I was not able to watch or listen to the commemorative speeches and commentary yesterday. Some workmen cut our fiber optic link to the world rendering the office incommunicado (except for cellphones, and I have a dumb one). Had to read about it in the old fashioned way. Among the commentaries read, I found the one by John McWhorter to be the most incisive and relevant to our present situation. For those unfamiliar, Mr. McWhorter is a linguist by profession who has taught at Stanford, Columbia, and has been a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He writes articles for a number of publications, including The New Republic and The Wall Street Journal (yes, my friends, you can mention those two publication in the same sentence). Here are some excerpts:
“On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we will hear a good deal about how life in this country for black Americans has not changed as much as Martin Luther King Jr. might have wished. We will hear little to nothing about the role that certain strains of black progressive ideology have played in delaying the realization of King’s dream.”
“[I]in the decades since the March on Washington, black America has been taken on a detour by too many self-described progressive black thinkers and leaders, whose quixotic psycho-social experiment they disguise as a continuation of the civil-rights movement. With segregation illegal and public racism considered a moral outrage, we black Americans are now told that we will not truly overcome until Americans don’t even harbor private racist sentiment, until race plays not even a subtle role in America’s social fabric.
“In other words, our current battle is no longer against segregation or bigotry but “racism” of the kind that can be revealed only by psychological experiments and statistical studies.
“This battle is as futile as seeking a world without germs. “We have come to the nation’s capital to cash a check,” King said. But the preacher was talking about being freed from “the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”—not asking whether Americans are aware of skin color or are more likely to associate black faces with negative words in an experiment.”
“Too many blacks seem to have internalized just that: The essence of contemporary blackness in America is eternal indignation. Notice, for example, the fire-breathing hostility that against-the-grain black writers attract from other blacks. As I know from personal experience, these writers are accused of tempting whites into some kind of antiblack backlash.
“Instead, in recent years, the black middle class has flourished. Housing segregation for blacks is the lowest it has been since the 1920s. And a black president has been elected twice. Yet the fury persists, since what actually rankles these critics is the threat to what they feel is their very identity: underdogs with a bone to pick.
“This is not where the March on Washington was pointing us. . . .”
For McWhorter’s entire article, please see this link.