being are not goals to be avoided. What needs to be avoided is abiding in a sense of well-being and craving it (which leads to the development of amplitude). As the Buddha taught:

“On seeing a form with the eye, one does not lust after it if is pleasing and one does not dislike it if it is displeasing. … Having thus abandoned favoring and opposing, whatever feeling one feels, whether painful or pleasant, or neither painful nor pleasant, one does not seek gratification through feeling or remain attached to it. As one does not do so, craving for feeling ceases.”

Equanimity is one of the four sublime attitudes, and its cultivation along the Noble Eightfold Path allows a person to avoid the worship of self Rieff was correct to identify as one of the great dangers of modernity.

#41 Comment By Rosita On April 23, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

“until around the time I was born (1967), there were no sources in the segregated South for a counternarrative to white supremacy.”

Siarlys Jenkins wrote:

That’s actually not true. There WERE “white” voices in the south working against white supremacy, some of them at considerable risk, others more tepidly. When Bull Connor was a much younger police commissioner, he arrested a group of “white” and “black” organizers at a restaurant serving “black” customers (who couldn’t eat at “white” restaurants). Generally “white” people at “black” restaurants were tolerated, but could be arrested, and since this was a group of civil rights agitators, they were. The history of civil rights is much older, and much more complex, than people blinded by the era 1955-1965 are generally able to see or willing to admit.

Have to agree 1000% with this and push back strongly against this assertion. Whites in the South had plenty of counter-narratives to white supremacy, MOST OF THEM WERE PRESENTED BY THEIR FELLOW BLACK CITIZENS. There are numerous examples of prosperous, middle class BLACK communities that were specifically targeted for daring to be uppity i.e. demonstrating that Blacks had both the self agency and competence to rise above their station and the hand that fate dealt them. This desire and success at self determination was deemed unacceptable to many whites; and those Black communities paid the ultimate price e.g. Rosewood in Florida. The new lynching museum chronicles many of such cases i.e. Blacks being targeted for daring to be the masters of their own destiny and not subservient to whites. So, I have to disagree strongly with this assertion. Whites in the South had many interactions with an emerging Black middle class that was the counter-narrative to white supremacy, and their response was both brutal and unequivocal.

#42 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 23, 2018 @ 3:58 pm

There are numerous examples of prosperous, middle class BLACK communities that were specifically targeted for daring to be uppity i.e. demonstrating that Blacks had both the self agency and competence to rise above their station and the hand that fate dealt them.

This was the ultimate failure of Booker T. Washington’s “conservative” approach. It might have gone very well, EXCEPT that “white” society was split by red-hot class antagonisms. Those termed “poor white trash” in the eyes of the white elites had been told to comfort themselves that “at least we white” and not aspire to a higher station in life. Then they see these blacks who saved their money and invested in businesses rising into more prosperity than a fair number of “white” citizens. Well, they couldn’t get their hands on the Rockefellers and Mellons, but they could take out their frustrations on upwardly mobile black families with near impunity.

I can’t, however, tell if Rosita is agreeing with me or disagreeing. Too many pronouns in sentences too hastily constructed. If Rosita thinks that “whites” were a monolithic community, she needs to do more homework.

And if they do commit higher rates of crime (they do actually) why is that?

The brutal vestages of structural racism perhaps?

Certainly. But, how many black women gunned down by black drug dealers who thought they were going to snitch on the murder of the woman’s boyfriend would say ‘Oh, the guy who killed my boyfriend, he was a victim of generations of racism, you should just let him go’? (That is, if she could speak from the grave).

This kind of pathology can be traced directly back to Senator James Eastland’s plantation (and others like it). The really large operations, where the black sharecroppers were in abysmal quarters on private property, police never came around, twenty-somethings deflowered every newly pubescent girl, men knifed each other to death over women and hauled the body off in the trunk of an old car, and the only thing The Man cared about was how many people showed up in the morning to pick the cotton. So yes, its the result of white supremacy. Most certainly. But that’s not a free pass to let it keep happening.

There are no statistical solutions to statistical disparities. People committing brutal crimes need to be apprehended and taken off the streets. Inter-generational trauma and disparity in capital accumulation need to be seriously addressed. And those imprisoned need programs that are both secure AND humane, allowing for the fact that many young violent men, after ten or fifteen or twenty years in prison, do mature into exactly the kind of men we need on the street helping the next generation. But not all of them.

Maybe we could ask actual black people if they think the world of Jim Crow was a better place?

That won’t help. Most black people alive today have been born since Jim Crow, so like most humans, they take what they have as a given, don’t imagine anything worse, and focus on what’s wrong with their lives now.

But in any event, nobody’s ability to comment on a matter of public controversy is limited by the color of their skin. Its how much you’ve looked into the facts on the ground, how well you’ve studied what there is to know, that counts. I’ll give anyone credit for knowing their own mind better than any other person on the planet, but that’s about it.

#43 Comment By Olivier On April 23, 2018 @ 4:14 pm

@Rod “SJWs are summoning demons that they cannot control”. Me, I like to quote the warning given by one necromancer to another in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: “Do Not Call Up That Which You Cannot Put Down”.

#44 Comment By Rosita On April 23, 2018 @ 4:30 pm

Siarlys, you’re correct and FWIW, I agree with both your original comments and the follow up especially point about Booker T. Washington’s ‘conservative’ approach. Damned if you do exhibit self agency and damned if you don’t.

#45 Comment By GSW On April 23, 2018 @ 4:35 pm

Whites in the South had plenty of counter-narratives to white supremacy; most of them were presented by their fellow black citizens… Whites in the South had many interactions with an emerging Black middle class that was the counter-narrative to white supremacy, and their response was both brutal and unequivocal. @Rosita

Who are the brutal “Whites in South” – some, most, or should we take you at your statement’s face value and say all? It sounds like you might be suggesting a kind of bloodguilt here. Perhaps you might like to think about how this kind of generalization could be considered essentialist or even racist to the core?

Here’s a more nuanced account –

[15]

Biological racism and social Darwinism were 19th Century ideas that enjoyed their heyday in the decades before WWI. These concepts never possessed uncontested hegemony in western political culture but were challenged openly by Christian and liberal equality doctrines.

In the aftermath of WWII, racial determinist ideas were largely driven from respectable society by Hitler’s mad ravings about race “science” and the Holocaust. The U.S.A. was not isolated from these powerful international currents and desegregation in its north and south swam in these powerful international intellectual currents.

[NFR: Rosita doesn’t know what she’s talking about. It is more than possible for people who live right next to each other not to see each other in any real sense. This was the common experience of whites and blacks in the South. — RD]

#46 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 23, 2018 @ 11:14 pm

Thanks Rosita. There is so much fog in many of these controversies its sometimes hard to tell where your friends are and are not. One of the problems with political movements circa 1970 was the tremendous volume of “friendly fire,” some of it due to paranoia within the movement, some due to deliberate fanning the flames by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Facts of history are a great antidote, but only if people get beyond simple slogans and look at all the details. History is a mess.

It’s because that type of brutal suppression creates generational suffering that will take generations to mend.

This is true. There is a lot of accumulating evidence, including study of how inter-generational trauma nullifies the finest education and job-training programs, and suppresses the results one would expect even from the most astute program of affirmative action.

But then we have the hard question, what will actually ameliorate and eventually cure this inheritable suffering? Looking around for someone to blame is not worth the effort it takes to do it. People need sophisticated and carefully constructed treatment, not scapegoats.

If the lynching story substituted into its storyline a white rapist who was then hunted and lynched based upon a false accusation, we would have simply shrugged our shoulders and lamented that the woman’s claims resulted in a tragic death.

That’s a clever fantasy, but generally if a white woman charged a white man with rape, the suspect would get a full trial before a jury of his peers. Lynching in such circumstances was relatively rare. It certainly wasn’t widely honored by most of the judiciary on a decades-long basis.

I have a distant cousin in a southern state whose mother was literally the product of her grandmother being raped. Given the complexions of the rapist and the victim, no criminal charges were ever seriously considered.

Its worth noting that lynching did not BEGIN as a practice of racial subjugation. The statistics kept by Tuskegee University show a clear pattern that prior to about 1896 the majority of lynching victims where “white,” and after that tipping point it became almost entirely “black.” (My own state has only six lynchings in the Tuskegee records, all of them of “white” men — but then, we abolished the death penalty before 1860).

Slaves were not lynched. They were valuable property, and only their owner (who would take the financial loss) had the right to slaughter them. Lynching was peculiar to a period when Americans of African descent were free, and nobody’s financial loss, but there remained in inchoate desire to control and suppress.

One of the curious anachronisms in the movie Django Unchained was the scene with a ludicrous parody of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1858? There was no such thing. Again, that was a tool to intimidate nominally FREE people.

#47 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 24, 2018 @ 3:30 am

This was a great post. I feel like I mostly am disagreeable in the comments, so I just wanted to say that I agree with nearly everything in this post.

#48 Comment By JWJ On April 24, 2018 @ 2:43 pm

Mr. D: Just want to add a ditto to the others commenting on the quality of this post. Much to contemplate in your words.

#49 Comment By Pat On April 24, 2018 @ 11:38 pm

Yes, this was one of your best!

#50 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 25, 2018 @ 8:42 am

Summoning up demons to try to gain power over others has a long pagan history. What happens is they gain control of you instead, and they want the whole show. No wonder the antipathy to the only power capable of casting them out.