Shelby Steele: Zimmerman Verdict Demonstrates How the Civil-Rights Establishment Has Lost Its Juice
July 22, 2013
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RUSH: I know that many people might be tired of the Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman story, and Obama's reprehensible -- I heard about this Friday night. I was at the cocktail party heavy hors d'oeuvres part of the member-guest golf tournament weekend. I had not heard, I was, folks, maybe six hours of sleep a night. I was up at sunup to play golf for 19, 27, 18 holes in the heat. I didn't get to any news of any substance until my flight home yesterday afternoon, except for one thing.
I was told what Obama said in his speech on Friday about, what, 34 years ago he could have been Trayvon or whatever it was. And it was how I was told this and an interesting little conversation took place at that event Friday night. As I say I'll get to that 'cause it sets up nicely with an audio sound bite coming up here in mere moments. I'm not teasing. I'm not gonna wait 'til the third hour for it. It's coming up. I'm trying to maintain some semblance of order here.
Shelby Steele, long one of our favorites here at the EIB Network, he's at the Hoover Institution, Palo Alto out at Stanford, a conservative think tank. He's an African-American, he's conservative, brilliant. A terrific and prophetic writer, he has a piece in the Wall Street Journal: "The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment." And in this piece Dr. Steele posits that black leaders weren't so much outraged at injustice in the verdict as they were by the disregard of their own authority.
Now, last week I offered an opinion of my own in the aftermath of the verdict. If I had to, I'd go back to the archives at the RushLimbaugh.com website and find it for you. In fact, I'm sure after I do this Koko will and highlight it. (Ahem.) By the way, this comment of mine led to an all-day discussion of abject stupidity on MSNBC. What I said was that the left was not really invested in Trayvon Martin.
They didn't really care so much about the verdict in the substantive sense.
What they were worried about was they just didn't get their way. They're a bunch of spoiled brats, and since Obama's election they've gotten their way on everything except guns and a couple of other minor things. But they've got Obamacare. They got Obama elected. They've got gay marriage now heading down the tracks. They're getting everything they want -- and what they don't win democratically, Obama just writes into law by virtue of an executive order or an executive proclamation.
And this came along, and they didn't get it, and they were ticked off that they didn't get it because they get what they want. The thing is, they're never happy when they get what they want. So I basically said that the left threw a temper tantrum over the Zimmerman verdict. Shelby Steele goes way beyond that. He says that what really is happening here is that the Sharptons of the world and the Jacksons of the world were outraged by the fact that nobody cared about 'em anymore.
They didn't intimidate anybody, and there weren't any mass riots the moment after the verdict. Here are a couple of pull quotes: "The Revs. Jackson and Sharpton have been consigned to a hard fate: They can never be more than redundancies, echoes of the great men they emulate because America has changed. Hard to be a King or Mandela today when your monstrous enemy is no more than the cherubic George Zimmerman. Why did the civil-rights leadership use its greatly depleted moral authority to support Trayvon Martin?"
Another pull quote: "One wants to scream at all those outraged at the Zimmerman verdict: Where is your outrage over the collapse of the black family? Today's civil-rights leaders swat at mosquitoes like Zimmerman when they have gorillas on their back. Seventy-three percent of all black children are born without fathers married to their mothers. And you want to bring the nation to a standstill over George Zimmerman?"
Another pull quote: "If there is anything good to be drawn from the Zimmerman/Martin tragedy, it is only the further revelation of the corruption and irrelevance of today's civil-rights leadership," and Shelby Steele is right on the money with all of this. "When you have grown used to American institutions being so intimidated by the prospect of black wrath that they invent mushy ideas like 'diversity' and 'inclusiveness' simply to escape that wrath, then the crisp reading of the law that the Zimmerman jury displayed comes as a shock," and it was a shock, at least to me.
I thought this jury would come back with "guilty," for the exact reasons that Shelby Steele cites here: Fear. Fear of what would happen because of the influence of Sharpton and Jackson, fear of unrest and riots and all that. Even the sheriff's department there thought there would be riots if the jury came back with "not guilty." The interpretation is they weren't scared. They weren't worried. Sharpton and Jackson have lost their mojo, but it's not just that Sharpton and Jackson have lost their mojo.
The country's changed, times have changed, and time has marched beyond them. And they are relics of the past. They remain stuck in their civil rights mentality from the sixties and seventies. Heck, probably farther back than that. Their mentality is that this country's still a slave nation, and they're aided and abetted in that by some hip-hop music and the gangsta rap culture, but the country's moved beyond it. The country's changed in a lot of ways that people haven't seen, or haven't actually noticed.
This is one of them.
"On television in recent weeks you could see black leaders from every background congealing into a chorus of umbrage and complaint. But they weren't so much outraged at a horrible injustice as they were affronted by the disregard of their own authority. The jury effectively said to them, 'You won't call the tune here. We will work within the law.'" Shelby Steele writes, "Today's black leadership pretty much lives off the fumes of moral authority that linger from its glory days in the 1950s and '60s.
"The Zimmerman verdict lets us see this and feel a little embarrassed for them. Consider the pathos of a leadership that once transformed the nation now lusting for the conviction of the contrite and mortified George Zimmerman, as if a stint in prison for him would somehow assure more peace and security for black teenagers everywhere. This, despite the fact that nearly one black teenager a day is shot dead on the South Side of Chicago -- to name only one city -- by another black teenager."
So the facts of life, the reality of life is undercutting the favored and presumed mind-set of the civil rights leadership. That mind-set still says that the biggest problem black people face in America is white people. Times have changed. This verdict... He's got a great point about "cherubic Zimmerman." I mean, it was always gonna be a difficult thing to work up a lot of angst and fear over somebody that looks like the Pillsbury doughboy.
They've got a point.
RUSH: Now, a couple passages here from Shelby Steele, "The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment -- The Revs. Jackson and Sharpton have been consigned to a hard fate: They can never be more than redundancies, echoes of the great men they emulate because America has changed. Hard to be a King or Mandela today when your monstrous enemy is no more than the cherubic George Zimmerman.
"Why did the civil-rights leadership use its greatly depleted moral authority to support Trayvon Martin? This young man was, after all, no Rosa Parks -- a figure of indisputable human dignity set upon by the rank evil of white supremacy. Trayvon threw the first punch and then continued pummeling the much smaller Zimmerman. Yes, Trayvon was a kid, but he was also something of a menace. The larger tragedy is that his death will come to very little. There was no important principle or coherent protest implied in that first nose-breaking punch. It was just dumb bravado, a tough-guy punch.
"The civil-rights leadership rallied to Trayvon's cause (and not to the cause of those hundreds of black kids slain in America's inner cities this very year) to keep alive a certain cultural 'truth' that is the sole source of the leadership's dwindling power. Put bluntly, this leadership rather easily tolerates black kids killing other black kids. But it cannot abide a white person (and Mr. Zimmerman, with his Hispanic background, was pushed into a white identity by the media over his objections) getting away with killing a black person without undermining the leadership's very reason for being.
"The purpose of today's civil-rights establishment is not to seek justice, but to seek power for blacks in American life based on the presumption that they are still, in a thousand subtle ways, victimized by white racism. This idea of victimization is an example of what I call a 'poetic truth.' Like poetic license, it bends the actual truth in order to put forward a larger and more essential truth -- one that, of course, serves one's cause," but that has no real basis in truth.
"Poetic truths succeed by casting themselves as perfectly obvious: 'America is a racist nation'; 'the immigration debate is driven by racism'; 'Zimmerman racially stereotyped Trayvon.' And we say, 'Yes, of course,' lest we seem to be racist. Poetic truths work by moral intimidation, not reason." Exactly right.