American Elephants


The Choices Available At The End of the Civil Rights Era by The Elephant's Child
May 27, 2015, 6:12 am
Filed under: Education | Tags: , ,

From William Voegeli’s The Pity Party:

The question of self-reliance affects the relationship between emphathizers and empathizees in a further way. If compassion rules out expecting much from those who suffer, then the moral and political leverage that empathizees wield against those who feel sorry for them will come to depend on their own incapacity. This correlation of moral forces operates with particular strength when empathizers and empathizees unite in the belief that the historic grievances of those who suffer preclude anyone else from calling on them to be self-reliant.

The basic choice open to blacks after the landmark legislation and court decisions of the civil rights era, according to the Hoover Institution’s Shelby Steele,* was between advancing “through education, skill development, and entrepreneuralism,” or  “pressuring the society that had wronged us into taking the lion’s share of the responsibility for resurrecting us.” The second course became all but inevitable when the post-civil rights narrative of white guilt and black victimhood decreed “that no black problem— whether high crime rates, poor academic performance, or high illegitimacy rates—could be defined as largely a black responsibility, because it was an injustice to make victims responsible for their own problems.”

*Shelby Steele, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (New York: HarperCollins, 2006)


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