Equity: the beautiful and ruinous idea 7

This is a very interesting and convincing account of what has happened in South Africa as a result of a dangerous idea.

It is also a warning to America, threatened by the same dangerous idea.

We reproduce the article in full.

Rian Malan writes at the New York Post:

As South Africa erupted into chaos, my thoughts turned to the United States — a great country brought low by the same toxic and demented racial politics that set afire my homeland last week.

As I write, shell-shocked South Africans are trying to muster a response to an orgy of arson and looting. Cargo vessels are being turned away from some of our largest harbors, because it’s too dangerous to unload them. Hundreds of thousands face hunger thanks to the destruction of warehouses and disruption of food-supply chains. Tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses have been destroyed; the property damage is incalculable.

Former President Jacob Zuma’s refusal to be held accountable for corruption triggered this mayhem. Rather than face the prospect of imprisonment and disgrace, he seems to have attempted a preemptive coup against his successor.

But this is just part of the picture. The overarching truth is that an idea pushed South Africa to the brink. You guys know this idea, because it animates the sermons of critical race theorists trying to force you to take the knee and atone for your supposed sins. I am going to call it the Beautiful Idea, because it is beautiful in a way — but also dangerous.

The Beautiful Idea holds that all humans are born with identical gifts and should turn out to be clones of one another in a just society. Conversely, any situation in which disparity survives is in itself proof of injustice. This is the line promoted by CRT pundit Ibram X. Kendi, who blames all racial disparities on racist policies.

But what policies is he talking about? Kendi is reluctant to be drawn on this score, and with good reason: He can’t name the policies, because they don’t exist anymore. In your country, all discriminatory laws have been repealed, all forms of overt racism outlawed and replaced by laws that enforce preferential black access to jobs, housing and college admissions.

So Kendi must insist that an invisible miasma of “systemic racism” infects white people and propels them to act in ways so subtly racist that most of them aren’t even aware they’re sick until it is pointed out to them by diversity consultants.

Once upon a time, South African revolutionaries would have laughed at this sort of thing. Until the mid-1980s, the aims of our freedom struggle were the eradication of capitalism and the creation of a classless society where equity would be enforced at gunpoint by commissars. But the Soviet Union collapsed just as the African National Congress started its rise to power, forcing our new leaders to embrace economic policies of the neoliberal variety.

This didn’t set well with the hard left, which openly reviled President Thabo Mbeki (1999-2008) as a sellout. To mollify them, Mbeki set about building a black middle and upper class that would reap the fruits of neoliberalism and thank him for it.

The object of this new game was not to destroy capitalism, but to force it to open its doors to aspirant blacks. Starting in l999, Mbeki’s government enacted a phalanx of American-sounding laws intended to eradicate racial disparities of the sort that exercise Kendi. The old revolutionary songs were dusted off at rallies, but somewhere along the line, the Beautiful Idea replaced socialism as our ideological lodestar.

At the turn of the new millennium, Mbeki let it be known that he was displeased by the national rugby team’s slow progress towards full racial representation. Athletic failure, he suggested, was preferable to lack of full representation. Equity before victory.

At least initially, Mbeki’s scheme worked fairly well. Some blacks became billionaires. Many others joined the white suburban elite and sent their kids to private schools. Transformation of the civil service spurred the growth of a new black middle class, generally commanding salaries far higher than in the private economy.

But in the longer term, the economic consequences were devastating. In addition to paying taxes at Scandinavian levels, South African corporations were required to cede large ownership stakes to black partners, whether or not they brought anything to the table besides black skin and connections in high places

Firms were also required to meet racial quotas in hiring and ensure that management was racially representative, meaning roughly 88 percent black. Tendering for government business became increasingly pointless, because contracts were invariably awarded to black-owned firms, even if their prices were double, triple or tenfold.

Investment dried up. Brains drained. The economy stagnated, causing unemployment to surge to 11.4 million today, from 3.3 million in l994. The upshot: utter misery for the underclass, doomed to sit in tin shacks, half-starved, watching the black elite grow fat on the pickings of equity laws and rampant corruption.

This was an especially bitter experience for young black people, 63 percent of whom are now jobless, too broke even for booze and drugs to dull the pain. Last week, it proved easy for Zuma and his acolytes to tempt them onto the streets with the promise of loot.

And so we come to the moral of this story. It’s a warning about the practical consequences of ideas like those propounded by Kendi and CRT superstar Robin DiAngelo, who in the name of “equity” maintains it is racist to talk of work ethic or to expect all workers to show up on time, regardless of race.

It is exactly these values that have brought South Africa to its knees. We created a society where nothing was expected of blacks save “blackness.” Honor and diligence were not demanded of government appointees. Sloth was tolerated. Failures and corruption went unpunished. Blind pursuit of equity began to achieve its opposite: a staggering equality gap among blacks themselves, with a fortunate few benefitting hugely and the masses sinking into abject misery.

Most black South Africans recognize this. By 2021, only 3 percent of them cited racism as a serious problem, according to a survey by the Institute of Race Relations. The same survey found that 83 percent of black South Africans were in full or partial agreement with the following statement: “Politicians are talking about racism to excuse their own failures.”

Which brings us to the slender silver lining in this dark story. Many black South Africans who oppose this lawlessness were out in force last week, manning roadblocks to keep the mobs away from their homes and businesses.

I can hear their voices on the radio, clamoring for change. By the sound of it, they want a country where human outcomes are determined by the content of one’s character, not by pigmentation or friends in the ruling party. Martin Luther King would appreciate their message. Kendi & Co. wouldn’t.

Posted under Race, South Africa, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, July 25, 2021

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Promoting racism 2

A book titled White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is a best seller written to make Whites ashamed and Blacks sad.

It is a bad, nasty, destructive book.

How do we know?

Shamelessly shirking even a glance into it ourselves, we quote reviews by two critics whose judgment we trust:

Bruce Bawer writes at Front Page:

At a time when violent radicals are attacking America and its institutions as fundamentally and irredeemably racist, Robin DiAngelo may well be the woman of the hour. A 63-year-old professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, she’s a big name in multicultural education and in the burgeoning field of Whiteness Studies, which, unlike other identity-group “studies”, exists not to exalt the group in question but to demonize it. In the words of National Post columnist Barbara Kay, Whiteness Studies teaches that to be white is to be “branded, literally in the flesh, with evidence of a kind of original sin. You can try to mitigate your evilness, but you can’t eradicate it. The goal…is to entrench permanent race consciousness in everyone – eternal victimhood for non-whites, eternal guilt for whites.”

DiAngelo, just so you know, is white. …

Two years ago she published a book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racismthat has been on the bestseller list ever since …

Her message: all whites are indeed eternally guilty, for they’re all racists, and all “people of color” are their eternal victims. Don’t think you can escape the racist label by saying “I judge people by what they do, not who they are” or “I don’t see color; I see people.” DiAngelo doesn’t buy into the idea of colorblindness. Nor does she have any patience for Martin Luther King’s sentiments about the content of one’s character. “Individual whites,” DiAngelo explains, “may be ‘against’ racism, but they still benefit from a system that privileges whites as a group,” and are consequently racists.

The flip side of this tenet is that blacks can’t ever be racists. “While a white person may have been picked on – even mercilessly – by being in the numerical minority in a specific context,” DiAngelo contends, “the individual was experiencing race prejudice and discrimination, not racism.” Hence, even though Barack Obama was president of the United States for two terms, he’s still structurally subordinate to some white guy in a shack in the Appalachians.

Don’t dare tell DiAngelo that “focusing on race is what divides us”. According to her, race in America is a constant existential crisis that we can only fairly address by focusing on it constantlyDiAngelo admits that race is continuously on her mind and that it’s ever been thus. … As far as DiAngelo is concerned, her obsession with racial identity isn’t weird but admirable, and her goal is to make her white readers, students, and diversity trainees as obsessed as she is with their place in “a system of racial inequality that benefits whites at the expense of people of color”.

But what, you ask, if you can’t think of circumstances under which you’ve actually benefited from your whiteness? When I was in high school in Queens, N.Y., the student body of about 5000 was roughly 20% white gentile, 20% black, 20% Asian, 20% Hispanic, and 20% Jewish. I don’t remember those labels mattering in the slightest; kids weren’t picked on because of their ethnic identities but because they were fat or short, nerds or sissies. Later, being black would’ve been a boon to me; as somebody who attended a state university for financial reasons, I know that if I’d been black, my SAT scores would’ve given me a free ride through the Ivy League college and grad school of my choice and swept me into any one of a number of lucrative career paths. No, I’m not saying I’ve been seriously stung by affirmative action; on the contrary, I’m glad to know I never got special treatment, and I wouldn’t have wanted to go to Harvard or Yale anyway. But there are plenty of whites – and Asians too – who’ve been royally screwed over by racial preferences. …

DiAngelo … is  a woman who’s monetized her own pathological obsession with race. Instead of seeking help for this sickness, she plays healer to the healthy. She might celebrate the fact that America is the world’s least racist country, that e pluribus unum is a remarkable, unprecedented reality; instead, the effect of her mischief is to help preserve and deepen whatever racial divisions do exist. Her grim ideology of race is crude, dehumanizing, insulting to black and white; it places us all, without regard to individual qualities or actions or accomplishments, into fixed categories of oppressor and oppressed; it condemns every last one of us to life sentences, alongside DiAngelo herself, in an exceedingly dreary prison of the mind.

John McWhorter writes at The Atlantic:

In 2020—as opposed to 1920—I neither need nor want anyone to muse on how whiteness privileges them over me. Nor do I need wider society to undergo teachings in how to be exquisitely sensitive about my feelings. I see no connection between DiAngelo’s brand of reeducation and vigorous, constructive activism in the real world on issues of import to the Black community. And I cannot imagine that any Black readers could willingly submit themselves to DiAngelo’s ideas while considering themselves adults of ordinary self-regard and strength. Few books about race have more openly infantilized Black people than this supposedly authoritative tome. …

Her answer to white fragility … entails an elaborate and pitilessly dehumanizing condescension toward Black people. The sad truth is that anyone falling under the sway of this blinkered, self-satisfied, punitive stunt of a primer has been taught, by a well-intentioned but tragically misguided pastor, how to be racist in a whole new way.

Posted under Race by Jillian Becker on Sunday, August 9, 2020

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Free thought as heresy again 9

The Left has captured the culture. That’s well known and oft repeated. Education is now religiously Leftist from kindergarten to doctorate. The entertainment industry – stage, film, television –  faithfully carries the sacred messages. The media, both “mainstream” and “social”, are packed with acolytes.

Not only the guardians of the culture have converted en masse to the Church of Marx. Big panjandrums of our capitalist economy are dropping their checks for hundred of millions of dollars into the collection boxes of the Left’s terrorist curates – buying time, they foolishly hope. That would be more surprising if we didn’t have Vladimir Lenin’s (possibly apocryphal but highly plausible) prophecy that “the capitalist will sell you the rope you’ll hang him with”.

And now it is all too horrifyingly possible that the Left will re-capture the legislative and executive branches of the US government. As for the judicial branch, seven of the Supreme Court  justices – all nine of whom were formerly Jewish or Catholic which was not harmful to determinations of law – are dancing arm-in-arm leftwards through a side door into the C. of M., where doctrinal orthodoxy is strictly enforced. Could SCOTUS become the tribunal of the next Inquisition?

A dark age lies ahead. But need we despair? There is consolation to be found in the records of the fast fading era of free thought (roughly 1700-2000), that will still be available to us in books.

Or will they?

Oh, oh! It seems that books by or about the great  – mostly white – scientists, inventors, discoverers, philosophers, visionaries, economists, historians, educators whose ideas debunk the doctrines of the C. of M., are to be removed from libraries, bookshops, even probably our private rooms, and destroyed. Blotted out of human memory. They will not be published  again; or if published by some rogue publisher, not advertised;  or if advertised by some mischance, not sold; or if sold on a black market market of color, confiscated and destroyed.

On the other hand, books supporting the doctrine of the C. of M. (chiefly concerning anti-racism and the evil of being White) will abound. Vast libraries will be built to contain them. There’ll be at least one in every hotel bedside drawer. There’ll be cutely illustrated versions of some on the shelves of kindergartens; thousands to be checked out by students in all grades or else; and subterranean university bookstores will be chockfull of them.

Bruce Bawer, observing the trend, writes at Front Page:

Of America’s most powerful and prominent cultural institutions, it’s quick work naming those that aren’t entirely left-wing satrapies. TV? Fox News, although things are looking less and less encouraging there. Colleges? Hillsdale, I guess, though how many Ivy League faculty members would ever admit to having heard of it? Newspapers? The New York Post (sometimes), Wall Street Journal (kind of)and perhaps one or two others from sea to shining sea. Silicon Valley? Nothing. Hollywood? ¡Nada! Big business? Hmm: what is there, nowadays, honestly, other than that My Pillow guy?

One field in which there’s at least a soupçon of ideological diversity is the book trade. Yes, staffers at the major publishing houses are overwhelmingly on the left. Ditto bookstore employees. Plus the people who give out the major book awards. Not to mention that the heftiest advances for political books go to Democrats. Since the turn of the century, the biggest nonfiction book deal, amounting to at least $65 million, was for Michelle Obama’s Becoming (2018) and for an as-yet-unpublished opus by Barack; second – raking in $15 million – was Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004); third – at $14 million – was Hillary’s Hard Choices (2014).

One more thing about the reflexive leftism of the book scene. Thanks to today’s lethal cancel culture, even classics are at risk. Recently, in an article for the School Library Journal headlined “Little House, Big Problem: What To Do with ‘Classic’ Books That Are Also Racist”, Marva Hinton identified both Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as racist. No, she didn’t just say that they contained racist language, which would have been fair enough; she asserted that these two books – both of them key texts in the history of the American struggle against racism – are in fact racist.

Hinton quoted Julia E. Torres, a Denver school librarian, as saying that when she’s consulted by teachers who want to assign Harper Lee’s novel to their student, she often suggests replacing it with Samira Ahmed’s dystopic novel Internment, “about a teen sent to a U.S. internment camp for Muslim American people”. Alternatively, Torres “suggests they teach To Kill a Mockingbird using excerpts or through a critical consciousness lens, which would include lessons on white saviorism and the weaponization of white women’s tears”. Check, please!

I’m not familiar with the novel Internment – just out in paperback from Little, Brown – but it’s part of a full-court press by the book business to normalize Islam and demonize “Islamophobia”.  Also in on this effort are the major pre-pub reviewing outlets, all of which gave Internment starred reviews that were short on praise for aesthetic values and long on PC drivel. (“Taking on Islamophobia and racism in a Trump-like America…” – Kirkus.  “A very real, very frank picture of hatred and ignorance…” – Booklist. “An unsettling and important book for our times.” – Publishers Weekly.)

In 2006 I published a highly critical book about Islam. Even then, it was savaged by bien pensant book-world types. But criticizing Islam has become so verboten on the left that I doubt any major publisher today would touch a book like While Europe Slept – even though the problems described therein have grown far, far worse.

Meanwhile, to peruse the latest catalogues from those same publishers is to discover a blizzard of dreary-sounding new or forthcoming novels that, judging from the plot summaries, are drenched in identity politics. (Two quick examples from Knopf, perhaps the most respected of literary publishers: Burning by Megha Majumdar, about an Indian girl who’s falsely accused of terrorism and turns for help to a trans woman; My Mother’s House by Francesca Momplaisir, a novel that takes on “the legacy of colonialism” and “the abuse of male power”. …

Amazon’s current list of top ten bestsellers includes several far-left books on racism: Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning, Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk about Race, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. You might think there’s a market for at least one book criticizing these authors’ views; but I’ve been assured by industry insiders that no major New York house would even consider publishing such a book.

Even in book publishing, then, the left is way ahead. But this isn’t good enough for Alex Shephard, a young staff writer at the New Republic, who in a recent article maintained that the book industry is “overdue” for a major “reckoning”. Here’s his article’s subhead (italics mine):

The industry is facing demands to live up to its stated values. That might mean ditching writers like Donald Trump Jr.

And later there’s this (italics again mine):

…these publishing houses are, like many corporations in the country, being asked by their employees and customers to live up to a set of values. And that would seem to be impossible while also publishing the likes of Tucker Carlson…

What does Shephard mean by “stated values”? Simple: left-wing ideological purity. In his view, conservative books are, with exceedingly few exceptions, “valueless”. (Shephard implies that “quality control” alone would eliminate most conservative titles.) Also by definition, they’re awash in “factual inaccuracies”. Because of course you can’t possibly mount a convincing non-leftist argument for anything without radically distorting the truth. (As Shephard puts it: “Being forced to tell the truth is not an existential issue for most of publishing; it is for conservative imprints.”)

Hence, if book publishers began to be serious about fact-checking, it would, argues Shephard, “make it impossible to publish a great many conservative books”. Indeed, even the “more ‘respectable’ side of conservative publishing”, as represented for Shephard by Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 bestseller Liberal Fascism (note, however, those scare quotes around the word respectable), would be challenged by a responsible fact-checking apparatus.

According to Shephard, another attribute of many conservative books is that their authors aren’t serious. He quotes Kimberly Burns, a book publicist: “I’m OK with books being published from different political viewpoints – in fact, it’s necessary for debate and being able to see a whole picture … The problem is when authors write things only to get themselves attention or to make news, instead of to enhance a dialogue…” Apparently this isn’t a problem with left-wing books.

Bottom line: Shephard really likes censorship of his ideological opponents. And he really admires his fellow “woke” types who put pressure on publishers to cancel books. He notes with obvious satisfaction that Henry Holt, the publishing house, “drew fire for its decision to continue publishing Bill O’Reilly after multiple accusations of sexual harassment were made against him”. (There’s no indication that Shephard believes multiple accusations of sexual harassment should affect Bill Clinton’s publishing career.)

Shephard approvingly mentions Simon & Schuster’s 2016 decision to drop the book Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos, whom he identifies as “a troll known for shallow publicity stunts”. And he tells us that he’s spoken to employees at another publishing house, Hachette, who “expressed discomfort about the company’s conservative imprint, Center Street, which publishes Donald Trump Jr., among others”.

Boy, I’ll bet they did. Since Shephard’s article appeared, Hachette staffers – largely lower-level Gen-Z brats – have said that they won’t work on J.K. Rowling’s forthcoming book because she’s criticized transgender ideology. Hachette is the same house that, in response to workers outraged over unproven quarter-century-old sex-abuse allegations, canceled Woody Allen’s about-to-be-published memoirs in March. Allen was never charged with any crime, let alone found guilty of one; years later he was permitted to adopt two children. Yet thanks to those junior Jacobins – every one of whom should’ve been fired – Allen was unceremoniously cut adrift.

And Shephard fully approves. He actually calls Allen a “pariah”. The ease with which this smug punk swats away the legendary writer-director is chilling. No matter what you may think of Allen or his films, the whole ugly spectacle is just too reminiscent of the way things worked under Stalin and Mao. And it’s all too representative, alas, of the atrocious attitudes of the rising generation of lockstep cancel-culture creeps who, like it or not, are well on their way to becoming our nation’s official cultural gatekeepers.