25 September 2016

The Past is a Real-Talking Country

California recently scrapped plans for a 'John Wayne Day' when his 1971 race-realist comments on Afro-Americans came to light:

'We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.'

At the same time, Princeton students are demanding the Woodrow Wilson School be re-named, U. of Missouri is petitioning to remove Thomas Jefferson's statue, and San Fran's School Board president has even said he'll re-name every school bearing the title of a slave owner.

It is surely any people's right to wipe out the names of past heroes who ruffle current mores. We've seen Stalin and Lenin statues come crashing down in Eastern Bloc countries since the wall fell.

But Stalin and Lenin were proper génocidaires who oversaw the repression, imprisonment, torture, and death of tens of millions. Washington and Jefferson were founders of their nation who, uncontroversially in their time and place, owned slaves.

But even if one were to convince them that slaveholding was not controversial in those days, this John Wayne dust-up opens a whole new can of worms. Are California's civic leaders even dimly aware of the kind of realtalk in which nearly all our prominent men of yesteryear engaged?  We fear they are not. 

May we gently remind them that When an out-group seemed to under-perform, or over-perform, or just act differently, people noticed.  

And commented.

Such was the way of the world--and still is, in most of the world. Only ethnic NW Euros seem to have caught the disease that pushes them to sing the praises of 'diversity' while at the same time loudly claiming we're all exactly the same.

As more and more decisions must be made about naming holidays, schools, bridges, airports, highways, erecting and demolishing statues... How shall our civic leaders be expected to cope? If they start subjecting each historical figure to the 'didn't say anything that offends me today' test, they are in for some sore and cruel disappointment.

We at TWCS would very much like to help them. First, by acquainting them with the fact that the past was, indeed, a real-talking country, as the quotations we are about to share will show. 

Second, by helping them step into their ancestors' shoes, in order to pick out what is simple observation of difference (as painful as that may be for us to hear today), and what is real bigotry.  

We propose five categories of historical realtalk (some of which overlap in our quotes):
  • Banal my-group preference
  • The More Able remarking upon the Less Able
  • The Less Able remarking upon the More Able
  • Us remarking upon the otherness of Them
  • True bigotry

We focus on two out-groups with whom ethnic Europeans have long been in contact: Sub-Saharan Africans and Jews.

So which kinds of old-style realtalk can our city fathers forgive, and which should have them tearing down statues?