Thomas Jackson, American Renaissance, February 1997
The Coming Race War in America: A Wake-up Call, Carl T. Rowan, Little, Brown, 1996, 310 pp.
The Coming Race War? Richard Delgado, New York University Press, 1996, 198 pp.
As a book, The Coming Race War in America is one of the sorriest efforts by a major publisher in a long time. It is incoherent, vituperative, and often just plain stupid. However, as evidence of the state of mind of an influential black commentator and, by extension, an indicator of the current state of American race relations, it is a fascinating piece of work.
Carl Rowan is a syndicated columnist, who has had a very distinguished career. He has been ambassador to Finland and director of the U.S. Information Agency. He was the first black to sit on the National Security Council and he is on several corporate boards. He has won awards for journalism and is a frequent television commentator. As he freely admits, he has led a very well-rewarded life. It is therefore all the more surprising to find that, first, he has written such an incompetent book and, second, bears so much animus towards whites.
As for competence, there is not a single sustained argument in the whole book. It is largely a series of wild assertions, with few facts and no footnotes. It is so graceless and unpersuasive that much of it reads like a skin-head parody of a black intellectual. What is one to make of a sentence like this:
Or must we find blameless the gatekeepers, the politicians, the opinion-makers, finding that we are hating and killing because we are afraid and feeling hopeless in the face of a terribly high crime rate, a sexual revolution that ensnares and kills our teenagers and makes some of us feel dirty, and an economic revolution that renders us insecure?
It is still possible to scavenge from this sort of wreckage some notion of what Mr. Rowan appears to believe. The book’s main theme seems to be that white supremacists will soon start trying to kill off blacks and other non-whites. Underclass blacks, who are smoldering with righteous fury, will then start killing whites, and the country will be plunged into a blood bath that will make the Civil War seem tame. The militias, led by bigots who are even now preparing genocide, will play a key role in starting the killing.
How did America come to this pass? “White supremacists” have been encouraged — sometimes openly sometimes covertly — by just about any powerful white person whose politics do not suit Mr. Rowan. Richard Nixon was “a stealth bigot” who appealed to “the right-wing Caucasian soulless brothers.” Beginning with his presidency, “appeals to racism became a staple of Republican politics,” and the nation began to slide towards race war. The real arch fiend, though, is Ronald Reagan, “the President who is more responsible than any for the fact that white racism is both tolerated and even fashionable again in America.” With the Gipper in office, “every white supremacist figured that his time in America had come again and the bigots had a field day . . .” William Clinton may actually mean well, but does not have the backbone to fight the racists.
Radio personalities Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern are “sophisticated hatemongers,” and “a lot of the blood of America’s race war victims will be on [their] hands and bloated bodies.” Bob Grant, G. Gordon Liddy, and Oliver North are yet more radio hosts who promote racism, and all have large audiences because “millions of white Americans are crazed with notions of white supremacy.”
Mr. Rowan does concede that some blacks are in the hating business, too, but mentions only the Nation of Islam and Al Sharpton. Astonishingly, he cites Patrick Buchanan and Louis Farrakhan as the “two most publicized and most dangerous of a small army of American hatemongers,” both of whom have grown rich “by peddling bigotry at great profit.” Mr. Buchanan is a “semi-lunatic,” “shamelessly anti-Semitic, anti-black, and anti-Hispanic,” and more of a racist than George Wallace. His successes in the early Republican primaries so emboldened him that he began to “talk like a half-mad would-be dictator.”
As for black hatemongers, “for every Farrakhan who riles and poisons black America, there are twenty white bigots who seek to take us into organized murder and mayhem.” Mr. Rowan refrains from naming them.
All conservatives are really just white supremacists. Newt Gingrich, for example, “may be just as dangerous as the old gallus-snapping, wool-hat [?] racists ever were.” Since black congressman Charles Rangel says so, Mr. Gingrich “has a slaveowner mentality.”
Needless to say, the effort to abolish affirmative action “is led mostly by conscienceless politicians, publicity-seeking bigots, whites with individual gripes who find it easy to make trouble in a litigious society, and a handful of blacks who harbor doubts about their own intellectual merits.” Affirmative action stirs hysteria among whites who fear to see “some of their lifelong special privileges vanish.” The “baseless assertion” that less-qualified blacks might be getting preference over better-qualified whites is “the ugliest, most venal, most destructive part of the affirmative action debate.” Since Gov. Pete Wilson of California opposes racial preferences, he is a “political flamethrower,” who only encourages violent white supremacists.
If America abandons affirmative action, the country will take a giant step towards race war because there are “armies of raging blacks and furious Hispanics who would go ballistic over effectuation of the proposed campaigns to roll back the meager gains that nonwhites have made in America during a cruel century.” As for recent court decisions that restricted some preferences:
The Federal courts . . . surrendered to racist mob psychology as cravenly as any law officer ever did in the Reconstruction South under pressure from a lynch mob. Suddenly, mass bigotry was more dominant in the so called halls of justice in 1995 than it had been in 1955.
Mr. Rowan flirts briefly with the fashionable view that race is imaginary. He points out that most American blacks have some white genes and adds, in his usual unfootnoted way, that “probably 95 percent of “white’ Americans have some “Negroid blood.’” This being the case, whites had better worry that they, themselves, could suffer from the horrible ways they treat “blacks.” The race-doesn’t-exist argument goes no further than this, probably because it is an obvious embarrassment in a book preoccupied with race.
In Mr. Rowan’s view, no event in the last 50 years has produced more “belligerent racism” than the O.J. Simpson trial. He is quite keen on the sexual angle:
I knew that the stories of the two murders would immediately grab the glands of millions of American white men, prejudicing them in ways they would never admit publicly . . . [It] would enliven the insecurities of millions of white male psyches. The old college girl’s chant, ‘Once you go black you never go back!’ surely would take on feverish new meaning.
A black friend of morbid wit said to me, ‘Doesn’t O.J. know that we can f*** ‘em now but we still can’t kill ‘em?’ . . . Black people would in private say that Nicole was ‘white trash,’ using her blond hair, her big breasts, her teenage pussy to woo a famous, rich, middle-aged black man away from the black woman who had sustained and nurtured him through the toughest years of his life.
Mr. Rowan says he watched all but a few hours of the Simpson trial and concludes that the jury had good reason to acquit. Whites, blinded by racial prejudice, convinced themselves that it was the jury that acted out of prejudice. As for Mark Fuhrman, the white detective whose “racism” so hurt the prosecution, “the interracial sex taboo that poisoned the psyches of so many men had also poisoned him.”
It goes without saying that virtually every white man who wears a uniform is a danger to blacks:
[T]he upsurge of violent racism in armed groups in America involves more than the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. It now includes every police force in any city and county in America, the National Guard, federal agencies, and even some private ‘protective’ groups.
So, what can be done to save America? Mr. Rowan sees a faint possibility that race war can be avoided, but only if the country takes his advice: First, we must relaunch every possible liberal program, from the Works Progress Administration to midnight basketball. Next, we must disarm all Americans, starting with the militias. He concedes that this might justify the fears that prompted the militia movement in the first place, but guns simply cannot be left in the hands of white supremacists.
Mr. Rowan has opposed private gun ownership for years, but those with long memories will recall that he means it only for other people. In 1988, he opened fire with an unregistered weapon on a young white man who decided to take an uninvited dip in the Rowan swimming pool.
A book like this is actually very useful. Carl Rowan is many times a millionaire, has hobnobbed with Presidents, and is in great demand as a speaker and commentator. That someone like him can loose such wild, unsubstantiated tirades is immensely instructive for whites. It would be good if every liberal in America were made to read this book. Some would beat their breasts and resolve to be such consummate toadies that even Carl Rowan might pronounce them free of “racism.” Probably many more would quietly conclude that race relations are beyond salvaging, that decades of preferential treatment have left blacks angrier than ever, that blacks will never be satisfied, no matter what whites do. This book will open at least a few eyes.
Mr. Rowan offers a prescription for “saving” America, but why should he want to save it? Since whites are such miserable bigots and are getting worse by the year, why not call the multi-racial experiment a failure and separate the races? If Mr. Rowan believes what he says, separation is the only solution. Of course, in his bones, he probably knows that an all-black nation would soon begin to look like Haiti. It is vastly better to live well in white America, pretend to be oppressed, and throw profitable tantrums.
A Different Flavor of Medicine
Richard Delgado’s The Coming Race War? is considerably more intelligent and better written than Mr. Rowan’s book. It is just as anti-white, but it’s calm justification of double standards and the destruction of white America make it less comical and more disturbing.
Unfortunately, Prof. Delgado has written a series of dialogues rather than a proper essay. The result is a plotless novel of long conversations over meals, and a book that is twice as long as it should be. Moreover, since all the ideas are expressed by “fictional” characters, the author can presumably deny they are his own views. Finally, the book is mistitled, since the possibility of race war is evoked only briefly.
The conversations wander over many topics, but the most consistently developed theme is that “merit” and “neutral principles” are simply tricks for maintaining white supremacy. Whites have arranged all the standards in such a way that only they can meet them. In a suitably lickspittal introduction, white author Andrew Hacker agrees that the concept of merit is a fraud because “the very format of [standardized] tests reflects a culture that is essentially European,” and the only thing tests do is “emphasize linear rationalistic thought.” Huge numbers of non-whites are kept down because their distinctive gifts (elliptical and irrational?) go unrecognized. The “linear structure of the multiple-choice mode” simply fails to recognize non-white genius.
As one of the characters puts it (the book’s ideas are hereafter attributed to Prof. Delgado), “add items like love, compassion, or intercultural awareness and you have a completely different SAT,” on which blacks would presumably outscore whites. Because merit is a rigged game, it “is basically, white people’s affirmative action” and “up-to-date bigotry.” Prof. Delgado makes no attempt to explain why Asians outscore whites on standardized tests.
One of the most hilarious ideas encountered in books of this kind is the implication that the mere presence of blacks as second-class citizens has been a tremendous source of wealth and power for whites, all of whom have prospered because of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow. According to Prof. Delgado, the idea of merit was not even necessary before legal discrimination was ended in 1964. Until then, white men could exploit blacks and women, and this enabled them all to get rich without bothering with merit.
Prof. Delgado then undercuts his own argument by claiming that whites would be vastly better off if they would only unleash non-white genius. “We could teach whites lessons of incalculable value, ones that might help arrest the country’s decline. But they deny and reject, demonizing the very thing that could save them.” Whites have grown rich by oppressing blacks but can now save themselves only by seeking black wisdom. Hmm.
Prof. Delgado even toys with the idea that the concept of “demerit” is as false as that of “merit.” Since society has loaded the dice to make whites seem to be deserving, blacks may also only seem the be undeserving. Thus, our disapproval of high rates of black crime, drug addiction, illegitimacy, etc. may only reflect artificial values promoted by whites.
Richard Delgado is a professor of law, but sees law as nothing more than a tool for advancing black interests. Law cannot be a set of consistent principles under which justice is sought for all people, for like the concept of merit, “neutral principles fail miserably, except as a justification for white supremacy.” For that reason “minorities should invoke and follow the law when it benefits them and break or ignore it otherwise.” It is common for blacks to be utterly unprincipled in promoting racial interests, but rare to admit that they are.
In practical terms, “colorblind jurisprudence simply maintains racism and the status quo,” so the law must include built-in racial preferences. Furthermore, plaintiffs in civil rights cases should be exempted from “rules of evidence, relevancy, cross-examination, and so on” because such formalities prevent oppressed people from “telling their stories” in an authentic way. Oppressed people should not have to be made to describe the behavior and motives of their oppressors in order to establish guilt; once they have described their own suffering the question of guilt answers itself.
Part of the problem is that there are too few black, lesbian, disabled, and working-class judges. For this reason “courts are ill-equipped to hear and act on the stories they need most urgently to hear.”
Prof. Delgado favors laws prohibiting derogatory remarks about minorities and cannot understand why “our friends in the ACLU” oppose them. He argues that all kinds of speech is already prohibited — perjury, false advertising, violation of copyright, conspiracy, death threats — so banning words that would hurt the feelings of non-whites would cause little additional injury to the First Amendment.
Like most writers of this kind, Prof. Delgado believes that there has been very little progress in civil rights, and that it is important for blacks to understand this. Otherwise they might begin to think they were responsible for their own failures. Whites, he explains, routinely convince themselves that much has improved for blacks, since this is the only way they can shirk responsibility for black misery.
As for the possibility of further progress in civil rights, blacks should set aside the naive view that blacks and whites can have common goals. Occasionally whites do something for blacks but only if it happens to be good for whites. As an example, Prof. Delgado cites the abolition of formal segregation during the 1950s and 60s. Whites did this only because of the Cold War; the United States was trying to recruit allies among non-white Third-World countries, so could no longer afford blatant discrimination. “Interest convergence” of this kind is rare and fleeting, like an eclipse, and not to be counted on.
Oddly, Prof. Delgado seems to recognize that there are some whites who sincerely want to help non-whites. However, this is “false empathy,” because the best that whites can do is “visualize themselves in our places and ask what they, themselves, would want.” The golden rule is inadequate here because whites cannot possibly know or imagine what non-whites want. Therefore “their help, if any, is likely to be misguided, paternalistic, mistaken, and unhelpful.” “False empathy is worse than indifference,” and the assistance of white liberals “sometimes can amount to outright betrayal.”
If whites want to be helpful, they should become traitors to the white race and adopt the motto “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” Whites should “reject racial privilege and challenge manifestations of racism that they observe. . . And if enough people do this, the system will collapse, because whites will never be sure which other whites are disloyal to the white race in the sense of refusing unearned privilege and declining to cooperate in the myriad ways society keeps blacks down.”
In the long run, whites might as well fade away, for it is only out of ignorance that they think they prefer their own societies:
A person may be a good liberal, may think he or she is genuinely fair and open-minded about blacks, race, Critical [sic] ideas, socialism, and so on. But simply by virtue of having grown up in a white enclave in a world that is dominantly black, brown, or Asian, the person has had a skewed experience. Give that person a vote, ask him what sort of society he wants, and it is absolutely predictable what he will say.
The preference of such a person for a white society is irrelevant because “the most basic political question for a democracy, then, is not, what do we in fact want, but what should we want.” Of course, Prof. Delgado knows what we should want: “The cure for the United States’ stagnation is new ideas from minority, Latino, Asian, and non-Western sources.” Resistance to the non-white influx is immoral because “an appeal in today’s climate to national unity, assimilation, or against balkanization is deeply racist.”
As for the race war of the book’s title, Prof. Delgado proposes that this may be the conservative white plan. He notes that some whites actually seem determined to abolish affirmative action and wonders why. After all, railing against reverse discrimination is (he says) a sure vote-getter and even lets conservatives pose as morally superior champions of color-blindness. It is such a good thing for them, they must have some ulterior motive for abolishing it (the fact that they might think it unjust is not, apparently, reason enough).
The plan, Prof. Delgado suggests, is to abolish preferences, cut welfare, and eliminate racially gerrymandered voting districts, thereby provoking long-suffering blacks into a violent uprising. This would then be put down with great bloodshed, by armed forces that are being kept strong for no other purpose. After blacks and Hispanics are smashed, the Constitution can be amended to return them to permanent second-class status. Prof. Delgado wonders if the popularity of militias as well as calls for a return to “traditional values” are not part of this plan. He detects an upsurge of interest in the American Civil War, which may be unconscious preparation for another one.
We Have Been Warned
Books of this kind reveal much about black thinking. Prof. Delgado appears to believe that apart from a handful of useless, “false empathy” liberals, whites are constantly conniving to keep non-whites down. What whites pass off as principled behavior is a deliberate fraud that only maintains white supremacy. Civil rights reforms were a mere Cold War tactic. Prof. Delgado and blacks like him are so preoccupied with their own racial interests that they cannot believe whites are not equally preoccupied with theirs.
For the good professor, law, principle, and standards of all kinds are to be maintained or flouted strictly according to whether they further black interests. Finally, whites, who are just a small minority of earth’s population, might as well be phased out for their own good.
We should be grateful for the professor’s candor just as we should be for Carl Rowan’s vituperations. We cannot say we were not warned.