These ideas today have nothing to do with race or ethnicity, and everything to do with the “shared values” of the English-speaking countries or Anglosphere, as Roger Kimball puts it in an essay from his new book, The Fortunes of Permanence. “It is a unity,” Kimball quotes the Indian scholar Madhav Das Nalapat, based on “the blood of the mind” instead of the “blood of the body.” And the core ideal uniting the Anglosphere, Kimball writes, is “the depth and strength of the Anglosphere’s traditional commitment to individual freedom and local initiative against the meddlesome intrusion of any central authority.” It is this passionate dedication to freedom that has characterized the history and heritage of the English-speaking peoples, who for all their mistakes and crimes nonetheless have led the world in spending blood and treasure to protect, defend, and nourish freedom.
Despite attempts in the past to racialize those Anglo-Saxon values, to ground them in the “blood of the body” rather than in the “blood of the mind,” a true understanding of these shared values could not be further from the crude, materialist determinism of today’s race hacks, who imprison individuals in their race, and see everything they say and do and think through this discredited template. Remember when Harvard’s Derrick Bell said that Clarence Thomas “doesn’t think like a black man”? Likewise Lucas dehumanizes Obama’s white critics, seeing them not as free individuals with different ideas about where America should be heading and what policies will best get us there, but as slaves to their irrational bigotry and inherited moral corruption, and thus easily stirred to hatred by racist “dog whistles” blown by Republican politicians.
But notice too how this racial essentialism, this reduction of individuals to simplistic racial categories, demeans blacks as well as whites. By blaming everything that happens to blacks on white racism, the race-mongers strip black people of their agency, reducing them to passive victims condemned by their race to inferiority. And of course, we must wonder about progressives who endorse and institutionalize a racialist discourse that infantilizes the people they claim they want to be fully equal. Do they not understand that a victim is at some level always inferior to his oppressor?
But don’t forget the political advantage that comes from having a class of political clients whom you have absolved from any responsibility for their actions and lives. Such an idea has justified the creation of a vast social-welfare bureaucracy that has expanded the federal government, provided patronage for public employee unions, and allowed intrusive government interference in our social life and economy through affirmative action programs, hate speech laws, and sexual harassment policies that have less and less to do with office lotharios and more to do with protecting designated categories of persons from getting their feelings hurt. Yet this patronage likewise demeans its presumed beneficiaries, stripping them of the dignity that comes from personal autonomy and responsibility, fostering the “soft racism” of low expectations, and thus keeping them in a state of inferiority and dependence on those who oversee the transfers to them of taxpayer money. As the African proverb puts it, “The hand that gives is always above the hand that receives.”
That progressives who fancy themselves smarter and more sensitive thinkers, more respectful of nuance and complexity, than conservatives would endorse such crude racist thought is one more example of the bankruptcy of the progressive mind, and its corruption by politics and power. Given how much the progressives have to lose if Romney wins, expect even more of this intellectual corruption as the Democrats try to misdirect the voter from Obama’s dismal record.
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