Howard Fineman is a quintessential “mainstream” journalist, moderately liberal, reasonable sounding and fully committed to a progressive vision of America. The paradigm of the “mainstream” liberal journalist includes a visceral understanding of America as deeply flawed, most specifically with regard to the issue of race. This American original sin stains every accomplishment, colors every event, and explains circumstances otherwise explained by human responsibility. A recent piece by him about the state of black America is a depressing illustration of why this mindset is so pernicious.
At a deeper and most likely subconscious level, the postmodern liberal is an unadulterated materialist and effectively a Marxist. What this means in practical terms is that such a liberal sees human beings primarily as a product of their environment; there is no such thing as a human nature per se, but people are determined largely by their material circumstances. And this paradigm, if you will, is the foundation of the postmodern liberal’s worldview, it determines how that person interprets the world, i.e. the events of daily existence mediated through cultural institutions like the media and popular culture in general.
Which brings me to race. The patron saint of liberal, postmodern or not, Americans is Martin Luther King, Jr., who ironically said something in his 1963 speech that no postmodern liberal really believes is even possible:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
The interpretive lenses these people wear, their worldview, drives them to see these words applying unilaterally to white people; only white people have a problem with judging people by the color or their skin, and thus only white people must be implored to put the content of character over skin color, which liberals really believe is impossible. Racism is the default reality, basically the character of American white people.
As such, racism is ubiquitous, almost like oxygen; we can’t see it but we breath it, it envelops us, in animates every molecule of our being, it cannot be escaped. It’s difficult in 2013 to see any actual instances of overt racism (which was why the left was so invested in seeing George Zimmerman as a racist monster), so racism has become this amorphous force to explain every black depredation in America.
The title of Fineman’s article is “Far From The Mountaintop: Black America Still Reaching For MLK’s Dream.” Although he admits that “the legal, political and social advancements since 1963 are impressive, even astonishing. We are not a perfect Union, but we are less imperfect in fundamental and decent ways.” Yet the rest of the article belies the assertion. Some force, which he never names, is still loose in the land, a force that is keeping the black man, especially the black young man, down. Implied throughout the piece, this force is the racist oxygen. The reason I used the word pernicious above is because this cast of mind is so utterly hopeless. How can you fight amorphous forces you can’t see and you don’t understand? Black Americans are its victims, and white Americans, no matter how tangential to real black suffering, are its perpetrators. We are all, we pale of skin, guilty.
Another article about the bankruptcy of Detroit is also quintessentially postmodern liberal, and I love the title: “Why the right hates Detroit.” Howard Fineman the author is not, but they belong to the same family. Unlike Fineman he pins the blame for Detroit, and New Orleans after Katrina as well, on racism:
I think the collapse of Detroit makes us look the way we looked after the national humiliation of Katrina: like a bitter, miserly and dying empire where the deluded rich cling to their McMansions and mock the suffering of the poor while everyone else fights over the scraps, and where the slow-acting poison of racism continues to work its bad magic.
This perspective on the problems of black Americans is a complete inversion of the founding principles of this country, in which prosperity and domestic tranquility were the results, indeed the rewards, of personal responsibility and virtue. This is why regardless of their own religious convictions the Founding Fathers were big fans of religion, specifically the Christian religion. If a republic such as ours, if this experiment in self-government was to succeed, they knew is depended on a people who could govern themselves. That is of course a truism, but one that completely escapes the mentality of the postmodern liberal. The result, as can be found throughout these two pieces is hopelessness. Fighting an invisible force is really, really hard. Again, that is why they so desperately needed George Zimmerman to be guilty. After 45 years and literally trillions of dollars of ostensibly well-meaning government programs, the plight of a large segment of black America only seems to be getting worse. If I thought the way they do, I’d be depressed too.
But I know there is a solution, one that is as simple and obvious as it would be difficult to implement into the dysfunction that is too much of black America. Let’s get away from religion and just go to what are called the Cardinal Virtues first espoused by Plato. Think about what would happen to the people in Detroit, for example, if their lives reflected these virtues:
- Prudence – ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
- Justice – the perpetual and constant will of rendering to each one his right
- Temperance or Restraint – practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation; tempering the appetition
- Fortitude or Courage – forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation
Unfortunately, America’s cultural elites have determined that these people are victims, and victims are powerless and condemned to a fate by forces beyond their control. Read the two articles discussed here and feel the despair; the postmodern liberal worldview leads inexorably there.