Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Race, Trump, Obama

I really dislike how race is discussed on both the Left and the Right (here are my postings on the topic), and ground zero of the liberal variety of ditzy race discussion is MSNBC. Even Chris Hayes, the network's least talking-point-oriented host, usually turns rigidly doctrinaire on racial issues.

Worse, he had, as his guest last night, The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates, a very bright guy and talented writer who strikes me as wielding his intellect primarily to project a deep and implacable sneer. He seems to be what I've often heard black people describe as "militant" (white people use the term, as well, but that's a different shading, and not the one I'm trying to apply). If you've read this Slog for a while, you know I strongly believe in conciliation - bending over backwards to empathize with seemingly alien perspectives. To me, staunch militancy is often The Problem, even when it serves convictions with which I agree. I get way too much mileage from pliancy - a willingness, or even eagerness, to flip perspective - for me to be a fan of the approach of digging in and scarring over. So he is not really my favorite guy.

Coates recently wrote a much-discussed mega-article for The Atlantic titled "My President Was Black." I haven't gotten around to reading it yet (smelling sanctimony in the title), but I did catch Coates on Haye's TV show last night, and found the discussion profound, thoughtful, and pliant. Coates was uncharacteristically humble, low-key, and un-embittered (and he just nailed the problem of Bernie Sanders, however reluctantly). Truth be told, I was blown away. I urge you to watch it (it's just under ten minutes).

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