As a 28-year-old student at Harvard Law Barack Obama supported the activism of Professor Derrick Bell and urged his peers to open their hearts and minds to the words of Critical Race Theory's founder.I've already blogged about the stupidity of attributing significance to the student who gave a nice introduction to a venerable professor. I won't repeat that. This is about PJ Media's failure to see that Bell is attacking liberals. It's stupid to tear down Bell as a way to attack Democrats. Bell is attacking Democrats!
PJ Media is reading one of the lesser Bell works, "Afrolantica Legacies." It's not available in Kindle, or I'd buy a copy right now, but I see that it's like about the 7 millionth best-selling book over at Amazon right now. The book is a collection of essays, and PJM displays photos of some pages in the book, including a collection of "rules of racial preservation," which is the first thing the PJM article decides to trash. But let's look at Bell's first rule:
No matter how justified by racial injustices they are intended to remedy, civil rights policies, including affirmative action, are implemented only when they further the interests of whites.Hello? Who implements these race-based policies like affirmative action? Liberals! Derrick Bell is saying that white people do this when and only when it works for their advantage! The critical race thinking you're invited to do here is to understand how, when white people purport to advance black people, they are really exploiting black people for their own advantage. This is an attack on the work of the Democratic Party and other liberals. Conservatives are on the sidelines of this battle.
I am reminded of the dissenting opinion that Clarence Thomas wrote in Grutter v. Bollinger, the case that upheld the affirmative action admissions at the University of Michigan Law School:
Frederick Douglass, speaking to a group of abolitionists almost 140 years ago, delivered a message lost on today’s majority:Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. We hear the echo of the cry in Bell's first rule. Thomas ends his dissent:
“[I]n regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice . The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us… . I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … [Y]our interference is doing him positive injury.” What the Black Man Wants: An Address Delivered in Boston, Massachusetts, on 26 January 1865, reprinted in 4 The Frederick Douglass Papers 59, 68 (J. Blassingame & J. McKivigan eds. 1991) (emphasis in original)....
It has been nearly 140 years since Frederick Douglass asked the intellectual ancestors of the Law School to “[d]o nothing with us!” and the Nation adopted the Fourteenth Amendment. Now we must wait another 25 years to see this principle of equality vindicated.(Only 16 more years, if that's a serious time limit.)
Here's Bell's 3d rule:
Coalition building is an enterprise with valuable potential as long as its pursuit does not obscure the basic fact: nobody can free us but ourselves.That's so much blander and duller than Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! But it's sounding the same chord.
Yeah, there's plenty of left-wing stuff in Bell's old book, but the basic insight of Critical Race Theory is skepticism about liberals. Why dig up Bell in 2012 and smack him around unless you yourself want to racialize everything?
Why? Ironically, Bell's Rule #1 might apply: The things white people do in the name of race are done only when they further the interests of whites.