|Shelby Steele is an American author, columnist, documentary film maker, and a Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.|
When we look at American exceptionalism through the lens of dissociation, that exceptionalism is transformed into garden-variety white supremacy. Dissociation sees this exceptionalism as proof of America’s evil character. It ignores two or three millennia of profound cultural evolution in the West, and it attributes the exceptionalism that results from that evolution to little more than a will to dominate, oppress, and exploit people of color. So in this new and facile liberalism, American exceptionalism and white supremacy become nearly interchangeable. Shift one’s angle of vision ever so slightly to the left, and there is white supremacy; ever so slightly to the right, and there is American exceptionalism.
When you win the culture, you win the extraordinary power to say what things mean — you get to declare the angle of vision that assigns the “correct” meaning. When I was a boy growing up under segregation, racism was not seen as evil by most whites. It was simply recognition of a natural law: that some races were inferior to others and that people needed and wanted to be with “their own kind.” Most whites were quite polite about this — blacks were in their place and it was not proper to humiliate them for their lowly position. Racism was not meant to be menacing; it was only a kind of fatalism, an acceptance of God’s will. And so most whites could claim they held no animus toward blacks. Their prejudice, if it was prejudice at all, was perfectly impersonal. It left them free to feel compassion and sometimes even deep affection for those inferiors who cleaned their houses, or served them at table, or suckled their babies. And this was the meaning of things.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/414644/conservatism-counterculture-shelby-steele?target=author&tid=1435957