Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Merchandising of White Guilt, and America’s Race Obsession

Because he has a new book, Ta-Nehisi Coates has been in the news more often than usual. Here are some articles in the past month alone either by him or about him:

How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power

Ta-Nehisi Coates: the laureate of black lives

The First White President

Ta-Nehisi Coates is not here to comfort you

Here are some passages:

Reading Coates, I do not believe hope, for him, is synonymous with progress. Hope is prediction. It is about ultimate levels, not current trends. To be hopeful about race in America is not to say that slowly things will become less bad. It is to say that they will become good, equal, just. To be hopeful is to believe that America will one day embody its ideals, that it will atone for its past. Coates quotes Malcolm X, who said, “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress.”

Trump did not come out of nowhere; he was the logical conclusion of years of racial dog whistles from the Republican party, which has sought to suppress the black vote through spurious claims of cracking down on fraud. Coates recounts: “Throughout his eight years in office, Barack Obama endured a campaign of illegitimacy waged either by pluralities or majorities of the Republican party. Donald Trump rooted his candidacy in that campaign. It’s fairly obvious.

He lays the vitriol so thick, almost to the point of hyperbole, that one can’t help but to wonder if such a person who embodies this anger actually exists or if it’s just a figment of his imagination. It’s so paranoid and conspiratorial…sorta like a black version of Alex Jones. As discussed in the post It’s not Okay, the far-left uniformly have a negative view of human nature and society, because according to the far-left, modern civilization is built on a bedrock of racism and exploitation.

You have to understand, much of this is an act. Coates’ shtick is to profit from white self-loathing. He’s become a sort of religious/saintly figure for otherwise atheist liberals to rectify the self-inflicted guilt of being white and upper-middle class. And business is booming. In April 2016, he bought a Brooklyn brownstone for $2.1 million (those evil white ppl keepin’ the black man down), and then he flipped it citing ‘safety concerns’ (again with the paranoia):

But after The Post and other publications reported Coates as the buyer, using NYC’s publicly available real estate records, he published an Atlantic piece stating that his family would not be safe in their new home, on a tony block filled with multimillion-dollar properties. “You can’t really be a black writer in this country, take certain positions and not think about your personal safety,” he wrote.

The proceeds of his latest book We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy will likely contribute to Coates’ burgoning mini real estate empire, paid for by the predominately white upper-middle class income buyers of his books. Maybe those are the reparations he speaks of.

But Coates’ popularity is symptomatic (and also a contributor) of the pervasiveness of the ‘culture wars’ in all facets of post-2013 American society. On Instagram or in the NFL, where you least expect it and least want it, everything has become an opportunity for an impromptu conversation about race and gender. If there is one downside with Trump, it’s that his win has exacerbated the wars even more than under Obama and Bush, or maybe the problem is social media and the internet putting a megaphone to the loudest and most obnoxious of voices. Celebrities can launch their mini culture crusades, which are reverberated by both the online and MSM media to millions of followers. But also, it’s only 2017, so given that Trump may be in office until 2024, expect much more warring. Maybe in 10 years things will improve (by then many of the millennials who are making the most noise will be fully in the workforce) . By the early 80’s, the hippies had grown up.

Whether it’s Indians, colonists, slavery, reconstruction, or Jim Crow–race, for better or worse–is an inescapable part of American history, culture, and contemporary society. The battle lines, although weathered with age, all still visible, yet agitators like Ta-Nehisi Coates want to revivify them. In other countries, ethnicities such as Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, and Turks are divided, but it’s not like in America where the division, such as between blacks and whites, is so barefaced and quotidian.

150 years after the Civil War, the mere sight of a Confederate flag is enough to drive some people into paroxysms of rage. A cartoon frog is now hate speech. Merely noticing gender differences can get people fired and banned (and also shamed) on social media. According to BLM, the ACLU is a ‘hate group,’ and free speech and liberalism are ‘white supremacy’. Crazy times indeed.