Shelby Steele challenges status quo attitudesIn his March 16, 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal, Shelby Steele, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, asks some very serious questions concerning the failure of the conservative movement and in particular the Republican Party to gain inroads in support from the minority community. Explaining that the common ground of conservative thinking did not provide the needed nexus, Steele takes us back to the era when identity politics began and explores how ingrained into the minority culture this identification had become.
"If you could at least seem to redeem America of its past sins, you could win enough moral authority to claim real political power.' He explained. It did not matter if you succeeded. It only mattered if you were perceived as "trying." Thus Steele gives us the underlying reason why for many minority voters, it does not matter that the ghettos are still filled with violence 50 years after the civil rights act. There is no demand to require accountability because the individual voter still completely identifies himself with the group. The Left has been able to avoid producing anything by fanning the flames of class warfare and identity politics thus always hearkening back to the past when minorities were being persecuted or segregated.
Steele then explains what drew him to conservatism.
What drew me to conservatism years ago was the fact that it gave discipline a slightly higher status than virtue. This meant it could not be subverted by passing notions of the good. It could be above moral vanity. And so it made no special promises to me as a minority. It neglected me in every way except as a human being who wanted freedom. Until my encounter with conservatism I had only known the racial determinism of segregation on the one hand and of white liberalism on the other -- two varieties of white supremacy in which I could only be dependent and inferior.
The appeal of conservatism is the mutuality it asserts between individual and political freedom, its beautiful idea of a free man in a free society. And it offers minorities the one thing they can never get from liberalism: human rather than racial dignity.
Human dignity. discipline. Hard work. Respect for the rights of the individual independent of class, race, sex, or political affiliation. Beginning from the moment one is conceived in liberty. This goal is only achieved when one starts with respect for the "right to life." Thus the ultimate survival of the race will only be achieved once it severs its embrace of identity politics. 35 per cent of the Black population is being decimated by abortion. Combine that statistic with the destruction of the family and the intact Black family is an anomaly. Black church leaders are probably the only ones practically identified and able to address the problem. In calling for a moral revival, and renewal of the Black America's historic appreciation for the integrity of the family and its relationship with the Gospel message, Black America can halt this erosion of its very being. Returning to its Christian heritage and bringing that back to the neighborhoods is the fist step to weaning itself off the government dependence and political prostitution. Those who live in the nation's inner cities must demand real education through private, charter and voucher designed program which will give real choices to the parents of minority children for the first time ever.
As for Hispanic communities they must not fall to the siren call of identity politics. The successful efforts by the Left to isolate and divide the Latino communities from their natural roots to faith and family are seen in the voting patterns of Latino legislators both in congress and among the state houses. While Latinos as whole are more philosophically and culturally conservative than their Anglo counterparts, their elected officials are much more liberal than their constituencies. Pro-life and pro-family organizations must go into these districts and find leaders who reflect the people's natural respect and love for life and family as well as the value of a free market system for those who have a strong work ethic.
The challenge is not just to the conservative movement. It is also to those who come from these communities. Steele discussed the Left's attempt to find the "lost innocence" in history, sort of a way to expunge of the past of its demons. But he more effective approach may be the Christian maxim that requires us to "forgive" our brother and make peace with those who did us harm. it would be far more effective in solving historic racial questions for this nation to recognize the fallen nature of man, his need for a Savior to "free us " from the chains of "sin," and thus allow the current generation to truly embrace the notion that each one of us has a dignity that can shout "Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."
For it is only in the self understood pride of being a 'child' of God living in a free society, that we can look at the person next to us as our 'brother or sister,' embrace him or her as family, and begin the hard work of rebuilding the nation's walls. Then we can thank our Father in Heaven for the blessings of liberty when we sing "God Bless America."