T Nation

White Guilt and The Western Past


This is an interesting Op-Ed piece in the WSJ. The article states alot of things I think people are affraid to say. Looking for oppinions.

Me Solomon Grundy



Oh give me a fucking-break! Just what we need, another neo-con funded think tank trying to convince us that we are better off embracing white-supremist thoughts and ideas. Trying to justify the atrocities that were commited by saying "Gee, look how much better off things are now that we came in and took over!" However, I'm sure there will be plenty of people on here that will agree wholeheartedly and defend what he wrote. Excuse me while I throw up.


I think you just proved the guys point....


I think you'll need to go a bit deeper into the argument than a quick ad hominem dismissal:

The Hoover Institute: http://www.hoover.org/

Shelby Steele: http://www.hoover.org/bios/steele.html


Interesting enough opinion piece, I am not too sure about some of the author's assertions though.

I wholeheartedly agree with him that there is a real push to establish legitimacy in our present military endeavors and those of the last half century. I am not too sure, however, that the impetus for this is white guilt as he proposes.

I would argue that there is a drive for legitimacy in any action, simply given the nature of power and people?s desire to maintain power once they gain it. One who is in power must decide to take any given action, this action must be seen as at least marginally legitimate in order for one to maintain favor with those who have the power to preempt the continuation of that action, to aid, hinder or preempt their future actions, to remove that person from power, to limit their power or to affect change in the perceived legitimacy of that person.

The author says that our endeavors have to be cast in the light of a social project of sorts, lest it be called part of an imperialist and racist ambition. This supposedly means that ?today the United States cannot go into the Third World simply to defeat a dangerous enemy.? I think that there is a major oversight in the author?s assertion, particularly in light of the examples of our present forays into the Middle East. The thing that he fails to note is that the ?dangerous enemy? in these situations (more so in reference to Afghanistan) is thoroughly embedded in the localized cultures of these regions, making at least some reform on par with a social project necessary. Moreover, an improvement in general standards of living and the opportunities afforded citizens is necessary in the countries both presently and historically given the role of patronage in the foregoing government structures. Particularly in light of the role of patronage, the necessity for a social project of sorts can be argued to exist in the military events that the author references (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea).

I don?t give the assertion that such military actions are imperialist and motivated by racism as much value as would the author. The racist claims arise, in my view, from the more marginal voices involved in debate on these issues. From a purely numerical standpoint the likelihood is that any military action taken by this country is likely to involve countries with racial majorities that are not white. Most, if not all of the countries in the world that have white majorities also have a number of treaties and pacts with the US, which serve to make military conflict far less likely. I don?t expect such assertions to go away any time soon as the likelihood is that conflict will not involve majority white countries, I just don?t give these claims as much weight as does the author ? I do not think that they are nearly as detrimental to one?s legitimacy as he would have us believe.

Sorry if that was a little long.


You beat me to it. I think the guy is pretty much right on.

Me solomon Grundy



I read the entire article and I am also quite familiar with Shelby Steele and the Hoover Institute. You made an assumption that I made a quick ad hominem dismissal because of my overriding disgust in what was written. Just because there is a black face attached to this does not make it anymore valid. I thought that people learned this lesson by now.


Since you know what his point was and that I am proving it, would be so kind as to explain it? I would be very interested in this explaination.


I thought the article was pretty good.


I didn't know he was black until I checked his bio. I consideered the validity of his argument on ideas, not color of skin.

Me Solomon Grundy


I don't know about white guilt but we do try to play fair when the other guys are not.

Just look at the level of crap regarding the low level "torture" at Abu Graib.

They found 20 bodies in Baghdad yesterday that were tortured and shot in the head by the bad guys and hardly a peep about it.


I didn't say you did. This was directed at me as if to say I didn't know who I was talking about. Regardless, his argument is not valid. He is trying to use this excuse of "white guilt" as an excuse for why the troops aren't as effective in Iraq as he, and the Hoover Institute's neo-con backers, think they should be. The real truth is piss-poor planning and execution, period. They were told what they needed to do the job right, they didn't listen and went ahead with what they wanted the way they wanted to and it has not turned out like they thought it would. Now he is trying to say that "white guilt" is hampering the efforts. That is pure bullshit.


There are groups out there working very hard to find ways to justify all types of things which shouldn't be justified, by finding new ways to present and talk about topics.

In one sense it is fascinating, in another, it can be revolting.


Exactly! One person's facination is another person's disgust. This is what happens to traffic when there is a accident. Some people are slowing down so they can see if the jaws of life can pry out a body, while others have no interest in watching the tragedy and are getting pissed because of the first group.


I wasn't referring to his color - I was referring to the strength of his CV and the prestige of the Hoover Institute, though I admit I did assume you weren't familiar with him or it.


This is what I got out of the piece as well. Basically the author is saying we're playing by Marquis de Queensbury rules and the other guys are hitting us in the groin.

I agree with his assertion that we will no longer fight an all out war - nor will we allow our allies to do so when we have that kind of influence (this is the only reason Israel didn't move all the Palestinians out of Gaza years ago at the point of a tank turret). I'm not sure if guilt is the answer to why we won't do that, but it seems obvious to me that we won't do it -- and that everyone knows we won't do it.


Maybe it's because we claim the moral high ground... such that we can place the opponents on the moral low ground, to drum up public opinion?

I mean really, either you believe in right and wrong and want to uphold it, or you don't.

Which is it?


Firstly, let's admit that "right" and "wrong" are generally matters of definition.

I'll agree with you that it's generally the case that we do fight by rules that the majority of "Western" citizens would consider right. The question, of course, is whether it makes sense to do so when your enemy is not -- thus the structure of the Geneva Conventions.

I think that the analysis needs to proceed on a case by case basis, and that, in cases in which we are doing more harm to ourselves and our cause than good, we should rethink our policy.


That's Moral Relativism at its worst.

Yes, they are matters of definition, but unless we are able to uphold OUR definitions, and defend them as the "best" ones, how can you expect to be taken seriously? I mean, if they are so fragile, we can't even claim Democracy and Freedom are "right".

I'm definitely with vroom on this one.


War used to be Kill, Rape and Steal