Activists in some countries are adopting ceremonies of shame and atonement. To understand why, look to religion.
I use “M.” like the French do, for Monsieur but ALSO for Mesdames and Mademoiselle EQUALLY. ALL CAPS are ITALICS. :)
TY (thank You) for Your FINE article, M. Buruma.
I THOUGHT Your name was familiar and, yah, I recently read an article on Your end at The New York Review of Books. WHen I read it, I thought You were railroaded.
Your composure in writing this article is remarkable, yet contains what-I-consider to be, factual errors.
"The history of slavery and its long-term consequences still haunt American society and should certainly not be ignored, let alone dismissed as a reason for lingering iniquities."
I recommend that You read the views of someone who knows what they're talking about. A Black conservative, who's not afraid to tell the Truth: "Black Victim To Black Victor: Identifying the ideologies, behavioral patterns and cultural norms that encourage a victimhood complex" https://smile.amazon.com/Black-Victim-Victor-Identifying-ideologies/dp/B0915JT4XD/ref=sr_1_1
The history of slavery and apartheid of Jim Crow is ignonomy for America. But it ended 50 years ago. The effects today? Whatever people wanna pretend it is. The vast MAJORITY of these pretenders are VERY affluent Blacks who live very comfortable lives and most certainly haven't suffered any long-term consequences of slavery. They don’t want You to point out their hypocrisy, of course. As the book says, there's no benefit to pretending, except a lotta these people make a pretty good living from doing so.
"Partly under the influence of Black Lives Matter in the US, this is beginning to change, and high time."
Yeah, some SMALL adjustments need to be made in teaching history. But I'm sure You mean the 1619 Project, rather than BLM. Most scholars view the 1619 Project as, in my words, Historical Fiction. M. Hannah-Jones herself "said," in a presumably deleted tweet, that the Project was an "origin story," not history. So why is it being taught in schools?
"What is needed to oppose the intolerant right is a more tolerant left, open to different views and reasonable argument. Otherwise, there won’t be very much left to defend."
Increasingly, there's nothing left to defend. Who wants to raise a voice in opposition if it can cost You Your job? When parents go to discuss the harm CRT does to their kids... Well, just to raise a question calls out for the words, "Where do they work?"
And I think it goes right back to what You "said" in the article. The BLM-1619 Project-CRT MACHINE is a religious faith with the morals of an abnormally large percentage of Catholic so-called Priests. And one-a the fundamental tenets of The CRT MACHINE is that facts and reason and objectivity are aspects of white supremacy. I think the acolytes of this religion know, at least subconsciously, that their whole way of life is based on IR-rational, IL-liberal ideology, right? All the more viciously they hafta defend it.
Nice essay, but I don't see what good can come of it. Do you think that left-wing thought police are going to say "Huh! I hadn't realized I was motivated by religious zeal. Since I'm an atheist, I'll stop now."? Even suggesting that they show more tolerance than their arch-enemies is unlikely to sway anyone, since the inferiority of the other side is -- as you note in the essay -- so obvious.
Instead, if these phenomena are to be reduced, people will have to get over certain ideas. One of those ideas is that voicing terrible opinions is harmful, because otherwise how could they 𝐧𝐨𝐭 do whatever it takes to silence the clear-and-present-danger?
Another is that what other people think is their affair. So what if a guy doesn't think that structural racism is the cause of X? So what if he doesn't think structural racism exists? So what if he's a racist? Only the most extreme situations -- like the Jim Crow South -- can excuse our involvement in the private lives of our fellow citizens. If you think some stranger needs to lose his position because he has objectionable opinions, you've either set that bar way too low or you have no sense of proportion.
(As an aside, I find it interesting that you write "After all, structural racism does exist in the US," and three sentences later refer to that same idea as "dogma".)
There are other pernicious ideas, but I anyway don't know if it's possible to change people's minds on these things, much less to break their addiction to being mean and patting themselves on the back for it.
An opinion which ignores 50+ years of research doesn’t lead to productive debate.
The important issue is the impact of social class and race and the complex interaction between these two variables and their impact on health, both physical and mental. With his opinion he is not likely to be open to publishing in this important area of research.
As for the Woke they may know the research but find it unacceptable. Furthermore the Woke engage in cancel culture for those who present this research. And some have even
lost their jobs for presenting this research. So the Woke have a dangerous impact.
Greetings, I deeply appreciate your hypothesis that religious traditions have a significant effect on how we manage our narrative which gets expressed in political and social action. As you lament what you see as the intolerance of the left seems to forget that core to protestant beliefs is that you are predestined for grace so confession, unlike for Catholics, does not imply an ability to change and grow.
A part of your narrative that I want to challenge is that you lament the firing of a who makes an argument about the social factors in health outcomes. You suggest he was fired because his message was unwelcome, but you do not demonstrate how is message was accurate. If a leader of an organization shares inaccurate information that can be used to substantiate and support inequitable practices (which are ripe in our medical establishments) that leader should be challenge and, maybe, fired. Personally, because I believe people can change, I advocate for using a "restorative justice" approach when someone goes against the norms or needs of their community. I agree that the intolerant among us are eager to assume the transgressor is an unredeemable sinner who needs to be cast out to preserve the health of the community.
You end with an argument about the addressing the intolerant left and claiming equivalence with the intolerant right. I am not convinced making the equivalence argument is useful as the drivers of the intolerance and the goals of the groups are substantively different. To that end, I wish you had focused on ways to grow the tolerant center rather than, what seems to be a pattern among Persuasion writers, making cheap points about "wokeness."
Is America (the United States) systematically racist? There are a number of ways of looking at this, but they all yield the same answer. No.
1. The US and Canada have very different racial histories. However, the black/white income gap is remarkably similar. See “Black Canadians and Black Americans: Racial income inequality in comparative perspective” (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233008532_Black_Canadians_and_Black_Americans_Racial_income_inequality_in_comparative_perspective).
2. One clue is to look at societies where ‘racism’ (the white kind) hasn’t existed for a very long time. The Haitian Revolution was 217 years ago. If ‘white racism’ was really such a powerful force, then Haiti should be highly successful. That does not seem to be the case.
3. The per-capita GDP of Singapore is only 34X of Haiti. The US/white role in each country has been quite small. Both countries are removed from the USA and yet show disparities even larger than found in the USA.
4. In World War II, Japanese-Americans were interned in various camps and typically lost everything. Yet, by the middle 1960s, they were more successful than whites in America. Back then, racism towards Japanese-Americans wasn’t hypothetical or limited to the internment camps. See “ALIEN LAND LAWS IN CALIFORNIA (1913 & 1920)” (https://immigrationhistory.org/item/alien-land-laws-in-california-1913-1920/).
It should be noted that the Japanese-Americans in question were hardly elite. They were brought to America as farm laborers. However, even after the Word War II camps, they were highly successful. See “"Success Story, Japanese-American Style” (New York Times (1923-Current File); Jan 9, 1966)
5. It turns out that all of the most successful ethnic groups in America are non-white. Some are wildly more successful than white. Some statistics. Median Household income for Indian Americans ($107,390), Jews ($97,500), Taiwanese ($85,566), all Asians ($74,245) is greater than Whites ($59,698). As can you see, non-white ethnic groups are at the top and Jews earn (far) more than non-Jewish whites.
These numbers are real, but have two major problems. First, Asian households tend to be larger than non-Asian households. Using personal income provides a better measure than household income. Asian personal income is also higher than non-Asian personal income. However, the positive gap is not as large as the household income gap. The second problem is the nature of the 1965 Immigration Act. The 1965 Act favored (rightfully so) highly educated immigrants over less educated immigrants. The cliché Indian-American immigrant to the US is a doctor. Of course, that is a cliché. However, it is a cliché because it has some element of truth to it.
6. It turns out the school funding is not equal across the United Sates. New York state spends the most (over $24K per-student, per-year) and Utah spends the least (around $7K per-student, per-year). However, the results almost exactly the opposite of what ‘white racism’ theory predicts. Utah has higher test scores that New York state. Of course, ‘white racism’ theory would predict the Utah would spend more than New York state. That isn’t even remotely true.
7. Police fatalities are not equally distributed by race. In 2019, just 17 Asians were killed by the police. For whites the number was 406, and blacks 259. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain the amazingly low number of Asians shot by police. For a typical factoid, in one year, two Japanese-Americans were arrested for murder. Not 200, or 200,000. Just two.
8. The Asian incarceration rate is 74.5% lower than the white incarceration rate and 95% below the black incarceration rate. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
9. It turns out that schools discipline rates are tracked by race. See Figure 15.3 of “Indicator 15: Retention, Suspension, and Expulsion” (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/raceindicators/indicator_rda.asp). ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
10. That statistics for SAT scores, college enrollment/completion, arrests, etc. are all readily available by race. You can even find COVID-19 vaccination statistics by race. Invariably, you will find racial disparities and invariably Asians will be on top. So much for the mythology of ‘white racism’.
11. It turns out that other groups are almost as unsuccessful in American life as blacks. Of course, these groups have no history of slavery, Red-Lining, Jim Crow, etc. Why are these groups almost as unsuccessful as blacks? The traditional excuses don’t come close to explaining the disparities. For example, according to Pew median family income for the Hmong (in 2015) was just $48,000 vs. $71,300 for white (Pew, 2014). The rather large differences in family income amount Asians are used to claim that the “model minority” status is a “myth”. Its not a myth, but what people sometimes call a fact. Pew (2014) found that average household for Asians was $77,900.
12. The Jussie Smollett case provides yet another proof that ‘systematic racism’ doesn’t exist (at least in the US). If ‘systematic racism’ was real, criminals such as Jussie Smollett wouldn’t need to go around inventing hate crimes, because they would have plenty of actual material to use. The fact that people like Jussie Smollett invent hate crimes is one indication of how rare such things are. Of course, some types of hate crimes do occur. No one talks about them because they aren’t PC.
The author is quite correct. Wokeness is just the latest form of Protestant insanity. The Protestant religion is probably not as important as it once was. However, the religious fervor remains. Once America has the "great awakening". Now we have the "great awokening".
When a highly educated person like Dr Livingston demonstrates total ignorance of the relationship between social class and race it should be understood that this is a result of our educational system and our news media, etc. It is sad that he had to pay for such ignorance in a society which provides limited opportunities to learn about this issue.