David Thompson
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May 27, 2008

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Paul

Excellent article.

Peter Horne

Guilt is good, but only in respect of things you're actually responsible for.
The Royal Navy was still intercepting Arab slave ships during the Second World War. If such a thing as collective and historical guilt exists then the Arabs must be feeling terribly guilty!

Anna

David,

I bet that's the first time you've used the phrase "sons-of-bitches". :D

David

Heh. Yes, I believe it is. I do hope I pulled it off. I tried to imagine myself chewing on a stogie and wearing a hat.

TDK

The requirement for guilt is a strange thing.

Should we feel guilty that our remote ancestors probably practised cannibalism or ritual sacrifice?

If we feel guilt for slavery, can we balance that by a feeling of pride that our ancestors lead the way in abolishing it?

pst314

"then the Arabs must be feeling terribly guilty"

But Ron Rosenbaum would never tell Arabs that they should feel guilty and make amends, because the only guilt that interests him is that which he can use to bully his neighbors, prefatory to betraying them to their deadliest enemies.

dre

"Was not the century of institutionalised racism and segregation that followed the end of slavery a perpetuation of “flawed values” that the nation should feel an enduring guilt over?"

I'm not sure of the nation as a whole should feel this guilt. I certainly think current members of the Democratic party should reflect on that party's history as it relates to "the century of institutionalised racism and segregation that followed the end of slavery". It seems to me that Liberals who inhabit the Democratic party try to make their party's vile history something that for which all Americans are responsible.

Ophelia Benson

On the other hand the vile history of the Democratic party is hardly something that can be blamed on contemporary liberals. Southern Democrats were not liberals, to put it mildly.

Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962. That's not a typo.

melk

Surely there's no better candidate for Eternal Guilt than the venerable Senator Robert Byrd,beloved Grandpa of the Senate Democrats and former Klu Klux Klan Kleagle.I'm sure that the good Senator will be prominently featured at the forthcoming Democratic National Convention.He may have been a Kleagle but,hey,he's OUR Keagle.

Squid Vicious

I'm glad you brought up this subject. On behalf of all Europeans, or at least people of European descent, I'd like to say just how profoundly guilty I feel about the Roman subjugation of Carthage during the Punic Wars. I just can't sleep, it troubles me so. If only there was some way to make amends.

I think I must go now and find an African to hug.

Wonder Woman

If we are to subscribe to the concept that we are responsible for the immoral behaviour of our ancestors, why are blacks magically exempted from feeling guilt over the fact that black Africans often sold their own people to white slave traders? Black ancestors participated in the slave trade as much as white ones. In fact, in many African countries, slavery is still practiced in tribal clans.

White people do share one singular distinction. We are the only society who went to war, fought and sacrificed many of our own, to abolish slavery.

Ophelia Benson

"White people do share one singular distinction. We are the only society who went to war, fought and sacrificed many of our own, to abolish slavery."

Yeah? White people are the only society who went to war to abolish slavery? I didn't know "White people" had formed a separate society, much less that that society had gone to war. What war was that?

Anyway, give me a break - we don't get to have more than three centuries of slavery (if the US is the society meant, as it appears to be) and then pat ourselves on the back for ending it. And a large chunk of the society in question went to war not to abolish slavery but to hang on to it.

Sheesh.

Squid Vicious

Oh, and one other thing: to all those readers of this blog from the UK, I'd like to apologize on behalf of my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather who, two hundred years ago, stood behind a tree and shot your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather in the head over that whole taxation and representation thing. That must have messed up his nice red uniform pretty good, and I'm sure it hurt like the dickens, too.

Ophelia Benson

This all looks a good deal too smug to me; too smug and too easy. Ron Rosenbaum is a chump, and a sloppy garrulous writer who needs ruthless editing and doesn't get it, but it doesn't follow that the mistakes of the past should just be blown off with an adolescent laugh. Guilt isn't the right reaction, but awareness is. Enough awareness, at any rate, to refrain from chalking it up to the credit of white people that we abolished slavery.

rosenzweig

Welcome to the german "reeducation" which was so successfull that it is now imposed on all of you from the bad bad west. From the point of view of the do gooders it means: We have been the worldchampions in doing evil but now we are the worldchampions in doing good. If you do not feel guilty (and show it permanently) you are guilty and need to be punished. Imposing guilt on society became a weapon of dominance to create that lost and defenceless people who feel like their liberal opinion leaders feel they have to feel.

pst314

"Enough awareness, at any rate, to refrain from chalking it up to the credit of white people that we abolished slavery."

So who did abolish it?

clazy

I know who my ancestors were, and none had slaves or was involved in the slave trade. Will Ron Rosenbaum give me a pass? (Apparently no.) Or is he a racist? (Objectively, yes.) According to his logic, Jews are guilty of crucifying Christ.

David

What repels most, I think, is how Rosenbaum’s thinking dovetails with a much broader climate of PC pretension and an industry devoted to the inculcation of shame:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/10/soft-student--1.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/05/prejudice_revis.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/01/feel-my-rebelli.html

The combination of self-abasement and self-pleasuring is particularly unattractive. I’m guessing the objective is to cultivate a generation of paranoid and emasculated liars.

Ophelia Benson

"So who did abolish it?"

You're missing the point. The point is not who abolished it, the point is the taking credit for it. It's inane to claim that people get credit for ceasing to do something they shouldn't have been doing in the first place.

(But the people who abolished it were not the ones who were doing it. But that's why this 'white people' talk is silly. 'White people' didn't abolish slavery - some white people [along with some black people] did, while other white people tried hard to resist them.)

clazy

pst314: White people *did* abolish slavery. "We" white people did not. At the same time, Ophelia doesn't seem willing even to credit the dead white men who were, in fact, responsible for ending the practice where they did.

Ophelia Benson

"I’m guessing the objective is to cultivate a generation of paranoid and emasculated liars."

I'm not so sure, David. (And I'm emasculated myself, but I somehow manage to struggle on.) It might be partly to uncultivate the kind of smugness that claims "white people" are special because we "went to war, fought and sacrificed many of our own, to abolish slavery."

David

Ophelia,

If you’re not sure about the paranoid and emasculated liars bit, I suggest you follow the links above and see just what it is that’s being “uncultivated” - and how.

pst314

"The point is not who abolished it, the point is the taking credit for it."

No, that's not the point. The fact that white Westerners abolished slavery is almost always brought up in response to people who demonize Western cultures by bringing up the enslavement of Africans. Instructively, these same people do NOT hold Africans and Middle Easterners to blame for the slavery that they practiced. Nor do they seem to remember that slavery has existed throughout human history. The existence of slavery in any culture was not remarkable but the rise of a moral system that condemned all slavery was worthy of note.

clazy

'It might be partly to uncultivate the kind of smugness that claims "white people" are special because we "went to war, fought and sacrificed many of our own, to abolish slavery."'

Counter smugness with nonsense? Doesn't sound very effective to me.

pst314

"pst314: White people *did* abolish slavery. 'We' white people did not."

Please don't blame me for Ophelia's choice of words. However, please skip the nit-picking. Nobody here is claiming personal credit for what was done by past generations. We are arguing about whether our Western civilization deserves credit, because the background for these debates originates in the endless lefty condemnation of the West as ineradicably stained by the sin of slavery. (Unlike all third-world cultures, which get a pass because third-worlders are always virtuous victims. And unlike all nations currently ruled by communists, because socialism erases all sins.)

Ophelia Benson

Well, I'm not one of those people - did you see the note about Saudi Arabia above?

The rise of a moral system that condemned slavery was a fine thing, but it's meaningless to attribute it to 'white people.'

Nonsense is it - what nonsense?

pst314

My ancestors were not slave-owners. Some fought in the Civil war, and some of those died.

clazy

pst
agreed

Candice

It can be argued that the South felt it had no recourse but to go to war because the status quo of adding equal numbers of slave and free states to the Union was no longer taking place. The greater population of the North was also eroding the power of the South in the Federal Gov't. What is interesting is that most of the early Presidents came from the south, and especially Virginia. This is evidence of the precarious balancing act needed to form the Union in the first place. Slavery is another, as there was no hope of forming a nation at all if the colonies with slave labor were not allowed to keep their systems.

The Civil War was not caused by slavery, but rather by the need to finally settle the question of control over Federal power. It was as much a clash of cultures as a clash of arms. To make simplistic reductions like "The Civil War was fought to end slavery" is to ignore the roots of the conflict. It's post-hoc, ergo propter hoc. True some Northerners fought primarily because they felt a moral obligation to end slavery. Yet that wasn't one of the war aims of the North until near the end of the conflict, and then mainly to incite revolt in the slave population.

To go back to the original subject matter of the post: Should Germans alive today who were not alive during WWII feel guilt over the Holocaust and in general for the suffering of the war? What about the Japanese? The Russians?

Ophelia Benson

It's not my choice of words, it's Wonder Woman's choice of words - that's why I keep putting the words in quotation marks.

pst314

"Imposing guilt on society became a weapon of dominance"

I forget who it was who first pointed out that the purpose of political correctness was to bully people.

Ophelia Benson

Godalmighty - nobody said your ancestors were slave-owners.

The hell with it.

clazy

The nonsense I am referring to is Rosenbaum's assertion that all white people are guilty for the actions of some white people, in this case the actions of white people a hundred and more years ago. If you don't agree that that is nonsense, then you are not using guilt in any way I can accept. By the way, it's interesting to consider what would drive the usage of "guilt" away from a relationship to facts, to a relationship with ones "feelings".

pst314

"It might be partly to uncultivate the kind of smugness that claims 'white people' are special because we 'went to war, fought and sacrificed many of our own, to abolish slavery.'"

I'm old enough to remember life before political correctness engulfed education and journalism. There was no "smugness" about the abolition of slavery that needed to be uncultivated. (Although I can understand how someone in the UK might think there was, given how badly American culture gets misrepresented.) In point of fact, there was no hiding the evil facts of slavery or the fact that many Americans continued to support it right up to the Civil War. (The shameful facts of "Bleeding Kansas", for instance, were taught in grade school, as were the arguments that people on both sides espoused.)

To reiterate, the purpose of Ron Rosenbaum's screed is not to "uncultivate smugness" but to bash the culture he lives in and to bully his fellow-citizens. (At least all who do not share his ideology--those who agree with him are automatically absolved of all sin.)

David

It may be helpful to see Rosenbaum’s outpourings in the context I suggested above. Is Dr Shakti Butler making things better, or worse? Is Dr Caprice Hollins? Is Peggy McIntosh? Are they merely “uncultivating” prejudice, or implanting a prejudice of which they approve? More broadly, I’m reminded of less dramatic, but still troubling, examples, such as the Institute of Education Researchers, which doesn’t want to affirm “a sense of belonging” among students, or affirm British national identity and the history thereof:

“Teachers should not instill pride in what they consider great moments of British history, as more shameful episodes could be downplayed or excluded… To love what is corrupt is itself corrupting, not least because it inclines us to ignore, forget, forgive or excuse the corruption. And there’s the rub for patriotism.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article3285615.ece

But what is being taught by way of “correction” is, it seems, inexcusably biased and ideologically driven. See also this, written as British naval officers were being held, illegally, in Iran:

“I am sure they know all about Britain’s ‘wicked’ imperial past. They will know everything of her role in the slave trade, save for abolishing it within her empire and then using her navy to suppress it elsewhere. They will not know that the Anti-Slavery Squadron of the navy in which they now serve liberated 160,000 slaves between 1811 and 1867 off the coast of Africa. They probably don't know the history of people abducted into slavery by Muslim rulers from British ships and English coastal towns. They will know, however, of every time their country has fallen short of the high standards set by Ghana, Nigeria or the Islamic world. They will also know, in their guts, that ‘Islamophobia’ is a terrible thing, though they will not be able to explain why.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/04/prejudice_revis.html

Ophelia Benson

I'm not in the UK, I'm a Murkan, and I'm old enough to remember when Reconstruction was taught as a vile injustice upon the gallant defeated South. It was taught that way at my school, even though it was a good school.

I've already said I don't agree with Rosenbaum, but there's a lot of self-congratulatory bullshit in these comments, too. Merely because Rosenbaum is a prat, it doesn't follow that all this banal 'lefty'-kicking is much of an improvement.

clazy

I had assumed, aside from the Wonder Woman example, that what you seem to be calling "self-congratulatory bullshit" was actually being offered as a counterexample to demonstrate the absurdity of Rosenbaum's central argument. Of course, if one had assumed from the outset that self-congratulation was the normal state of white people who discuss slavery, one might reflexively have assumed that these examples were only more of the same, without considering an alternative.

David

Ophelia,

My own secondary education addressed issues of slavery, etc, without any excuses or triumphalism that I can recall. And the quote above, about what apparently *isn’t* being taught now, remains pertinent. I’ve spoken with people of my age and younger, with similar backgrounds and schooling, and whose knowledge of history is extraordinarily selective and ideological. They claim to have been taught about slavery and its history, yet aren’t aware of the incidents mentioned above, or others like them - and their basic impression seems to be that slavery was a uniquely (or primarily) white, Western, imperialist vice. In terms of duration, persistence and sheer numbers, this is bizarre.

And when educators take it upon themselves to discourage a “sense of belonging” among students, along with any sense of identification with British history, is that a recipe for a sense of shared community? Of citizenship? Of being welcome? Or is it a recipe for alienation, disaffection and resentment? And whose interests does that serve?

claz

BTW, I'm in my 40s and spent my childhood in the Deep South, i.e., North Florida, which is actually South Georgia. The man who repaired my bike when I was 10 had a group photo of his Klan group on the wall. On the other hand, Reconstruction was not taught as a "vile injustice on eht gallant, defeated South," although it should be acknowledged that Jacksonville (a big quarter million population at the time) was slightly more sophisticated than Lawtey, Starke, or the many other little towns around it.

David

Some music, methinks. http://fp.ignatz.plus.com/porkchops.mp3

dre

"On the other hand the vile history of the Democratic party is hardly something that can be blamed on contemporary liberals."

That's the problem with "contemporary liberals" in that the vile history of the Democratic party becomes America's shameful history not their own. With liberals, it all about projection.

TDK

"It's inane to claim that people get credit for ceasing to do something they shouldn't have been doing in the first place."

First of all let me distance myself from the claim that white people abolished slavery. Certain societies, which happened to be white did abolish slavery. At the same time other societies, many of them white (and many not) perpetuated it. I think that the distinction white/non-white does not provide any historical usefulness in this debate unless someone here thinks that whiteness is somehow genetically linked to anti slavery.

However having said that, your claim is also rather silly.

At one stage in history slavery was a ubiquitous practice. That doesn't mean that everyone approved of it, nor that periodic slave revolts never happened. However, every slave revolt prior to Toussaint Louverture was ultimately destroyed and societies returned to a status quo, of which the cultural elites approved. In order to abolish slavery, we had to change the mindset as well as free the slaves. In order for men to be guilty we require mens rea. That people campaigned to achieve that change is surely praiseworthy. That we live in a society that made that change early is praiseworthy too.

Other progressions can be identified. Countries that gave one man one vote or gave the vote to women earlier than others are praiseworthy.

Now you may object that whereas Wilberforce deserves praise, his country did not. I would disagree because whereas in Wilberforces day, many opposed him, no one would today. The cultural change that Wilberforce brought about is complete and is something that we all share.

Secondly, Britain not only abolished slavery but used her navy to interdict the slave trade for more than a 100 years afterwards. That isn't doing something bad and stopping it, that is stopping someone else from doing something bad. That too is praiseworthy.

I want to move away from that slightly.

There is a standard narrative about the slave trade. It goes like this. The west stole Africa' children and made a fortune from slavery which they invested in the industrial revolution. In other words the UK and America's pre-eminence doesn't derive from being better at Capitalism but because they had the capital from slavery to invest in industrialisation. That narrative is nonsense but it is the story my children are taught at school. You only have to ask some simple questions to realise it is nonsense

1. Only 1 out of 10 Atlantic slaves were transported to the USA. The rest went to South America and the Caribbean. If slavery brought about modern wealth then Brazil and Jamaica would be richer than the US and Hong Kong.
2. If modern wealth depended on slavery then Denmark would be a third world nation today because it didn't practice it in the modern era, nor did it have any colonies.
3. Why is the Arab world, which is reckoned to have transported more slaves than Europe, only wealthy now after oil was exploited?
4. If modern wealth depended on slavery then the USSR and China would be the current world leaders.
5. Hardly any blacks were abducted like Kunte Kinte.

There are lots of similar dichotomies. You might ask why the rural (slave owning) South was defeated by the industrial (generally non slave owning) North.

The standard narrative in more recent years has developed a special focus on black liberation struggles at the expense of coverage of the abolition movement. The implication being that that blacks effectively liberated themselves with little help from whites. I think such claims are absurd, witnessed by the imposition of Jim Crow or alternatively by the perpetuation of slavery in Africa outside areas ruled by Europeans. It has been explained to me that such ahistorical claims are intended to boost the self esteem of black children.

I'm not sure how telling a young black that their ancestors have had no relationship with white people that does not involve exploitation, improves their self esteem. Nor am I sure how telling a poor young white that whereas their black classmate is failing because of something done a hundred years ago, they are failing despite having once been the exploiter. Is that guilt supposed to help either the black or the white child? [background http://www.pluggd.tv/audio/channels/warwick_podcasts/episodes/47dd3 ]

I agree with you that awareness is good. I think that awareness of slavery and its myriad cruelties is important, but I don't think it should be taught as a black vs white issue like it seems to be today. I think it vital that children are taught that they live in a culture that was one amongst many cultures that practiced slavery but it's important for future cohesion that all believe that approval/disapproval didn't and doesn't divide on colour lines. One way to do that is to emphasis the UK's part in being amongst the first to abolish it.


TDK

"Southern Democrats were not liberals, to put it mildly."

Well given the definition of liberal is a moving feast I can't dispute this claim. However, I would like to point out that the Democrat's association with unpleasantness doesn't end at the Mason Dixie line. The second Ku Klux Klan was closely (but not exclusively) associated with the Democrat party. eg Oregon, Indiana and Michigan; the 1924 Democratic convention.

Woodrow Wilson was a Virginia but rated by Democrats nationwide. It was he who introduced segregation to Washington, and it was he who praised Birth of a Nation.

He also introduced Eugenics to the Indiana legislator, in line with progressive opinion of the day. The Democrats were closely associated with the movement implementing policies across the US including sterilisation.

I agree that modern Democrats are not guilty for these crimes, but I think awareness is sadly lacking. I think that the humility to admit that sometimes the progressive movement got it badly wrong would strengthen that movement.

Mark

"To go back to the original subject matter of the post: Should Germans alive today who were not alive during WWII feel guilt over the Holocaust and in general for the suffering of the war? What about the Japanese? The Russians?"

No, but I can understand if you're ashamed about it. I think that overall the British Empire was a good thing, but that doesn't mean I'm not ashamed about some of the things it did, or don't wish it had gone about other things differently. By that, I mean that for example whilst I think the colonisation of the modern USA & Canada by Europeans was a good thing in the grand scheme of things, the way it was accomplished leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, some of the butchery that took place in the Indian Mutiny I feel ashamed about, because it's a moral stain on the history of my country.

Personally, I think the Left's pre-occupation with guilt has probably arisen from a combination of this and a desire to make amends (or if you're more cynical, to interfere): "I'm ashamed of what my country did X 200 years ago, therefore I should try to make sure people understand this." From there it's only a short hop to feelings of guilt for a poor thinker, especially if you articulate your feelings of shame poorly, such that it comes out as an apology.

More, the idea of blaming someone for something someone related to them did is fairly common in the world, to the point where "guilt by association" is a common logical fallacy (which neatly ties in with the point about poor thinking) and even a fantasy trope.


"There is a standard narrative about the slave trade. It goes like this. The west stole Africa' children and made a fortune from slavery which they invested in the industrial revolution. In other words the UK and America's pre-eminence doesn't derive from being better at Capitalism but because they had the capital from slavery to invest in industrialisation. That narrative is nonsense but it is the story my children are taught at school."

I think there's probably a nugget of truth in there: the early industrial entrepreneurs did need to get the money from somewhere, and things like the slave trade (and India etc) would have been very helpful. However, without a proper system for investing the money (ie, good capitalist practices), I think it extremely unlikely that the initial investments would have as successful.


"White people do share one singular distinction. We are the only society who went to war, fought and sacrificed many of our own, to abolish slavery."

With regard to the debate over this & other comments, I feel there's been a mix-up somewhere along the lines. Yes, most of the successful anti-slavery campaigners were white, but is it not more instructive to look at the society they came from? I would amend Wonder Woman's quote to be something more like this:

"Western civilisation does have one singular distinction. It is the only civilisation that went to war, fought and sacrificed many of its own to abolish slavery."

Obviously it's not entirely accurate - I'd be astonished if there weren't non-Western abolitionists out there, and of course many countries had to be forced into it - witness Britain cajoling or forcing other nations in Europe and elsewhere into banning the slave trade and / or slavery.

Sdferr

I'm surprised Rosenbaum, while he's recommending guilt over slavery, couldn't find time to recommend a little guilt for the proponents and propagandists of Socialism, which has enslaved, murdered and generally destroyed the lives of many orders of magnitude more human beings than the African slave trade could ever boast of doing.

Steve in San Diego

Rosenguilt. Isn't that a minor character in Hamlet? Help out a semiliterate Yank.

TDK

"I think there's probably a nugget of truth in there: the early industrial entrepreneurs did need to get the money from somewhere"

Well the implication of the standard narrative is that the industrial revolution would have been impossible without slave (and colonial) wealth. It was a essential part of the process.
And of course the entrepreneurs did get money from somewhere, but that doesn't mean slavery was a necessary precondition. Many countries started an industrial revolution without practicing slavery - Denmark, Sweden etc. - and most that obtained wealth through slavery did not use it to launch industrial revolutions - Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Spain, what is now Ghana, etc.

The standard narrative is traced to people like Eric Hobsbawn, who openly admire the slave societies of the Soviet Bloc. That ought to make them questionable historians but it doesn't.

pst314

Jonah Goldberg weighs in on the subject here:

"If you read Shelby Steele's wonderful book White Guilt, one of the themes that emerges is how so many white liberals actually use the idea of 'guilt' as a way to empower their social engineering schemes and glom credit for beating the bad guys. White liberals wore the white hats and they want the glory for it. Maureen Dowd sneers at Clarence Thomas' 'great historic ingratitude' to the liberal establishment for not dancing to their tune. In other words, blacks should be grateful to white liberals and not question their moral authority... The motivating passion behind this nonsense isn't 'I feel bad' so much as 'you people should feel bad.' And, you — you mean, bad, retrograde conservatives — should translate that enlightened self-hatred and guilt into doing what we morally numinous liberals say you should do... Oh, and I should add, that on the areas where liberals, qua liberals, should feel deep guilt they instead insist they have no culpability whatsoever. Eugenics...the internment of the Japanese...the excesses of World War One...Liberalism is never wrong, because liberalism is the organized pursuit of the politically virtuous. At least according to liberals."

pst314

Embedded links don't seem to work, so here's the URL to Goldberg's comments:

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ODYzODViNzliYjZmYjE1ZWE0MDlkNDI1MjE3NmQyYWM=

David

Goldberg’s comments reminded me of the previous post about Professor Bauman, who describes the left primarily as some noble, if ill-defined, oppositional entity, one that’s forever aware that the world “is not-yet-sufficiently-just [and] is haunted by this awareness and thereby spurred into action.” He makes similar claims a number of times and it’s all rather grand and nebulous. Reading his essay, it’s hard to tell what, precisely, he wants, though the impression is that it must, simply must, be benign. By never quite defining what it is he wants – and what would be involved in getting it – it’s possible to avoid any unsightly details and practical implications. His essay is much too self-admiring in tone and is essentially an extended love letter to a position that’s never quite pinned down. And this is the kind of thinking that makes it very easy to believe that one is on the side of the angels, even if one isn’t.

Anna

Like saying "social justice" instead of "redistribution" or "higher taxes"…

David

Well, yes, it’s part of the same fudge. Despite being used several times, the term “social justice” is never actually defined. But who could possibly oppose whatever “social justice” is? Surely only good-hearted people use terms like “social justice”? I mean, one couldn’t easily defend something called “social injustice”. Of course, if instead of “social justice” you say “redistribution” or “higher taxes” or “taking money from people who work hard and giving it to other people, some of whom don’t” - well, then you’ll probably get a more critical response.

Sdferr

When I hear the word(s) social justice I reach for my...................... heavily thumbed copy of "Kapital"

Ophelia Benson

There's quite a lot of self-admiration going on here too, though, along with a lot of incredibly vacuous over-generalization about putative 'liberals' - a kind of liberal that's never existed on land or sea. Liberals are for one thing simply assumed to be coterminous with and universally uncritical of the US Democratic party, but that's utter nonsense. Yet the nonsense goes (self-admiringly?) unchallenged.

David

To return to the earlier point about cultivating shame and cultural self-loathing…

“A teenage motorist was told to remove an England flag from his car by a police officer because it could be offensive to immigrants.”

http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/headlines/display.var.2288512.0.motorist_told_flag_could_be_racist.php

One might dismiss such stories as aberrations, and indicative of nothing much, except for the fact that they do keep cropping up:

“A black dustman has been banned from wearing a St George’s Cross bandana because council officials say it could be regarded as racist. Matthew Carter, 35, who was born in Barbados, used the headgear to keep his dreadlocks out of the way while he was on his rounds in Burnley, Lancs. He had done so for seven months before his photograph appeared in a local newspaper. A number of local people complained, and his superiors called him. ‘I received a verbal warning,’ Mr Carter said yesterday. ‘They told me the St George’s Cross was not allowed to be seen on any clothing we wear because it could be considered offensive and racist.’”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/21/ncross121.xml

pst314

Smugness and self-admiration? I guess that when one's culture is defamed one is not allowed to defend it, much less point out that there's much to admire about the West.

pst314

"a kind of liberal that's never existed on land or sea."

I remember the chants of "hey hey, ho ho, Western culture's got to go" and so on. But you're right in a sense: Those voices emanated not from dry land but from Cloud Cuckoo Land.

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