The hatred of self can be as destructive as the hatred of others

JUNE 25, 2008

As a Charleston City Paper reader, I’ve long enjoyed columnist Will Moredock, whose cantankerous wit and occasional wisdom have given me pause. As a Charleston City Paper writer, it has been a pleasure getting to know Will personally. He’s a nice guy.

He’s also a liberal, the best definition of which was perhaps Robert Frost’s; the poet believed that "a liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel." Moredock consistently seems to believe that white southerners never have a justifiable side in any quarrel, and those who believe they do are unworthy of their opinion precisely because they’re white.

Two of Moredock’s most recent columns ("Southern Fatalism," May 21, and "Reality Check," June 11) reflect the white guilt mind-set perfectly. Consider this passage from a few years back in which Will describes his native South Carolina: "This violent, ill-tempered little state continues to live in fear of the future, of black people, of multiculturalism. The white majority lashes out at all three with their Confederate flag, their racist T-shirts, their angry letters to local newspapers. And they lash out with their lockstep subordination to the Republican Party. The GOP remains the White People’s Party, a perfect index of this state’s sublimated white supremacy."

You’d think such criticism might have been written in 1956 or even 1856. It was written in 2006. That this is Moredock’s perception of his own people is disturbing and unhealthy. But it is also instructional, as there is no such thing as a black Will Moredock.

Imagine rapper Ice Cube, reflecting on his own people in the Compton City Paper: "This violent, ill-tempered little city continues to live in fear of progress, white people, and multiculturalism. The black majority lashes out at all three with their African flags, their racist T-shirts, their angry music on local radio. And they continue to be subordinate to the black criminal mentality that has long reigned supreme in godforsaken Compton."

Ice Cube would never criticize the pathologies of poor black communities; he celebrates them. And even harsh critics like Bill Cosby never dismiss his own people as detestable and unsalvageable. Cosby’s criticism is born of love and hope for improvement.

But it appears Moredock genuinely despises his own white South, its past and its present.

On one level I agree with Moredock. There is much to despise in America’s history. Just as there is much to despise about the centuries of slavery, the treatment of women, the racial segregation, and the ethnic terrorism that has existed and still exists in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North and South America. And yet I’ve never met a non-white person, American or foreign, with the same sort of self-loathing over his ancestors’ indiscretion that is typical of white liberals in the United States.

The mistake made most often by racists and anti-racists alike is to pretend either that race means absolutely everything or that it means absolutely nothing. The Klan mentality that once permeated the South demanded a rigid racial orthodoxy in which white Southerners were expected to dehumanize their black neighbors, despite the many complex and often friendly relationships amongst blacks and whites. It was absurd. The white guilt mentality that permeates modern liberalism demands a rigid racial orthodoxy in which white Southerners are dehumanized for their racial sins, despite the great patriotism, sacrifice, and gallantry of so many, whether it was as a Founding Father or a Confederate soldier.

But if the Confederates won, slavery might not have ended as soon, right? Yeah, and if the Founding Fathers hadn’t won, slavery in America would have likely ended even sooner than it did, but you will find few Americans today who wish the British had prevailed.

Today, only a black-hating bastard would approve of American slavery and segregation as a matter of white pride. And only a self-hating fool would disparage and dismiss his entire cultural patrimony as a matter of white guilt.

Being sorry something happened is not the same as apologizing for it, which implies guilt on the part of the apologist. Most non-whites can make this distinction. Conservative author James Burnham called liberalism "the suicide of the West" in 1964, and in 2008 the ideology continues to corrupt and confuse the Western mind.

Including that of Southerners like my friend Will Moredock.