Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Recently, Charles Blow, a New York Times commentator, tried to promote his memoir, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones”, by racializing his son’s detention at Yale. "I have no patience for people trying to convince me that the fear these young black men feel isn’t real," Blow ranted.
The publicity stunt fell apart when it was revealed that the officer who stopped his son was also black.
Now it’s Ta-Nehisi Coates’s turn to audition for America’s Next Top Victim with his latest memoir, “Between the World and Me”.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is younger than Blow, and this is his second memoir, which some might say is two memoirs too many for a man who hasn’t done anything except blog angrily about racism and Spider-Man and has yet to turn forty, but Coates is a professional victim where Blow is only an amateur.
Coates, the son of a Black Panther, has the gift of beginning with any random premise and concluding with his own racial victimhood. Coates blamed “Segregation” for his difficulty learning French. He accused the New Republic of “neo-Dixiecratism” and claimed that he “could never work at TNR”. When a cab in Amsterdam failed to pick him up, it was somehow Paul Ryan’s fault.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is the literary version of Kanye West; an absurdly privileged second-generation radical stuck on self-pity, touring European capitals while whining about racism, responding to white liberal adulation with fresh reserves of victimhood.
Like Obama, Coates loves appropriating the poetry of earlier generations of black writers and preachers, but it’s a cheap hipster put-on. When the Washington Post claims that, “With Atlantic article on reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates sees payoff for years of struggle”, you can’t help but ask, what struggle?
Coates is the beneficiary of big liberal media privileges. He turned down a New York Times column while getting paid to blog about his thoughts on Spider-Man for The Atlantic. His only struggle is deciding which frustration with a taxi, waiter or butler to turn into a column about racism this week.
If reparations were an issue, Ta-Nehisi Coates is living on them. He was a visiting professor at MIT despite not having a degree in anything. He’s a success story whose topic is his own oppression.
His publishers and sycophants desperately want you to think that he’s James Baldwin. Coates is James Baldwin the way the hipster tunelessly croaking into a microphone while wearing a Jim Morrison t-shirt is Jim Morrison. (Cornel West rightly accused Coates of “immature imitation”.)
Ta-Nehisi Coates is the Peter Principle come to life. A college dropout still trying to catch up on his reading, he can only talk about racism because it’s the one subject for which he can claim immunity from the facts, not based on the truth, but based on an assumed moral authority of victimhood.
“Between the World and Me” takes his self-righteous bloviating about “black bodies” constantly being victimized by the police, capitalism and people who criticize his writing, and turns it into a book. It’s a “letter to his son” (but available to everyone for only 24 bucks) about an America where black people are still victimized by the slavery and segregation of a white supremacy that has never gone away.
White supremacy is Coates’ religion. It causes all things and explains all things as Ta-Nehisi Coates attempts to peddle the shopworn Afrocentric ideas he grew up with to a modern audience. White people represent the omnipotent evil that Ta-Nehisi Coates needs in order to pretend to be an oppressed man engaged in a struggle while marketing that same struggle to the evil white people.
Any interaction between Coates and a white person becomes invested with racial tension. A white woman pushes his son on an elevator and to Coates; it’s a case of her invoking her “right over the body of my son.” “Between the World and Me” is a fountain of such pseudo-Marxist legalisms in which “black bodies” are the engines of commerce and culture on which a vast evil white conspiracy squats.
If it weren’t for the self-pity and the fake black preacher rhythm, you could easily imagine that Ta-Nehisi Coates just picked up some of Goebbels’ greatest hits and swapped out Aryan for Black.
The world of “Between the World and Me” is a cramped place in which white people are forever spindling, exploiting and mutilating black bodies whether it’s through slavery or elevator pushing. White people have oppressed Ta-Nehisi Coates in every literal and metaphorical sense possible, before moving on to oppressing his son and his descendants after him until the sun finally explodes and the earth dies.
White evil is a remorseless historical force that has taken everything from black people while giving them nothing except visiting professorships at MIT.
“Between the World and Me” is bad poetry. It’s a racist screed that masks its hatred in self-pity. Its strained attempts at lyricism are meant to cloud and confuse the underlying toxic ideas. Coates insists on his vulnerability to spew hatred as he writes that the police officers and firefighters who died on September 11 “were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates is always on the verge of being shot by a police officer. Any police officer. When he isn’t sipping lattes at Starbucks while churning out new memoirs about his oppression, he is always one second away from having his “black body” shattered by a random passing police officer or firefighter.
This pretense of vulnerability is just bigotry. If a white person had written a memoir in which even minor encounters with black people instilled in him a sense of panic and hatred, the same critics praising Coates would be calling him out as a racist. But it’s a testimony to Coates’ black privilege that the same paranoid racist screed turned inside out is instead described as “passionate” and “moving”.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ America is a racist terrible place that could not exist without white supremacy and which rewarded a college dropout with journalistic gigs at top publications. In America, Coates writes, “it is traditional to destroy the black body” with fawning reviews from New York Magazine and the New York Times. The more the media panders to Ta-Nehisi Coates, the more he claims to be the victim.
“White America is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies,” Coates insists, in language that is racially conspiratorial and yet absurd. This particular “black body” has been meritlessly elevated to preach the evils of ‘White America’ by the ‘syndicate’.
The evil White American syndicate, which occasionally takes a break from lacrosse and imperialism to randomly shoot black people, seems to be very confused.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ career discredits his racist conspiracies even as it profits from them. If his racist world were real, his writing career would not exist. But what it reveals is a more complicated racist conspiracy in which liberals use black radicals as weapons. When Coates charged the New Republic with “neo-Dixiecratism”, he was accusing one group of Washington D.C. liberals of “Jim Crow” level racism on behalf of their rival Washington D.C. liberals who pay his salary.
Obama was a weapon that white leftists used against centrist liberals. Black radicals have been courted and used in the same way by everyone from the Communist Party to Imperial Japan. Coates’ paycheck is ultimately funded by Washington D.C. insiders. His latest screed about slavery is put out by a company that used Jewish slave labor during the Holocaust to print its books. The hypocrisy is subtle and endless.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a joke, but the question what is behind the joke. What lies behind Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter and the Racist-Incident-of-the-Week? Who profits from the divisiveness?
There is no syndicate of “White America”, but there is a syndicate of government. Whether it’s paranoia over local policing or demands for reparations, the solution to the latest crisis is more big government.
There is a reason why a college dropout like Ta-Nehisi Coates is deemed a respected intellectual by a white liberal elite while scholars like Clarence Thomas or Thomas Sowell are mocked and belittled. The same lefties cheering on Coates’ latest screed were lynching the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley for his book, “Please Stop Helping Us”. The real theme of “Between the World and Me” is “Help us more”.
You owe us for slavery. Now enslave us all over again.
Unfortunately for most black people, slavery on the liberal plantation isn’t a visiting professorship at MIT, a book deal at Random House and gigs with The Atlantic and the New York Times.
That gold standard of slavery is reserved for those who trick other black people into their chains.