Is this a trick question? Apparently Bernie Sanders was asked whether he supported reparations last week, and – alas – Bernie Sanders was smart enough to say ‘No.’ This apparently upset Ta-Nehisi Coates, although I’m not sure why. It’s like getting upset that the guy in front of you doesn’t need to make a right-hand turn even though he could so totally turn right on red. What’s the point, really? That’s just the way it goes.
Note, by the way, that I have deliberately insulted Ta-Nehisi Coates’ pet hobbyhorse by explicitly comparing it to the completely unjustified internal whining people will indulge themselves with whenever the universe does not immediately conform to their desires. I’m waving and pointing this out because I’d like to make it clear that I am pretty contemptuous of people with as low a level of self-esteem as Mr. Coates apparently has. I mean, I know that a lot of white progressives love to beat their breasts and wail while they’re being lectured to about reparations. And I grant that a man has to eat. Still. If writing that sort of thing was the only way I could get paid for writing, I do believe that I’d go work in a gas station instead.
I imagine that I won’t get nearly as much crap about it as Frederick de Boer is apparently getting for shrugging and essentially going Ta-Nehisi Coates’ is all right, but he’s no James Baldwin*, though. Because I’m more or less expected to both admit the truth (Coates is a decent enough writer who has discovered that there’s a living in telling white people how much they and their ancestors suck) and not care that this opinion bothers people. But I kind of disagree: Ta-Nehisi Coates does owe his current success to white guilt – or, rather, his specific success. I’m sure that he’d be able to make a decent enough living writing advertising copy, or something. But, shoot, white guilt pays the bills, so if the Left’s going to pout that money onto the ground then where’s the harm in holding out the soup tureen?
Mind you, I sometimes wonder how long Frederick de Boer is going to be able to last out there among the Left. I can’t imagine that he hasn’t noticed that, of the two broad factions out there, he’s not in the one that tolerates heresy all that well. Ach, well, that’s a topic for another post.
*Having taken a class in James Baldwin in college** – from what I remember, yeah: James Baldwin was a noticeably better writer.
**Dude who taught it was a non-professor playwright who did shows in Trenton. I took his playwrighting class in college, he was a massively cool guy, so I said Hey! I’ve got an elective handy and he’s doing the Baldwin course. I may have been the only white guy in there, not that anybody actually gave a tinker’s dam.
[UPDATE: I have no idea why the last wave of editing didn’t go through before publishing. Fixed.]
I understand that Ta-Nehisi Coates had to pad his word-count for this NYT piece – executive summary: Coates’s desire to remain true to his principles, such as they are, are apparently subordinate to his desire to see Barack Obama act out towards Republicans. This bothers him enough to whine about it, but not enough to actually do anything to try to stop Obama from acting in such a fashion – but there are two points I want to make, if only for my own peace of mind’s sake (because God knows that Coates never, [ever] listens to anybody else besides himself):
- Coates has it precisely backwards: we are not afraid of Barack Obama now. Which is why everybody in the GOP is mocking him. And while I mocked Barack Obama in 2008 [my] (and a bunch of other people[‘s]) [message was] effectively blocked from [being] propagated by the mainstream GOP, which frankly was scared of Obama back then. This cannot be brought up again enough times: Barack Obama has always been like this. Some of us told you so, back then. You should have believed us.
- Coates also seems to think that Barack Obama has turned into Dick Cheney. That is, of course, absurd: if Obama was Cheney he’d be doing a better job, not to mention a more ethical one. No, what Barack Obama has turned into is the nightmare devil-troll edition of Dick Cheney that lurks in the collective subconscious of the American Left. Which, again, means [both] less competence and ethical awareness than the original.
Other than that, the article is… well, pretty stupid, actually. Those two things I mentioned above were just the clumps of stupidity that managed to float to the top.
Yeah, I didn’t wake up expecting to write that today, either (I wonder if Glenn did). Heck, I don’t even know if I agree with this…
I’ve spent much of my adult life studying various theories of race and racism, and the last few years in a rather intensive mode of study. In all of that time one inescapable conclusion has dogged me: Race is such bullshit.
…in the same way that he does; but race is such bullshit.
And that’s all I feel like saying on that matter, actually.
PS: Of course, I don’t particularly expect that Ta-Nehisi Coates is ready to abandon the roughly sixteen metaphorical tons of bad liberal/progressive/Democratic policy positions that rely on said bullshit being taken seriously.