Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: Civil Rights

One Cheer for the Schuette Decision

by Bruce S. Thornton // Front Page Magazine 

Many conservatives are applauding the recent Supreme Court Schuette decision upholding the right of the citizens of Michigan to ban racial preferences. As Charles Krauthammer writes, the 2003 Grutter decision, which like Schuette did not ban racial preferences altogether, was correct: “The people should decide. The people responded accordingly. Three years later, they crafted a referendum to abolish race consciousness in government action. It passed overwhelmingly, 58 percent to 42 percent. Schuette completes the circle by respecting the constitutionality of that democratic decision.” Read more →

What Eric Holder Doesn’t Want to Talk About

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Remember when Attorney General Eric Holder called Americans a “nation of cowards” who put “certain subjects . . . off limits”? Holder,

Claude McKay

Claude McKay

of course, was referring to “subjects” that in fact we do nothing else but talk about non-stop – the refusal of whites to admit the persistence of white racism and its responsibility for all the ills afflicting the black underclass. To quote Paul Krugman for this received wisdom, “Race is the Rosetta Stone that makes sense of many otherwise incomprehensible aspects of U.S. politics.”

Yet Holder was unwittingly accurate, for there is a subject the mainstream culture and political discourse never touches: what Harlem Renaissance novelist Claude McKay called the “yellow complex.” This is the psychological condition of light-skinned blacks that was explored in novels of the 1920s like McKay’s Home to Harlem and Wallace Thurman’s The Blacker the Berry.  Back then, the mulatto or light-complexioned black, especially the well educated, lived in a social and psychological limbo, excluded by racism from the white world, and forced by segregation to live among darker blacks whom they often despised and looked down on. Yet darker blacks themselves experienced conflicting emotions, at once attracted to and resentful of the light-skinned who scorned them.

Thurman’s Emma Lou is a sympathetic portrait of this complex from the perspective of a woman whose mother is a mulatto, but who inherited her father’s black skin: “Emma Lou had been born in a semi-white world, totally surrounded by an all-white one, and those few dark elements that had forced their way in had either been shooed away or else greeted with derisive laughter.” When she matriculates at an exclusive Negro college, she despises Hazel, another dark-skinned girl who attempts to befriend her, as “just a vulgar little n***** from down South.” Emma Lou “was determined to become associated only with those people who really mattered, northerners like herself or superior southerners, if there were any, who were different from whites only in so far as skin color was concerned.” What she discovers, however, is that most of the light-skinned students to whom she is attracted despise her as much as she despises Hazel.

A creation of racism and segregation, the psychology explored in this persistent theme of classic black literature was supposedly transcended by the “black is beautiful” movement of the 1960s. In black identity politics the poles of value were reversed: the snobbish mulattoes or blacks who lived by so-called “white” values were attacked for “acting white,” and authentic black identity comprised Read more →

Facts, Democrats and the JFK Legend

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

The mythologizing of John F. Kennedy in the 50 years since his death has verified the adage in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The JFK legend recycled all these years is of a liberal icon, the glamorous martyr470px-John_F._Kennedy,_White_House_photo_portrait,_looking_up whose violent death has validated and sanctified big government, redistributive economic polices, and quasi-pacifist internationalism. The facts, however, belie this myth, which also obscures the true significance of JFK’s brief administration.

In reality, Kennedy was not a liberal in today’s sense of the word, but a conservative Democrat, a Cold-War warrior and tax-cutter, as documented by Ira Stoll in JFK, Conservative. Far from the civil rights saint portrayed in the legend, his support for civil rights legislation was lukewarm, driven by the momentum for desegregation started before him by Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces, and codified by Eisenhower in the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights acts, the first civil rights legislation since 1875. In fact, Kennedy believed that over-hasty progress on civil rights would alienate the conservative Southern wing of the Democrats. That’s why he advised Martin Luther King against his groundbreaking March on Washington in August of 1963, and put little effort into passing additional civil rights legislation. Read more →

An American Satyricon

Our elites would be right at home in Petronius’s world of debauchery and bored melodrama.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Sometime in the mid-first century a.d., an otherwise little known consular official, Gaius Petronius, wrote a brilliant satirical novel about the gross and pretentious new Roman-imperial elite. The Satyricon is an often-cruel parody about how the Roman agrarian republic of old had degenerated into a wealth-obsessed, empty society of wannabe new elites, flush with money, and both obsessed with and bored with sex. Most of the Satyricon is lost. But in its longest surviving chapter — “Dinner with Trimalchio” — Petronius might as well have been describing our own 21st-century nomenklatura.

For the buffoonish libertine guests of the host Trimalchio, food and sex are in such surfeit that they have to be repackaged in bizarre and Read more →

Race-Industry Leeches

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Courtesy: Werth Media via Flickr.com

Courtesy: Werth Media via Flickr.com

The trial of George Zimmerman is over, but the persecution of him by the race industry isn’t. The Department of Justice is currently combing through the case to find some pretext, no matter how specious, for charging Zimmerman with a violation of civil-rights laws. No matter that the FBI investigation has eliminated race as a factor in Zimmerman’s actions, or that the prosecutors in Florida studiously ignored race as a motive. Under Attorney General Eric Holder, the DOJ has become the Luca Brasi of the race industry, enforcing the self-serving, racialist narrative that in part propelled Holder’s boss into the White House. So don’t be surprised if the DOJ seizes the opportunity.

Read more →

One Nation, Under God?

by Bruce Thornton

Defining Ideas

The role of religion in American social and political life is an ever-present element in our civic conversation. The recent controversy over the contraception mandate ignited a smoldering conflict over just this issue. Read more →

The Strange Case of Trayvon Martin

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

Racial-Relations Regression

The Trayvon Martin tragedy, by the time the entire process is played out, will reflect poorly on lots of people and groups, who in mob-like fashion have weighed in before all the facts in the case are fully aired. Read more →

Diversity, Inc.

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

‘Affirmative action” was the logical sequel to the civil-rights legislation of the 1960s. The initial reasoning was attractive enough. Read more →

The President Who Never Was

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

A Teen-age President in Search of an Adult Identity

Barack Obama keeps looking for a presidential identity not his own [1]. In 2008, he wished to be JFK—whom he often referenced as a youthful and charismatic figure supposedly similar to himself. Read more →

Obama’s Predictable Scandals

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

The media finally conceded the Obama administration to be inexperienced and inept, reminiscent of the Carter administration — but, they maintained, not possibly involved in any corruption. Read more →

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