Between the World and Me
New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015
Ta-Nehisi Coates has become one of the most eminent literary figures in recent time. In the last decade, his star has risen dramatically. He’s perhaps best known for his journalism work at the Atlantic, but he also has been published by NYT, WaPo, Time, and several other major periodicals. He even has made a splash in the comic book scene, writing for Black Panther and Captain America. Recently, he got a movie deal, in which J. J. Abrams will employ him as a screenwriter for an upcoming Superman flick. Who can wait for that one?
His second book, Between the World and Me, got him the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. Moreover, it reached number one in the NYT nonfiction bestseller list for three weeks in 2015 and one more in 2016. Surely anyone who hasn’t read it must be missing out on something spectacular!
What the critics say
Here is how the literary-industrial complex has described it:
Powerful and passionate . . . profoundly moving . . . a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.
— Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Really powerful and emotional.
— John Legend, The Wall Street Journal
A crucial book during this moment of generational awakening.
— New Yorker
A work that’s both titanic and timely, Between the World and Me is the latest essential reading in America’s social canon.”
— Entertainment Weekly
Poignant, revelatory and exceedingly wise, Between the World and Me is an essential clarion call to our collective conscience. We ignore it at our own peril.
— San Francisco Chronicle
Masterfully written . . . powerful storytelling.
— New York Post
Urgent, lyrical, and devastating in its precision, Coates has penned a new classic of our time.
Vital reading at this moment in America.
— U.S. News & World Report
Was that all? Hardly! The above one-liners were a mere fraction of the praise bestowed by the MSM’s top professional critics. The book’s Amazon page has many more excerpts from glowing reviews by the literary-industrial complex. Well then, surely it must be something pretty spectacular! The subject, just like with the first book by Coates as well as his third book, is about being black in America. What else, right?
The masterpiece opens as a conversation to his fifteen-year-old son, delivering the customary discussion about race which has come to be called “The Talk”:
Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.
So apparently the subject was death. This odd construction continues in rapid succession: “asked me about my body,” “turned to the subject of my body,” “I am accustomed to intelligent people asking about the condition of my body without realizing. . .” Later, the term “black bodies” comes up frequently, something also done by Ibram X. Kendi and others. This became the Current Year fashion of referring to black people, though it actually seems depersonalizing. This strange turn of phrase also conjures up the physics concept of black body radiation. Even so, everyone has the same temperature of 310 Kelvin and therefore we all show the same infrared emission spectrum. Hey, maybe we’re not too different after all?
Then the odd phrasing takes another direction, into the transcendental bellyaching that characterizes the book:
Specifically, the host wished to know why I felt that white America’s progress, or rather the progress of those Americans who believe they are white, was built on looting and violence. Hearing this, I felt an old and indistinct sadness well up in me. The answer to this question is the record of the believers themselves. The answer is American history.
This “Americans who believe they are white” construction would tend to imply that there’s a dispute about the matter, one that he raises shortly. Soon he begins using the term “the new people” and later “the Dreamers” to refer to whites without admitting that white people exist.
So what horrors then lurk in American history? For the first matter, having categories of second-class citizens was contrary to the democratic spirit. All this is described in a very roundabout fashion. Three paragraphs into the book, already it’s clear that there will be much highly peculiar phrasing.
As the argument goes, Americans take it for granted that race exists. Therefore racism exists — defined as “the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them” — as an inevitable consequence. However, “race is the child of racism, not the father.” At first, it seems like a fallacy of the stolen concept. The following explanation basically asserts that race is really only a matter of superficial characteristics, but the belief “that they signify different attributes” is held by “these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.” Then:
These new people [whites] are, like us [blacks], a modern invention. But unlike us, their new name has no real meaning divorced from the machinery of criminal power.
Well, that’s precious. Black shared heritage is something positive, but whites are only a bunch of crooks. Maybe someone’s been to Professor Dorkheimer’s sociology class. Since Rousseau, Leftists commonly blamed bad outcomes on impersonal forces like “society” or economic factors. Lately, “whiteness” rhetoric is a weaponized variant, gaslighting whites to think we don’t have an identity, yet blaming us specifically for everything wrong with the world. This attempt at demonization says a lot more about the people who are pointing fingers than it says about us.
The new people were something else before they were white — Catholic, Corsican, Welsh, Mennonite, Jewish. . .
So what one may gather from this is that while Coates disbelieves that races exist (at least in any meaningful sense), he does accept that religious, ethnic, and ethnoreligious categories are valid. This is odd, given that ethnic groups are a much smaller distinction than races. Religion is an even less tangible variation. Someone who wishes to enter a different community of faith may simply profess their beliefs and undergo an initiation ritual. That’s much easier than assimilating to a different ethnic community, which has practical limits. For example, I could become a Southern Baptist after a brief soaking, but becoming a Filipino would be a more difficult proposition.
If these smaller tribal distinctions have meaning, then why wouldn’t race matter? Higher taxonomic categories mean greater differences, and a race is a degree of distinction between a family of nations and a biological species. It’s fashionable to claim that all races are the same — in fact, it risks heresy charges to dispute that — but saying something doesn’t make it so. Genetic variation of differing groups is a known fact, and a cluster of groups within a certain degree of similarity is a race.
Moreover, racial solidarity (usually called the anticoncept “racism”) is good, because it fosters peace and unity among close neighbors. Universalism is unworkable, but closely related peoples adhering based on common heritage makes sense. Think of how many pointless wars could’ve been avoided by putting race first! Anyway, here’s what his problem is with it:
As for now, it must be said that the process of washing the disparate tribes white, the elevation of the belief in being white, was not achieved through wine tastings and ice cream socials, but rather through the pillaging of life, liberty, labor, and land; through the flaying of backs; the chaining of limbs; the strangling of dissidents; the destruction of families; the rape of mothers; the sale of children; and various other acts meant, first and foremost, to deny you and me the right to secure and govern our own bodies.
Holy gaslighting, Batman! This alleges that until the transatlantic slave trade began, it never dawned on Europeans — and obviously their descendants abroad — that they were white. Then we decided to band together for evil purposes. So then it’s okay to be black, but whites are only a bunch of gangsters.
This is one of those moments when encountering Leftist ideology evokes the age-old question: “Do they really believe their own nonsense?” The Narrative here goes that this shared self-consciousness happened as a result of slavery. I’m not making this up. The MSM’s critics who effervesced about this book must also be dumb enough, or at least thoroughly bamboozled by their own propaganda, to think that being white is about oppression instead of common ancestry. Apparently Coates is quite serious about it; later in the chapter he has the chutzpah to write this:
“White America” is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies.
Well, in that case, what were all the whites who opposed slavery getting out of being white? Why would they join a criminal cartel about oppression? Also, why weren’t the multitudes of British indentured servants exempt from years of forced labor? For that matter, there’s been plenty of class-based exploitation that had nothing to do with race (or other personal characteristics) and everything to do with cheapskate employers, but somehow cultural Marxists have difficulty grasping this.
Moreover, they forget about whites being the first to abolish slavery, which had been a great misfortune since ancient times in all parts of the world. Then, in the spirit of the “White Man’s Burden” to carry the torch of civilization to backward peoples, we eradicated slavery throughout the world thanks to the order imposed by European colonialism. (You’re welcome, everyone.) Finally, it should be interesting that among white nationalists — who supposedly have unthinkably regressive views about race — the consensus is that slavery was a terrible mistake. The brave souls who display bumper stickers declaring “We should’ve picked our own damn cotton” aren’t exactly liberals.
America the awful
Don’t other populations do some oppressing of their own sometimes? Leftists put a lot of energy into creating tautologies to justify their disingenuous double standards, and Ta-Nehisi Coates has that one covered:
One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen’s claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard.
Correctly understood, American exceptionalism simply means that the USA is ahead of the curve. It’s true that America was indisputably number one, before globalism and cultural Marxism started ruining everything. However, that’s not a claim that Americans are superhuman. In any event, by moving the goalposts the other direction, it’s also possible to say that Haiti is a really nice place (for a hellhole country).
As it usually goes with The Narrative, whites are held up to the standards of angels and found lacking. The book then names several martyrs, including Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and (shortly after) Michael Brown.
And destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. And all of this is old for black people. No one is held responsible.
In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as a fatal misunderstanding with the police. (Neither would anything bad ever result from resisting arrest.) Unfortunately, this planet is not a perfect world. Action needs to be taken about deliberate malfeasance by police, of course. Curiously, Coates doesn’t show much awareness that there have been white victims of police fuck-ups too. Everything is all about the black bodies. However, there’s usually more to the picture than the public has been told with these martyrdom narratives. The trauma caused by endless MSM propaganda resulted in the victimization porn in Between the World and Me.
When journalists draw conclusions about incidents like these before all the facts are available, and run the stories through their Narrative Filter, then a distorted picture emerges. The truth might emerge weeks or months later, but by then the damage has been done. This is so especially when only white-on-black cases are signal-boosted to national news, ignoring all others that don’t fit The Narrative. (For example, everyone has heard of George Floyd, but the MSM didn’t whip up a crisis after a diversity hire cop in Minneapolis shot Justine Damond without cause.) Context is dropped to produce a constant drumbeat about white villainy. The truth is that collectively we’ve been patient to a fault.
Black neighborhoods are bad because of whites
Now for this gem:
I have seen that dream all my life. It is perfect houses with nice lawns. It is Memorial Day cookouts, block associations, and driveways. The Dream is treehouses and the Cub Scouts. The Dream smells like peppermint but tastes like strawberry shortcake. And for so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.
It’s getting hard to tell this apart from a parody of Leftist ideology. Since Coates should know better, his unsupported accusation is in very bad faith. The sleight-of-hand trick is that there’s no evidence provided, or even a coherent argument, that The Dream (as he repeatedly calls this sort of orderly pleasantness) really does come at the expense of blacks. With nothing to back the assertion, it comes across as nothing more than second-rate demagoguery. If he were speaking of the antebellum plantation system in which slave labor maintained the masters in work-free baronial comfort, then he’d have a point. However, this certainly hasn’t been the case in the South since the Civil War, and never was true for the North.
Actually, he has it entirely backward. The above-mentioned dream of a nice, high-trust community is what a healthy white neighborhood looks like that hasn’t been ruined by diversity. Not to put too fine a point on it, diversity means being overrun by disorderly, belligerent minorities with a low average IQ, a high propensity for trouble, and a collective chip on their shoulder. The Suburban Shire isn’t orderly and pleasant because urban orcs are being exploited; rather, it’s because they aren’t around. If a HUD bureaucrat plops a Section 8 housing project into a white neighborhood, it stops being nice in a hurry.
Between the World and Me envisions racial dynamics as a zero-sum game, which innocent blacks are losing because of constant white aggression. It’s as if the black inner city has to be made unpleasant in order for the white suburbs to become pleasant, though the book doesn’t exactly state it in those terms. Of course, all this rhetoric will come as a surprise to tens of millions of whites who have been run out of their own neighborhoods since the 1960s. These used to be nice places until vibrant minorities encroached on them and brought their cultural enrichment. Then whites fled to new suburbs, developing them into nice communities. Lately we get blamed for how blacks ruined the living spaces they took over.
What a pile of organic fertilizer. Even if we assumed for argument’s sake that white malfeasance creates dysfunctional ghetto conditions, that doesn’t explain how white neighborhoods become better in the process. Niceness isn’t a quality that can be extracted from one part of town and shipped elsewhere, maliciously creating a deficit in one place and an artificial surplus in the other. What Leftists don’t get is that the character of a neighborhood is determined by the people living there. Actually, the same principle applies to entire countries too.
Really, there’s no reason it has to be a zero-sum game. Coates himself described the utopian Wakanda in the Black Panther comics — well, wouldn’t it be a fine idea to bring it into existence for real? They could improve significantly simply by emulating our better customs. Getting rid of dope, hip hop culture, and rebellion for its own sake would be some good first steps. Actually, I would be happy to see the black community prosper and thrive as best as they possibly can — in their own country. If they have their own living space all to themselves, we won’t be around to mess up everything, right?
The oppression porn goes on
Then the author starts bellyaching about fear caused by white brutality. Oddly, most of the items given as evidence of this fear actually come across as truculence. It’s almost like the Zionist stereotype, in which they strike while crying out in pain. For example:
I saw it in their customs of war. I was no older than five, sitting out on the front steps of my home on Woodbrook Avenue, watching two shirtless boys circle each other close and buck shoulders. From then on, I knew that there was a ritual to a street fight, bylaws and codes that, in their very need, attested to all the vulnerability of the black teenage bodies.
Even a five-year-old should’ve been able to figure out that they were doing this to each other.
And I knew mothers who belted their girls, but the belt could not save these girls from drug dealers twice their age.
Finally, we’re starting to agree about something. Although I’d never belt a girl, I certainly know the score about those dope dealers. Here are some real oppressors at last. Hard drugs are a modern form of slavery happening right now, not something that was abolished over a century and a half ago. It does terrible things to those black bodies, and ruins their minds too, just as it’s disastrous for anyone else as well. Crack, meth, and heroin pushers are exploiters, and also the Big Pharma characters knowingly profiteering from the abuse of dangerous opiates. They deserve to be dealt with in the customary manner for enemies of the people.
Unfortunately, it’s not likely that we’ll meet common ground about much else:
To be black in the Baltimore of my youth was to be naked before the elements of the world, before all the guns, fists, knives, crack, rape, and disease. The nakedness is not an error, nor pathology. The nakedness is the correct and intended result of policy, the predictable upshot of people forced for centuries to live under fear.
In other words, ghetto dysfunction wasn’t caused by antisocial elements living there; instead, it was deliberately caused by policy, of course made by white people.
The law did not protect us. And now, in your time, the law has become an excuse for stopping and frisking you, which is to say, for furthering the assault on your body.
If crime isn’t adequately controlled in ghettoes (probably because cops regard them as “no-go zones”), then white people did something wrong. However, if efforts are made to control crime in ghettoes, then white people did something wrong. The silly liberals might as well quit trying to appease these chronic malcontents; they’re never going to be happy.
White people made Baltimore a rough city
Then there’s an anecdote from sixth grade. He’s standing by a small crowd of combative youths after school let out. One of them pulls a gun, understandably scaring the daylights out of young Ta-Nehisi.
I can relate. When I was a teenager, I was walking with one of my friends to the housing project where he had the misfortune of living. Some beaner who also was staying there fired a few shots at us. I didn’t much care for that, but fortunately, his aim was lousy. If not for that, Counter-Currents might be a bit less entertaining.
In the evenings I would sit before this television bearing witness to the dispatches from this other world. There were little white boys with complete collections of football cards, and their only want was a popular girlfriend and their only worry was poison oak. That other world was suburban and endless, organized around pot roasts, blueberry pies, fireworks, ice cream sundaes, immaculate bathrooms, and small toy trucks that were loosed in wooded backyards with streams and glens.
One problem right there is that television programs are not an accurate yardstick of reality. Not all white kids are born with silver spoons in their mouths, or enjoy a carefree youth. (That certainly wasn’t me.) TV shows like that were creating an impression of a socioeconomic existence above the average range for whites. Apparently, this was causing some black kids to seethe with envy. A plain reading of the text indicates that the trauma from this is how Coates first developed his zero-sum game concept of racial dynamics.
For that matter, I have to wonder what impression our television leaves on foreigners. How many of them watch shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and decide to move here because it seems our streets are paved with gold? Surely it’s a disappointment to discover the hard way that it’s not really like that.
I knew that my portion of the American galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was not. I knew that some inscrutable energy preserved the breach. I knew that some inscrutable energy preserved the breach. I felt, but did not yet understand, the relation between that other world and me. And I felt in this a cosmic injustice, a profound cruelty, which infused an abiding, irrepressible desire to unshackle my body and achieve the velocity of escape.
It’s not too difficult to see what he’s driving at with “some inscrutable energy preserved the breach.” Someone else is to blame, which of course is us. I’ll even entertain the liberal idea that bad policies can create bad outcomes; liberal politicians themselves have demonstrated this quite well with their counterproductive social engineering projects. Still, at some point, it must be acknowledged that even people in bad neighborhoods have moral agency; they’re not automatons, they know the difference between right and wrong, and they can make meaningful choices. His old schoolmate pulled the gun because he decided to do that.
Coates does see that there’s a lot wrong with contemporary black culture (unlike Ibram X. Kendi), but just can’t make the connection that black people might have anything to do with it. Much follows about growing up on Baltimore’s mean streets. Clearly, it was an unpleasant experience for him. He was the scholarly type, didn’t fit in with the hoodlums, and constantly had to watch his back. Surely it was traumatic to be menaced frequently, but he doesn’t get around to calling out the bullies and gangsters for their behavior. Apparently, someone else was making them act that way:
Fear ruled everything around me, and I knew, as all black people do, that this fear was connected to the Dream out there, to the unworried boys, to pie and pot roast, to the white fences and green lawns nightly beamed into our television sets.
Now let that one sink in; he really believes this stuff. He also acquired bitter feelings about school:
Fully 60 percent of all young black men who drop out of high school will go to jail. This should disgrace the country.
The implication is that the schools are responsible for this outcome, not the kids who blow off their education and get themselves in trouble. That theme, as well as the “zero-sum game” concept, is developed further here:
Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream. No one directly proclaimed that schools were designed to sanctify failure and destruction. But a great number of educators spoke of “personal responsibility” in a country authored and sustained by a criminal irresponsibility.
He could’ve regarded education as a ticket out of the slums, for those who take it seriously. For him, this did happen. Much of the rest of the chapter is about his formative college experience, in which he immersed himself in black studies, decided to start a career in journalism, and enhanced his social life. However, the glass is always half empty with this guy.
Death in Prince George County
Chapter 2 is a grim one. Prince George County is majority black and fairly affluent, but with a notoriously rough police force. Coates himself survives a traffic bust there, no doubt much to his relief. However, later one of his college friends gets killed by a policeman in Prince George County. Steve Sailer of Taki’s Magazine has a pretty good summary of that part:
Coates refers to this tragedy repeatedly as proof of America’s demonic drive to destroy black bodies. (The dead man’s family, I found, was eventually awarded $3.7 million in their wrongful-death suit, much like the $3 million awarded to the parents of a teen gunned down by an undercover Obama Administration agent in a shooting that I investigated in 2010. You have never heard of my local police blotter item, though, because the victim was white.)
Since I’m a horrible person, my immediate response to Coates’ tale was. . . okay. . . black-run county, affirmative-action hiring, and poor police decision-making. . . you know, I bet the shooter cop was black.
And sure enough, the Carlton Jones who shot Prince Jones turned out to be black. Coates eventually gets around to briefly admitting that awkward fact, but only after seven pages of purple prose about people who believe they are whites destroying black bodies.
What does Sailer mean by purple prose? This, for one thing:
And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs. [. . .] The killer was the direct expression of all his country’s beliefs.
Look, I don’t like police brutality either. Outright fuck-ups need to be punished. However, it’s a little much for Coates to blame white society for a black-on-black shooting. Then again, what else would we expect of him? This is the same guy who knows darn well that ghetto hoodlums are dangerous characters — he grew up terrified of them — yet blames their behavior entirely on whites.
Then two weeks after arriving in New York City, 9/11 occurred. Here’s another quotation that didn’t bother the literary-industrial complex too much to give the book rave reviews:
But looking out upon the ruins of America, my heart was cold. I had disasters all my own. The officer who killed Prince Jones, like all the officers who regard us so warily, was the sword of the American citizenry. I would never consider any American citizen pure.
As the rubble was smoldering over three thousand corpses, Coates kept thinking about the slave auction that used to be in Lower Manhattan. (Obviously it would’ve ceased its dirty business by 1827, when New York abolished slavery.) Then this:
I could see no difference between the officer who killed Prince Jones and the police who died, or the firefighters who died. They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were the menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.
So it’s not enough to hate all cops because bad ones exist. His feelings also extend to firefighters, including the ones who died in the World Trade Center. I couldn’t make up this stuff if I tried.
The embitterment parade keeps going and going
OK, so whites cause all the world’s problems, but did any do anything to him directly? There’s the infamous incident from ten years prior, apparently the worst discourtesy (such as it is) he mentions experiencing from a white person:
The theater was crowded, and when we came out we rode a set of escalators down to the ground floor. As we came off, you were moving at the dawdling speed of a small child. A white woman pushed you and said, “Come on!”
Coates the Elder got in her face, to the point that a bystander threatened to have him arrested. (Oh, the humanity!) Luckily, this didn’t become one of New York City’s notorious racial incidents. Going nuclear over a nudge seems a little much. When a black guy tried to carjack me in 2004, I didn’t get nearly as worked up about it; I merely felt annoyed. I didn’t even take it as a racial affront; he surely would’ve been happy to try stealing anyone else’s car too.
Much discussion follows. For example:
There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream. And then they would have to determine how to build their suburbs on something other than human bones, how to angle their jails toward something other than a human stockyard, how to erect a democracy independent of cannibalism.
He even brings up Trayvon Martin in a few places. Apparently, not everyone figured out that the MSM was lying shamelessly when they did their utmost to portray it as a white-on-black incident, when it actually was a black-on-Hispanic incident. The presstitutes have blood on their hands from the violence they incited.
A discussion on the Civil War follows, blaming the South for wanting to continue slavery and — try not to laugh — complaining that this isn’t emphasized enough. However, I didn’t notice a scintilla of thanks given to hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers who came back in coffins, and more with life-changing battlefield injuries. Their memory also pointedly is not honored when sportsball players with million-dollar contracts refuse to stand for the National Anthem. Did I mention that we should’ve picked our own damn cotton? It would’ve saved so much trouble on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Then Coates discusses a foreclosure eviction in Chicago. (It’s unfortunate, of course, but does this only happen to blacks?) Then it discusses the Westside ghettoes, calling them “killing fields.”
“Black-on-black crime” is jargon, violence to language, which vanishes the men who engineered the covenants, who fixed the loans, who planned the projects, who built the streets and sold red ink by the barrel.
Sometimes liberals blame guns on what the owners do with them, as if it were a technology problem rather than a behavior problem, but blaming geography for murder is a new one on me. Anyway, what makes black neighborhoods so violent? Is it because there’s a curse on the land they were forced to inhabit? More seriously, segregation wasn’t about creating violence, but rather about preventing it by keeping apart populations that had a history of not getting along. The problem is that if blacks can’t even live peacefully with each other these days, what makes anyone think that multiculturalism will work? More importantly, why does this need to be our problem?
Finally, the chapter wraps up with a description of a trip to France. It seemed that experiencing a new place was the most fun he’d had in the entire book. Then, on a sharp change of tone, he went over a litany of crimes from ages ago by France against Africa. I can see why American tourists get such a bad reputation. May I suggest Zimbabwe for his next trip?
Rounding things out, the third and (thankfully) final chapter launches another volley of white guilt. The shooting of Prince Jones is called “a racist act,” again back to ignoring that it was a black-on-black police fuck-up. (Yes, it was a devastating tragedy, but is there anything bad that happens in the world that whites didn’t cause?) Then this:
We are captured, brother, surrounded by the majoritarian bandits of America. And this has happened here, in our only home, and the terrible truth is that we cannot will ourselves to an escape on our own. Perhaps that was, is, the hope of the movement: to awaken the Dreamers, to rouse them to the facts of what their need to be white, to talk like they are white, to think that they are white, which is to think that they are beyond the design flaws of humanity, has done to the world.
Just what we need — more white guilt, right? Finally, it goes on to say that the Dreamers (white people) are destroying the world, which will rouse the wrath of Mother Earth. Will bad weather soon be our fault too? The last words might, in fact, foreshadow this: “Through the windshield I saw the rain coming down in sheets.”
The final word
The critics are right; Between the World and Me is indeed a masterpiece — as far as victimization porn, Leftist responsibility deflection, volcanic ressentiment, and demonization are concerned. Centuries of villainous deeds by whites (real, exaggerated, and illusory) are served up raw and bleeding as if these things happened a moment ago. Blacks themselves never do anything wrong, unless it’s something that whites made them do. On the other hand, whites never do anything good, and we certainly have no concerns and legitimate interests of our own. Why, we only think we exist, and we’re really just a criminal gang! The book seldom bothers to back up its far-out claims and vicious accusations, at least with any plausible standard of proof, but who needs that when you have a Narrative?
The problem is that the book over-fulfills its propaganda objectives. It’s an endless sea of disempowering despair, portraying blacks as helpless nonentities unable to affect their destiny or even their personal behavior. Yet it’s incessantly bitter about this, despite the pointlessness of complaining about forces they’ve said are outside of their control. If a white advocate wrote that way, I strongly would recommend cutting out the defeatism. There’s a place for dignified complaint, but bellyaching is beneath us. It wouldn’t motivate us to take up the struggle, or gain anyone else’s sympathy.
Really, feigned helplessness only has two uses. The first (as per Sun-Tzu) would be to fool an enemy into complacency. The second use is a Leftist shtick, to wield the feigned helplessness as a moral bludgeon. (This feature of Clown World would’ve been too absurd for ancient Chinese strategists to have imagined.) The only reason this happens now is that anti-whites have figured out that generating artificial pity and turning our virtues against us are powerful psychological hacks. Weaponized bellyaching would be completely ineffective against someone too “heartless” to care, much less wallow in guilt on command about something that happened over a century and a half ago. Whites have to learn that this kind of moral huckstering is disingenuous and fraudulent. As Greg Johnson put it:
[P]eople who constantly harp on past negatives are trying to make you eat the psychic equivalent of shit. They are trying to poison you. They do not have your best interests at heart.
The old shticks like “whites are oppressors” and “society made him do it” were starting to get pretty stale in the 1970s. Half a century later, this Leftist baloney is still being served up as if it were fresh. New tautologies and agitprop from academia — critical race theory, “whiteness studies,” intersectionality, and all the rest of it — are used to spice up the same rotten old cultural Marxism. Some people even make a living by dishing out this toxic ideological slop.
Ta-Nehisi Coates believes he’s a dissident boldly opposing The System. The truth is that he’s certainly not on target, and he has a lot less to complain about than he thinks. Blacks benefit from race-based preferences sanctioned under the law (such as Affirmative Action), programs catering to them, and trillions in taxpayer dollars spent on social leveling schemes thus far with no end in sight. Really, minoritist kvetching about being downtrodden wore out long ago. He’d really have some oppression to complain about if he had to live in a typical black-run country.
Still, he wallows in woe for page after page instead of counting his blessings. For one thing, there are innumerable social clubs exclusively for blacks, professional organizations to help advance their careers, and advocacy foundations to take their side. Nobody calls them “hate groups” or questions their right to exist. Politicians try to court the black vote and other minority constituencies, but never explicitly appeal to whites. In a government based on the principle of majority rule, both parties take the majority population for granted. Why doesn’t he cheer up about that much?
For another thing, he openly can advocate on behalf of his race without being deplatformed, getting smeared by “watchdog” groups, or facing threats of violence. Neither does he get shouted down as an “extremist” by black renegades. He doesn’t risk losing his livelihood by speaking out for his people. On the contrary, he makes a living by monetizing the chip on his shoulder. As an up-and-coming figure in the MSM; they let him at the mouthpiece of the Big Megaphone regularly. Posing as a rhinestone rebel can be a rewarding racket. How downtrodden can he be when The System pays him for this?
Not only that, Ta-Nehisi Coates is hyped as a great mind and an eminent authority on the USA’s racial situation. However, he didn’t do so on his own power; like his friend Obama said, “You didn’t build that!” The top brass of the most prominent MSM magazines welcomed him on board to write articles that advanced their ethnic initiatives. The people calling the tune want to ensure that black resentment never fades away, while pushing white guilt and demoralization propaganda endlessly. For this purpose, the MSM promotes these types of talking heads, and book deals by mainstream publishers are part of the benefits. Completing the production cycle, columnists and professional critics of the literary-industrial complex eat up this bellyaching like candy and poop out golden nuggets of praise. Their role is to generate public interest in these books and sell more agitprop.
Coates himself probably would be a likable fellow if only he could get over all the toxic embitterment that’s been eating him up since childhood. However, he has been tooled for the last decade, raised aloft to prominence in the MSM to bolster someone else’s ethnic priorities. It’s too bad that he fell in with a crowd like that, but it won’t be possible to change course easily. If he figured out that Joe Sixpack isn’t his real enemy, he’d be surprised at how fast he’d get knocked off his pedestal. Then he’d have to drive a taxicab or something.
So that was one of the most famous testaments on race relations in recent years. Between the World and Me delivers metric tons of blame, but curiously no practical solutions. Most liberals would propose spending more money, or creating a new social engineering program. Those measures might not work as designed, but at least they’re ideas.
Actually, I have something better, short and to the point: “Stop the hate — separate!“
* * *
On Monday, April 12th, Counter-Currents will be extending special privileges to those who donate $120 or more per year.
- First, donor comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Second, donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Non-donors will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days.
As an incentive to act now, everyone who joins the paywall between now and Monday, April 12th will receive a free paperback copy of Greg Johnson’s next book, The Year America Died.
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, sign up here:
Hate Game Theory, Not the Player, Part 1
Blacks in Tennessee Williams’ Works
The Serial-Killer Story that the Media Smothered with a Pillow
Jesus, We Hardly Know Ye
Superstitious Minds: The Importance of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
The Worst Week Yet: November 21-27, 2021
Scott Howard’s The Open Society Playbook
Higher Education: Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game