Cultural Caviar

The First Rule of White Club

July 29, 2015

In fact, I discovered Coates himself had written about this tragedy before. Seven years ago he explained in The Atlantic in a poorly proofread but less pompous prose style:

I am going to try to be fair about this. The cop was in an unmarked car, and wasn’t wearing a uniform. According to his own testimony, he basically cornered Prince’s car pulled out a gun—but no badge—and IDed himself as an officer. Prince. whose vehicle was hemmed in, rammed the cops car. The cop shot him Prince and he died. The officer was presumably in pursuit of a “suspect.” But the suspect looked nothing like Prince, except that they were both black. All I could think when that happened was about what I would have done. The way we come up, if a black dude with dreads (which is how officer Carlton Jones looked) is following you and then he corners you, pulls a gun, but doesn’t have a badge, you don’t assume he’s cop. You assume he’s trying to rob you.

In other words, the two black men racially profiled each other as dangerous criminals and then violently attacked each other.

Why did the two blacks profile each other?

Oh, sorry, I forgot: because white people.

Wait, my mistake: because people who believe they are white.

Occam’s razor suggests that the reason blacks tend to fear violence from one another is because they tend to be violent.

But you are forgetting something: The first rule of White Club is: You do blame White Club. The second rule of White Club is: You do blame White Club.

Coates has thus elaborated a theory of history in which everything bad ever done by blacks is the fault of American whites (whom he describes—metaphorically, I hope—as “cannibals”).

Unfortunately, Coates, a 39-year-old Howard U. dropout, doesn’t actually know much about history because, even though he frequently reads history books, he lacks a retentive mind. He reminds me of another autodidact who is always amazed by whatever he is currently reading: Glenn Beck.

Coates is unable to keep in his head a coherent timeline of the past, which means he is frequently clueless about what could possibly have caused what. For example, when recounting his arrival at Howard U. around 1993, he complains that outside his HBCU “black beauty was never celebrated in movies, in television…” Personally, I watched a lot of television in 1993, and my recollection is that the beauty of Michael Jordan’s black body was rather often celebrated. But who can expect the New James Baldwin to remember 1993?

The intellectual limitations that have helped Coates achieve his level of conventional wisdomhood include his lack of interest in races other than blacks and whites. The country has 55 million Hispanics, 17 million Asians, and 4 million American Indians, yet Coates has barely deigned to notice their existence, much less ask himself why they have their own problems, which are on average quite different from black problems.

History, for Coates, began in 1619 with the first blacks to arrive in America. He has no interest in what blacks brought with them from their tens of thousands of years of evolution in Africa. (He appears wholly ignorant of science.)

And history sort of peters out for Coates and his admirers about 50 years ago, when liberals took charge of race in America. For instance, Coates is convinced that redlining by the FDR Administration explains why the West Side of Chicago is like it is. But he had no interest in learning from, say, Alyssa Katz’s 2009 book Our Lot, which documents how Chicago’s once crime-free Austin neighborhood (from which my wife’s family was driven in 1970 after the third felony committed against the children by blacks) was destroyed by the liberal 1968 Fair Housing Act.

There are tens of millions of Americans who remember being shoved out of formerly functioning urban communities by black criminality. But who speaks for them? Will they ever be allowed to publicly commemorate the injustice that was done to them?

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