An Open Letter

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.

11 thoughts on “An Open Letter”

  1. As they do with the Arabs, the Left deprives everyone, other than white people, of moral agency.

    That used to be true but they now believe that white people also have no agency. Whiteness, white privilege, and other substitutes for original sin remove agency and replace it with biological inheritance. How white people behave isn’t based on agency but on biology. The only agency granted is the choice to gain enlightenment and absolution through being a Democrat or being an unenlightened subhuman non-Democrat.

  2. The whole they was kings once line of thinking is a little stupid. How many kings could there be? Not everyone was a king.

    There is a lot of cool things about African history. But Africans are humans. Humans have a history of not only being cool but also being not so nice. Africa is also a gigantic piece of land. There are many cultural similarities and also many cultural dissimilarities. Lumping all of Africans together is just as stupid as the white nationalists lumping all white people together.

    The lesson from history for all ethnicities is that nothing is fated or preordained. Nothing happens without people choosing to take the actions to make things happen. This is true of personal behavior, founding a kingdom, or anything else. You can’t change the past, only the future.

          1. Consider what Orwell wrote in “1984”:

            “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

          2. Oh, I know. Perception is reality even when at odds with an objectively true reality. If a tree falls…

            We see the erasing of history but much of the last eight years were an exercise in the media hiding current events from us based on the strategy of people not knowing about what ISIS and/or Obama does is the same as it not happening.

    1. The whole they was kings once line of thinking is a little stupid. How many kings could there be? Not everyone was a king.

      Ever hear of the old saying, “All chiefs, no Indians”? I’m sure that’s politically incorrect now. Maybe even racist.

  3. I rarely read anything Coates has written. I saw a piece in The Atlantic on Trump being the first white President. The first paragraph was ridiculous garbage, and the second paragraph opened with

    “His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built.

    Well, what’s wrong with that sentence? Pretty much ever clause and premise.

    Trump’s political career didn’t begin with birtherism. He spent $100,000 to run an ad saying “America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves and should present Western Europe and Japan with a bill for America’s efforts to safeguard the passage of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.” He did that in 1987. Nobody knew who Obama was back then. Ronald Reagan was President. Trump considered running for President the very next year, and kept that option open. He twice considered running for governor of New York. Bill and Hillary attended his wedding. He’s always hobnobbed with powerful politicians, he’s always delved into politics. So Coates’ first clause is completely wrong.

    Onward. Birtherism has nothing to do with black people, it has to do with whether someone was a natural born subject or not. It is not a recasting of anything. It goes all the way back in English law until there’s almost no English law recorded, and then it goes back further into Medieval history.

    In the US, Chester A Arthur was its first victim. A lawyer who bitterly hated him claimed Arthur was born in Canada, because nobody born in Canada can ever be President. Barry Goldwater was another target, being the sole example of an American Presidential candidate who was born on the Western frontier prior to a territory’s statehood. Note that the case didn’t hinge on whether both of Goldwater’s parents were citizens, they were. It hinged on whether a territory counted as being within the United States for natural born citizenship. Then came John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Territory. The arguments hinge on whether someone was born on US soil, and that goes back to English common law, especially Calvin’s Case of 1608.

    In Obama’s case, the question was whether he was really born in Hawaii. That was the only question. It would apply to any candidate, no matter how white, and no matter if both parents were US citizens. If US citizens have a kid while vacationing in France, the kid can never be President without amending the Constitution. Even Winston Churchill said as much, as have legal scholars since the Revolution.

    And who started Birtherism regarding Obama? Hillary’s people back in 2008.

    And finally, birtherism has nothing to do with the concept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. Those questions were decided with the Civil War, subsequent amendments, and all that followed. Long prior to the war most of the North had no problem with blacks being citizens, nor with Jews being citizens after a few bumps in New England. Birtherism is purely about who had sovereignty over the dirt you were born on. Whether you were born in a part of the US under British occupation during the War of 1812 would be a good birther question. If you were born in Alabama there’s not even anything to discuss.

    Other questions were more subtle. Were Indians citizens? What if they were taxed? What if they were born on a reservation? Are they natural born citizens? All these were legal questions that we resolved. An early answer from the Supreme Court was that Native Americans (white folks) are citizens, Indians born on reservations under tribal government can become naturalized citizens, and Indians born under state government are natural born citizens. Eventually we just declared them all natural born citizens by saying that the Indian lands are US soil for Constitutional purposes, just as we did for Puerto Rico and Guam. Ironically, we declared the Indians to be Native Americans just like us, and a tomato is a vegetable by law.

    And of course if blacks built the country, which he just slipped in at the end, how come it came out looking like England instead of a typical African town from the 1700’s? How did the North get built? The answer is that everybody built this country in one way or another. He just wants to claim its construction for one and only one race. That’s racist.

    So, that’s what I found wrong with “His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built.”

    And that sentence was follow by more sentences that pushed invalid arguments based upon incorrect claims.

  4. We live in a grievance nation. Starting around the 80’s it became fashionable to be aggrieved. The desire to be aggrieved grew and grew to such a point that you had a white woman declaring she was black in order to (in my opinion) “belong” and to be “aggrieved”.

    Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton showed that you could make a lot of money and gain a lot of power being aggrieved. Not only that, Jackson could refer to “hymie town” or Sharpton can say:

    “So (if) some cracker come and tell you ‘Well, my mother and father blood go back to the Mayflower,’ you better hold your pocket. That ain’t nothing to be proud of. That means their forefathers was crooks.” Sharpton also offered, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.”

    And Byrd could be a mentor of “Felonia von Pantsuit”
    and yet be a former Grand Kleagle of the KKK…..

    …and you could get totally away with it. No one says a peep.

    So from that, it was only natural that once Obama came into power and started in with stirring up racism…actually BEING racist himself….and it wasn’t long before the opportunities for the racial arsonists and grievance mongers became clear.

    Now, if you listen to NPR, you’ll think we are a nation of racists seething in racism.

    You have pop stars saying that it was so nice that whites put aside their differences during the last 2 hurricanes and helped the minorities….

    when in fact if the pop stars spent a little time in those parts they’d see the whites had no differences to put aside.

    It’s an industry now and the left has arranged for people to feel guilty for having certain genes.

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