Half Past the Month

August 7, 2018

(For the use of the membership only, not for publication, distribution or quotation.)

THE TWO FOUNDING INTELLECTUAL MODELS for this foundation happen to be “persons of color,” as it is now phrased, Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dinesh D’Souza. The latter we have brought to Indiana many times for seminars, talks and research projects. The former we would have happily done so had we been able to afford his fee.

What is important there are the words “happen to be.” That’s because the melanin count of neither Dr. Sowell nor Mr. D’Souza, as Dr. Martin Luther King once dreamed, was used as a measure of his character. Nor in fact were their backgrounds, one from an American ghetto and the other from the Third World.

So we watched with concern as a tableau vivant unfolded around a friend, a politician who was accused by an adversary of . . . well, of being white, of being politically incorrect, of daring to address the danger to our freedoms of identity politics, of saying some years ago in the largest of contexts that in America today there is no palpable racism.

As this is being written, the legislative black caucus, with the tacit blessing of an always nervous Indiana GOP leadership, is organizing an inquisition into the matter.

If the friend had anticipated the toxic environment that now is state politics, he might have said it differently. He might have said racism is not dead, but it is on life support –– kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as racists.

Those, of course, are the words of Dr. Sowell, more seasoned than our friend, having been under attack by the same race hustlers for all 60 years of a distinguished academic life.

Or our friend might have said that although his activist critics seem publicly inconsolable about the fact that racism continues, they seem privately terrified that it has abated.

That was D’Souza in his book, “The End of Racism.”

The particular hustle that is my profession, journalism, will do its part to ensure the spread of misunderstanding leading to the worst possible outcome. That is so even though newspapers specifically were given extraordinary privileges by the Founders in return for protecting us from such public bullying. Instead of using those privileges to objectively guide the public discussion, reporters and editors will deliver the tired directive of the corporate newsroom, to wit:

Any person of color or anyone presuming to represent persons of color (unaffiliated, to be sure, with anything resembling conservative or even patriotic thought) must be treated as the aggrieved or as the agent of the aggrieved and must be given abjectly favorable consideration.

It is as the late Tom Wolf wrote in his classic 1970 essay, “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers,” set at the Office of Economic Opportunity in San Francisco, the model for all of our failed race-centered policy.

So we read the editorials urging both sides to treat each other with “respect” and to sit down and work this out together as “equals.” We are unimpressed. For as free citizens we are not required to respect or accept those who put us in the soon-to-be-prosecutable category “racist” merely because we have the wrong skin color, age, income or cultural background. Our mission statement says as much.

In the end, the friend is likely to back away from all of this. He may take the advice of risk-adverse consultants and qualify what others think he might have thought. But if his situation were reported in any depth, the great number of Hoosiers, black and white, would be outraged by the injustice.

As it is, they are left more divided regarding those central principles encased in the Declaration of Independence, the ones that truly matter to Americans — all Americans.

— Craig Ladwig


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