The “corruption and irrelevance” of the civil rights establishment

Posted by: Phineas on July 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

There’s a great article by Shelby Steele in the Wall St. Journal on the decline and decay of the American civil rights movement, a fall made almost inevitable by its very success.  And, on the so-called leaders of today’s movement, Steele nails the real reasons they went after George Zimmerman: to pretend they’re still relevant and to keep their power over society.

The civil-rights leadership rallied to Trayvon’s cause (and not to the cause of those hundreds of black kids slain in America’s inner cities this very year) to keep alive a certain cultural “truth” that is the sole source of the leadership’s dwindling power. Put bluntly, this leadership rather easily tolerates black kids killing other black kids. But it cannot abide a white person (and Mr. Zimmerman, with his Hispanic background, was pushed into a white identity by the media over his objections) getting away with killing a black person without undermining the leadership’s very reason for being.

The purpose of today’s civil-rights establishment is not to seek justice, but to seek power for blacks in American life based on the presumption that they are still, in a thousand subtle ways, victimized by white racism. This idea of victimization is an example of what I call a “poetic truth.” Like poetic license, it bends the actual truth in order to put forward a larger and more essential truth—one that, of course, serves one’s cause. Poetic truths succeed by casting themselves as perfectly obvious: “America is a racist nation”; “the immigration debate is driven by racism”; “Zimmerman racially stereotyped Trayvon.” And we say, “Yes, of course,” lest we seem to be racist. Poetic truths work by moral intimidation, not reason.

If these “leaders” truly cared about the condition of Blacks in America more than they do about their next appearance in front of the cameras, they’d start doing something about the devastation of the Black family, in which, as Steele points out, 73% of all Black children are born without fathers married to their mothers.

But they don’t. They’re wedded to an outdated vision of America and the power exploiting that vision gives them.

PS: Steele expounds on this theme of the decay of the civil rights movement and the exploitation of victimization in his “White Guilt,” which I highly recommend.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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5 Responses to “The “corruption and irrelevance” of the civil rights establishment”


  1. And as the vast majority of whites are no longer racist, tarring us as such with political rhetoric only has the effect of p*ssing us off.

  2. Joy says:

    I believe the Zimmerman case was elevated by this Administration for political reasons. That is why DOJ sent agents down to Sanford to assemble Left activists for protests and no doubt got the Administration’s media involved. I believe the Administration was behind the Sanford Police Chief being fired and the appointment of the Special Prosecutor. The media edited the 911 tapes, always showed Trayvon as a 13 year old, and created the White Hispanic vis-a-vis Black theme. Yet, in the end the truth came out. I pray that this backfires on all of the race baiters in this case — the Administration, the Administration’s media, NAACP, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc. I do believe this case has done more to erase White Guilt than anything else could have.

  3. Drew the Infidel says:

    This is nothing but Marketing 101 with racial malice added. The racists know the only way they can attain an appearance of relevance is to create an environment that makes their existence necessary. It is the same as an entrepreneur seeking to increase sales or a market niche for his product. His ads give the impression your life is incomplete unless you “buy in”.

    Without a doubt, Obhammud single-handedly has set the racial maturity of this nation back 60 years, something all citizens, black or otherwise, can well do without.

  4. “Wheah’s yo dollahs?”–Barack Obama, Hampton, VA, 2007

  5. “The purpose of today’s civil-rights establishment is not to seek justice, but to seek power for blacks in American life based on the presumption that they are still, in a thousand subtle ways, victimized by white racism.”

    Sadly true. When I read Steele’s The Content of our Character some years ago I was impressed by his honesty, something that’s only grown as time goes on.

    The problems in today’s black community are not the result of white racism. They’re not the result of racism today or any legacy of it. We know this because the black family was relatively intact in the 1950s and 60s (and for a century before that), and crime in the black community was relatively low. The problems started in the 60s and have only gotten worse

    Yet clearly racism was bad before the 60s and white racism is almost gone today. So the black leaders who push the racism victimization theme have a serious timeline problem that they refuse to face… and most of the media lets them get away with it. Sad