…to (racist) Ta-Nehisi Coates:
“The problem with the police,” you write, “is not that they are fascists pigs, but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream.” There, you’ve said it. You’ve indicted the majority of the American people on serious charges—and many of them (not all) in their guilt and shame will grant you a moral pass. Some will feign outrage, but most, like aristocrats who reversed roles with the plebeians at the European Dionysian bacchanals, will assume a mask of contrition, look to some hoped-for redemptive moment in the higher registers of their innocent conscience, and move on. Your accusations have made for interesting dinner talk among the cognoscenti and literati in liberal bourgeois enclaves, where some believe moral masochism and symbolic self-flagellation are signs of virtue.
You touch on your flirtation with some special black racial essentialism in your book, and it is both affecting and sympathetic: “My working theory then held all black people as kings in exile, a nation of original men severed from our original names and our majestic Nubian culture. Surely this was the message I took from gazing out in the [Howard] Yard. Had any people, anywhere, ever been as sprawling and beautiful as us?” Unfortunately, there is nothing special about the black body. There is nothing special about any racially distinct physical body per se. Black skin does not convey nobility. Neither does white skin, or yellow skin. Your body is not special until it conjoins itself to a mind and adapts nature to its needs and desires and rational aspirations, its self-actualization and manifested agency. Any human body that fails to achieve a self-cultivated moral character and inscrutable human will is merely an ecological social ballast: ignoble, exploitable, a heap of unintelligible flesh on this earth.
This abnegation of personal responsibility assumes its logical end in your failure to grant black people responsibility for their own lives in the phenomenon of black-on-black crime. You tell your son: “Black-on-black crime is jargon, violence to language . . . . To yell black-on-black crime is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding.” Why? You give no reasons. In truth, black-on-black crime is a pathology that has to be reckoned with. Your own experiences with the police and with violence tell a more complicated story than you’d like. You write about your friend Prince Jones. He was shot and killed by a police officer who claimed that your late friend had tried to run him over with his Jeep. This police officer was black. You write of a schoolyard boy who first apprised you of your place in the world by revealing a gun at his waist. In brandishing his weapon, you write, “he let it be known how easily I could be selected.” You write eerily of his haunting presence in your life—the boy in whose small eyes you saw “a surging rage that could, in an instant, erase my body.” He, too, was black. Throughout your letter to your son, black people are mostly treated as mindless automatons who can’t seem to help themselves—and you apply this idea of helplessness to violence. You quote your own father who justified beating you by announcing, “Either I can beat him, or the police.” That’s all there is to it?
In your world, black-on-black crime is causally reducible to the machinations of the orchestrators of a system apparently designed to rule the neurons and synapses of the black brain. Have you told your son that he is twice as likely to be murdered by another black man than by a white police officer? Perhaps not, because it would not make any difference. The gang members and black individuals who kill others, including blacks, are certified moral icons who deserve dispensation because, in your reasoning, they are powerless before the street crime of history that brought the ghettos into existence.
As they do with the Arabs, the Left deprives everyone, other than white people, of moral agency.