What is the effect of affirmative action on racialist attitudes and discrimination?
What form of affirmative action does Steele believe will truly contribute to black empowerment and progress?
The left, not the right—not conservatism—would set the terms of this legitimacy and deliver America from shame to decency.”Thus did the Left create the wellspring of its political and cultural power.
“The greater the menace to the nation’s moral legitimacy, the more power redounded to the left.” And the 1960s bestowed upon liberals “a laundry list of menaces to be defeated”—racism above all, of course, but also eventually “a litany of bigotries ending in ‘ism’ and ‘phobia.’’’Steele doesn’t stint in giving the Left credit for many worthy achievements since that 1960s moment when it claimed a monopoly on civic morality.
“It did rescue America from an unsustainable moral illegitimacy,” he writes.
It also established “the great menace of racism” as the country’s “most intolerable disgrace.” But now the Left is in crisis because it is running out of menaces to fight.
Few writers today on either Right or Left can come close to matching Shelby Steele in the depth of his thinking or the pungency of his social commentary.
He is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author of the 2015 book .
But he seems particularly anguished about how it harms America’s blacks.
“The menace of black victimization becomes the unarguable truth of the black identity,” he writes.