Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
The 2015 National Book Award winner wrote that the police officers and firefighters who dashed in to save people in the World Trade Center on 9/11 were “menaces of nature” and “not human to me”.
After the National Book Foundation disgraced itself with its award to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s bizarre racist tract, Between the World and Me, in which white people, even if they’re saving lives after a terrorist attack, are not human, it decided to go one worse with its 2016 winner who insists that a post-racial society is a racist idea.
That’s Ibram X. Kendi, an assistant professor of African American History at the University of Florida, who won for Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Like Coates, Kendi appears to come from a black nationalist family and Stamped is another black nationalist tract.
Stamped from the Beginning claims to narrate "the entire history of racist ideas, from their origins in fifteenth-century Europe". Apparently racist ideas had not existed for all of human history until the Europeans invented them around the same time as the printing press and the muzzle-loaded rifle.
The book is based around villains and heroes. The villains include Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson and William Lloyd Garrison of the Liberator, and the heroine is Angela Davis, a Communist terrorist. But that is only to be expected from a black nationalist revisionist history in which an abolitionist founder of the Anti-Slavery Society is a villain and the defender of the greatest slave system in history is a heroine.
Kendi’s heroine was the advocate for a totalitarian Communist empire which used actual slave labor. His villain was a man who was dragged through the streets of Boston while fighting to free slaves.
But black nationalists, like most leftists, don’t object to slavery. They object to America.
Like the rest of the toxic sewage of black nationalism washing into the culture through movie theaters and publishing houses, it’s a mass of tribal chauvinism with the traditional pageantry of victimhood. If Coates’ rant could be summed up as, “Everything wrong in my life is the fault of white people”, Kendi’s screed can be reduced to, “Everything wrong with the black community is the fault of white people”.
This isn’t civil rights. It’s xenophobia.
Black nationalists don’t want to heal our nation’s wounds. Instead they seek excuses for separatism. This chauvinistic exercise is obvious in Kendi’s book which is obsessed with “assimilationists”.
The “assimilationists” invented racism. They are criminals who seed racist ideas through society, who drive black people mad as part of a conspiracy to deny the pervasive reality of racism.
Ibram X. Kendi appears to hate “assimilationists” far more than “segregationists”. The segregationists are overtly racist, while the devious “assimilationists” may fight for civil rights and equality, but they will occasionally argue that the black community might need to change in certain ways. And that would suggest that black people are less than innately perfect because there is something wrong with them.
Assimilationists believe that racial disparities are caused by racial discrimination, but perhaps also to some degree, the behavior of some in the black community. And that is an utterly unacceptable view.
Assimilationists also believe in a post-racial society. Kendi describes the "post racial society" envisioned by some after Obama's takeover as a “racist idea.” Why is a post racial society, racist? Because if you believe that all people are equal, then they are also responsible for their own actions and conditions. And that’s just the sort of thing that convinces people of all races that racial disparities are due to the individual behavior. In Kendi’s world, anything that smacks of responsibility is racist.
Anything that distracts from the accusation of racism is racist because it holds black people responsible.
To contend, as some social critics in and out of the black community have done, that the black community could learn from other groups is, Kendi accuses, “black behavioral inferiority”. There is nothing wrong in the black community except racial discrimination. That alone explains everything.
“Assimilationists”, black, white or green, who want black people to change, are racists.
"To say something is wrong with a group is to say something is inferior about that group," Ibram X. Kendi writes. And so nothing can possibly be wrong with a group.
“I define anti-Black racist ideas-- the subject of this book-- as any idea suggesting that Black people, or any group of Black people, are inferior in any way to another racial group.”
This is not an anti-racist idea. Rather it’s a nationalist one. And the newest generation of black nationalists, whether it’s Coates or Kendi, deliberately conflate anti-racism and black nationalism even though the two are almost always opposites. Kendi exploits the language of civil rights to denounce a post-racial society as a racist conspiracy, a classic xenophobic nationalist position, much as Coates uses it to vent hatred at white people.
Behind the language of civil rights are racism and chauvinism. Kendi’s definition of anti-racism is to indict white people solely for the problems of his people by abusing the language of equality.
"When you truly believe that the racial groups are equal, then you also believe that racial disparities are the result of racial discrimination,” he writes.
Kendi is asking his readers to choose between a logical impossibility and political correctness. He equates genetic equality with behavioral equality. Believing that some people behave badly is as unacceptable as believing that they are genetically inferior. But if the bad behavior of one group can only be the fault of an outside group, then someone must be “behaviorally inferior”.
If there are higher rates of drug use, single motherhood or domestic violence in the black community, their only conceivable source can be racial discrimination. But does that mean that unfavorable racial disparities among the white majority are also the result of racial discrimination? Can favorable racial disparities for Asians, in America and around the world, also be attributed to racial discrimination?
And if the problems in the black community are really the result of the “behavioral inferiority” of white people, then white people must be inferior. Either that or they’re the victims of someone else’s “behavioral inferiority” and so we’re reduced to looking for another group to blame it all on.
Ibram X. Kendi doesn’t bother to follow his argument that far around the block. But bigots only follow their logic as far as validating their conviction that their people are good and that the “Other” is bad and responsible for all their troubles and ills. It doesn’t occur to Kendi that his dissection of white rationalizations for racism could just as easily be applied to his own movement and work.
But Stamped from the Beginning is tangled in the insane logic of black nationalism which builds racial pride out of racial victimhood. Kendi insists on a total lack of black responsibility. Such utter helplessness comes with a degree of saintly innocence that one is apparently expected to take pride in.
Even black people who believe that there is anything wrong with the black community are guilty of holding racist ideas. Indeed the only thing wrong with black people, according to the National Book Award winner, is that they might think that there’s anything wrong with them.
That includes Ibram X. Kendi, who once thought that black people might be less than perfect, and was guilty of racism according to his definition in which a racist is someone who believes that black people are less than perfect. Or as he puts it, "Fooled by certain racist ideas, I did not fully realize that the only thing wrong with Black people is that we think something is wrong with Black people."
Yes, it’s true. Ibram X. Kendi was once a racist. Now he’s an X racist.
Sadly though Kendi doesn't seem to have completely escaped the trap of racism since believing that black people are flawed in that they think something is wrong with them... is yet another racist belief. The only proper anti-racist position is to insist that any black people who think that there is anything wrong with black people are really white people in disguise.
The National Book Award, once a prestigious prize that was handed out to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, The Right Stuff and The Uses of Enchantment, has become a toilet filled with black nationalist tracts that once upon a time even the Village Voice would have brushed off an editor’s desk.
An award that once went to a book chronicling the fall of a movement that insisted that Germany was responsible for nothing and owed everything, has now gone to a revisionist pseudohistory that embodies the same twisted thinking.
"My open mind was liberated in writing this story. I am hoping that other open minds can be liberated in writing this story,” Kendi declares. “With this work I do not address myself to strangers, but to those adherents of the movement who belong to it with their hearts and whose reason now seeks a more intimate enlightenment,” Adolf Hitler concluded his introduction to Mein Kampf.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.