Ed Driscoll

'The Good, Racist People' of Manhattan

Most of the items we link to here are bread and butter examples of media bias, misguided energy policy, or Obama, Biden or another member of the left putting his proverbial John Lobb wingtip in his mouth and twisting.


But every once in a while, something that a prominent “liberal” says, when he or she believes he’s making a Profound Statement on the State of Mankind, just jumps out as being remarkably misanthropic. Even more so because it’s not a hit piece on conservatives (we’ve become increasingly inured to those, if only out of their sheer volume), but an attack on the writer’s fellow liberals.

(As they colloquially define themselves. Or at least used to, from around the 1930s, when Progressivism became a dirty word after the excesses of the original Progressives, particularly during WWI, until about five or six years ago, when Liberal had become a dirty word, after the excesses of the previous 50 years, when they decided to be called “Progressives” again.)

We saw it in 2008, when the late Nora Ephron, kicking back with some light blogging at the Huffington Post in between, we assume, crafting screenplays or lining up the next directing gig, decided to play wannabe pundit and wrote:

This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don’t mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can’t even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder — after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn’t believe any of those articles.)

To put it bluntly, the next president will be elected by them: the outcome of Tuesday’s primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama, and the outcome of the general election will depend on whether enough of them vote for McCain. A lot of them will: white men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them. And McCain is a compelling candidate, particularly because of the Torture Thing. As for the Democratic hope that McCain’s temper will be a problem, don’t bet on it. A lot of white men have terrible tempers, and what’s more, they think it’s normal.

If Hillary pulls it out in Pennsylvania, and she could, and if she follows it up in Indiana, she can make a credible case that she deserves to be the candidate; these last primaries will show which of the two Democratic candidates is better at overcoming the bias of a vast chunk of the population that has never in its history had to vote for anyone but a candidate who could have been their father or their brother or their son, and who has never had to think of the president of the United States as anyone other than someone they might have been had circumstances been just slightly different.

Hillary’s case is not an attractive one, because what she’ll essentially be saying (and has been saying, although very carefully) is that she can attract more racist white male voters than Obama can.


As Jennifer Rubin noted at the time, this was an example of leftist slagging her fellow Democrats as stone cold racists, because a majority were backing Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania primary, instead of the anointed Barack Obama. It couldn’t be because Hillary had more name recognition from eight years as first lady, or they trusted her (slightly longer) experience as senator in neighboring New York state over senatorial newcomer Barack Obama, whose policies and worldview were still largely unknown. (Recall our post yesterday referencing Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw claiming they didn’t know anything about Obama, either, in a segment videotaped about five minutes before Election Tuesday in November of 2008.)

Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds linked to Ann Althouse linking to liberal journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article in the New York Times. Like Ephron, he manages to take an event for which there might… be… mitigating… circumstances, and accuses his fellow New York leftists of being full-on Neanderthal racists. Veteran character actor Forest Whitaker wasn’t recognized as Veteran Character Actor Forest Whitaker by a clerk in a Manhattan deli, who accused him of shoplifting. Somehow, all New Yorkers are suddenly guilty of collective racism by a moment of stupidity by someone probably making minimum wage, prompting Coates to write:

The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion. We can forgive Whitaker’s assailant. Much harder to forgive is all that makes Whitaker stand out in the first place. New York is a city, like most in America, that bears the scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal. The ghost of those policies haunts us in a wealth gap between blacks and whites that has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years.

Read the whole thing, as Glenn would say.


So just to add up the comments by Times contributors over the past couple of years: if you live in the big blank space between Manhattan and L.A. in the New Yorker cartoon, you’re a participant in “the dance of the low-sloping foreheads.”  If you actually live in the Times’ backyard, you’re a potential Progressive racist. (Woodrow Wilson, call your office.) When the Weekly Standard noted recently that in the eyes of the MSM, the customer is always wrong, they had no idea how much he was truly loathed by those hoping that he’ll part with a note featuring Abraham Lincoln’s face and some change for a copy of the Sunday edition.


Of course, as one of the commenters at Ann Althouse’s blog notes, there’s no proof that the clerk who lit the fuse on what Coates dubs “the Whitaker affair” of shoplifting was white. Blogger Steve Sailer quotes an email from a reader who claims:


Coates never mentions the name of the place. I had to find that out somewhere else.

It’s the Milano Market. Too pricey for me. Everyone who works there is either Hispanic, or Muslim – or perhaps, African. But that’s true of ALL the small markets in all of Manhattan, not just the UWS. There are no white deli help, cashiers, stockers, etc.

If he was stopped, it was not by a white person.

Also, as another commenter at Althouse’s blog adds, actors have been accused of shoplifting before, such as Lindsay Lohan and Winona Ryder, without causing international incidents. I don’t recall critic Rex Reed being arrested on shoplifting charges in early 2000 as being the catalyst for any Grand Statements on the State of Manhattan at the Dawn of a New Millennium.

(Much more after the page break.)

But Coates saves the real bombshell for last:

The other day I walked past this particular deli. I believe its owners to be good people. I felt ashamed at withholding business for something far beyond the merchant’s reach. I mentioned this to my wife. My wife is not like me. When she was 6, a little white boy called her cousin a nigger, and it has been war ever since. “What if they did that to your son?” she asked.

And right then I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take.

Wow, that’s some admission — how does Coates’ wife wage a one-person “war” for presumably a quarter century or so? And just imagine the reaction if the colors and/or political parties were reversed.

Which brings us to the title of Coates’ article: “The Good, Racist People.” About which, Althouse herself wrote, “My question is: How did some people get to be considered the ‘good’ people in the first place? It’s that question that fires my antagonism to liberals. They think they are good.”

The disparity between how liberals view themselves and how they function in reality was explored by Ace in a lengthy 2007 post titled “The Toxic Self-Delusions of the Liberal Psychology”; in the middle of which, he wrote:


To bring this ’round to current politics: Liberals, of course, also have a great deal of distance between their own capacities for unfairness, nastiness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy than they believe they do. Again, their sense of self depends heavily on the proposition that they are superior, if not superlative, in their fairness, civility, honesty, and integrity; they have great difficulties admitting deficiencies (beyond a fairly trivial sort) in any of these virtues.

Now, I don’t believe that either group, liberals or conservatives, has a particular monopoly on virtue. Individual people, obviously, may be more virtuous than others, but when it comes to large groups, I tend to imagine that all the usual sins are spread, collectively, about equally over both.

However — I strongly believe that the liberals have a far less realistic self-assessment as regards their own, and their political brethren’s, scores on these virtues.

I don’t believe conservatives or liberals are more honest, generally, than the other.

But I do believe liberals are strongly convinced they’re more honest.

I don’t believe conservatives or liberals are more fair, generally, than the other.

But I do believe liberals are strongly convinced they’re fairer.

I don’t believe conservatives or liberals are more civil, generally, than the other.

But I do believe liberals are strongly convinced they’re more civil.

I don’t believe conservatives or liberals have more integrity, generally, than the other.

But I do believe liberals are strongly convinced they have more integrity.

And to toss out the obvious:

I don’t believe conservatives or liberals are more intelligent, generally, than the other.

But I do believe liberals are believe zealously, rabidly that they’re more intelligent.

This lack of accurate self-assessment has caused a great distortion in our current politics.

And that was before the nomination of Obama was a done deal. A nomination sold to the American people, among other things, as healing a nation bitterly divided by race. Who imagined back then that it was the left that was being torn apart by racial animosity?


Well, before Nora Ephron told us that it was so the following year, of course.

Also in 2007, Dennis Prager wrote:

A lifelong study of good and evil has led to me conclude that the greatest single cause of evil is people perceiving of themselves or their group as victims. Nazism arose from Germans’ sense of victimhood — as a result of the Versailles Treaty, of the “stab in the back” that led to Germany’s loss in World War I and of a world Jewish conspiracy. Communism was predicated on workers regarding themselves as victims of the bourgeoisie. Much of Islamic evil today emanates from a belief that the Muslim world has been victimized by Christians and Jews. Many prisoners, including those imprisoned for horrible crimes, regard themselves as victims of society or of their upbringing. The list of those attributing their evil acts to their being victims is as long as the list of evildoers.

This is also true in the micro realm. Family members whose primary identity is that of victim usually feel entirely free to hurt others in the family. That is why psychotherapists who regularly reinforce the victim status of their patients do the patient and society great harm.

If my belief is even partially correct, the preoccupation of much of America with telling whole groups that they are victims — of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and classism, among other American sins — can only increase cruelty and evil in America.

In his epic f-bomb-laden rant inspired by California’s woes, as quoted in the Daily Caller this past weekend, Adam Carolla noted that:

“You are the system, Gavin Newsom,” Carolla said. “Fix the system, but you won’t fix the system, because you know what it takes to fix the system and you’re a f***ing coward. And guys like Huffington Post — you guys f***ing line up behind these people and let me tell you something, you guys all have blood on your hands, because the problem could be fixed. It’s a problem, and it’s a problem that involves bodies. People die every year.”

“There’s people getting shot,” Carolla added. “There’s brown people shooting other brown people on the streets of Chicago every f***ing day of the week. And you guys sit there silently. If it was a Sandy Hook situation or anything else, you’d be all up in arms. But you can’t say a word, so you sit there with your f***ing coward hands over your f***ing little cowardly soup coolers. And then when somebody has the guts to say something — to speak the truth for f***ing one hot second, you jump up his ass and call him a racist. Thus, you silence the media. Now you perpetuate the problem.”


As much as any Democratic politician, the Times is the system as well — long before the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, DU, and other sites were gleams in their creators’ eyes, it’s been the Democratic Party’s most prominent house organ, even more so considering how the Times feeds other newspapers and the TV news cycle. And this is what it thinks of its core readers. Good luck sustaining that worldview as a viable governing principle over the next decade or two.

Update (12:08 PM PDT): When I wrote the above late — very late — last night, I hesitated typing the word “Trayvon” into the post, but it does have some similarities, doesn’t it? When the wire services announced that Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman, the names alone initially made it seem extremely easy for liberal pundits to go to town attacking Zimmerman. Until his photo ran, and somehow, the designated Emmanuel Goldstein of early 2012 became possibly the first “white Hispanic” in the history of the New York Times. If we don’t know the race of the person who failed to recognize Forest Whitaker, doesn’t it make it rather difficult to write an article with a theme right out of 1963 that presupposes racism in the heart of everyone residing in a particular region, based on one incident? (And it’s not the first time an article has appeared in the Times doing just that.)

Setting that aside, every few months newspapers trot out Finley Peter Dunne’s century-old aphorism that the role of the journalist is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” How exactly does attacking a minimum wage shop clerk and transforming him into one of Danny Aiello’s sons in Do the Right Thing fit in with that paradigm?

The subtitle of Thomas Sowell’s 1996 book The Vision of the Anointed is “Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.” Might want to check your premises first, as another libertarian author would say, before d0ling out all that self-congratulation.

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