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Why We Can’t Talk About Race

Poor Liam Neeson. In an interview to promote his new film [1], which is about vengeance, the actor spoke of a time in his distant past when rage consumed him. Excerpt:

It begins as an explanation of how his latest character turns to anger. “There’s something primal – God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” he begins, hesitantly but thoughtfully. “I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

It was some time ago. Neeson had just come back from overseas to find out about the rape. “She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could,” another pause, “kill him.”

Neeson clearly knows what he’s saying, and how shocking it is, how appalling. “It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that. She would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk.’ You know? ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No no, nothing’s wrong.’”

He deliberately withholds details to protect the identity of the victim. “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he says. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”

“Holy sh-t,” says Tom Bateman, his co-star, who is sitting beside him.

“It’s awful,” Neeson continues, a tremble in his breath. “But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f-ck are you doing,’ you know?”

Neeson was savaged as a racist for this admission. Now the studio has cancelled the red-carpet premiere of the film, Cold Pursuit. [2]

This is stunning. In the interview, Neeson told a very personal story about how rage consumed him, to the point of wanting to commit a racist homicide. He condemned himself in the recollection, which he offered as a cautionary tale of how anger can drive a man crazy. In no way did Neeson defend his fury — in fact, just the opposite.

It was a very human admission. Nothing like that has happened to me, thank God, but I’ve said in this space on a number of occasions how my own rage and desire for vengeance over 9/11, which I lived through as a New Yorker who saw the south tower collapse in front of him, drove me to the point of wanting some Arab country to suffer. I was willing to believe anything the US Government said about Iraq, to justify a war of vengeance. And I was a fool. Rage makes fools of all of us.

In a typical response, the UK journalist Piers Morgan viciously trashes the actor. [3] Excerpt:

Let’s be brutally honest: this is the kind of thing you might expect a Klansman from the Ku Klux Klan to say, and the kind of thing you might expect a Klansman from the Ku Klux Klan to do.

So when Neeson now says ‘I’m not racist’, that claim bears little resemblance to his words and actions after his friend was raped.

He says now that this happened 40 years ago when he was acting under a ‘primal urge’, that later he power-walked and sought help from a Catholic priest to curb his urges, and he is a changed man.

Perhaps he is.

Let’s take him at his word and accept he no longer feels any ‘primal urge’ to roam the streets looking for black people to murder.

But that doesn’t come anywhere near to excusing or even properly explaining what he felt and did in that horrific week.

This is appalling, what the mob is doing to Neeson. Let me repeat: Neeson admitted that four decades ago, his friend’s rape at the hands of a black man provoked him to embrace murderous rage against black men. He realized he was wrong, and sought help from a priest. Now, 40 years on, he tells the story as an example of how morally blind anger can make a man.

For this, people are now saying that he’s destroyed his career.

What is the lesson here? If you are white, never ever let yourself be vulnerable when talking about race. Ever.  

This is incredibly depressing. This complete lack of mercy, of grace, is tearing us apart. Liam Neeson’s reputation is being shredded because in his 20s, furious at a friend’s rape, he allowed his anger to lead him to a bad place. He repented. He repented 40 years ago, and tells the story now as a cautionary tale. What on earth do people want from the man?

Yesterday on NPR, I heard a conversation between All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro, and Gene Demby, a black man who is part of NPR’s team covering race and diversity. The topic? Why we can’t have conversations about race. [4] Here’s the heart of it; all boldfaced emphases below are mine:

(Sound bite of Virginia Gov. Ralph) NORTHAM: I’m not a person of color, and people of color experience different things. It affects them different ways. And for us to have a dialogue – for example, me with you to you let me know what’s offensive to you and vice versa.

DEMBY: Ugh, vice versa – you almost hear him getting to the point – right? – where he’s acknowledging that our experiences and the consequences for our experiences are not symmetrical. But then he ends with that vice versa as though his take on what’s offensive is important in the aftermath of this blackface controversy.

SHAPIRO: As though it’s 50/50 equal experience, mine and yours.

DEMBY: Everyone is valid. All these opinions are valid. And the first step into this dialogue is centered on his experience – right? – that I am equally valid here, too, right? And that’s one of the pitfalls of these conversations around race is that we spend a lot of time thinking about the white person and whether they’re innocent in their hearts or not and whether their opinions are valid. And just from that, you already know that these conversations can’t be productive because they’re not dealing with this larger context.

SHAPIRO: The larger context meaning there’s a perpetrator and a victim, and you’re saying the dialogue focuses on the experience of the perpetrator rather than what the victim has suffered.

DEMBY: Right. Like, what we don’t hear in this conversation is about all the stuff around this picture that’s bigger than him, right? Like, he’s the governor of Virginia. Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy, obviously. Its schools and neighborhoods are segregated just like they are everywhere else in the country. And as governor of this state with this very specific history, he’s implicated in all of it.

SHAPIRO: So you’re saying a successful racial dialogue can’t just be here’s how I feel, here’s how you feel. It has to be grounded in the historical, factual realities of the systems surrounding the event that’s the center of the dialogue.

DEMBY: Right. And that’s the problem. We come to these conversations with a very different understanding of what the facts are and also then what the stakes are.

Let’s stipulate that Ralph Northam has handled his own situation very poorly. I’m not going to defend him, and the comments I make below are not really specific to the Northam case. I take strong issue with the way Demby frames the issue of dialogue — though I do agree with him that it’s impossible to have these dialogues.

Demby’s first boldfaced (by me) comment gives the game away. He says that thinking about the actual guilt of whites, and whether or not their opinions are “valid,” is a waste of time. It seems clear to me that he’s saying that the role of whites in these pseudo-dialogues is to sit there quietly and accept their guilt, and to understand that because of that guilt, their opinion really doesn’t matter.

Notice how, in the second boldfaced comment, Demby hold Ralph Northam responsible for all the historical sins of Virginia, because he’s the governor of a former Confederate state. The question becomes not simply whether or not Ralph Northam wore blackface, and what kind of guilt that imputes to him. In Demby’s framing, Northam is a symbol of white supremacy. See how this works?

If you think this theory is restricted to Northam, you’re dreaming. No white person’s opinion can be valid, because whites are “implicated” in white supremacy. They bear the stain of collective historical guilt. It’s one thing to explore and to become aware of how racial prejudice has affected American history, and brought us to the place we are now. It’s quite another to tell individual white people that they have reduced standing, or no standing at all, in a “dialogue” because of the sins of their fathers.

We know that objecting to being marginalized or silenced based on your race is denounced as “white fragility.” [5] To contest the claims here, and to defend the integrity of one’s own voice, is construed as a pathology. This is a con game that white people cannot win.

Demby, on NPR:

We can’t have the dialogue without these spaces to hold the dialogue and where people are vested in staying in the dialogue to begin with.

Why would any white person want to be part of a pseudo-dialogue in which his opinion is devalued from the beginning because of the collective guilt imputed to him — and in which any challenge to the charges against him is taken as a sign of his sick refusal to accept guilt?

I agree that we ought to be able to have real dialogue, to increase mutual understanding and solidarity across dividing lines — and, maybe even advance towards healing. But there’s no point in engaging in pseudo-dialogue that’s nothing more than an ideological exercise in intimidation and control. After what has happened to Liam Neeson, you’d have to be a fool to make yourself vulnerable in a forum like this. Or any forum, other than within your church.

We have created a culture that despises repentance, and condemns grace. The other day, doing research for my next book, I read a 1974 Solzhenitsyn speech on repentance in the life of nations. Note these passages:

Add to this the white-hot tension between nations and races and we can say without suspicion of over-statement that without repentance it is in any case doubtful if we can survive.

It is by now only too obvious how dearly mankind has paid for the fact that we have all throughout the ages preferred to censure, denounce and hate others, instead of censuring, denouncing and hating ourselves. But obvious though it may be, we are even now, with the twentieth century on its way out, reluctant to recognize that the universal dividing line between good and evil runs not between countries, not between nations; … it cuts across nations and parties, shifting constantly, yielding now to the pressure of light, now to the pressure of darkness. It divides the heart of every man, and there too it is not a ditch dug once and for all, but fluctuates with the passage of time and according to a man’s behavior.


In the twentieth century the blessed dews of repentance could no longer soften the parched Russian soil, baked hard by doctrines of hate. In the past sixty years we have not merely lost the gift of repentance in our public life but have ridiculed it. This feeling was precipitately abandoned and made an object of contempt, the place in the soul where repentance once dwelt was laid waste. For half a century now we have acted on the conviction that the guilty ones were the tsarist establishment, the bourgeois patriots, social democrats, White Guards, priests, emigres, subversives, kulaks, henchmen of kulaks, engineers, “wreckers” [Bolshevik name for industrial saboteurs], militarists, even modernists — anyone and everyone except you and me! Obviously, it was they, not we, who had to reform. But they dug their heels in and refused to. So how could they be made to reform, except by bayonets (revolvers, barbed wire, starvation)?

Solzhenitsyn, who had endured the gulag,  condemned the idea that Russians had suffered so much that they had nothing to repent of. No, said the writer: every man must examine his own conscience. None of us are without sin.

I’ve also been reading some Rene Girard lately. Girard, as many of you know, spent much of his life writing about the role of the scapegoat in human culture. He said that Nietzsche missed the point of Christianity when he accused it of being a slave religion, because it took the side of victims. The real power of Christianity, according to Girard, was that it tells people to refuse the mob’s passionate desire to scapegoat others, even to kill them. When young Liam Neeson wanted to kill a black man, any black man, to avenge the rape of his friend, he was doing the kind of thing that every single one of us is liable to do — because that is in our nature. This is why the Church tells us Christians that we would have been in that crowd in Jerusalem, yelling, “Crucify him!”

A priest of Jesus Christ stopped Neeson, set him aright, and led him to repentance. In that interview, Neeson tried, in his fumbling way, to be a witness to the malignant power of passion, and the way out of its grip. And now look what has happened to him.

Solzhenitsyn said in his essay that Communism scapegoated others, to the point of putting the scapegoats in prison, bayoneting them, shooting them, starving them. In a later speech, Solzhenitsyn said that the entire Communist catastrophe came upon Russia because Russians had forgotten God. If you lose the Christian God, you lose sight of the fact that all have sinned. You lose sight of the fact that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, and you depend on the mercy of God — and therefore, you have to forgive others. You forget that the journey through life is a pilgrimage of repentance.

Solzhenitsyn goes on, in that 1974 essay:

Unless we recover the gift of repentance, our country will perish and will drag down the whole world with it.

So it is with American in 2019. Ours is a post-Christian nation. We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the meaning of grace, repentance, and mercy. It sure does seem that the woke left, by making a vice of repentance and mercy, is bound and determined to destroy our country.

UPDATE: Alan Jacobs, in 2017: [6]

When a society rejects the Christian account of who we are, it doesn’t become less moralistic but far more so, because it retains an inchoate sense of justice but has no means of offering and receiving forgiveness. The great moral crisis of our time is not, as many of my fellow Christians believe, sexual licentiousness, but rather vindictiveness. Social media serve as crack for moralists: there’s no high like the high you get from punishing malefactors. But like every addiction, this one suffers from the inexorable law of diminishing returns. The mania for punishment will therefore get worse before it gets better.

UPDATE.2: Interesting comment by Whitby Hilde:

When I was in my 20s, I was deeply betrayed and emotionally traumatized by the discovery of my father’s lifelong pornography addiction and my husband’s occasional use of it. Many incidents I had not understood as a child were made painfully clear, and everything I understood about femininity and what it meant to be loved were thrown into question. I fell into a deep depression and considered running away from my family and three children or ending my life.

Like Neeson, I was filled with an indiscriminate hatred of All Men that lasted for about two years. Embracing the rage even damaged my relationship with my very innocent young son. I was wounded and could not, would not forgive. That took a boatload of grace and time. I’m now a happily married, to the same man, mother of five, and I have a good relationship and understanding with my father. I have learned forgiveness, and I pray for that tender-hearted little son of mine, that he will forgive me, too.

I see my former rage at men magnified to an ideology in the Women’s March. Men’s rage at women in the transgender/Drag Queen movement. Our rampant rage is poisoning political parties, race relations, even our beloved NFL.

Evil is real, it is personal, and we are each capable of perpetuating it. Read Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth. Shakespeare wrote the tragedies to teach us this. If you or someone you love hasn’t been deeply hurt by the sins of another, you have either isolated yourself, or you aren’t paying attention. If you don’t think you’ve deeply hurt someone, you’ve got blinders on.

We are desperate for true repentance and forgiveness. All we have been offered in the public square for the past twenty years is CYA, obfuscation, and “I’m sorry you feel bad about what I did.” Now we are drinking the cup we have poisoned. There are signs we are feeling sufficiently queasy. Hopefully, soon and very soon we will set down the cup and begin passing around the purgative.

143 Comments (Open | Close)

143 Comments To "Why We Can’t Talk About Race"

#1 Comment By MM On February 6, 2019 @ 12:24 pm

It’s a nice contrast to look at the SJW behavior jihad against racism compared to the largely Christian pro-life movement.
Neeson here is clearly admitting to a past failure that he feels remorse about and acknowledges as a moral failure.
Now think how the pro-life movement has treated people like Bernard Nathanson (former abortionist and one of the movers behind Roe) and Abby Johnson (former PP manager).
In the former, sins mark you forever as irredeemable. In the latter, Grace redeems sinners and brings good out of broken men and women.

#2 Comment By k.b. On February 6, 2019 @ 12:25 pm

Rod, I just want to add to your article and emphasize, that this concept of scapegoating others (individuals or groups) isn`t just a phenomena of race discussions in the US, but a general charcteristic of human nature. According Rene Girard it could be described as the evil, diabolical principle of chaos of separated and confused societies, but also leading to a kind of order after a culmination of violence. Christianity, the example of Jesus and the concept of love, forgiveness and redemption is the way to rapture that cycle creating endless violence and victims. As the formal so called free West has abondoned widely Christianity in favor for a kind of “self-exaltation”, these hysterical discussions and scapegoating is virulent, not just about matters of race, in generall all about which is not according leftist mindset and zeitgeist and could be any other matter too. Whereas the accusants are uncapable and unaware to recognise there own racism in your example.

You are also writing “They bear the strain of collective historical guilt”. As a German it reminded me to the sins of my ancestors especially executed during the 3rd Reich. As a Christian I concluded long ago that guilt is only individual, never collective. But somehow we inherit such guilt and we truly can overcome that guilt only with an christian approach. For the sake of our formal Christian societies Jesus is more needed than ever.

#3 Comment By craig On February 6, 2019 @ 12:26 pm

Sheila says: “How can any president stop SJW? By what policy? If anything Trump’s election has energized and organized the hard left. This is a serious question.”

The only way to stop SJW is to assume their complaints are insincere and reject them utterly. Had Trump never come along, somebody else would have to be Hitler for the SJWs, just as Romney, McCain, Bush, and Reagan all were in turn. It is not an accident that this mirrors the SJW paradigm that any offered compromises or good-faith admissions are weaknesses to be exploited without mercy (as Liam Neeson has discovered).

In other words, what stops SJW is tit-for-tat, making them subject to the same rules they employ against others. It has been mathematically proven (really!) that to ‘forgive’ attacks can optimize both sides’ outcome when opponents themselves occasionally forgive, but that tit-for-tat is optimal when the opponent’s strategy is never to ‘forgive’ but always to retaliate.

Collin says: “…And many police forces do have stop and frisk policies that are obviously implemented in ways of racial profiling. And what is the conservative response to these? Heather McDonald thinks stop and frisk is great for the A-A community.”

We had a rare opportunity to reform policing in this country during the Obama administration. The Tea Party movement was all about rolling back government overreach, and widely opposed to what it viewed as unconstitutional tactics brought in by the so-called War on Drugs: no-knock SWAT raids, civil asset forfeiture, indictments designed to beggar the accused into harsh plea bargains, and so on. There was a *lot* of common ground between the Tea Party and the A-A community on this topic. And the Democrats deliberately squandered it for electoral advantage, painting the Tea Party as a bunch of hooded Klansmen (little did we know then it was projection!). What that taught the Tea Party is that good faith gets you abused (and political persecution from the IRS).

Lee says: “Can you not see that the knee-jerk “I’m not accepting guilt!!! Not my fault!!!” makes it impossible to simply accept and acknowledge that there are issues to be addressed? … [My sons] feel no guilt about it nor do they hate themselves. They are simply willing to do what they can, when they can, to address such things when they become aware of them.”

Meaning, as long as they remain willing to toe the left’s line, they’re OK. If they ever decide not to go along, the SJWs will be equally happy to send them into the woodchipper as they were the Covington kids. Issues can’t be addressed when the rule is ‘sentence first, verdict after’. Can you not see that “Accept your group guilt!!!” is merely a rallying cry for reprisals?

#4 Comment By Egypt Steve On February 6, 2019 @ 12:27 pm

I have to agree with you on this one. Everyone talks about an “honest conversation about race,” but NO ONE means by that that both sides get to say what’s really on their minds, and that each side should listen to, and try to empathize with, the other.

White people mean “If we’re being honest, you need to get off crack, stay in school and get a job, and stop stealing stuff and getting pregnant at 13 or 14. Why do you just shut down when I tell you that, and call me a racist?”

Black people mean “If we’re being honest, you need to realize that everything is the fault of the racist, fascist, oppressive system, and you need to admit to the way you benefit from it. Why do just you shut down when I tell you that, and call me a racist?”

#5 Comment By KS On February 6, 2019 @ 12:36 pm

[NFR: The people of Iraq — and the government of Iraq — had nothing to do with 9/11. None of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi. Me, I didn’t care; I just wanted some Arab Muslim SOB to suffer for what the hijackers did to us. This was primal, totally irrational — and I was wrong. This is also very human. It’s why do many Arab Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks: they wanted to see the US humiliated for what America had done (or they perceived us to have done) to them over the years. If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand human nature. — RD]

Rod, why are you still obfuscating – ‘or they perceived us to have done’. What exactly is wrong with their perception? That’s what you are still implying isnt it? Its still ‘their’ fault? You are sqeaky clean?

[NFR: Because conspiracy theory is a very big deal in Arab culture. I’ve heard Middle Eastern Arabs — Christians too — come up with the most outlandish, convoluted explanations to blame others for their problems. The wildest one was told to me by an American priest who served an Arab Christian parish in Israel. He said (this was around the year 2000) that the men in his parish were buzzing about a claim that Yasser Arafat was really a Jew. This was how they explained some political setback Arafat had recently had. And according to the priest, they really believed it, and would until some completely opposite conspiracy theory occupied their mind. It’s very hard for Westerners to grasp how strong conspiracy theorizing is in Middle East culture. — RD]

#6 Comment By JonF On February 6, 2019 @ 12:47 pm

Marie in Vermont, Hillary Clinton as an SJW? That about as bizarre a notion as anything I’ve seen on the Internet, this side of the Onion. Mrs. CLinton had many flaws and I understand why people couldn’t stomach her,but ideological extremism wasn’t one of them. She was a somewhat corrupt, self-involved politician whose commitments began and ended with her own ego (or maybe included her family’s reputation). The silly attempt to portray her as a cross between Messalina, Mme Defarge and Countess Dracula is just too silly to credit- and unhappily shows the effectiveness of propaganda.

#7 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 6, 2019 @ 1:03 pm

This very thing is how the formerly Christian Peacemaker Teams became distorted by SJW wokeness:

“I have to wonder if those condemning Neeson for having some very natural emotions (including rage and thoughts of vengence) in the wake of the vicious rape of someone dear to him think of the woman as being justly raped for being White.”

After the San Bernardino mass slaughter by Islamic terrorists, CPT announced that it would be spending the period in the aftermath, publicly explaining how “all violence is white.”

I was denounced by the SJW radicals who had taken over official Mennonite publications, for stating, to the contrary, that good and evil divide every human heart, and that the propensity to revenge and violence are inherent in every human being. Instead of being doxxed, you would have thought that an organization that claims to be a Christian church, would have embraced the same views that Jesus taught.

It’s not just a post Christian America, it’s post Christian churches.

#8 Comment By Ready for the Apocalypse On February 6, 2019 @ 1:03 pm

These “conversations about race” make about as much sense as a dialogue between a Russian aristocrat and a Bolshevik. The only sane option is to avoid them as much as possible.

#9 Comment By Kurt Gayle On February 6, 2019 @ 1:06 pm

NFR: “As I’ve written here before, when I moved back to my Louisiana hometown in 2011, I learned from a white friend there about a terrible incident that happened on the courthouse lawn in 1963 or 1964, can’t remember which. A black pastor tried to register to vote, and there was a near-riot by racist whites. Shots were fired, but no one was hurt.”–RD

This is from the Robert Penn Warren collection “Who Speaks for the Negro?” It is an interview with Pastor Joe Carter:


A much shorter, edited version of this interview with Pastor Joe Carter is in the pdf version of the just-published 2019 book “Free All Along: The Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Interviews, edited by Stephen Drury Smith, Catherine Ellis”:


An excellent two-page summary of Pastor Carter’s interview about his attempts to register to vote in Louisiana’ West Feliciana Parish appears as the italicized introduction to the chapter “Joe Carter” from the book “Free All Along: The Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Interviews.”

The fear that helping blacks register to vote in Deep South states might lead to violence was very real – among blacks and among many of us in CORE, one of the main civil rights organizing leading voter registration drives during the summer of 1963. Pastor Joe Carter mentions his contacts with CORE organizers, who seemed to be doing a good job and dealing with situations as they arose in a careful, prudent way as they were trained to do. I can remember in the spring of 1963 that our CORE chapter at UVa asked for volunteers to join the CORE voter registration drives that summer in the Deep South. To the best of my recollection, all of the volunteers from our CORE chapter were students from northern states. As I recall, none of us from southern states signed up. I had helped with a successful local restaurant desegregation drive in Charlottesville, but I said that I wouldn’t volunteer to do voter registration – especially not in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. I admitted that doing that kind of work “scared me to death.” (So much for courage, huh?) I remember saying to the guy who was signing people up from our UVa CORE chapter: “You guys have a lot of guts. But I think you’re crazy. You’re going to get yourselves killed.”

The Pastor Carter interview rings true especially because of the reluctance of just about every other black person he knew (especially his wife, who threatened to leave him) to join with him or to help him in any way. I can barely imagine how much courage it must have taken for Pastor Joe Carter to go down the path that he went down. What he was doing absolutely terrified nearly every other black person in his life.

[NFR: My gosh, Rev. Carter! That’s the man! I had never seen a photo of him, but looking at it was like looking into the face of Aldreama Carter, a classmate of mine who must have been his granddaughter. She died of breast cancer some years ago. What a hero that man is. I’ve long thought that if I ever had the money, I would donate to building a statue in his memory to be placed on the Courthouse lawn. There is a Confederate statue there now. I do not believe in tearing down statues as a general matter, but I think adding a statue of Rev. Carter would be a fitting tribute, and tell people today more about the actual history of West Feliciana Parish than tearing down a statue. — RD]

#10 Comment By Lee On February 6, 2019 @ 1:14 pm

“I agree that Breitbart’s treatment of Shirley Sherrod was disgraceful. It is the mirror image of this phenomena.”

Exactly. Human beings are tribal. We have identity groups that we feel comfortable with and identity groups that we feel oppressed by. When we feel oppressed by a group, we often feel hatred toward that group even if we have family or friends who are part of that group. When we express those feelings, people of the other group who have not participated directly in oppressive behavior feel unjustly blamed. Pick your groups – black/white, male/female, conservative/liberal – it is THE SAME.

So I will express this:

I come here to try to understand your tribe better and to try, when I can, to shed some light on some of your opposition groups in the hope of fostering understanding. Sometimes I get angry and mouth off but these are my intentions. I take breaks from time to time because I get too upset about some of the topics and approaches.

The “progressives are evil and ruin everything” gets old in the same way as the “white men are evil and ruin everything” does for some of you. So does the ranting about identity politics when this blog, more than any other I read anywhere, is *all about identity politics* with the oppressed identity being Conservative Christians and oppressors being LGBTQ people, LGBTQ activists, progressives, liberal elites, the MSM, etc. When has Rod Dreher ever talked about himself voting when the motivation of which he speaks is NOT about his identity as a Conservative Christian?

People sometimes say this blog is too negative but to me, it is too offended. Yes, you feel under attack and I get that but you know what? I’ve felt threatened and under attack by men to some degree my whole life. There needs to be an effort to quit with the stereotyping and caricatures all the time and at least sometimes try to see the other side, to find the good in the other side, to find common ground, to not attribute motivations when you have no real idea what they are, etc.

And I’ll be taking that break right about now.

#11 Comment By GSW On February 6, 2019 @ 1:35 pm

“No white person’s opinion can be valid, because whites are ‘implicated’ in white supremacy. They bear the stain of collective historical guilt.” @RD

Yes, it’s a modern-day “blood guilt” and biologically racist to its core.

And, built on an absurd historical fiction. The idea of biological white supremacy was not invented by a “race” but by individuals writing in the second half of the 19th Century. Many other ‘whites’ living at the same time, vigourously opposed this wicked idea because they strongly believed in the principles of Christian and/or liberal equality. Consider, for example, the decades long international campaign by the British Empire to abolish the slave trade or the abolitionists in the United States.

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 6, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

If Liam communicated a rage from such an abuse, why is it so terrible that sometimes black people “overshoot the mark” and come across as accusatory against today’s whites for what was done in the past?

Having the feelings isn’t “bad.” Talking about it isn’t wrong. Making it an accusation and expecting people to take it seriously AS an accusation is a problem. As if, Liam Neeson not only had these feelings, but actually committed battery on any black person he encountered any time he could get away with it because there are good reasons for his feelings. And if it matters… well, no, even though I’m commenting under a nom de plume, it would be a breach of trust to offer the account I was going to offer, but its not an entirely abstract question to me.

Sheesh, not only has the progressive left sucked all the humor out of the air, they’ve sucked all hope of redemption out of the air.

They doth protest too much. There is no more effective way for a small mind to deflect suspicion of racism than to kick someone who is already on the ground. Not unlike the motivation for many lynch mobs. Everyone knew that almost everyone in the south except the most elite families, and many of them too, had “a spoonful of Negro blood.” The best way to deflect suspicion from yourself is to be the most vociferous member of the lynch mob.

In my senior year of high school, I was almost drowned by some black kids in the pool in High School PE. It’s took me several years to feel the love again.

Naturally. But if they had been “white” kids, you wouldn’t have hated all “white” people. Turning this about once again, but, the “black” kids who nearly drowned you probably WERE motivated to take it out on “whitey.” But, to turn it around again, that probably wasn’t a UNIVERSAL sentiment of ALL black kids in your school, and if it was, it was in part because of separation into two distinct camps.

If you look at James Baldwins’ To The Mountaintop, a “black” woman raped by a gang of “white” men couldn’t even sleep with her own “black” husband, because it reminded her of “those white men.”

#13 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 6, 2019 @ 2:02 pm

Liam Neeson committed two unpardonable sins, the second one more serious to elite radicals, that of Christian repentance.

#14 Comment By Kurt Gayle On February 6, 2019 @ 2:30 pm

[NFR…What a hero that man is. I’ve long thought that if I ever had the money, I would donate to building a statue in his memory to be placed on the Courthouse lawn. There is a Confederate statue there now. I do not believe in tearing down statues as a general matter, but I think adding a statue of Rev. Carter would be a fitting tribute, and tell people today more about the actual history of West Feliciana Parish than tearing down a statue. — RD]

An excellent idea, because each statue would tell about an important chapter of the history of Feliciana Parish – and about an important chapter of the history of America.

It’s a shame that the first audio tape is really not listenable, but the full text of the Robert Penn Warren interview is filled with insights and subtleties that students of American history 56 years later need to understand.

Of great interest, too, are the other 18 interviews of historically important black Americans — including Charles Evers, Ralph Ellison, Andrew Young, Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Bayard Rustin.

#15 Comment By Nachum On February 6, 2019 @ 2:45 pm

“Black bastard.” Those words brought back a memory. I was about fourteen, walking down the main street of my neighborhood in broad daylight on a summer’s day. It was Saturday, the Sabbath, and my being an Orthodox Jew was very obvious. A large gang of kids, mostly black and Hispanic, about my age if not younger, started following me. I tried to avoid them; they shadowed me. After a block or so, one came alongside, muttered something, and suckerpunched me in the face. There was a lot of blood and I needed a bunch of stitches and laser surgery on my eye.

An elderly Jewish couple was right across the street. The woman started shrieking, “You black bastards!” The kids took off. I filed a police report which resulted in nothing.

I must say I never wanted to go out and kill lots of black people after that. But I suppose that what that woman did would be considered a “hate crime” today. It did the trick, though.

#16 Comment By Corwin On February 6, 2019 @ 3:27 pm


He did do something wrong. He went out with a club, looking to beat people up. Just because nobody got hurt doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong. And losing a movie premiere is more about how bad things would go. Even the co-star was shocked by his comments. It is not about punishing him so much as dealing with a potential disaster at the premiere by his presence. Ultimately, they can release the movie, maybe a few months after this has cooled off. But the movie producers or studio probably would have done exactly the same if he admitted, in as much detail, to drunk driving or shoplifting for whatever reason.

#17 Comment By Hound of Ulster On February 6, 2019 @ 3:38 pm

Context: it’s what’s for dinner.

If Neeson had not said this in the context of increasing racial tensions, complete with white supremacy supporters literally marching in the streets in both the US and the UK, albeit in smaller numbers than in the past, and the fact that the sitting US president made his political bones with the GOP base by spreading a deeply racist conspiracy theory about the first non-white President of the United States, does he get the hammer dropped on him?

Most likely, no.

See above, and that there was always a sub-text of cultural/racialist revanchism among some, but definitely not all, Tea Party types. How many of them got caught sharing racist jokes, or at least jokes of a highly questionable nature? It was quite a few, and some of the posters and signs at Tea Party rallies were…awkward in this regard. Hence the unwillingness of African-Americans and liberal criminal justice reform advocates to work with the Tea Party. You did have some successes come out of the rapport on the issue that Cory Booker struck up with Rand Paul, but the results were less broad then they could have been.

There is a general lack of grace, forgiveness, and willingness to assume an opposing viewpoint’s sincerity across the board, and there has been for a long time. I blame the no-holds-barred political style of the Gingrich/talk radio/Fox News axis of the early to mid-1990s, and what you see among hyper-partisan ‘woke’ types is a mirror image of the Gingrich style on many levels. And is just as counterproductive in the long run.

#18 Comment By MC On February 6, 2019 @ 3:43 pm

@Bob Taylor
“But we are supposed to understand that his whiteness was the root of his pathology, the reader realizes.”

This reminds me of a current controversy over a black Georgia graduate student who wrote that Southern white people’s behavior reminded him of autistic people because they learn social cues from parents and peers, but “since these guys and gals aren’t autistic, I just feel like I’m around a bunch of sociopaths.” In the comments to the article on IHE, the student wades in to say that he is not racist because he is not saying this is biological, but cultural, and thus that because Southern white culture (the culture of Rod and millions of other people) is ultimately about racism and that there will always be a racial “variable” (his words), Southern whites must undergo a kind of de-Nazification to totally eliminate their social norms and practices that will always lead to racism as long as black and white people exist. Of course, this is profoundly racist, as he assumes that black cultural norms are “natural” and white cultural norms are acquired through submissive socialization, but or course the biggest part of the controversy is that this may have been insulting towards autistic people.

#19 Comment By Sagrav On February 6, 2019 @ 3:43 pm

It’s very hard for Westerners to grasp how strong conspiracy theorizing is in Middle East culture. — RD

Not really. This is the land of Infowars, QAnon, Pizzagate, the Jade Helm conspiracy theory, FEMA Death Camps, 9/11 truthers, anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, the Vince Foster conspiracy, etc. And that’s leaving out all of the UFO/Bigfoot/Flat Earth/So-and-so-is-the-AntiChrist nuttery that never seems to go disappear. Conspiracy theorizing is just another part of human nature.

#20 Comment By Joseph M On February 6, 2019 @ 3:46 pm

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”(Rom 12:19)

The most profound insight I ever had about the Atonement of Christ is that it doesn’t just make me right with God, but also settles all debts owed me. I can let go my hurt and rage and bitterness in the sure knowledge that “God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”(Rev 21:4)

#21 Comment By VikingLS On February 6, 2019 @ 3:56 pm

“He did do something wrong. He went out with a club, looking to beat people up. Just because nobody got hurt doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong.”


If he had tried to justify that, it might warrant the reaction he’s getting. He was doing the exact opposite of that.

What he’s being punished for is talking about it.

@Hound of Ulster

Why is it that even when you admit liberals might have done something out of line you invariably try to find some way to blame it on the right?

Grow up and take some responsibility.

#22 Comment By GreenOaks1234 On February 6, 2019 @ 4:16 pm

I have little to add, except that often I think RD is being hysterical about “the left”… but now and then I completely agree with him.

Maybe the only consolation: probably half the liberal/left agrees with you but doesn’t have the energy (or courage) to fight with “the mob” on sensitive issues like this.

And it doesn’t change the fact that we are allies on bigger issues like global warming and health care.

Like you said.. I guess we just can’t talk about anything difficult.

#23 Comment By Simon On February 6, 2019 @ 4:17 pm

I recently discovered that I may be an instantiation of ‘caucasity’ by virtue of the fact that I’m not sure of what it is.

From the Covington kids to the Jussie Smollett incident to the Michael Moreno debate incident, the news cycle presents “scissors” almost daily. They seeem like Rorschach tests for Sneeches.

In Chicago, the Smollett case is the scissor around the shop. The consensus among Blacks is largely that Smollett and his posse concocted the story for personal gain. There seems to be a little shame that comes with it.

#24 Comment By Lee On February 6, 2019 @ 4:35 pm

@ craig
“Can you not see that “Accept your group guilt!!!” is merely a rallying cry for reprisals?”

That is a perfect example of painting all with the same brush. No, not everyone, not even the majority are crying for reprisals and to say that they are is cutting off any hope of working things out. These exaggerated stances on both sides are counter-productive.

#25 Comment By Mandrake On February 6, 2019 @ 4:37 pm


Sagrav says:
February 6, 2019 at 3:43 pm
“It’s very hard for Westerners to grasp how strong conspiracy theorizing is in Middle East culture. — RD”

“Not really. This is the land of Infowars, QAnon, Pizzagate…”


Sagrav, perhaps you were kidding but conspiracy theories are rather fringe in our culture, and far rarer than in the Arab world where they are routinely used even by educated elites to explain confounding but otherwise normal events.

While we have whacko conspiracy theories here, such as that JFK was killed by anyone other than Marxist Lee Harvey Oswald, or the theory held by quite a few blacks and liberals that AIDS was invented by the CIA to kill blacks, or that the CIA imports and then sells narcotics in black neighborhoods, they are still relatively fringe.

Not so in the Arab world.

#26 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On February 6, 2019 @ 4:51 pm

For a wonderful literary treatment of racialist rage and redemption, read James Lee Burke’s novel “The Tin Roof Blowdown.”

The author’s thesis seems to be that there’s no final redemption in this world, and all we can do is muddle through as best we can. The novel’s protagonist is an observant Catholic alcoholic sheriff’s deputy in New Orleans (or thereabouts). He’s a bruiser with a kind heart. Implied by the novel, and the other novels in the series, is that we would perish if all we had to defend us were kind-hearted wimps, people like Pope Francis.

#27 Comment By Mandrake On February 6, 2019 @ 5:17 pm

Ref: “Anon says:
February 6, 2019 at 9:22 am”

“The question is, if the rapist was a white man would Neesom have had gone out looking, fueled by his rage, to kill any white man that crossed his path?”

“If not, then why…”

The rape of the white woman by the black man apparently occurred in the Northern Ireland of the 1970s. There were very few black people in Ireland at that time, making it easy (and logical) to view this rapist and the group he belonged to as outsiders – which they were. Outsiders are on the outside. Move to a tribal village in, say, Iraq and you’ll see how that works.

The same attitude held at Florence and Normandie in 1992, only there people actually did have their heads beaten in.

Not being noticed in all this is that Neeson, when he went out looking for revenge, wasn’t looking to “kill any (black) man that crossed his path.” He was hoping a black male would confront him, start something with him, leading to his revenge. Thank God none did. It was still wrong of course, for Neeson to go seeking this confrontation (which was his whole point!), but we should talk about what he said really happened instead of altering the facts.

#28 Comment By Mandrake On February 6, 2019 @ 5:21 pm

DaveNYC says:
February 5, 2019 at 11:25 pm

“I’m a second generation Italian American who grew up in an ethnic neighborhood in the North East, in a city that was an active way stop on the underground railroad…Seriously, Rod, your folk should have, and could have, picked your own damn cotton.”

Why did your people invade most of Europe, enslave entire peoples, destroy their cultures, and murder innocent Christians in gladiatorial “games?” Nero, Caligula and Commodus are your people. Yet you’re angry at Rod after what your folks did?

I appreciate your later clarification, but see how silly this gets when you think as you did?

#29 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On February 6, 2019 @ 6:52 pm

@Fran Macadam

True, but it gets worse.

That Neeson even professes to be a Christian–in his case the Roman Catholic communion–in and of itself makes him suspect in the eyes of Our Betters.

#30 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On February 6, 2019 @ 7:14 pm

“…but we should talk about what he said really happened instead of altering the facts.”

But…Mandrake–that would require too much thought.

#31 Comment By M_Young On February 6, 2019 @ 7:42 pm

I can’t help but think that Neeson’s real crime here is pointing out that a white (one imagines) woman he knew was raped by a black man somewhere in Ireland or Britain, 40 years ago, when blacks constituted 1% or less of the population of those fair lands. I mean, what are the odds…right?

#32 Comment By Zgler On February 6, 2019 @ 8:20 pm

Youngamconreader says:

“Isn’t it obvious at some point that diversity is a failed experiment? How does this play out in 20 years when whites are only 40% or less of the population? What kind of world will your grandkids inherit, as their ancestors made the decision to make them a minority in the only country they had”

This kind of white paranoia as a reaction to media and online knee-jerk excesses is futile and pointless. Are you going to prevent Latino citizens from having large families somehow? No matter how many “walls” are built, people who are not “white enough” for your taste will reproduce. White people will intermarry with non-white people. The trend will continue. Do you want to create an Israel for white people somewhere in the middle of the U.S. where your skin color is part of border control?

No. Stop shaking. Talk to people. Make common ground. The internet mobs are not the same as the majority of non-white people.

#33 Comment By Simon On February 6, 2019 @ 9:09 pm

[…It’s very hard for Westerners to grasp how strong conspiracy theorizing is in Middle East culture. — RD]

Rod is right. Alex Jones et al notwithstanding, conspiracism is prevalent in Arab politics and culture.

#34 Comment By John Hinshaw On February 6, 2019 @ 9:46 pm

So I’m supposed to leap to Liam Neeson’s defense? He’ll be all right. He’s a celebrity and often a politically correct one. Many conservatives have been roasted far worse for far less. And, I’m sorry, but it is understandable, after a friend’s rape to want revenge and we all want to do the worst things to the rapist, but to transfer that feeling to any random “black bastard” (as Neeson put it)IS racist. It’s a bad idea to start the discussion about race here.

#35 Comment By pensword On February 6, 2019 @ 10:39 pm

Rod Dreher:

[C]onspiracy theory is a very big deal in Arab culture.

It’s also a big deal right here, in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Have [9] for yourself:

“We found clear evidence that the United States is a strongly conspiratorial society,” study lead author Christopher Bader, a sociologist at Chapman University in California, said in a statement. “We see a degree of paranoia in the responses. Most indicative is nearly one-third of respondents believed the government is concealing information about ‘the North Dakota crash,’ a theory we asked about that — to our knowledge — we made up.” [emphasis mine]

The referenced study is entitled “National Survey of Fears – Wave 3,” and it yielded the following reflection of our national fears:

The government is concealing what they know about …

The 9/11 attacks: 54.3 percent agree or strongly agree
The JFK assassination: 49.6 percent
Alien encounters: 42.6 percent
Global warming: 42.1 percent
Plans for a one-world government: 32.9 percent
Obama’s birth certificate: 30.2 percent
The origin of the AIDS virus: 30.1 percent
The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: 27.8 percent
The moon landing: 24.2 percent

There is another kind of conspiracy known as a “Theory Conspiracy,” in which Conspiracy Denialists concur upon the obligatory nature of repudiating as “baseless speculation” all varieties of conspiracy hypotheses, however exacting and meticulous the research yielding evidence supportive of those hypotheses. I’d give a lot more weight to evidence such as the [10] or the [11] than I would to fear-mongering over the dread “https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-montauk-monster/”>Montauk Monster.”

All theories are not equal, particularly when the evidence for one stares over half of America in the face. The Arabs ~ as well as many others throughout the world ~ were way ahead of Americans on this one. You might justifiably decry certain other conspiracy theories, but 9/11 is here to stay. It’s now reached critical mass. The rubicon’s long gone.

Whither, America?

#36 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 6, 2019 @ 11:06 pm

I mean, what are the odds…right?

The odds that at least one rapist somewhere in Great Britain 40 years ago would be “black”? About 100 percent.

Why did your people invade most of Europe, enslave entire peoples, destroy their cultures…

Ummm, Mandrake… the non-Roman peoples of Italy were the first ones the actual Romans invaded, enslaved, and destroyed their cultures. See how this goes around and around?

#37 Comment By Mandrake On February 7, 2019 @ 10:15 am

Ref: Siarlys: Ummm, Mandrake… the non-Roman peoples of Italy were the first ones the actual Romans invaded, enslaved, and destroyed their cultures. See how this goes around and around?


Ummm, yeah, I do. You didn’t see that I was criticizing this eternal, racial/ethnic tit for tat gotcha game by going back a long, long way with it?

#38 Comment By Chaz Martel On February 7, 2019 @ 10:43 am

“Solzhenitsyn said that the entire Communist catastrophe came upon Russia because Russians had forgotten God. If you lose the Christian God, you lose sight of the fact that all have sinned. You lose sight of the fact that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, and you depend on the mercy of God — and therefore, you have to forgive others. You forget that the journey through life is a pilgrimage of repentance.”

When I ponder the above comment by Solzhenitsyn, it affirms what is slowly, but inexorably, becoming common knowledge; that although Soviet Communism lost the Cold War, they have won the Culture Wars. That the intransigent intolerance and unforgiveness of communist atheism is increasingly controlling the politically correct dialog in the public sphere in the West. God (read also forgiveness and repentance) is being extinguished from the marketplace of humanity’s choices. There will be Hell to pay.

#39 Comment By JonF On February 7, 2019 @ 11:33 am

Chaz Martel,
Lenin, Stalin, Mao et al would be quite shocked by the liberality of the sexual revolution and today’s SoCons might well find them allies of convenience (much as we did with the Soviets in WWII). As I have said before, this stuff has zilch to do with Marxism, which is a pretty puritanical ideology.
On another topic, Rod’s statue idea strikes me as an excellent one for Confederate statue sites everywhere that are not directing Civil War related.

#40 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 7, 2019 @ 12:10 pm

You didn’t see that I was criticizing this eternal, racial/ethnic tit for tat gotcha game by going back a long, long way with it?

No, because you were critiquing a comment that was already doing exactly that. Unless your comment was intended as agreement by way of backhanded sarcasm.

#41 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On February 7, 2019 @ 2:20 pm

JonF says:
On another topic, Rod’s statue idea strikes me as an excellent one for Confederate statue sites everywhere that are not directing Civil War related.

Indeed, this has always been my preferred solution as well. Tearing down statues seems like trying to forget bad things happened, which is a good way to repeat them.

#42 Comment By Mandrake On February 7, 2019 @ 6:20 pm

“No, because you were critiquing a comment that was already doing exactly that.”

Maybe the original comment was intended to do that but I took him as initially giving his real beliefs. The poster’s follow up said he was responding emotionally, at a gut level, but he didn’t say he was doing so with irony.

Comment boards are not the optimum way to converse with clarity.

#43 Comment By joseph gatti On June 20, 2019 @ 7:22 pm

“we can’t talk about race anymore?” what a deluded statement that is. the reason there was a back;ash was that he told the story without specifying WHEN or WHY he finally realized that he was wrong to have these urges. and laying something like that out there indicates that his feelings towards blacks were just about as racist as you could be. with no ‘redeeming moment’ reported, you are left with the sense that because he no longer wants to kill a representative of the race of any criminal who victimizes someone close to him, then he’s no longer a racist. it was a foolish thing to say and since he makes movies about ‘vigilante justice’, he has just tainted these films forever, films that many people worked on and made a living from. just for poor PR, he should be blacklisted