Scapegoating Others

You and I are good people; that’s a given. It’s all those other people who are bad.

Well, maybe…

***

The smug righteousness of the left these days is something to behold, but it’s also old news. It has long been said that while conservatives think progressives are wrong, progressives think conservatives are evil. Progressives’ default position is that any objection to their ideas about how society should be organized must be based on a witches’ brew of rapacious greed and racism, perhaps with a dash of religious bigotry or sexism thrown in for good measure. It’s easier and more emotionally rewarding to impugn the motives of one’s opponents than to answer their arguments.  

In the course of reading an otherwise excellent blog post from the right this morning (https://www.bookwormroom.com/2020/06/11/black-lives-matter-is-just-another-part-of-the-lefts-big-lie/), I noticed that the blogger (“Bookworm”) was falling into a similar trap. After laying out the fallaciousness of the premises of the Black Lives Matter movement* and giving a pocket history of the revolution in thinking about individual rights that resulted in the ending of slavery in this country and throughout most – but not all – of the world, Bookworm ascribes the left’s positions regarding African-Americans to racism:

“What leftists are really saying is that blacks are genetically defective because of their race. If you’re born black, the leftist world view holds that you’re infantile, a creature of uncontrollable impulses, and neither very bright nor capable of hard work. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what leftists said of blacks in 1960 and 1860 and 1760 to justify enslaving them or otherwise depriving blacks of their civil rights: Blacks aren’t fully human. They can’t handle rights or responsibility or education . . . or freedom. The only difference this time around is that leftists phrase their insults in gentle, loving terms, thereby tying blacks to their abusers.”    

I don’t buy that. The friends of mine who are on the left don’t believe that African-Americans are inferior; they believe that they are systematically discriminated against by other people. Maybe even (unconsciously) by themselves in the days before they were Woke. We all – well, white people, anyway – were born with Original Sin. Those evil conservatives, though, they revel in it.

***

I have another explanation (additional and complementary to the usual sense of righteousness garnered by demonizing one’s opponents) for why the left looks at our nation’s problems as it does: such an explanation excuses the manifest failures of the trillions spent on Great Society programs, and of Affirmative Action undertaken by the government at every level and virtually every corporation of significance, to stop the development of a permanent underclass consisting in significant part of African-Americans. It’s not that these programs aren’t helping, you see, it’s that all those bad people are mucking things up. The solution is more of the same, along with a good hard slap at the presumed miscreants.

In these posts I have consistently argued that as a direct result of the skewed incentives created by Great Society programs, the world inhabited by poor people – white and black – fosters the development and perpetuation of a very different culture than the one inhabited by most Americans. Marriage, on-the-books work and thrift are all-too-effectively discouraged. Further, the terribly broken, union-dominated school systems to which poor children are consigned make escape from their dismal world prohibitively unlikely. To top it all off, too many African-American children are now taught that when they don’t attain their goals, their failures to do so must be taken as the results of systemic racism rather than opportunities to learn and grow.

***

It’s much easier and more emotionally satisfying to look at the world as consisting of undifferentiated groups of Victims, on the one hand, and of Oppressors, on the other, than to see each person as an individual who is just trying to do what seems smart given whatever circumstances he or she finds him or herself in, and – in the great majority of cases – to do the right thing. But looking at the world that way is a terrible mistake.

The presence of a permanent, alienated underclass, consisting of the trapped poor of whatever race, adopting radically different mores from the rest of society and an understandable resentment of the world they cannot join is a poison in our beloved nation’s blood.

If we spent less time assuming the worst of those with whom we disagree, impugning their motives and scapegoating them for our problems, we’d have a much better chance of finding solutions.   

M.H. Johnston        

*Incidentally, this (https://www.city-journal.org/repudiate-the-anti-police-narrative) is the best takedown I have seen of the utterly false nature of the claim that police in this country systematically abuse African-Americans. Like everything else written by Heather MacDonald, I recommend it highly.

2 comments to Scapegoating Others

  • Doug  says:

    New Yorkers Horatio Seymour for President and Frank Blair for Vice President vs. US Grant in 1868 “our ticket, our motto, our country. This is a white man’s country; let white men rule.” Prove to me that the Democrats have changed. At the same time, Nathan Bedford Forrest, first Grand Wizard of the KKK proclaimed that the Klan’s primary opposition was to Union Leagues, Republican State Governments, etc. The Democrats are smeared with the thick grease of institutionalized racism. Perhaps participation in that party should be prohibited as a results of this new cultural awakening. You don’t need to go all the way back to Columbus to start anew.

  • Doug  says:

    Juneteenth. Yes. The day that the Emancipation Proclamation was read to a group of slaves but also the date of the Senate vote on the Civil Rights Act (HR7152) of 1964. Reminding the history buffs who are ripping down our country’s monuments that Richard Russell (D) GA – “CRA would result in amalgamation and mongrelization of our people”, Strom Thurmond (at that time before his enlightenment a D) SC, Robert Byrd (D) WVA, William Fulbright (D) AR, Sam Ervin (D) NC –defended Jim Crow Laws — all vehemently opposed the legislation. Where is the
    look in the mirror outrage?

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