43 Comments
Aug 29, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

When you dig your trench, you call me with the coordinates.

I already stand on the same hill.

All of human history is tribal, hierarchical, and conflict. All of it.

In the midst of that unstoppable tide a bunch of farmers, lawyers, and smugglers put down on paper that ALL MEN ARE BORN FREE... and the only reason for the existence of any State was to protect the rights of the individual.

Whoo Hoo they had some good stuff back then.

They defeated an empire. And over time they freed slaves. And a century later they legislated away the last laws contradicting that ALL MEN ARE FREE...

We've stumbled. History unwinds behind us, and consequences lie before us.

I'm an American. With all the baggage, blessings, and burdens that come with the gift.

Luckiest man alive.

Good luck.

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Aug 29, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

I was directed here from Instapundit and was impressed enough to subscribe. Your logic makes sense to me. Echoing another commenter...I once spent several months in the desert taking fire, protecting & being protected by genuine brothers of every race who knew that only two colors matter...Army green & the identical red that we all leak. I wish the rest of the country could have the earned perspective of truly not giving a damn about melanin b/c there are so many more important issues facing us. Maybe more of us would then have the moral fortitude to stand up to the race hustlers & charlatans who seek to feast on the misery they sow.

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Aug 30, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

What is being called "anti-racism" I prefer to call by a more accurate name: "counter-racism".

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Aug 29, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

Typically wonderful piece, Michael. What has disturbed me most about the "BLM movement", even among well meaning people, is that it accepts and endorses the foundation belief of the most virulent racists, specifically that race is the most important factor in valuing a person, even an entire group of people. Indeed, that movement seems to insist on it. A debate over the relative merits of various races is nothing new, it's as old as human culture. In the present obsession over race matters we have elevated "race" to a level of importance it doesn't deserve.

A better approach, as I believe you are suggesting, is to take race out of the conversation. When people are killed, injured or mistreated in someway, it is their humanilty that makes this a serious issue, not their race. Its a concern for all of us... remember what John Dunne said? "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." All this race talk does is clud the issue.

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Aug 30, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

Michael, what a wonderful piece. My parents came from India to the SF Bay Area in the 1960s, and I was born in San Francisco. I grew up among many other "Indo-Americans", and happily participated in community events, but I never took any special pride in being of Indian descent. I looked at myself and others as individuals (I'd claim to be a "Stoic" but I'm not so disciplined yet).

In any event, I wanted you to know that an "Indo-American" from the Bay Area saw a little bit of himself in your writing. Thank you.

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Aug 30, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

What a useful commentary and an interesting video from 2008. Many wouldn't want to share from that far back to see their thoughts forming about what is now “An Issue.” I like the thought model of two groups having been in a “truce.” I remember thinking in 2008 that government had done pretty much what it could do — programs, opportunities, a system of laws — and that over time the inertia of progress, socially and economically, had produced genuine improvement and would continue to do so. And then we had a President that was black. I opposed him politically but I felt his victory galvanized the... truce? And maybe took us beyond a truce?

Much more to think about. There is always this drumbeat call for a “conversation” and a “dialogue.” But everyone knows those aren’t actually calls for either. They are calls to chant what almost sound like tired prayers. A group of white youngsters starting to chant “black LIVES MAT er” in a dirge-like tone at 1 AM in Portland next to a burning dumpster while 12 other white youngsters hold up their cell phones to record the moment. Making sure the right people among the group have vests that say “security” or “medic” or “press.” Parsing the effects of a tear gas grenade — did it bounce off a medic or a woman with a t-shirt that says “mom?”

I live in the South now. I was born in the West and lived in many Western states until moving to Atlanta in my thirties. I will always take the disjointed parts of the “conversations” that happen here all the time between blacks and whites in preference to the smug-to-dangerous nonsense I see on the news from the rest of our great nation.

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Aug 30, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

This is powerful. One question that nags me is the continued issues we have with confrontations between ordinary law abiding people and police. Will abandoning race do anything to solve that problem?

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Aug 30, 2020Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

Thank you, Michael. I, too, was referred here by Professor Reynolds and have chosen to subscribe.

"Benign neglect" was the phrase Senator Moynihan used in his 1970 memo to President Nixon. (The not-yet senator was serving as an advisor to the president.) That document was the first thing I sent to my older children when the riots started this summer.

"The subject (of race)," he wrote, "has been too much talked about. The forum has been too much taken over to hysterics, paranoids, and boodlers on all sides."

Moynihan thought that the progress that had been made would likely continue as the rhetoric faded. He advised the administration to set an example and "avoid situations in which extremists of either race are given opportunities for martyrdom, heroics, histrionics or whatever."

Fifty years later this still seems like sound advice. I want nothing to do with boodlers.

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For awhile, I've pondered the fundamental illogic inherent in the belief that certain "identities" are socially constructed, whilst others are innate.

Thank-you; it's good to know I'm not alone.

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> The faster you travel, the more your racial getup slows you down.

Bullseye. This statement by itself is the nut of the entire debate and I don't think I've seen the point made this plainly to date. We tend to look at the extremes in the US--who is the richest and who is the poorest. But the success of Asians in the US has been one of steady progress. Heads down, helping mom and dad run the store, getting a law degree, and engineering degree, a medical degree. Lather, rinse, repeat for 2-3 generations. And suddenly they are the wealthiest demographic in the US. They put the focus on the individual and the family. Not the collective.

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So, basically you're saying you want to focus on being yourself as opposed to being a stereotype? If so, I'm on board.

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"...I’m proud of her, but I don’t believe Jesus found her house keys."

Might work this way. A small prayer (Help me Jesus) may well operate in the mind as a mantra to quiet her anxiety about losing her keys. Quiet it enough so the stylus of her hard drive can seek the information more cleanly and present her with the memory she already had but could not summon through her anxiety. Prayer ---> calm ---> clarity ---> seek/find ---> Thank you Jesus. It is simplicity itself old friend.

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Here from Instapundit. I'm not very religious but, all I could think of after reading this is something my mama would say when she agreed strongly, "AMEN". I'm in the deep South, South Carolina. In the county I live in there are more black than white people but, everyone knows everyone. I see all the BLM and other groups on TV but, I dont think it reflects America as a whole. I was in food lion yesterday and everybody was friendly with everyone. We have always gotten along because we dont see each other as black or white but, as neighbors. My neighbors would come running to help me if I needed something, like I would them. It feels like we are 1000 miles away from racial problems and we like it like that.

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I grieve for the loss of that equilibrium and long for its return. Because I think it was much preferable to what the country seems to be headed for now. I resent the social distance that race can impose between myself and people with whom I am friends. That I have to self censor some opinions in order to avoid making some black friends have to display their group conformity. (Not that I don't understand the power of such pressure). Yet I remain grateful that here in east Texas, I remain relatively insulated from the worst of race conflict. At least for the moment.

But the simple fact that I can not escape is that the lion's share of the blame for our current state in terms of race, and for the destruction of that equilibrium and the opportunity for further progress that equilibrium offered, lies firmly with white progressives. And the incentives for them are very powerful. There is the dopamine hit that accompanies the sense of self righteousness. There is the political benefit to making a large portion of blacks captive to the democrat party. So I feel impotent, beyond personally treating everyone the same regardless of their race and praying, to do any thing.

God bless you.

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I feel you

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You're correct.

The challenge is that you may not be interested in race. But race is interested in you. It's kind of like war that way. And when the "upgrades" push to war, as these do, your lack of attachment to the categories won't mean that much to those who are attached.

The key to it all is this: In the end, race/ ethnicity/ belonging are always games that we DO NOT get to define for ourselves under stress. Others tell us if we're included. We can't tell them.

The inversion of this fundamental truth is part of the current cultural psychosis, and the resulting atomization is intentional.

One out is, as you say, the American one. A Civic Nationalism where lack of ethnic attachment defines a subgroup that has the will and means to protect itself. Once upon a time, it did. Now it doesn't.

Once the avalanche has started, the pebbles no longer get a vote.

As a Stoic, you may choose not to care. This is your duty, you will do it. This is the truth as you know it, and you will follow it. Consequences are for others to worry about, things beyond your control and hence outside your Circle of Concern. Even so, how you do your duties, where, and to what larger ends all remain very much within your control.

You may also choose to re-examine the premises of this civic nationalism, and ask if this is an enduring truth. Or was it a shared fantasy that was mostly confined to a few specific groups, and openly repudiated by all others? Something many groups have done in many places? Or something that requires very specific cultural firmware, history, and possibly even macro-scale biology (vid. Hanjal Line) to practice successfully at a group level?

Food for thought. Meanwhile, the good news is that if you make yourself useful enough to others, your options expand. Others are much more inclined to define you in. You have prepared yourself this way. Now all you need to do is choose your locality for belonging very wisely.

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