At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Thinking About Race and the Past

posted by Jack Kerwick

For the most part, ideological rivals of various sorts are divided as much over the past as they are the condition of the present and the shape they would like to impose upon the future: those of a more conservative or traditional bent tend to view the past, America’s past specifically, as a lost “Golden Age,” while leftists think of it as a “Dark Age” pervaded by “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia” and a litany of other sins that fill our “politically correct” catalogue of cardinal offenses. 

Although it is America’s past over which contemporary rightists and leftists typically contend, in what follows I would like to address the past, not (directly) of the nation but, rather, of a particular section—“Chambersburg”—of my hometown. My reasons for doing so are twofold: first, on display in this conflict are exactly those rival and equally dangerous tendencies to romanticize and denigrate the past that find full play on the national stage, but since this locality, being of vastly smaller size than America, supplies us with a significantly less ambiguous subject, focus on it promises to provide us with greater familiarity with them than there otherwise would be; second, among the key issues at stake in the dispute over America’s past is that of race and it is in no small measure the issue germane to present positions on Chambersburg’s past.  

What is called the “Chambersburg” section of Trenton, New Jersey has a storied past.  For roughly the entirety of the twentieth century, the population of Chambersburg—affectionately referred to as “the ‘Burg” by locals—consisted predominantly (but not solely) of Italian immigrants and their American offspring.  The remainder of its inhabitants descended from other parts of Europe.  This is to say, the neighborhood, not unlike virtually every other part of Trenton at one time, was all white.

This all began to change, I believe, within the last fifteen years or so.  Like all changes involving human events, there is no identifiable first moment from which these changes can be said to have sprung; but I think there are few who would disagree with my claim that it was during the last half of the 1990’s that the ‘Burg began to take a noticeable demographic turn—and for the worse, to hear most whites in the Trenton area tell it.

The narrative runs something like this: Chambersburg was a beautiful place.  Though a lower middle-class community comprised primarily of relatively inexpensive, modest-sized row homes, it was indeed a true community, a place peopled by largely honest, diligent men and women sharing a common vision of the kind of place most conducive to human flourishing, as they conceived it.  This vision of “the human good” they succeeded to a remarkable degree in realizing, as the ‘Burg’s narrow streets—invariably impeccable—bustled with the finest Italian eateries, from five star restaurants to pizza and steak houses, from bakeries to taverns; “social clubs”; educational institutions, Catholic Churches, and family-friendly parks.  Each year, for over a century, thousands would descend upon “the heart of the ‘Burg’” to participate in “The Feast of Lights,” an originally religious festival intended to honor the Madonna, the Virgin Mary.  Chambersburg was a true community in the sense that its members all knew and looked after one another: so rare was crime, it wasn’t uncommon to spot elderly women sitting on their porches to the wee morning hours on warm summer nights, or walking the streets after dark, free of fear. 

Now, what has been said of Chambersburg can and has been said of virtually every other neighborhood in the city of Trenton. But what distinguished it is that such things were being claimed for the ‘Burg long after the quality of life in much of the city had dramatically deteriorated.  It is this achievement that endeared it to some, elicited respect from others, and surrounded it with a mystique that arrested the attention of all for decades to follow. 

But since the onset of the racial transformation that overtook it a dozen or so years ago, the ‘Burg has been dying a slow death.  Today, practically the only thing that remains of the old neighborhood is the name, for as most of its native inhabitants have fled, so too have the myriad of civic institutions that they created become essentially defunct.

This, at any rate, is what we may term “the Golden Age” account of Chambersburg.  We would do well to bear in mind that in referring to it as such, I don’t for a second mean to suggest that it is without truth; quite the contrary, there is no small measure of truth in it.  Yet it is also the case that insofar as it is saturated in nostalgia, thus omitting features of daily life in the Chambersburg of old that lack the pleasantness of those recounted, it is not only less than fully honest but, moreover, it diminishes what truth it contains.

You see, the ‘Burg managed to preserve its mono-racial character well after most of Trenton’s other white neighborhoods went the way of the dinosaur.  This also captures in part its appeal.  At the same time, however, it is just this characteristic that informs a rival narrative of the ‘Burg, what we will call “the Dark Age” account. 

It isn’t just that blacks and browns happened to be absent from Chambersburg; their absence was the product of a design whose central ingredients were fear and intimidation.  The aversion of blacks and, later, Puerto Ricans, to the ‘Burg was well justified, for there is no shortage of evidence—most of it anecdotal, some of it documented—that their ventures there were routinely greeted with varying degrees of hostility, from cold stares to verbal abuse to violent attacks.  Chambersburg was “a community” all right, but a “community” of “racists” of the most overt kind, a community whose members were unabashedly, unapologetically opposed to “the Other,” especially—but, importantly, not only—when the Stranger lacked a European (i.e. Caucasoid) pedigree.       

This last point must be stressed.  It isn’t just racial minorities who view the ‘Burg of yesteryear as a boiling cauldron of bigotry; nor is it just the leftist guardians of “Politically Correct” orthodoxy who regard it as an emblem of a benighted American past.  Local whites of modest economic background, vaguely conservative temperamentally, if not philosophically or ideologically, are similarly contemptuous of the old ‘Burg.  A Swede, no less than a sub-Saharan African, I have had it told to me, would be set upon for walking the streets of Chambersburg, for unless one was Italian, one was unwelcome. 

A few years ago, a mentally retarded white man who was born and raised in Chambersburg was ambushed by a group of blacks just a couple blocks from his home. His injuries—which included the loss of sight in one eye—were severe enough to guarantee him a trip to the hospital.  A local bar held a charity to raise funds for his hospital bills as well as information regarding his assailants.  During this time, newspapers relayed the reminiscences of locals who, shocked and outraged by the attack on this poor soul who hadn’t harmed a fly, longed for “the good ole’ days” when this sort of episode would have been unthinkable.  My uncle (who, interestingly enough, frequented the bar that hosted the charity event) wasted no time in categorically repudiating the notion that Chambersburg was ever anything even remotely resembling the pristine images in the terms of which it was being described: The residents of the ‘Burg, he emphatically pronounced, “were nasty people.”  My late father, from whose lips such fashionable buzz words as “intolerance,” “bigotry,” “racist,” “xenophobia” and the like never sprung, likewise detested the ‘Burg, but mostly because of the arrogance and stupidity that he attributed to its inhabitants.  He once laughed that in assuming the physical appearance and mannerisms of a Soprano before The Sopranos, the typical, Italian-American (male) resident of Chambersburg is a cheap caricature of himself: “If he were to be believed, there must be tens of thousands of Mafioso living in the ‘Burg!”  And that criticisms of these sorts weren’t the function of a merely “anti-Italian” prejudice, whatever that could be, is born out by the fact that people of Italian descent are among those who have made them.

Like its optimistic counterpart, “the Dark Age” account of Chambersburg contains its share of truth. 

Yet, as it has been my intention to show by sharing these reflections on a quasi-legendary neighborhood from my home town, both the standard conservative disposition to romanticize the past as well as the leftist tendency to denigrate it are of limited value.  Each provides a service in bringing to our attention features of the past that the other threatens to suppress, but insofar as they mutually deny one another, recognizing only themselves as the authoritative repository of “history,” their respective recollections are alike distortions.  However, as with all “historical” enterprises, particularly those that involve—as “the history” of Chambersburg, like “histories” of the United States, involve—race relations, the path toward an approximation of the truth lies in avoiding both of these extremes. 

The characterization of Chambersburg as a bustling community that lies at the heart of the Golden Age account is not wide of the mark, yet no less accurate is the Dark Age account on which the ‘Burg is construed as unfriendly territory to non-whites.  But these concessions being made, some qualifications are in order.

First, while Chambersburg had none of the crime characteristic of some other neighborhoods, much less that which typifies daily life in today’s “inner cities,” it nonetheless was never the crime-free zone that it is often made out to be. In fact, it was unlike most other areas in having a small, but moderately influential, element of organized crime.  Albeit, the presence of “the Mafia” in the ‘Burg was greatly exaggerated, and by no one more so than some of its own residents, especially its young males who, from no doubt an impoverished conception of manhood coupled with a Hobbesian desire to deter threats to themselves, exploited the imagined link between Chambersburg and the mob.  What “mobsters” dwelt in the ‘Burg were, overwhelmingly, not real mobsters at all, a loose assortment of punks, bookies, numbers runners, and small time drug dealers all of whom failed to leave the mark on the underworld for which they aimed.  Even those very few whose names registered on the rosters of the New York and Philadelphia crime families barely did so and could never realistically dream that they would be remembered in the annals of mob history. 

Second, it is correct that outsiders were viewed warily and racial minorities, blacks specifically, were traditionally unwelcomed.  But it is not the case that one had to be of Italian descent to be accepted in the ‘Burg; whites of non-Italian European lineages could not only travel unmolested, they lived there for as long as there had been a Chambersburg.  As for non-whites, it would be at the cost of the truth to deny that innocent blacks and browns had been unjustly, and even outrageously, treated upon entering Chambersburg, the prey to hordes of its white predators who would chase and sometimes subject them to merciless beatings.  Yet it would be a gross mistake to confuse what never amounted to more than the unruly conduct of pockets of adolescents and low-lives with that of the hard working and law abiding citizens that comprised the vast majority of Chambersburg.  Another error of judgment would be to dramatize the extent to which blacks and Hispanics were excluded from the neighborhood: the first black family moved into the ‘Burg as far back as the 1960’s—before the race riots that would engulf Trenton and the country—and there were some Puerto Ricans who reportedly lived there as well during this time.  A final mistake is to avoid the assumption—all too common in our “Politically Correct” age—that whatever problems minorities encountered in the ‘Burg were necessarily unsolicited, the mere function of a raw, irrational pathology called “white racism.”  

From what I have been able to determine, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the ‘Burg began to acquire for itself its reputation vis-à-vis non-whites—exactly that time period immediately following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. when legions of black youths, as well as some who weren’t so young, exploded in a protracted orgy of violence that irrevocably changed the city of Trenton for the worse. Whites were randomly targeted for attack and the business district downtown was torched.  Because of the violence, Trenton’s only high school was closed.  As a result, masses of white teenagers from both Chambersburg as well as other white neighborhoods from within the city and nearby suburbia congregated at Columbus Park, a long staple of the ‘Burg located on a thoroughfare that served as an unofficial borderline between black and white Trenton for decades.  A group of blacks, evidently emboldened by the fear that the rioting had succeeded in inspiring in whites throughout the rest of the city (and the nation) threatened to cross the street into Chambersburg.  The white kids at Columbus Park were having none of it, a point they managed to convey in no uncertain terms by forming a human wall at the park’s edge and issuing the warning that entry into the ‘Burg promised to be a one-way trip.  Stories circulated over the years that blacks’ attempt to call the whites’ bluff landed them in the sewer—yes, the sewer!—but whether this happened, I have never been able to verify.  What is established is that the troubles that black rioters visited upon much of the rest of the city were kept far from Chambersburg, as men and, believe it or not, even some women—and elderly women to boot!—encircled the streets of their community armed with baseball bats, golf clubs, handguns, and rifles.

It was from this series of events, I believe, that the ‘Burg began to acquire its quasi-legendary character. 

Over the years, in misguided efforts at bravado, young males—usually teenagers—have sought to avail themselves of and strengthen the reputation of Chambersburg bequeathed to them by previous generations by targeting those blacks and browns found passing through their neighborhood.  However, their attempts to recapture “the glory days” of their fathers who saved the community from riotous barbarians each failed singularly and, in truth, were bound to do so.  

First of all, the sheer delight experienced by far too many of the ‘Burg’s gatekeepers from the ‘60’s over the prospect of actually harming those that dared to cross the invisible line into their territory casts in doubt the premise that they were “glory days” at all. Furthermore, their progeny were two-bit thugs whose prey consisted largely (even if not exclusively) of outnumbered minority members who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time: it is one thing to threaten the use of and even employ force to stop a mob with designs to set your home on fire, but another thing entirely to do the same with respect to a black kid or two simply because they are passing by your home.

Today, Chambersburg is a different world from what it once was.  Blacks and browns are no longer fearful of the whites who once resided there, it is true, but this owes to the fact that, for the most part, there are no longer any such whites.  This, though, doesn’t mean that the minorities who are now a majority in the ‘Burg are free of all fear of violence; quite the contrary, for the violence with which they live in the present and which they inflict upon one another is at once more pervasive and intense than any that they suffered in the past at the hands of whites.  The ‘Burg’s once clean streets are strewn with garbage and its once tidy homes are frequently dilapidated.  Law-abiding residents will no longer sit on their front porches, much less walk the streets, whether during the day or night, and gang activity is on the rise.  Vestigial traces of the old ‘Burg can be found in the forms of a couple of Italian restaurants and bakeries, but with the coroner’s report no one takes exception: the old ‘Burg is dead, and in its stead lies a new entity, but something bordering on another corpse. If blacks’ and Hispanics’ prevalence in Chambersburg can be hailed as a “victory” over the “oppression” of the past, then it is a victory that is bitter sweet, for their penetration of this “glass ceiling” left them and the population that they displaced shredded by countless shards of glass.

As with Chambersburg, so with everything else in this life: Golden Ages exist in Heaven, Dark Ages in Hell, but in this world, neither the unadulterated optimism attending to the former nor the dreary pessimism belonging to the latter have any place, for it is a mode of existence that invites both tears and laughter.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

How We Can Fight the Evil of Crime

posted by Jack Kerwick

The United States of America is “a nation of laws,” as we say.  That being so, it follows that no one poses a greater threat to us than the criminals who live among us, for by definition, criminals are resolved to undermine the law.  And since, unlike the slave who lives by directives, commands, and orders, the free man is abides only by laws, a sustained assault against the law is an attack against the freedom of every person who enjoys it.

Considering this, it is indeed puzzling that such pundits on the establishment right as, say, Sean Hannity and Dennis Prager, “conservative” talk show hosts who never tire of reminding us of the need to combat the evil of “radical Islam,” should remain virtually silent when it comes to this far greater evil.  Maybe, however, this phenomenon isn’t as enigmatic as it appears, for speaking out against the evil of Islamic terrorism in contemporary America doesn’t require nearly as much courage as speaking out against the evil of crime.

For one thing, even though it is undeniably true that criminals come in all colors, the stone cold fact of the matter is that in America, overwhelmingly it is blacks and Hispanics who are the purveyors of crime.  To put it bluntly, it is impossible to discuss the issue of crime without speaking to its racial subtext.  Although “the War on Terror” has a racial subtext as well, as of this juncture, American pundits pay hardly a price at all for comments that are perceived as derogatory of Muslims; such, needless to say, is most certainly not the case when it comes to Hispanics, to say nothing of blacks.

But it isn’t just the fear of being charged with “racism” that I suspect accounts for the right wing pundit’s silence with respect to crime, for when we consider the variety of criminal organizations to which whites of various sorts have belonged, it becomes painfully clear that there is no shortage of the chronically evil among the Caucasoid race.  Perhaps the right wing enemy of evil simply fears for his physical well being.

Some may recall the shame that the New York City newspaper publications invited upon themselves some years ago upon the death of the infamous “dapper don,” John Gotti.  Gotti was a career criminal, a convicted murderer and the head of one of the most notorious mafia families in the country.  Yet in spite of all of this, and in spite of the fact that he died while serving a life sentence in prison, the papers paid him tribute.  While there were some right-leaning commentators who challenged them on this, with remarkably few exceptions (of whom former talk radio host, founder of The Guardian Angels, and one time Gotti victim, Curtis Sliwa, is the most notable), I don’t recollect any who were willing to call out Gotti for the thug that he was.  Could it be that they feared Gotti would have put out a “contract” on them?       

More recently, an Irish-American mobster from Boston named James “Whitey” Bulger was arrested in California after having been on the run for the last 15 years or so.  Bulger, too, was the lowest of low lives, from all accounts, a career criminal responsible for all manner of crime, from murder to extortion and everything in between.  Before he went on the lam, Bulger began cooperating with the FBI.  It appears now that corrupt agents within the Bureau had been aiding Bulger all along.  Surely, then, this is no small story and yet, to my knowledge, none of the usual fighters of evil have touched it.

All of us, whether we are in law enforcement or not, have an obligation to combat evil. The Islamic terrorist who deliberately targets for death innocent men, women, and children is evil, to be sure, but, this evil doesn’t pose as clear and present a danger to us as the evil of the Criminal.  With the exception of the darkness that lurks within our own hearts, in our campaign against wickedness it is the Criminal who should receive the lion’s share of our attention. 

For those of who aren’t in law enforcement, there is only so much that we can do. But the little that we can do may ultimately prove to be quite considerable.

Besides regularly observing the law, cooperating with law enforcement officers when necessary, and enthusiastically pledging our support for the toughest of penalties for the Criminal, we can also strive to inculcate in ourselves the utter contempt for him that he so richly deserves.  This in turn means that we must steadfastly refuse to so much as remotely endorse any and all attempts on the part of Hollywood and the media to romanticize him.  If nothing else, while enjoying, say, but another viewing of The Godfather, we must continually remind ourselves that while it is undoubtedly a fine piece of art, it is emphatically not an accurate depiction of mafia life.

Just as importantly, because language contributes in no small measure to shaping the world that we inhabit, the world that we perceive, we must set out to subvert the conventional vocabulary in terms of which the Criminal is characteristically described.  Words invoking manliness—“tough,” “bold,” “respect,” “honor,” etc.—have all too frequently been used in connection with the Criminal—even though his unwillingness and/or inability to order his life in accordance with the law without which a true man degenerates into something less than a real man should establish beyond a doubt that they have no place when it comes to him. 

For most of the history of what we now call Western civilization, a real man or a true man was recognized as being synonymous with the good man, the man of virtue.  A virtue is an excellence.  Of two eyes, only one of which has sight, we say that it alone is “the good eye,” for only an eye with sight is capable of doing that for the sake of which eyes exist to begin with: see.  An eye with perfect vision, as we say, is a “virtuous” eye, for it excels at fulfilling this purpose.  In contrast, an eye devoid of all sight, being a bad eye, is not really an eye at all; it is an eye in name only.  Similarly, an evil man is in reality something less than a real man. 

In order to be good men, real men (and, of course, good, true women) we must resolve to express this truth every chance we can. 

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

Why We Must Combat the Evil of Crime

posted by Jack Kerwick

In promoting the nation-building enterprises upon which President George W. Bush embarked the U.S. military, the most visible and loudest voices of the conventional right are forever reminding the rest of us of the need for interminable war against the dreaded “Islamo-Fascist.”  Anyone who doesn’t endorse the neoconservative vision of “the War on Terror,” or anyone, like President Obama, who doesn’t prosecute it with the neoconservative’s zeal, is deemed weak.  As neoconservative radio and television personality Sean Hannity typically says of his political opponents, they simply do not grasp “the nature of evil in our time.”

Let us note, firstly, that inasmuch as the Islamic terrorist deliberately targets for death innocent human beings—not just men, but women and children—the neoconservative is correct that such a creature is indeed evil.  Yet few people in the non-Islamic world, and doubtless not even all Muslims, fail to recognize this at least at some level of consciousness. And yes, the neoconservative is further correct that Islamic terrorism poses a threat to our way of life against which we must remain forever vigilant.

Ironically, though, because of his singular focus on—some would say obsession with—Islamic terrorism, and his relative silence with respect to the crime with which America is plagued, it is actually the neoconservative who fails to reckon with “the nature of evil in our time.”  This is no exaggeration, for America’s criminals pose a far greater threat to her than do Islamic terrorists.

There are a couple of reasons for this verdict.

First, a modern state is a legal association.  The members of a state—its associates—are citizens related to one another through the laws that constitute the association.  This, I believe, is what Americans mean when they describe their beloved country as “a nation of laws, not of men,” or when they say that “no one is above the law.” 

Since, then, as citizens we are held together by law, every instance of outlawry, every crime, is an assault against our association.  And because the Criminal is as much an associate as the rest of us, he imperils his fellow citizens to an extent the likes of which the Islamic terrorist can only dream.

The second argument for my thesis is really a variant of the first. Another respect in which criminals undercut the thread—the law—that makes us citizens and binds us together pertains to the power that they assume over their prey. 

The early modern philosopher Thomas Hobbes contrasted civil society—life under government—with what he called “the state of nature,” a pre-political condition from which government was absent.  In Hobbes’ vision, life in the state of nature is most unpleasant, a “war of all against all,” for in a state of nature there is no “common power” (authority) to which all individuals are bound, no law to which they can appeal in adjudicating their conflicts.  And because there is no settled law, there are no obligations: each individual has an absolute right to appropriate whatever means he deems fit for the sake of preserving his always precarious existence.

It is precisely because of life’s wretchedness in a state of nature that individuals agree to abandon it by creating government, an office of rule whose jurisdiction extends over all who consent to exchange their unconditional right to self-preservation for the peace that government’s establishment and enforcement of law promises to secure.

Now, there is much to quarrel with in Hobbes’ classic statement of the rise and justification of government, but it is not without more than its share of insights. The idea on which we should focus here is the idea that as long as individuals refuse to submit to one and the same system of law, as long as they remain determined to seek their own advancement regardless of the costs it imposes on others, they in effect repudiate the civil condition and, thus, reignite the war of all against all that characterized the state of nature. 

This is what the Criminal has done.  In throwing all constraints to the wind, he becomes the predator to the law abiding citizen’s prey. 

Indeed, this isn’t just a point of abstract theory. The Criminal has been exploiting and intimidating the law abiding for as long as he has existed. But when he joins himself to those who think as he does—when he becomes a mobster or a gangster—it is then that his power over others becomes truly invidious.  To the old familiar objection that mobsters, especially Mafiosi, only bother one another, two replies are in the coming. 

First, insofar as it those victims specifically targeted for attack of whom we are concerned, this statement is generally—but only generally—true.  For example, former head of the Gambino crime family, John Gotti, had a neighbor who accidentally killed Gotti’s twelve year-old son with his car.  The ever merciful Gotti had the poor man murdered. 

Second, momentarily putting to one side the main point of my argument—which is that every law abiding member of our legal association is the Criminal’s victim—we can turn to the bulk of the residents of the Criminal’s stomping grounds to see the immense power that he is able to wield over them.  After all, how many law abiding blacks and Hispanics in the ‘hoods and barrios of America have shown the will to cooperate with law enforcement officers in bringing the Bloods, the Crips, the Latino Kings, and other gang members to justice?  And the fear that black and brown criminals have inspired in the law abiding members of their communities white criminals have been inspiring in the law abiding members of theirs, whether it is in America’s “Little Italy’s” or anywhere else.

Neoconservative Republicans have been critical of “moderate Muslims” for their alleged failure to speak out against the evil of the Islamic terrorist.  Yet neither the neoconservatives nor, for all of that, most of us been outspoken when it comes to combating the evil of the Criminal right here at home.

In this article, I hoped to show why our domestic crime is the greatest evil with which we have to contend. In the next, I hope to show how each of us may do our best to combat it.             

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American

Alienation and Obama

posted by Jack Kerwick

Within no time of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, his honeymoon was met with a backlash of epic proportions, an uprising against “Big Government” of which the newly created Tea Party was an emblem.  Many of Obama’s left-leaning supporters, both in Washington as well as in the media, identified this phenomenon as a “racist” reaction to the election of our “first black president.”

Those on the right, forever ready to prove their color-blindness, insist that Obama’s color or race hasn’t anything to do with their frustrations; rather, it is his determination to grow the government well beyond anything that it has ever been—and even further beyond anything that it was originally intended to be—that is the source of their angst.  In a word, it is Obama’s “socialism” that unleashed the beast typified by the Tea Party movement.  Had he been any other color and still been a socialist, his conduct would have been greeted by exactly the same response.

So, does Obama’s race factor into the grassroots rebellion that his election invited?

It may interest readers of this column to discover that I find the left’s account of events to contain some truth.  Of course, the idea that the overwhelming majority of whites that constitute the Tea Party and “conservative” movements, to say nothing of the Republican Party, are driven by an irrational and malevolent pathology called “racism” is absurd.  However, that Obama’s race informs, to some extent, the great awakening that appears to have transpired over the last couple of years is a proposition that isn’t so easy to circumvent.

The aggressiveness with which Obama and his Democrats pursued his socialist agenda isn’t itself what gave rise to the resistance with which it has been met.  I have no doubts that had John McCain or some other Republican been president, and had this Republican moved just as speedily and ambitiously as Obama in advancing the same exact program as the latter, the town hall meetings, massive Tea Party demonstrations, and the like would never have occurred.  Moreover, while there would have been some measure of outrage, I suspect that even had any other Democrat been president and moved with the swiftness that Obama moved, chances are that this outrage would not have been as intense as that which Obama faces.

Conservative students of modernity have long noted the sense of “alienation” experienced by citizens of the modern state.  The modern state—what is commonly (but not always correctly) called “the nation-state”—is unprecedented for its largeness of size and scope.  Thus, the national governments of such entities, of necessity, are far removed from the everyday lives of the citizens over which they preside.  Due to this, citizens tend to feel as if their government is something over and above them.  That is, they feel alienated from it.

Much to the chagrin of many a leftist, from its inception to the present day, the vast majority of America’s citizens have been white.  The segment of the population with ancestral roots in Europe has diminished some in recent decades, it is true, but the country remains predominantly white.  Given this fact, for as racially enlightened as 21st whites undoubtedly are relative to other peoples around the world and throughout history, this tacit sense on the part of Tea Partiers and scores of others that their federal government is among them, not of them, intensified with the election of our 44th president. 

However, as Obama’s opponents have repeatedly insisted, the color of his skin alone isn’t relevant to their feelings toward him and their government. After all, contrary to popular opinion, no one, white, black, or other, ever sees just color.  Race is never thought of as a just a matter of biology.  In every person’s mind, race encompasses certain cultural, and even ideological, characteristics.  Blacks more so than anyone recognize this, a fact that explains such otherwise puzzling phenomena as their description of Bill Clinton as “the first black president” and the insistence of left-leaning blacks that their more conservative minded brethren aren’t really black. 

No, that our president has more melanin than the majority of Americans is by itself neither here nor there.  His color isn’t at issue.  But Obama is a “race man.”  This much has always been abundantly clear to anyone who was willing to read his first memoir—Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance—or consider his selection of allies.  Whites chose to ignore all of this. Blacks, in stark contrast, are well aware of it.       

By some estimates, Obama received as much as 96% of the black vote.  Thus, blacks have no doubts regarding his racial authenticity. Yet Obama is considered authentically black precisely because of both his alliances—let us never forget the colorful cast of far left racial ideologues with whom Obama surrounded himself for most of his life, beginning with his pastor and “spiritual mentor” of over two decades, Jeremiah Wright—as well as his unapologetic endorsement of a robust redistributive scheme designed to transfer resources from whites to non-whites.  

Though they won’t admit this, even to themselves, I maintain that since his election, it has dawned on an ever growing number of whites that this black president may regard himself as black before he regards himself as the president.    

It is this realization, I contend, that has exacerbated their sense that their government is as alien to them as is Obama’s name.   

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

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Following their party’s crushing defeat at the polls, some Democratic strategists are now claiming that it is Democrats’ “failure to communicate” with white men that accounts for their dramatic reversal of fortunes. In contrast, Republican talking heads insist upon either trivializing or

posted 9:20:56pm Nov. 07, 2014 | read full post »

Why I Did Not Vote this Election Day
As I write this, it’s Election Day. It is the first Election Day in 24 years that I haven’t voted. Every election cycle, Republican operatives in the media—“conservative” talk radio hosts, Fox News pundits, and the like—insist to their audiences that a decision on their part to do

posted 9:47:14pm Nov. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Losing the Language: How the GOP Undermines Itself--and Liberty
As the mid-term elections approach, it’s high time for Republican commentators to walk the walk. Just the other morning, Mark Steyn, busily promoting his new book, made an appearance on Bill Bennett’s radio program. The latter agreed enthusiastically with the former that in order for conserva

posted 10:16:04pm Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »


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