Do liberals feel any responsibility for stirring up black violence against whites?

Paul K. writes:

When liberals whip up hysteria over a matter like the Trayvon Martin shooting, do you think they feel any sense of responsibility for the consequences? It seems to me quite likely that many whites—including liberal whites—will pay in blood for the rage stirred up among blacks about this case. I can imagine a liberal seeing this bloodshed in one of three ways: as purely incidental (not at all his fault); as collateral damage (the price we pay to raise awareness); or an actual good in itself (a blow against “white supremacy”).

Paul K. continues:

There was something I was thinking about recently with regard to liberal responsibility for stirring up black rage. In 1988, the movie Mississippi Burning was released. It was a left-wing polemic, based loosely on events around the murder of civil rights activists Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney, and as is often the case with such docudramas, many of those who saw it assumed it was an accurate portrayal of events.

There is one particularly inflammatory scene in the movie in which Klansmen beat a black man as he kneels and prays. This is a deliberate distortion of an actual incident in which Klansman were beating a black man, but when his wife began to pray aloud they were shamed and left him alone. However, to present Klansman as having some shred of decency did not fit the movie’s agenda, so that had to be changed.

After seeing the movie, a group of blacks, incited by that scene, attacked a passing white teenager and beat him into a coma, in a case that became famous as Wisconsin v. Mitchell. It is one of the few times hate-crime charges have been brought against blacks.

I wonder what the people responsible for Mississippi Burning thought about that. Did they feel they bore some responsibility for that attack, or did they still feel that one can never go wrong exaggerating the viciousness of white racism? I have the same question regarding the media’s presentation of the Trayvon Martin shooting.

LA replies:

Of course, the “stirring up of hatred” is one of the key definitions of racism, as well as of hate speech. To stir up hatred against a group is a crime throughout the Western world. Yet no one thinks to accuse liberals , the liberal media, and the black leaders of stirring up black hatred against whites. Mainstream conservatives won’t make the accusation, because it would involve defending whites as a group from something bad that is being done to them. That is something completely beyond the ken and capacity of regular conservatives, because they truly believe that it is wrong to think, speak, and act in terms of race. It is not the least of the ironies of the current situation that, notwithstanding the fact that liberals think that conservatives are terrible racists, in reality the conservatives don’t have it in them even to defend their own race when it’s being demonized.
- end of initial entry -

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

On the topic “Do Liberals Feel Responsibility?”—When I recently argued that liberalism is a sacrificial cult, I was not retailing in metaphor. Once reject the Gospel and Dionysus, whom Girard calls Le dieu de lynchage (“The God of Lynching”), becomes supreme again by default. Of course, liberals, like Pilate, like to keep their hands clean. They therefore delegate the actual dirty business to reliable third parties. They then rhetorically obfuscate the evil under such figures of speech as “random violence” or “altercations gone wrong.” Paul K.’s third possibility is the true description of the case.

April 4, 1:10 p.m.

William H. writes:

Liberals feel no responsibility for their irresponsible and reckless actions. Remember 30 or so years ago when they were all up in arms about white rule in South Africa? The whites were vilified daily in the news about apartheid. Well, the liberals realised their goal of black rule. Blacks now are running and ruining the country. Yet, there is not a peep about the problems and the racism against whites there. It is the furthest thing from the minds of liberals today. How many times have you seen anything in the news recently about South Africa’s problems? They care not one bit about the injustices and murders that are going on. They feel, they act, they look straight ahead, and move on to do more feeling, acting, and moving on, never looking back. Their is no reflection, no introspection.

Mark L. writes:

It’s interesting that Paul K. mentions Mississippi Burning as an example of Hollywood lefties “stirring up black rage.” I saw the movie twice. The first time was when it initially came out, and while I thought there was something a little heavy handed about it, I still had some lingering liberal ideals, and besides, it featured an interesting blend of drama and action. I particularly got a kick out of the tough-ass character played by Gene Hackman.

But when I saw the movie a year later, on board an overnight hovercraft heading from England to Holland, I saw it as a nasty and totally irresponsible piece of propaganda. Maybe what helped open my eyes is that I actually witnessed how it affected blacks. There was only a few of us watching the film, but I was sitting a couple of rows up from some black passengers, and I could sense them getting riled up by some of the more outrageous scenes of white-on-black persecution (such as the scene where a young black man was depicted being held in a cage). They were audibly swearing and you could tell they were feeling the pain of the black victims.

Needless to say, they really seemed to enjoy it when Hackman’s character quietly takes over a barber shop and starts shaving one of the white racists, cutting up his face in the process. For them, this ugliness was nothing to shudder at, but something expiatory. Who knows what kind of similar thoughts have gone through the minds of blacks, like those who participated in the Knoxville atrocity, to name just one.

As for anyone condemning such garbage, the only “respectable” person I know of who stuck her neck out at the time was the liberal film critic Pauline Kael. She wrote that the film’s director, Alan Parker, “uses the civil-rights movement to make a Charles Bronson movie, and, from his blithe public statements, he seems unaware that this could be thought morally repugnant…. The [movie’s] manipulation got to me, all right, but the only emotion I felt was hatred for the movie.”

LA replies:

I saw Mississippi Burning when it came out, and I was repelled by it. I would have walked out of the theater except that I was in a social situation that made that impossible.

Also, the movie is a prime example of the Tripartite Structure (or Three-Character Script) of Liberalism. All the blacks in the movie are passive, innocent creatures either being mistreated by white racists or being saved by white liberals. The blacks are made by the director to look like babies, or neonates.

Lydia McGrew writes:

When you asked whether liberals feel any remorse about stirring up black violence, I was reminded of this article in the Claremont Review. To my mind it is exceedingly disturbing, because it attempts to “rehabilitate” Malcolm X and even to downplay his incitements to violence. The author, Diana Schaub, quotes directly from what is obviously a call for black violence against whites in his “ballots or bullets” speech and then says that it is not a “straightforward call to arms” but a “nuanced thinking through of the alternatives.” She tries to associate Malcolm X’s calls for black violence, including Molotov cocktails and hand grenades, with the Lockean notion of justified revolution against a tyrannical government. Schaub has more to say about her attempted reevaluation of Malcolm X in this interview.

I realize that this is pretty high-class stuff compared to the sort of race-baiting and white demonization that you had in mind in the original question, “Do liberals feel any responsibility for stirring up black violence against whites?” Nonetheless, I think it is related, because it is a pathetic and intellectually absurd attempt by those who evidently think of themselves as in some sense “conservative” to find some way to appropriate a Nation of Islam figure who promulgated hatred against and called for violence against whites. It hardly needs to be said that they would never try any such revisionist history were the figure in question a white supremacist.

What I find most disturbing is that there should be no awareness of how particularly offensive this is in the current context of black-on-white violence. It’s as though direct incitement to black-on-white violence can just be excused or airbrushed away because it might be politically expedient to be able to say that we, too, admire Malcolm X. One hardly likes to think what sort of constituency Schaub hopes to make common cause with by such a move.

Leonard D. writes:

Paul K. asks how progressives “feel” about modern race riots, which is to say blacks rioting when sufficiently stirred up by progressive media campaigns:

I can imagine a liberal seeing this bloodshed in one of three ways: as purely incidental (not at all his fault); as collateral damage (the price we pay to raise awareness); or an actual good in itself (a blow against “white supremacy”).

Being raised in the antichurch of progress, I think I can answer that one. Mostly it is #3: the progressive feels black riots as righteous action against the Man. He feels them as black agency, which is in his mind a good thing. This feeling will cover most of the damage of most riots, which is property damage and intangible damage to the social fabric. The progressive has little or no feeling of the righteousness of private property. (His own property is an unprincipled exception.) Nor does he have any feeling for law and order as a good in itself. He thinks it is something that just happens, like sunlight. As such a riot has no deleterious effect on it.

Most of the personal violence incidental to riots will go under #2: collateral damage. Again, you have to understand that to a progressive, a riot is a righteous action; it is the people finally rising from their torpor to let the Man know that he should not be holding them down. This is analogous to the way most conservatives don’t feel any trauma from the hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians the U.S. government has killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Any sufficiently unseemly violence will go into bin #1: hey, it’s not our fault! We didn’t riot. Sure we stirred up rage, but it was righteous rage, you know—and that makes all the difference. We were well intended, and rage needed to be stirred up! Yes, sometimes people go to far, but they are only human. If you didn’t want to face these results, you shouldn’t have supported slavery. That is: it’s your fault. (Recall here the tripartite structure of our politics. Riots will be blamed on intransigent whites who support law and order.)

Finally, not mentioned by Paul K. is some small pride. Even though progressives don’t think of them this way, because they formally believe in equality, blacks are the progressives’ clients. Every patron feels pride when his client acts as the patron would wish—that is, after all, why humans form patron/client relationships. The patron gets political power; the client gets some crumbs off his table.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. (I am curious what your other progressive-raised correspondents think.)

Ian M. writes:

I have not seen Mississippi Burning nor the scene that Paul K. refers to, but upon reading his comparison between the actual event on one hand, and how the event was depicted in the movie on the other, I was struck by how much more powerful and moving the scene likely would have been had it been depicted accurately. Heaping coals on your enemy’s head, as it were.

Matt writes:

Paul K.’s citation of the man-bites-dog case Wisconsin v. Mitchell got me thinking. So-called “hate crime” laws are intended to add an additional charge of heresy (against liberal dogma) on top of the actual crime committed. The problem with this for the liberal is that, as with most other crimes, blacks in actual reality commit this particular crime—that is, racism, a heresy against liberal dogma—much more frequently than whites. So if they were enforced consistently, hate crime laws would have a disproportionate impact on blacks, since blacks disproportionately commit violent crimes with racist motivation. Therefore hate crime laws, intended to punish white male Christians who engage in ungoodthink, cannot be enforced consistently. The spirit of the law and its letter applied to actual reality are in conflict.

Nothing too profound, I guess: just one concrete example of the conflict between liberalism and reality which makes the tripartite structure of liberalism inevitable.

Sam writes:

I think part of the reason liberals do not feel remorse about this kind of violence is that they do not really believe that blacks are moral agents. They see black behaviors as wholly a byproduct of external social conditions such economic “deprivation” and institutional white “racism.” Hence, when they erupt into violent behavior, this isn’t viewed as some kind of moral failing that needs condemnation. Rather, it is viewed as the inevitable blowback against the injustice of white dominated society. Hence, while they might not view it as a positive good, they will see it as further confirmation of the insidious reality of white “privilege” and institutionalized racism. This is because they don’t believe in moral agency, and they think that such violence only happens because blacks are so horribly mistreated by non-liberal whites, who cannot reasonably expect better behavior from them until they finally renounce all of their unearned white “privileges.”

LA replies:

But if the liberals truly don’t believe in moral agency, then why don’t they also see the “racist” behavior of whites as a by-product of social forces over which whites have no control? And why don’t they see their own, virtuous liberal behavior as the by-product of social forces over which they have no control?

Kevin V. writes:

Quick note on Mississippi Burning. Not surprised the commentator saw it in Europe as it is one of the American movies always in very heavy rotation there on TV. I would swear it’s on once a month on BBC and Sky.

Robert writes:

Of course not. They haven’t felt any remorse since the New Left took over liberalism in the early 1970s. What is important is that in the past liberals were constrained by the fear of a white political backlash. I remember hearing fear in the voices of liberal commentators after the L.A. riots of ‘92, but in fact there was no backlash worthy of the name. Even then they didn’t have anything to fear, thanks in large part to the quisling-like behavior of the Republicans and President Bush. These days they have imported enough votes (with the help of the Republicans) so that they no longer have the least amount of fear of a white backlash. That accounts for the sheer gall of the press coverage of the Trayvon Martin case. They hardly have to pretend anymore. Their victims are politically prostrate and without voice in any hall that counts.

David B. writes:

I used to be a liberal, not the far left, but I thought of myself as a liberal. When I saw news of black violence against whites, I would try to ignore it. If not possible to ignore, I would make up excuses and rationalizations.

Being a liberal means you are always making excuses for blacks. Every white liberal learns how to do it.

One thing going to the right meant in my experience is that you no longer have to make excuses all the time.

I agree with Robert. The liberals are no longer worried about a white backlash at the polls. They think they already are the majority. Twenty years ago, liberal writers (Joe Klein) wrote hand-wringing pieces worrying about how race was hurting the democrats politically. You don’t see this now.

LA replies:

There seems to have been a similar dynamic with the neoconservatives. Thirteen years ago Ron Unz wrote a cover article in Commentary saying that the worst thing that could happen as a result of Hispanic immigration was—no, not the Hispanicization and Third-Worldization of the U.S., but an upsurge of “white nationalism.” To the neocons, an attempt to stop the Third Worldization of our country would be a worse thing than the Third Worldization of our country.

Do neocons still have that concern? They’ve hardly written about immigration in recent years. They seem to recognize that, aside from the loud battles about illegal immigration, mass diverse legal immigration is not threatened by any force in American politics. So they can turn all their attention to spreading democracy abroad; or, if that hobby loses its appeal as a result of the disaster of the Arab Spring which they touted, they can devote their attention to the presidential election.

In any case, it was when traditional conservative opposition to our legal immigration policy entered the conservative mainstream in the early ’90s, that the neocons began crusading hard on the wonderfulness of open immigration, how it’s consistent with our tradition, because we’ve never been an ethnoculturally based society but only a Proposition Nation, and so on. The reason that they hardly talk about those things anymore could be that they believe that they’ve won.

Nik S. writes:

Stewart G. writes:

What I cannot believe is that he could not see peril he was in. Are people so brainwashed that they cannot even tell when they are being directly threatened?

The problem is, most die-hard / blow-hard liberals do not live anywhere black people. It’s not that they are brainwashed … well, yes, maybe they are, but it’s more that. Many liberals have not spent even a SINGLE NIGHT of their entire lives sleeping in a black neighborhood. Unlike the redneck, confederate racist whites in the South, white Yankee liberals prefer NOT to live near black people. Which makes it all the easier to condemn the racist whites who DO live near riotous blacks.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 04, 2012 12:03 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):