On the WASP and Jewish founders of the NAACP

Rita Kramer at American Thinker has a strangely off-key article about the white origins of the NAACP. I’m glad to see that the commenters are having none of it. One wonders what Kramer’s point is—to remind blacks that they should be grateful to liberal whites and especially liberal Jews for all they did for blacks a hundred years ago? Does she seriously believe that there is any possibility of some large-scale black gratitude at this stage in the game? Does she not know—and as a New York conservative Jewish writer, how could she not know?—that blacks turned against their Jewish allies and benefactors 40 years ago and that anti-Semitism has been a central thread in organized black America even since then? Does she perhaps imagine that there is some chance that blacks will suddenly turn around and start liking Jews?

By the same token, does she think blacks in South Africa are grateful to de Klerk who handed them the country? They couldn’t care less about de Klerk—he’s a white man. Does she think Michelle Obama is grateful to whites for the fantastic favors they gave her through her educational and professional career? No, she deeply resents them, as shown in her statements ranging over her entire adult life from her senior thesis at Princeton to her infamous campaign speeches for her husband.

The reason for this is not hard to grasp, for people whose eyes are not willfully closed to the subjective reality of black people. For blacks, whites are the Other, the Oppressor. To receive favors and help from the Other is insulting to one’s self-regard and not a welcome experience. Least of all do blacks want to be reminded of past favors. Especially now, when they are in the saddle and, as shown by Attorney General Holder’s speech, are lording it over whites. According to Holder, whites have never admitted their guilt for America’s racial past and must start doing so now. Thus the expectations of many whites that Obama’s election would mean we were beyond race and that whites couldn’t be called racist any more has just been shown to be a total delusion. Yet Kramer, stuck in some liberal time warp, is still thinking in terms of the gratitude that blacks owe Jews!

Finally, I am dismayed by Kramer’s over-cooked indictment of the pre-civil rights South. As commenter Marshallgill rightly points out, it was bad in many ways, but Kramer makes it sound like a continual reign of terror in the eighth circle of hell. If any blacks read her article, it would only fuel their anger against whites and their demands for a full racial accounting.

- end of initial entry -

Ken Hechtman writes:

I don’t read it that way. I wouldn’t have thought she’s addressing angry black nationalists simply because there’s not a lot of angry black nationalists who read American Thinker.

I read it as she’s talking to her white conservative audience and telling them: “We have nothing to feel guilty about. Us white folks were part of the solution long before it was fashionable, long before it was safe.

We’re supposed to talk about black history this month? All right, let’s talk about it. Here’s a piece of true black history no race hustler is ever going to tell you—and with good reason.”

And I’ll give her a pass for it just because the NAACP story does need to be told. All the racial politics stories from that time, from the NAACP to the Socialist Party to the first civil rights movement got written out of history because they didn’t fit the needs of the second civil rights movement. It’s like the curtain comes down on Reconstruction and the Klan and Jim Crow and rises again on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King as if nothing of any consequence happened in 80 years.

LA replies:

I have nothing against the NAACP story being told. But this article was out of whack. She overdid the evils of discrimination, and there was no point to her history, other than that liberal Jews led blacks against the prevailing customs then in the U.S., or the South.

So how does that help America? How does that lift the white guilt trip? It’s just more of “us liberal Jews and blacks against the oppressive gentiles.” She doesn’t take away from the guilt trip on historic America, she exacerbates it.

Ken Hechtman replies:

Most conservatives would agree that the prevailing customs of a hundred years ago, the ones concerning race relations anyway, needed to go.

[LA replies: Non sequitur. The statement that things in the past needed to go, and the statement that whites should be guilty, are two separate ideas that America-hating liberals and leftists have conflated into one.]

The same way Sarah Palin proves self-described conservatives don’t want to put women back in the place they were in 100 years ago, Michael Steele, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice prove conservatives don’t want to put blacks back in the place they were in 100 years ago.

[LA replies: Non sequitur.]

How does the piece help America? White conservatives need an ancient and respectable tradition to connect to that reminds them whites (and not just Jews) have ALWAYS been part of the solution. Rita Kramer is providing it.How does that lift the white guilt trip? It lets whites living in this century say, “I’m not the heir of the Klansmen. I’m the heir of the NAACP. THAT’S the tradition I’m carrying on.”

LA replies:

Absurd. I totally reject what you’re saying. This is the leftist, anti-American line coming from you. We are not heirs to Klansmen. That is the white guilt trip that liberals like you have imposed on whites and that whites have internalized. Once people’s starting point is the white guilt trip, it becomes their midpoint and their endpoint as well. Your contempt of America and of whites is what you are expressing here. And just for reference sake, let’s remember what your “tradition” is and what you believe in and where you’re coming from: the disappearance of the historical nations of the West and their merger into the Communist or multiculturalist Brotherhood of Man.

Ken Hechtman replies:

Take a deep breath, you’re missing my point. White conservatives today are NOT the heirs of the Klansmen.

White conservatives today are the people who sing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at their party convention in honor of the president who ended slavery, They’re the heirs of the good guys.

Whites today aren’t guilty of the crimes of 100 years ago and don’t need to feel like they are.

If the example of whites 100 years ago helps them feel less guilty, that is good for whites, blacks and America as a whole.

LA replies:

“Take a deep breath, you’re missing my point. White conservatives today are NOT the heirs of the Klansmen.”

That’s not what you said. Here’s what you said:

How does that lift the white guilt trip? It lets whites living in this century say “I’m not the heir of the Klansmen. I’m the heir of the NAACP. THAT’S the tradition I’m carrying on.”

In other words, EITHER whites are NAACP types, OR they are heirs of the Klansmen. It’s the usual liberal head trip. Either one is a liberal, or one is wicked.

Ken replies:
What the NAACP wanted 100 years ago might have been liberal then. It’s not particularly liberal now. It’s just the way things are.

And this is a failure-to-communicate we’ve had before and I suspect we will have again. You define “liberal” and “conservative” in terms of timeless Platonic ideals. I define them in terms of the median voter of the day. So if someone stands for the NAACP positions of 1909, I’d call them “liberal” if they lived in 1909 but “conservative” if they live in 2009.

And you want me to say it out loud? OK, sure, there’s some middle ground between the NAACP and the Klan. But coming back to the original Rita Kramer piece, how I read it is she saying to her fellow white conservatives “The NAACP is us. This is where we come from. The way the NAACP wanted America to be in 1909 is the way we want it to be in 2009 and because of that, we have nothing to apologize for.”

LA replies:

Ok, this sounds more reasonable. But I see a continuity between the supposedly “conservative” NAACP of 1909 and the radical liberalism of today. It’s seen, e.g., in Kramer’s melodramatic overstatement of the badness of discrimination. As she sees it, America was completely horrible then. This is the standard leftist view. The badness of past discrimination blots out everything else. And once you see your country in terms of such guilt, your country is finished, it loses the ability to stand for its own existence against ever-increasing leftist claims and attacks. Anyone who considers such guilt as normal is either sick or has malign intentions..

You have missed the point I made earlier. That one can see that certain practices need to be changed, and change them, without going into guilt about having had such practices. That’s what I have urged, in my article, “How the 1964 Civil Rights Act Made Racial Entitlements Inevitable,” where I said that white America could have redressed the worst racial practices without giving up its legitimacy and its natural dominance as the majority American group. But of course that’s not what we have had. We’ve had the guilty white syndrome which spells the progressive suicide of America’s majority group and thus of America. And why don’t you be honest about it? You have an interest in Americans having such guilt because it assures America’s surrender to the Brotherhood of Man and thus its extinction.

. So, to conclude, the NAACP of 1909 may have seemed moderate, but it contained within it the radical, America-disparaging liberalism of today that is killing us.

Ken Hechtman writes:

Apropos of nothing, this is why I’m interested in that subject: It’s because of something my Communist grandfather was told by a friend of his back in the 1930s. The guy said “A white liberal will come to an NAACP meeting with me. But only a white Communist will go out for a beer afterwards.” I want to understand that story and then I want to tell it.

LA replies:

Yes, you’re interested in the Brotherhood of Man.

You’re a leftist atheist Jew who wants to recreate, on a society wide scale, the Eastern European Jewish shtetl with its intense emotional life. You want to impose this Jewish way of being on all of society, and ultimately, via the Brotherhood of Man, on the whole world.

Instead of just wanting to have your own shtetl for you and your fellow Jews, you want to make the whole society conform to your Jewish emotional style.

That is destructive of our Western political order, just as it’s destructive of liberty for women to be in politics because they try to turn the state into their husband who will take care of all their needs.

The logic of what I’ve just said is that an immigrant group who have a program that is alien and destructive to the traditions, ethos, and political system of a society should either not be admitted to that society, or should be denied politically and culturally influential roles in the society, and perhaps even denied the vote, until they demonstrate that they are fully assimilated members of the society.

An example of what I’m talking about was given by Alan Dershowitz in his book Chutzpah. He told how federal appeals court judge David Bazelon, for whom he had clerked, would find ways to get around the Constitution, and then, in private conversation, boastfully explain that he had been acting for the sake of rachmones, the Jewish word for compassion. .I have nothing against Jews practicing rachmones in their private lives, but when a Jew uses his high position as a federal judge to impose Jewish rachmones on the U.S. Constitution, I have a serious problem with that. A healthy society does not allow an unassimilated minority into influential positions where they can remake the institutions and culture of the society in their own image.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 22, 2009 07:03 PM | Send

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