Thursday, April 16, 2015
"Nothing has changed"
This seems to be the emerging line for contemporary racial affairs commentary. From reading Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic to Jeet Heer & co. in The New Republic, the time is forever 1963, and the past half century never happened. Like la Rochefoucauld says, "Philosophy triumphs over past and future evils, but present evils triumph over it." That's natural enough, as is the impulse to identify oneself with a time of heroes, as the early 60s Civil Rights movement surely was. But can it really be sound analysis to exclude the Great Society and its fallout, the successes and shortcomings of affirmative action, the rise and struggles of the black middle class, etc. entirely as though Black America had no agency at all? Nobody's asking anybody to forget anything; it is right, good and necessary that our past be openly considered, as the U.S. uniquely does among most nations. But a bill of narrowly circumscribed indictments --which is all that some universities seem to have taught the students who are now taking the helm of opinion journals--is not enough, isn't analysis or reflection at all. Tell the whole story, and consider all the facts!