Have I misinterpreted Fred Barnes?

CN, a liberal acquaintance who occasionally reads VFR, thinks I have completely mis-read and misinterpreted Fred Barnes’s remark that Republicans should not attack President Obama because of his moral authority as the first African-American president.

CN writes:

You and American Cassandra can have all the fun you want poking at Fred Barnes. But just reading your message, your complaints start by misstating what Barnes wrote, and then you’re off and running.

LA replies:

Fine. You tell us what Barnes really meant.

CN replies:

I have no desire to find out what Barnes meant in the referenced article, or in the fullness of his mind; at least not at the moment. Only in what you quoted, he wrote (my word), regardless of what he meant (your word), that Republicans should, as a tactic, co-opt Obama, or at least his words. More precisely, that Repubs should use Obama’s words against congressional Dems and their initiatives.

C’mon, Larry. We’re not policy makers or reporters. We don’t do any original research or field work. All we do is bloviate. If we want to have any authority at all, we have to stick to logic and be fair to rhetoric. Whenever you start, implicitly or explicitly, with, “In other words … ,” you need to make damned sure that you are paraphrasing accurately and fairly. In this particular example, you use, “So here is … “; and then, as I said, you’re off to the races, at which the finish line happens to be your pre-determined outlook.

Do I suspect that Barnes thinks whites are inherently inferior to blacks? Most assuredly not. Do you? (Hint: Barnes appears to have an exceptionally high opinion of himself. Barnes appears to be white.)

LA replies:

You are not the first person who doesn’t understand or doesn’t approve of my analytical method.

Politicians, writers, commenters, bloggers, ordinary people commonly state their opinions and views without putting them in conceptual form. They state an idea, without articulating the assumption underlying that idea, the principle that that idea expresses, and the end toward which that principle tends and where it will actually go if it is applied consistently.

I identify the assumption and the principle. People often resent this. They say, “You’re putting words in my mouth, I didn’t say that.” But, of course, in modern, liberal society, liberal principles are NEVER stated explicitly, because if they were, they would be exposed and opposed. For example, have you ever heard an EU politician say, “We are ending the sovereignty of the nations of Europe”? No, not once have they ever said that, though of course that is what they are doing. Instead, they speak of “harmonization,” of greater “efficiency,” or improved “responsiveness,” of “building a new Europe.”

Leftists and liberals virtually NEVER state clearly where their ideas and policies tend. Instead, they use rhetoric. This is why it’s necessary to distinguish the formal or apparent meaning of political statements, from their real meaning.

Now, here’s what Barnes said:

“For the foreseeable future, attacking Obama will be counterproductive for Republicans. He’s both enormously popular and the bearer of moral authority as the first African-American president.”

What was he saying? He was saying that Obama is the bearer of moral authority as the first African American president to which Republicans, almost all of whom are white, must defer. What does this MEAN? It means that because of his blackness (actually his half-blackness), Obama has some special moral authority. He cannot be directly criticized, by whites, because of this moral authority. Whites must defer to him.

That’s what Barnes said. Further, since this is true of Obama, it is by implication true of all blacks, since there’s no principle by which it can be said that if Obama has special moral authority as a black and whites must defer to him, other blacks don’t also have special moral authority to which whites must defer. Without putting his own statement in categorical or conceptual form, Barnes was nevertheless implying a categorical principle that blacks, by virtue of being black, have a moral authority that whites lack.

We also know that this is true, because it is not something new or out of the blue. Blacks have been morally favored for decades. Because of black victimhood and white racism, blacks’ “sensitivities” automatically carry a weight that whites’ sensitivities lack. At the time of the OJ Simpson acquittal, when whites were shocked at both the acquittal and at blacks’ joy over it, the media began a campaign saying that blacks have a special “experience” and “point of view” that justified their reaction to the verdict. Thus the reactions of irrational blacks cheering the acquittal of a stone-guilty double murderer of two whites were portrayed as morally equal to the reactions of rational white people shocked by the acquittal and the black behavior. Blacks got that moral leg up because of their special moral authority as victims of white racism. Thus the white’s genuine shock and indignation at the black behavior was “managed” into oblivion. Without the special moral authority, blacks’ joy at the acquittal of a murderer would have been seen for the savage and immoral behavior it was, and the arguments they used to justify their joy would have been seen as the words of irrational people not worthy of being citizens in a civilized society.

Generally speaking, when blacks speak, the whites must accept, because of the special moral authority blacks have, and the guilt whites have.

Look at TV shows, where blacks are the moral arbiters, cast as judges and the mature, together people, while white men are shown as neurotic immature jerks. Look at ads, where you see the same thing. And volumes could be written about the numinous aura that surrounds black characters in movies and television dramas.

Of course, as a liberal, who lives in liberalism as a fish lives in the sea, you see none of this and you think I’m fantasizing.

The idea of a special black moral authority has been in operation for decades. But now it has gone to a new stage. A “conservative” journalist pronounces that white Republicans must not oppose Obama because he is “the bearer of moral authority as the first African-American president.” So now the superior moral authority of blacks has been made explicit at the level of national politics and put into the form of a rule that whites should not oppose a black president.

Now, you attempted to refute my view of Barnes’s statement by emphasizing his next sentence, in which, you said, Barnes was calling on Repubicans to oppose Obama. But here’s what Barnes said:

“So the idea is for Republicans to make Obama an ally by using his words, from the inaugural address and speeches and interviews, against Democrats and their initiatives in Congress.”

In other words (that’s right, C., I said “in other words,” because that is what an analyst of political speech MUST do in order to go beyond its apparent meaning and get at its real meaning), the only opposition to Obama that white Republicans are allowed is to appeal to is Obama’s own “nicer” rhetoric. They can demand that Democrats live up to Obama’s more moderate statements. But the Republicans are not allowed to appeal to their own principles, because their own principles have no moral authority. ONLY OBAMA’S PRINCIPLES AND RHETORIC HAVE MORAL AUTHORITY. The most that white Republicans can do is ask Obama and the Democrats to be consistent with Obama’s statements. They react to him, and move in orbit around him, and politely criticize him when he seems to depart from his own statements. That’s their assigned role in a society in which blacks have a moral authority that whites lack.

And that dhimmi-like sentence of Barnes’s is what you saw as disproving my view that Barnes was telling Republicans not to oppose Obama!

You write:

“Barnes appears to have an exceptionally high opinion of himself. Barnes appears to be white.”

Of course, white liberal elites THINK VERY WELL OF THEMSELVES. They are the embodiments of liberalism. What liberalism consists of is the action of white liberals in including and raising up nonwhites and ceding power to them. That is the demonstration of the white liberals’ liberal virtue.

The white elites do not themselves feel guilty. They assert a general white guiltiness which they themselves do not share. It’s other whites, whites who haven’t gotten with the program, whites who have failed to defer to the liberal rule book, whites who are uncomfortable with the anti-white system, who are the guilty ones. Thus a school girl in Britain a year or two ago got in trouble with the authorities because she was placed in a study group with Indians or Muslim pupils who spoke some language other than English. She asked the teacher to reassign her to a group that spoke English, and she was reported for anti-foreign attitudes and got in trouble. She wasn’t with the program.

Throughout the Western world, other than in the United States, there are anti-hate speech laws which make it a crime to say anything that “stirs up hate and discrimination” against designated groups. Such laws are only enforced against whites. Why? Because, as a British judge said, it is impossible to stir up hate and discrimination against the majority, only against the minorities. Thus Nonwhites have a moral authority, a moral sanction, and a moral protection of which whites are officially deprived.

So, white guilt before nonwhites, with nonwhites, particularly blacks, as the symbol of a virtue derived from victimhood, is what it’s about. But the white elites, who constantly put down whites for their guilt, do not themselves feel guilty.

Liberal society thus has three classes on which its operation depends: the white liberal elites, who embody and practice liberal virtue, particularly the signature liberal virtue of inclusion; the nonwhites, who are simultaneously the symbol of goodness and the unfairly excluded Other upon whom the white liberal elites practice liberal virtue by including them, approving of them, and defering to them; and the white non-liberals (or rather whites who are seen as non-liberal), who represent the principle of racial exclusion and racial guilt that the system is organized to root out and destroy, but which must not be rooted out and destroyed, because then the system would lose its raison d’etre. There must ALWAYS be guilty whites who have failed to get with the liberal program, because it only against their racial guilt that the racial virtue of the white liberals shines forth and the liberal system fulfills itself.

CN replies:

OK, thanks for explaining.

Oh, just one last thing. Do you think Barnes thinks whites are inherently inferior to blacks? If so, do you have any basis other than your quote in today’s messages?

LA replies:

I never said that Barnes thinks that whites are “inherently inferior” to blacks. That’s the charge that is usually made against race-conscious whites like me.

I said he said that blacks are possessed of a moral authority and moral superiority, because of the history of white racism that put blacks down. In reality, the history of white racism is not the reason blacks are behind, as is shown by the fact that after all discrimination has come to an end and blacks are even favored through race-preference policies, blacks are still behind on all measures of achievement and performance. The real reason they are behind is that there are intrinsic racial differences in civilizational abilities, differences that are not caused by any history of white racism, and that cannot be ended by any ameliorative measures. Under liberalism, this racial “lag” is blamed not on natural racial differences, which liberalism refuses to recognize, but on white racism, which in turn leads to the idea that blacks possess a special moral authority because of their victimhood at the hands of whites.

- end of initial entry -

CN writes:

Do you think Barnes thinks that whites are “morally inferior” to blacks? Do you think Barnes thinks “that whites embody the principle of evil and blacks embody the principle of good.” If so, do you have any support that Barnes holds those positions other than the one quote in your posts?

LA replies:

I do not say that Barnes thinks “that whites embody the principle of evil and blacks embody the principle of good.” What I said was that Barnes’s statement puts him on the same continuum as Jeremiah Wright, who subscribes to the idea that whites embody the principle of evil and blacks embody the principle of good. Once Barnes attributed special moral worth and moral authority to Obama because of his race, and moral deficiency to white Republicans because of their race, he had entered a black-centric, anti-white, racist realm where there is no hard and fast line between his position and Wright’s. Again, this does not mean that his position is the same as Wright’s. But it’s questionable whether Barnes now has any principle by which he can decisively rebuke Wright. All he could say is that Wright is “going too far,” that Wright is being “too much of a rabble rouser.” But it is doubtful that he would be able to articulate conceptually what is objectionable about Wright.

And, yes, I base what I’ve said on Barnes’s one statement. That is the principle contained in that statement. And it doesn’t matter whether or not Barnes privately intended the meaning that I attribute to that statement. The statement has an objective meaning and effect, it supports certain principles and tendencies in our politics, and undercuts others, independently of what Barnes may think it means.

LA continues:

As I’ve said before, the difference between a reactionary (or traditionalist) on one hand, and a conservative and liberal on the other, is that the reactionary identifies an idea that is fatal to his society the moment it appears, because he sees the principle that underlies that idea.

For example, the moment a people begin to say, as a primary identifier of themselves, “We’re a tolerant country,” or “We believe in tolerance,” as has been the case for some time in Britain, one can know instantly where that people is heading. They have made tolerance their guiding principle, which means that they have made normative moral judgments impossible, they have made the preservation of national traditions impossible, they have made cultural defense against unassimilable aliens possible, they have made ordinary criminal prosecutions almost impossible, they have made the deportation of terrorists almost impossible, and they must ultimately force Catholic adoption agencies to adopt children to homosexual couples and must criminalize people for criticizing Islam. And all this proceeds from, and can be seen in, that one, seemingly innocuous little phrase, “We’re a tolerant country.”

Now the British hadn’t thought though all the implications of that statement when they began to make it. They didn’t consciously intend the ruin of their country. But their subscription to that idea, by itself, was enough to bring on their ruin.

And that’s why it’s possible to draw large conclusions from a single sentence, as I did from a single remark by Fred Barnes.

January 31

Terry Morris writes:

Look, when you said that Rod Dreher, writing for the Dallas Morning News and naming illegal aliens “Texan of the Year,” was, by virtue of his naming them Texan of the Year, declaring illegal aliens to be Americans, all you werre doing was following the train to the caboose. Just give Barnes time, he’ll vindicate you in his own words, in his own time. Albeit CN will probably still have none of it.

A reader writes:

When the O.J. Simpson verdict came in, I was at work. Immediately thereafter about four white women, all liberals, came into my office. They were all absolutely aghast that the Negro employees were vocally celebrating the verdict, although it was apparent to anyone with two functioning brain cells that he had murdered them both. I looked at the four of them and said something like, “What planet have you people been living on all these years?” After a week or two they all calmed down and rediscovered their white guilt.

LA replies:

The reader’s anecdote supports my oft stated regret about how a moment of intense white awakening to black reality quickly died out, or, rather, it was cancelled out by liberal propaganda onslaught.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 30, 2009 07:18 PM | Send

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