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Liberal Racism: How Fixating on Race Subverts the American Dream
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That surely does not mean lowering standards. A doctor still has to meet standards to practice. A university student still has to pass exams to qualify for a profession.
But it does mean letting people into that university independent of their race, religion, gender, sexual preference, creed, and so on. Maybe age discrimination would be an interesting question, but discrimination in favor of or against people of a specific skin color? That's supposed to be illiberal.
A century ago, the bar was set higher for non-whites than for whites. That was racist and counterproductive. Jim Sleeper asks if we are setting the bar so low for non-whites today that we are denying non-whites the satisfaction of equal accomplishment and opportunity. Given my Asian background, I find this question interesting.
Sleeper asks if, not out of malice but out of folly, many liberals have overemphasized black identity and thus behaved in a racist manner themselves. The author explains that conservatives still have some of the same exclusionary problems they've always had. This is not an apology for conservatism. It is a plea for genuine liberalism.
As Sleeper explains, blacks have much to profit from a truly color-blind society.
The first main topic Sleeper deals with is individual responsibility, as seen in court cases. In the past, blacks simply did not get treated justly in white courts. But there is still a threat of some of the same problems if we keep looking carefully at skin color in court cases.Read more ›
He assumes that vigorous free-market consumer capitalism is compatible with such traditional values, whereas the reality world-wide would seem to be the opposite: Traditional and local values get lost in a blur of glossy consumer indulgence and hedonism. What does he propose replacing this money-making, money-spending search for pleasure with? Thrift as a good in itself? But if we don't spend then the system comes crashing down, especially in post-industrial, service-oriented economies.
Moreover high personal moral values of the sort he praises in the last section of the book have always been compatible with beliefs that we now see are terribly immoral - slavery, for instance. The men who wrote that it was self-evidently true that all men are created equal owned slaves. If it seems banal to restate that, it's a reminder that one can't just step into the values of a time gone by, cherry-pick the ones one likes, and then try to browbeat the poorer members of society into adopting them: they come with historical baggage. Hence they may be impulsively resented and deserve to be seriously interrogated.
Mr Sleeper believes that the 'true' American values on which the communal spirit should be rebuilt are New England Puritan ones, but weren't the values of the Southern slave-owners equally 'truly American'?Read more ›