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Friday, March 10, 2006

Shelby Steele Risks Being Called Tom (And I Do Not Mean Sowell)

Let's get it out of the way: Shelby Steele is an Uncle Tom and I am a racist for repeating his comments. Now, for a few segments from an eye-opening interview Steele gave The American Enterprise magazine:

The Welfare State:

By accepting the idea that government is somehow going to take over the responsibility that only we can take, we relinquished authority over ourselves. We became child-like, and our families began to fall to pieces. Welfare—which promised a subsistence living for the rest of your days for doing absolutely nothing—provided a perfect incentive to not get married, yet still have babies. Then the babies will be state wards, and their babies, and so forth.

Affirmative Action:

Blacks do well in sports, music, entertainment, and literature—because there’s absolutely no white intervention, paternalism, affirmative action, or anything else. We’re asked to compete without any assistance, and sure enough, we compete. We succeed. In these areas, whites never intervene, so we ask the best and we get the best. But in colleges and other places, there are a billion excuses. Whites intervene and convince themselves not to ask much of us. It’s the same old vicious cycle...

Affirmative action and all of its sundry manifestations should be completely eliminated. It stigmatizes all blacks, and it’s not voluntary. One of the real cruelties of affirmative action is that whether we want it or not, it is imposed on us, simply because of the color of our skin. You don’t get to opt out.

The Trauma of Freedom:

We’ve done worse in freedom than we did in segregation. It’s abominable that we made more advances between 1945 and 1965 than we have since, but it’s the truth. According to studies by Stanford’s Thomas Sowell and Harvard’s Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom, we made up more ground with whites in the 1950s than in other decades. This is something I’m writing about in my next book.

Something people overlook is the shock of becoming free. When an oppressor finally takes his foot off your neck—whether it’s the European powers withdrawing from their colonies, or whites in America passing civil rights legislation and starting a Great Society—the group that has created an entire culture to cope with oppression is suddenly disoriented. Becoming free can give a profound shock. We don’t have the values in place for dealing with it. We don’t have the ideas. We have the mechanisms for wearing masks, for manipulating an oppressor, for surviving under harsh circumstances; we’ve become geniuses at that. But we don’t know what to do with freedom.


Read more as Steele opines on Bill Cosby, Democratic control of the black vote (unless Rice runs), Katrina and more. Steele is an important thinker and we all should consider his views.

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