Cover image for Shame : how America's past sins have polarized our country
Title:
Shame : how America's past sins have polarized our country
Author:
Steele, Shelby, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, [2015]
Physical Description:
vii, 198 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"Part memoir and part meditation on the failed efforts to achieve racial equality in America, [this book] advances Shelby Steele's provocative argument that 'new liberalism' has done more harm than good. Since the 1960s, overt racism against blacks is almost universally condemned, so much so that racism is no longer, by itself, a prohibitive barrier to black advancement. But African Americans remain at a disadvantage in American society, and Steele lays the blame at the feet of white liberals"--
Language:
English
Contents:
The Great Divide -- A collision -- Hypocrisy -- The moral asymmetry of hypocrisy -- The compounding of hypocrisy -- Characterological evil -- "The Battle of Algiers" -- No past, no future -- America's "characterological evil" : a pillar of identity -- The denouement -- After evil, "the good" -- The new liberalism -- Dissociation -- Relativism and anti-Americanism -- The culture -- Conservatism : the new counterculture -- A politics of idealism -- Liberalism is beautiful, but conservatism is freedom.
ISBN:
9780465066971
Format :
Book

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E184.A1 S767 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

The United States today is hopelessly polarized; the political Right and Left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s--when we came together as a nation to fight for equality and universal justice--remains unfulfilled.

As Shelby Steele reveals in Shame , the roots of this impasse can be traced back to that decade of protest, when in the act of uncovering and dismantling our national hypocrisies--racism, sexism, militarism--liberals internalized the idea that there was something inauthentic, if not evil, in the America character. Since then, liberalism has been wholly concerned with redeeming modern American from the sins of the past, and has derived its political legitimacy from the premise of a morally bankrupt America. The result has been a half-century of well-intentioned but ineffective social programs, such as Affirmative Action. Steele reveals that not only have these programs failed, but they have in almost every case actively harmed America's minorities and poor. Ultimately, Steele argues, post-60s liberalism has utterly failed to achieve its stated aim: true equality. Liberals, intending to atone for our past sins, have ironically perpetuated the exploitation of this country's least fortunate citizens.

It therefore falls to the Right to defend the American dream. Only by reviving our founding principles of individual freedom and merit-based competition can the fraught legacy of American history be redeemed, and only through freedom can we ever hope to reach equality.

Approaching political polarization from a wholly new perspective, Steele offers a rigorous critique of the failures of liberalism and a cogent argument for the relevance and power of conservatism.


Author Notes

Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Winner of the Bradley Prize and a National Humanities Medal and the author of the National Book Critics Circle award-winning The Content of Our Character , Steele lives in the Central Coast of California.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Steele (White Guilt), a leading intellectual and senior scholar at the Hoover Institution, inquires into white guilt and liberal dogma, challenging ideas that he finds pervasive on the left. A fixation on the "struggle for white redemption," Steele argues, warps clear thinking. Moreover, he finds that too many white liberals perceive deferential shame as the antidote to historical evils, as though shame is morally necessary to absolve the nation's racial sins. Dissociating the nation from its history has thus become a preeminent institutional mission-a mistaken one, in Steele's opinion. He vividly recounts his encounter with an unyielding white "commitment to black victimization" while participating in a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute. He also remembers the surprise he felt as a young African-American man, watching William F. Buckley debate James Baldwin on Firing Line, to discover he agreed more with Buckley than Baldwin. Yet Steele also finds that many white people fail to appreciate the effect of four centuries of oppression on African-Americans. Steele concludes that economic success for African-Americans must be rooted in self-help and freedom from self-pity, though he unfortunately minimizes the continued economic inequalities standing in the way. Nonetheless, this timely critique warrants attention from anyone troubled by the persistence of racial discord in American life, from Selma to Ferguson. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Conservative scholar and NBCC award winner Steele argues that the greatest barrier to racial equality today is not overt racism but the savior complex of white liberals. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.