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Democrats and Race

by Christopher Chantrill
March 24, 2008 at 9:27 pm

ONE OF THE things we conservatives constantly try to do is step out of the default liberal mindset.

It’s hard to do, even as a conservative, because liberalthink defines reality in America. To think another way requires real effort, especially for a social animal like homo sapiens.

Liberals all seem to think that Barack Obama’s speech last week was at the least a fine and principled contribution to America’s conversation on race and maybe much more. Conservatives tend to be disappointed. We wonder if Obama couldn’t have seized the opportunity and really declared for a post-racist America.

But maybe the big issue is what Obama’s candidacy is doing for race relations within the Democratic Party. The Washington Post’s Krissah Williams writes about veterans hanging out at two American Legion posts in Pennsylvania, one predominantly black, and one predominantly white.

[I]n the two worlds of these veterans, Obama’s speech was one more dividing point. Rather than bringing the men in Post 733 and Post 420 closer together, it seemed to highlight the gap between them.

White Air Force veteran Dan Dowett talks about Obama backing “a preacher that to me sounds like a treasonous person.” Black Army veteran Ross Mounds says “the controversy over Wright is just the excuse some whites are looking for not to vote for a qualified black man.”

Then there’s the view from other voters. Victor Davis Hanson asked several non-black voters what they thought of Obama’s speech last week. The reaction was significant.

“Forget the speech. I would never vote for Obama after listening to Wright.” In some cases, the reaction was not mild disappointment, but unprintable outrage.

The question is whether the liberal narrative on race really matters any more. Obama’s speech, to one liberal acquaintance, was

the best from a politician on race in a generation. He dispansionately [sic] examined interiors and exteriors of both whites and blacks.

As a conservative I would say that Obama mouthed liberal pieties, trashing the white working class and excusing black racism.

It is, of course, the white working class that has been asked to pay the most for the liberal race politics of the last half century, whether it was forced busing, integration of ethnic neighborhoods, or affirmative action at the firehouse. Educated whites might get knocked around a bit by the lefty profs in university, but they could always escape from liberal race politics by going into business and living in white middle-class suburbs.

Suppose that Rev. Wright turns out to be the last straw for the white working class?

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill