Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Reflexive Racism of the American Left

By Jeffrey Lord

Ulysses S. Grant (second from the left) (Wikimedia Commons)

President Grant understood the Left’s Culture of Racism — which today’s media ignores.

“Treat the Negro as a citizen and a voter — as he is, and must remain — and soon parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle.”

So wrote President Ulysses S. Grant in a message to Congress in 1875. As Grant biographer Ron Chernow points out in his recent book, this was a “prophetic message” indeed from the man who won the Civil War that freed black Americans. 

Black Americans chained into the tyranny imposed in a political deal with slave owners that created the Democratic Party — and established the culture of racism that exists in the party to this day.

All of this, sadly — make that very sadly during the week that celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — surfaces yet again. 

Surfaces as, once again, the reflexive racism of the American Left is front and center in the controversy over President Trump’s alleged “s***hole” remarks.

Let’s leave “alleged” out of this. While two Senators present for the meeting say they didn’t hear the remark and the Senator who says he did — Democrat Dick Durbin — was outed by the Obama White House for making up comments by Republicans at a leadership meeting with President Obama.

Let’s say President Trump did say it. Then?

Then a comment that had nothing to do with race was immediately transformed into an example of out-and-out racism. 

In the New York Times, Emory University’s Professor George Yancy asserts that the President is a “white racist.” And over at CNN, my old sparring partner and friend Don Lemon closed his “Trump is racist” monologue saying this:

 And for all of you who over the last few years uttered that tired, lazy, uninformed, uneducated, ignorant response of calling me and others who point out racist behavior racists, you know what you can go do? I can’t say that, but you can go read a book. A history book.

Let me make this crystal clear. Respectfully to my friend Don — and I do mean respectfully — I have read history books. Lots of them. Plus original sources.

And it is crystal clear from those original documents of history that the reflexive racism of the American Left — the Democratic Party — that the media determinedly ignores and that disturbed President Grant 143 years ago flowers still today in the Left’s “Culture of Racism.” And for a reason.

Let’s start with the history. 

Back there in the ancient times of 2008, I took note of that history in this space.

I had discovered that the website of the Democratic National Committee was boasting of its party history in civil rights — with the curious omission of 52 years of party history.

As I wrote at the time, what was missing was interesting indeed. And it certainly wasn’t getting much media coverage — then or now. Let me remind:

So what’s missing?

    * There is no reference to the number of Democratic Party platforms supporting slavery. There were 6 from 1840-1860.

    * There is no reference to the number of Democratic presidents who owned slaves. There were 7 from 1800-1861.

    * There is no reference to the number of Democratic Party platforms that either supported segregation outright or were silent on the subject. There were 20, from 1868-1948.

    * There is no reference to “Jim Crow” as in “Jim Crow laws,” nor is there reference to the role Democrats played in creating them. These were the post-Civil War laws passed enthusiastically by Democrats in that pesky 52-year part of the DNC’s missing years. These laws segregated public schools, public transportation, restaurants, rest rooms and public places in general (everything from water coolers to beaches). The reason Civil Rights heroine Rosa Parks became famous is that she sat in the front of a “whites only” bus, the “whites only” designation the direct result of Democrats.

    * There is no reference to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan, which, according to Columbia University historian Eric Foner became “a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party.” Nor is there reference to University of North Carolina historian Allen Trelease’s description of the Klan as the “terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.”

    * There is no reference to the fact Democrats opposed the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The Thirteenth banned slavery. The Fourteenth effectively overturned the infamous 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision (made by Democrat pro-slavery Supreme Court justices) by guaranteeing due process and equal protection to former slaves. The Fifteenth gave black Americans the right to vote.

    * There is no reference to the fact Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. It was passed by the Republican Congress over the veto of Democratic President Andrew Johnson. The law was designed to provide blacks with the right to own private property, sign contracts, sue and serve as witnesses in a legal proceeding.

    * There is no reference to the Democrats’ opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1875. It was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses Grant. The law prohibited racial discrimination in public places and public accommodations.

    * There is no reference to the Democrats’ 1904 platform, which devotes a section to “Sectional and Racial Agitation,” claiming the GOP’s protests against segregation and the denial of voting rights to blacks sought to “revive the dead and hateful race and sectional animosities in any part of our common country,” which in turn “means confusion, distraction of business, and the reopening of wounds now happily healed.”

    * There is no reference to four Democrat platforms, 1908-1920, that are silent on blacks, segregation, lynching, and voting rights as racial problems in the country mount. By contrast the GOP platforms of those years specifically address “Rights of the Negro” (1908), oppose lynchings (in 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928) and, as the New Deal kicks in, speak out about the dangers of making blacks “wards of the state.”

    * There is no reference to the DNC-sponsored Democrat Convention of 1924, known to history as the “Klanbake.” The 103-ballot convention was held in Madison Square Garden. Hundreds of delegates were members of the Ku Klux Klan, the Klan so powerful that a plank condemning Klan violence was defeated outright. To celebrate the Klan staged a rally with 10,000 hooded Klansmen in a field in New Jersey directly across the Hudson from the site of the Convention. Attended by hundreds of cheering Convention delegates, the rally featured burning crosses and calls for violence against African Americans and Catholics.

    * There is no reference to the fact that it was Democrats who segregated the federal government of the United States, specifically at the direction of President Woodrow Wilson upon taking office in 1913. There is a reference to the fact that President Harry Truman integrated the military after World War II.

    * There is reference to the fact that Democrats created the Federal Reserve Board, passed labor and child welfare laws and created Social Security with Wilson’s New Freedom and FDR’s New Deal. There is no reference these programs were created as the result of an agreement to ignore segregation and the lynching of blacks. Neither is there a reference to the thousands of local officials, state legislators, state governors, U.S. Congressmen and U.S. Senators who were elected as supporters of slavery and then segregation between 1800 and 1965. Nor is there reference to the deal with the devil that left segregation and lynching as a way of life in return for election support for three post-Civil War Democrat presidents, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.

    * There is no reference that three-fourths of the opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Bill in the U.S. House came from Democrats, or that 80 percent of the nay vote on the bill in the Senate came from the Democrats. Certainly there is no reference to the fact that the opposition included future Democratic Senate Leader Robert Byrd of West Virginia (a former Klan member) and Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Sr., father of future Vice President Al Gore.

    * Last, but certainly not least, there is no reference to the fact that Birmingham, Alabama Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor, who infamously unleashed dogs and fire hoses on civil rights protestors, was in fact — yes indeed — both a member of the Democratic National Committee and the Ku Klux Klan.

I am often criticized for mentioning this history. 

But the fact remains that history counts. 

To bring this to an individual level, if someone has spent their entire life chain-smoking cigarettes, it should come as no surprise when the doctor tells them that they have cancer. 

In this case, the American Left — specifically their party of choice, the Democratic Party — has been inhaling the poison of racism since Thomas Jefferson created the Party with the support of slave owners. 

It is now a full blown cancer — a “Culture of Racism.” There are very few Leftists not infected with this party cancer.

Let’s look at Grant’s message to America again: “Treat the Negro as a citizen and a voter-as he is, and must remain-and soon parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle.”

A full 143 years after Grant wrote those words of warning the American Left and the Democrats have done exactly what Grant feared. 

By approaching issues always out of the Left’s Culture of Racism they have divided political parties not on principle — Big Government versus Limited Government or free markets versus socialism — but, as Grant put it, they perpetually have divided it “on the color line.”

The tragic part of this, as mentioned here last week, is that it has turned the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on its head.

Among the famous lines from that famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech of Dr. King’s was this:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Dr. King was, in other words, in complete agreement with then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, when Kennedy said this in a speech in Kentucky a few months earlier in 1963 at Kentucky’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Said RFK, approvingly quoting Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan from an 1883 dissent to the overruling of the 1875 Civil Rights Act:

 He (Justice Harlan) said, “Our Constitution is colorblind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

Kennedy also noted that Harlan had accurately predicted the future (not unlike Grant) in his dissent, when Harlan wrote that if the 1875 Civil Rights Act was overturned doing so:

 … gives no other result than to render permanent peace impossible and to, keep alive a conflict of races, the continuance of which must do harm to all concerned.

That is exactly what happened — and the 1875 law written by Republicans, opposed by Democrats, and signed into law by President Grant had to be re-done in 1964. 

After almost 100 years of Leftist-driven racism that ran the Democratic Party with an iron fist — an iron fist of racism still at the center of the American Left today. Which the media simply ignores.

Now the Left is telling us, as did Laurie Rubel, a Brooklyn College math education professor, exactly the opposite of the King and Kennedy message — not to mention the Ulysses Grant message:

Teachers who claim color-blindness — that is, they claim to not notice the race of their students — are, in effect, refusing to acknowledge the impact of enduring racial stratification on students and their families.

By claiming not to notice, the teacher is saying that she is dismissing one of the most salient features of the child’s identity and that she does not account for it in her curricular planning and instruction.

And as also noted last week, the Daily Caller surfaced a memo from ex-Hillary Clinton aide Jennifer Palmieri, now President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, in which the bold pitch that “defending Dreamers” (aka DACA) was nothing less than a “Defining Political Moment for Democrats.” 

In other words, as Grant warned 143 years ago, the Democrats and the Progressive Left are still all about tying racism to the progressive agenda. That’s how they win elections — which the ex-Hillary aide candidly admitted.

Thus there is just incredible irony in Professor Yancy’s closing words in his Times article. Wrote Yancy:

So, as we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we must face the fact that we are at a moral crossroad. Will America courageously live out Dr. King’s dream or will it go down the road of bigotry and racist vitriol, preferring to live out Mr. Trump’s nightmare instead?

We are indeed at a moral crossroads. 

And those of us who believe in Dr. King’s dream of a colorblind America where all Americans are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character understand that the “bigotry and racist vitriol” in this country is not coming from President Trump or his supporters but rather from the American Left and the Democratic Party.

Which intends to perpetuate it for as far as the political eye can see.

That isn’t just sad. It’s tragic.

The conquest for equal rights from 1774 to 1964

The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial located on the National Mall on the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. - Shutterstock photo

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
– Martin Luther King
President Reagan once said: “There is something for everyone under the White House Christmas Tree.” On this day of remembering the onerous efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and his desire to protect the natural and God-given rights of every American, it is only befitting to glance back into our history, to understand why his ambition was so challenging to consummate – and why it was so necessary.
"We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."
– Dr. King
Over 200 years ago, when our founders set out to create a more perfect union of free men, they knew they could not reinvent the wheel but they could improve upon it. Gathering in the summer heat of Philadelphia Hall in 1787 to trade barbs and ideologies about what this union must or must not consist of, they prepared for a long contentious tirade. What came first, the egg or the chicken, or did it really matter that much?
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
– Ben Franklin
To accomplish this legislative genesis, they gathered the best and brightest of patriots with legal integrity to attend this revolutionary convocation. It was this motley crew with variegated mores and traditions that gathered to piece together the foundation necessary to forge this near-perfect nation. It was a country to amend past transgressions of colonial self-governing under its infamous English kingships.
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
– Ben Franklin
Ben Franklin, our elder founder, met each guest before they entered the hall and welcomed them for their participation in this assemblage of thinkers, scholars, political scientists and theorists. As Thomas Paine, the father of our Revolution and a powerful patriot, arrived at the door laden with a stack of books in arm, Franklin, his lifelong friend, informed him he would not be allowed a seat at the table. He placidly told him:
“Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”
– Ben Franklin
With his usual calm demeanor, Franklin ushered a visibly upset Paine outside, consoling him: “Tom, they will not allow you to enter the Convention because of your views on slavery, universal suffrage and representative government.” A stunned Paine, clutching a stack of Common Sense books with words scribed on its pages from patriots about government, vociferated: “How will the voices of the patriots be heard?” Franklin assured Paine he’d deliver the books to the round table and evaluate every word written by each patriot. A defeated Paine retreated to catch the next ship to France.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
– Ben Franklin
Every insightful issue that concerned Paine about our Constitution was to become a contentious admonition in the coming years. We can only wonder how different our county would be today if others beside Franklin had believed in him.
“Decisions made in haste lay to waste.”
– Ben Franklin
The day Paine arrived from across the pond in 1774, he witnessed the buying and selling of slaves in the marketplace. He was awestruck that men and women were chained and denied their natural and God-given rights of liberty and shackled like animals in cages. He assumed a position working for the Pennsylvania Magazine, and began a campaign to end slavery. This did not abide well with many in the colonies who either owned slaves or profited from buying and selling them.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”
– Thomas Paine
As an enlightened thinker, Paine was concerned the colonies had no representation in the English Parliament, yet subjects to laws passed with no voice in legislating. He wrote many pamphlets and essays condemning this autocracy. One pamphlet enervated the start of the war for independence, "Common Sense." He decreed that every man and woman in the colonies had the natural and God-given right to vote on every law that they were governed by. This went over like a lead balloon until the English needed more money and forced the colonies to quarter British troops. It took Common Sense to wake up the slumbering pilgrims.
“Give me liberty, or give me death.”

– Patrick Henry

Monday, January 15, 2018

President Trump Delivers the Weekly Address Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

The White House 

Video and Text: President Trump's Remarks - Signing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Proclamation

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Proclamation to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Issued on: January 12, 2018

Roosevelt Room
11:38 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank Secretary Carson, along with Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., and the many distinguished guests joining us here today. It’s a great honor.
Earlier this week, I had the tremendous privilege to join Isaac and Alveda to sign into law legislation re-designating the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park. The new law expands the area to protect it and historic sites for the future generations of Americans — are becoming. So important. And this is a great honor for us and a great honor to Dr. King.
Today, we gather in the White House to honor the memory of a great American hero, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He would go on to change the course of human history.
As a young man, King decided to follow the calling of his father and grandfather to become a Christian pastor. He would later write that it was “quite easy for me to think of a God of love, mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central.” That is what Reverend King preached all his life: love — love for each other, for neighbors, and for our fellow Americans.
Dr. King’s faith and his love for humanity led him and so many other heroes to courageously stand up for civil rights of African Americans. Through his bravery and sacrifice, Dr. King opened the eyes and lifted the conscience of our nation. He stirred the hearts of our people to recognize the dignity written in every human soul.
Today, we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God.
This April, we will mark a half-century since Reverend King was so cruelly taken from us by an assassin’s bullet. But while Dr. King is no longer with us, his words and his vision only grow stronger through time. Today, we mourn his loss, we celebrate his legacy, and we pledge to fight for his dream of equality, freedom, justice, and peace.
I will now sign the proclamation making January 15, 2018 the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday and encourage all Americans to observe this day with acts of civic work and community service in honor of Dr. King’s extraordinary life — and it was extraordinary indeed — and his great legacy.
Thank you. God bless you all. And God bless America.
And with that, I’d like to ask a great friend of mine, Secretary Carson, for remarks. Then we’re going to be signing the very important proclamation. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you, Mr. President. It’s an honor to be here today celebrating this solemn occasion. And I thank you for signing legislation to designate the birthplace, church, and tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King as a National Historic Park.
His monumental struggle for civil rights earned these places in his life, faith, and death the same honor as Mount Vernon and that famous humble log cabin in Illinois.
This April, we will observe the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. I remember so vividly that day, as a high school student in Detroit. Far from silencing his dream, death wrought him immortal in the American heart. His message of equality, justice, and the common dignity of man resounds today, urgently needed to heal the divisions of our age.
Today, we honor the legacy of the man who marched on Washington for jobs and freedom, achieving both for millions of Americans of all races and backgrounds. But his legacy also calls us to remember where these ideas — equality, freedom, liberty — get their power.
Our good efforts alone are not enough to lend them meaning. For by what shall I be called equal to another man? It cannot be by wealth, for there will always be one richer than me. It cannot be by strength, for there will always be one stronger than me. It cannot be by success or happiness or beauty or any other pieces of the human condition which are distributed through providence. So perhaps providence alone is the answer.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
With these familiar words, our Declaration of Independence recognizes the true author of our common dignity — one that is beyond every human law and institution. If we forget this source of our fundamental equality, then our fight to recognize it in our society will never be fulfilled.
This is a truth that Dr. King carried with him from Selma to Montgomery, from a pulpit in Atlanta to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, from a cell in Birmingham to the entire world.
This year, we will not remember his slaying as the ending but as a beginning — as a moment when his truth rose stronger than hatred, and his cause larger than death; as a moment when he called to new life with his Creator, before whom all men shall one day stand in equal rank bearing with them no riches but the content of their character.
If we keep this conviction at the center of our every word and action, if we look upon out countrymen as brothers with a shared home and a common destination, then instead of meaningless words rolling off of our tongue, we will truly create one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
And we’re going to have a word from Pastor Isaac Newton Farris, the nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King. (Applause.)
MR. FARRIS: President Trump, Vice President Pence, and to all assembled here: If my uncle were here today, the first thing he would say is, “What are we or what are you doing for others?” And that’s why it was so important that my aunt, Coretta Scott King, returned to the Congress, now about 10 years ago, and asked that the meaning of the holiday be changed.
We did not want the King holiday just to be a day of hero worship. As his nephew, I certainly think that he was one of the greatest Americans that we have produced. But it should not be a day of hero worship. And that’s why the Congress agreed with my aunt, and also made it a day of service so that we, on that day — as a matter of fact, at the King Center, we refer to it as “a day on, not a day off.”
It’s not a day to hang out in the park or pull out the barbeque grill. (Laughter.) It’s a day to do something to help someone else, and that can be as simple as delivering someone’s trash or picking up the newspaper for that elderly person who can’t get to the end of the driveway.
Bottom line: You’re doing something that benefits someone other than yourself. That’s the proper way to remember my uncle and the proper way to celebrate the King holiday.
So, President Trump, thank you for taking the time to acknowledge this day. Thank you for remembering that we’re all Americans and, on this day, we should be united and love for all Americans.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Vice President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: This is a great and important day. Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday 2018, by the President of the United States of America, a proclamation. Congratulations to him and to everybody.
[The proclamation is signed.]
PARTICIPANT: Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)

11:50 A.M. EST

President Trump Signs MLK Day Proclamation President Trump signed a proclamation to honor Martin Luther King Jr. day. The civil rights activist’s nephew and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson also spoke at the ceremony.

Black Protest Has Lost Its Power

By Shelby Steele

San Francisco 49ers protest before playing the Redskins in Washington, Oct. 15. Photo: Getty Images

Have whites finally found the courage to judge African-Americans fairly by universal standards?

The recent protests by black players in the National Football League were rather sad for their fruitlessness. 

They may point to the end of an era for black America, and for the country generally—an era in which protest has been the primary means of black advancement in American life.

There was a forced and unconvincing solemnity on the faces of these players as they refused to stand for the national anthem. 

They seemed more dutiful than passionate, as if they were mimicking the courage of earlier black athletes who had protested: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, fists in the air at the 1968 Olympics; Muhammad Ali, fearlessly raging against the Vietnam War; Jackie Robinson, defiantly running the bases in the face of racist taunts. The NFL protesters seemed to hope for a little ennoblement by association.

And protest has long been an ennobling tradition in black American life. 

From the Montgomery bus boycott to the march on Selma, from lunch-counter sit-ins and Freedom Rides to the 1963 March on Washington, only protest could open the way to freedom and the acknowledgment of full humanity. 

So it was a high calling in black life. It required great sacrifice and entailed great risk. Martin Luther King Jr. , the archetypal black protester, made his sacrifices, ennobled all of America, and was then shot dead.

For the NFL players there was no real sacrifice, no risk and no achievement.

Still, in black America there remains a great reverence for protest. Through protest—especially in the 1950s and ’60s—we, as a people, touched greatness. 

Protest, not immigration, was our way into the American Dream. 

Freedom in this country had always been relative to race, and it was black protest that made freedom an absolute.

[Editor’s Note: See “The Truth About Slavery”]

It is not surprising, then, that these black football players would don the mantle of protest. 

The surprise was that it didn’t work. They had misread the historic moment. They were not speaking truth to power. Rather, they were figures of pathos, mindlessly loyal to a black identity that had run its course.

What they missed is a simple truth that is both obvious and unutterable: The oppression of black people is over with. 

This is politically incorrect news, but it is true nonetheless. 

We blacks are, today, a free people. It is as if freedom sneaked up and caught us by surprise.

Of course this does not mean there is no racism left in American life. Racism is endemic to the human condition, just as stupidity is. We will always have to be on guard against it. But now it is recognized as a scourge, as the crowning immorality of our age and our history.

Protest always tries to make a point. But what happens when that point already has been made—when, in this case, racism has become anathema and freedom has expanded?

What happened was that black America was confronted with a new problem: the shock of freedom. This is what replaced racism as our primary difficulty.

Blacks had survived every form of human debasement with ingenuity, self-reliance, a deep and ironic humor, a capacity for self-reinvention and a heroic fortitude. But we had no experience of wide-open freedom.

Watch out that you get what you ask for, the saying goes. Freedom came to blacks with an overlay of cruelty because it meant we had to look at ourselves without the excuse of oppression. 

Four centuries of dehumanization had left us underdeveloped in many ways, and within the world’s most highly developed society. 

When freedom expanded, we became more accountable for that underdevelopment. 

So freedom put blacks at risk of being judged inferior, the very libel that had always been used against us.

To hear, for example, that more than 4,000 people were shot in Chicago in 2016 embarrasses us because this level of largely black-on-black crime cannot be blamed simply on white racism.

We can say that past oppression left us unprepared for freedom. This is certainly true. But it is no consolation. 

Freedom is just freedom. It is a condition, not an agent of change. It does not develop or uplift those who win it. 

Freedom holds us accountable no matter the disadvantages we inherit from the past. The tragedy in Chicago—rightly or wrongly—reflects on black America.

That’s why, in the face of freedom’s unsparing judgmentalism, we reflexively claim that freedom is a lie. 

We conjure elaborate narratives that give white racism new life in the present: “systemic” and “structural” racism, racist “microaggressions,” “white privilege,” and so on. 

All these narratives insist that blacks are still victims of racism, and that freedom’s accountability is an injustice.

We end up giving victimization the charisma of black authenticity. Suffering, poverty and underdevelopment are the things that make you “truly black.” Success and achievement throw your authenticity into question.

The NFL protests were not really about injustice. Instead such protests are usually genuflections to today’s victim-focused black identity. 

Protest is the action arm of this identity. It is not seeking a new and better world; it merely wants documentation that the old racist world still exists. It wants an excuse.

For any formerly oppressed group, there will be an expectation that the past will somehow be an excuse for difficulties in the present. 

This is the expectation behind the NFL protests and the many protests of groups like Black Lives Matter. 

The near-hysteria around the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and others is also a hunger for the excuse of racial victimization, a determination to keep it alive. 

To a degree, black America’s self-esteem is invested in the illusion that we live under a cloud of continuing injustice.

When you don’t know how to go forward, you never just sit there; you go backward into what you know, into what is familiar and comfortable and, most of all, exonerating. 

You rebuild in your own mind the oppression that is fading from the world. And you feel this abstract, fabricated oppression as if it were your personal truth, the truth around which your character is formed. 

Watching the antics of Black Lives Matter is like watching people literally aspiring to black victimization, longing for it as for a consummation.

But the NFL protests may be a harbinger of change. 

They elicited considerable resentment. There have been counterprotests. TV viewership has gone down. Ticket sales have dropped. 

What is remarkable about this response is that it may foretell a new fearlessness in white America—a new willingness in whites (and blacks outside the victim-focused identity) to say to blacks what they really think and feel, to judge blacks fairly by standards that are universal.

We blacks have lived in a bubble since the 1960s because whites have been deferential for fear of being seen as racist. 

The NFL protests reveal the fundamental obsolescence—for both blacks and whites—of a victim-focused approach to racial inequality. 

It causes whites to retreat into deference and blacks to become nothing more than victims. 

It makes engaging as human beings and as citizens impermissible, a betrayal of the sacred group identity. 

Black victimization is not much with us any more as a reality, but it remains all too powerful as a hegemony.

Mr. Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is author of “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country” (Basic Books, 2015).