Mike Kueber's Blog

January 23, 2013

Sunday Book Review #97 – No Matter What… They’ll Call This Book Racist

Filed under: Book reviews,Culture — Mike Kueber @ 8:32 pm
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Prior to stumbling across No Matter What… in the New Book section of my local library, I had never heard of its author Harry Stein.  I find this anonymity surprising because, despite Stein’s advanced age (born 1948), his powers of observation and analysis of contemporary political and cultural issues are remarkable.  His ability easily surpasses that of most political pundits on FOX News. 

The gist of No Matter What… is to make accurate, common-sense insights about the status of race in America.  Most of these insights are not necessarily brilliant, but nevertheless are uncommon because extreme political correctness has stifled talk and even thinking with respect to race.  Examples of Stein’s insights:

  • The fear that any criticism of President Obama will be characterized as racist.  One wag attempted to avoid this criticism by prefacing it with – “For the record, I have no problem with Obama’s black half.  His white half is the most incompetent, anti-American asshole ever to inhabit the office of the presidency, but his black half is fine.
  • Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2006 declared – “Affirmative action today, tomorrow, and forever.”  Author Stein explains why so many advocates for racial preferences refuse to recognize that skin color no longer is the dominant reason for black poverty – “That is to say, the understanding that it is not the color of their skin that minimizes the life chances of inner-city kids, or even their undeniably difficult economic circumstances, but the culture into which they are born; from then near-certainty they will grow up fatherless to the attitudes they are likely to internalize about education and hard work to general chaos and lack of order in their homes.”

The book consists of five “Let’s Pretends”:

  1. Affirmative action is reasonable, not racist.  Not surprisingly, a 2009 poll revealed that whites are 64-27 against affirmative action while blacks are 78-14 in favor of it.  “Yet no matter how readily [blacks] may justify that advantage based on their forebear’s tragic history or even slights they’ve personally suffered, most surely grasp on some level that they’re gaming the system.  Nor does it take a doctorate in human behavioral science to know that such an assumption becomes internalized and self-fulfilling….  In the end, there is no way to change that or any of the rest, but one: Scotch the whole ugly business, root and branch, so that all accomplishment is understood to have been justly earned.  Absolutely, let’s promote early childhood education, if that can be shown effective, as well as tutoring and job training programs for those in the minority community eager to get a leg up.  But for the good of everyone, we’ve got to end, abolish, forever rule out programs that discriminate against anyone on the basis of race or ethnicity.”
  2. Fathers don’t matter.  “This, of course, is what fathers do, at least the good ones: They instruct by example.  Instilling a strong work ethic is simply part of the job description, which is to live with integrity even when it is not easy; and so, too, even more vitally, to treat women with tenderness and respect, and to make one’s children the absolutely highest priority.  This is why, unquestionably, the single greatest tragedy for black people in today’s America – indeed, the greatest calamity since slavery itself – is that scarcely one in four black fathers is on the scene….”
  3. Crime has nothing to do with race.  Author Stein tells the story of Jesse Jackson hearing footsteps behind him in a lonely location at night, and then being relieved when he looks behind to see white faces.
  4. Multiculturalism makes for better education.  Author Stein derides the lax standards in most urban schools and extols the virtues of programs that demand discipline.
  5. “Acting white” is a problem.  This chapter is replete with examples of black behavior being criticized for being white, behavior such as being disciplined, polite, and academically successful.  The best example was former basketball player, now ESPN commentator Jalen Rose saying that he hated Duke because it “didn’t recruit players like me.  I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.”  Rose was promptly and effectively rebuked by former Duke player Grant Hill – “In his garbled but sweeping comment that Duke recruits only black players that were Uncle Toms, Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle-class families.”  Rose subsequently apologized and called his earlier remarks “ignorant.”  Recently, too new for this book, another ESPN pundit made the same mistake by questioning RG3’s blackness because he was a Christian with a white fiancée and Republican leanings.    

Harry Stein is a smart, good-hearted man and an excellent writer, and I look forward to reading more of his books in the future.


1 Comment »

  1. […] recently blogged about Harry Stein and his book No Matter What… They Will Call This Book Racist.  In my post I […]

    Pingback by Sunday Book Review #98 – First Principles by John B. Taylor « Mike Kueber's Blog — February 8, 2013 @ 3:08 am | Reply

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