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Home Looking for Racism in America

Looking for Racism in America

If you live in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles, you know that it's only a matter of time until an incident between a law enforcement officer, or more rarely a civilian defending himself, and a member of a minority group flares up into citywide grievance theater complete with angry reverends on the steps of City Hall, women with stony faces holding up banners calling for justice and a media driven debate about police tactics and racism.

This sort of thing happens with depressing regularity in cities where even the most liberal residents have to choose between police overreach and being murdered. It never leads to meaningful debate or a resolution, instead it peters out with the best actors in the grievance theater picking up money and influence, the media selling a few more papers or ads for allergy relief on the drive time news and everything going back to the way it was.

The grievance theater is never really about the specific case, the specific shooting, it's about the links between the social problems of the black community, the compromises of civil liberties necessary to keep entire cities from turning into Detroit and the inability of the media to address the sources of crime as anything but the phantoms of white racism. It's about a black leadership that is more interested in posturing as angry activists and shaking loose some money than in healing the problems of their own communities.

Grievance theater has been going national. It's no longer just extraordinary cases like Bernie Goetz's Death Wish moment on the number 2 train that briefly catch hold of the national conversation. The obsessive coverage of the so-called Jena 6 case, an incident of so little internal meaning, signaled that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would no longer just be able to drive a local controversy, they now had the freedom to drive national controversies any time they wanted to.

Trayvon Martin was their big moment with grievance theater being used as part of a presidential campaign on a national level.

The fortunes of too many black politicians have been tied to white guilt and black rage. The worst sort of black politician channels black rage to score points with black supporters while playing on the guilt of white voters promising to heal the social conditions that bring out that rage and protect them from its ravages. But never before has that game been played out of the White House.

The current occupant of the White House is a veteran of the corrupt urban political machine where there are only two games in town and when the money runs out, this is the one you play. The money is running out and accordingly we have been treated to an episode of grievance theater, with the man in the White House playing the familiar Sharptonesque role of healer and inciter.

What does it say about America that what was once a form of political theater rising out of the grimy urban blocks of failed cities is now a national art form? A local dysfunction has become a national dysfunction, not because every city has become New York and Chicago, but because the people at the center of power know urban politics, community organizing and racial consciousness theories and little else. Like some Third World communist backwater, we are being governed by men and women with no understanding of anything practical, but a thorough grounding in Marxism-Leninism.

Our national government has begun to look like our urban governments. America is starting to look like Chicago and Detroit.

Detroit is dangling at the edge of bankruptcy. Chicago nearly went bankrupt in 1930. New York nearly went bankrupt in 1975. States have bailed out cities and the federal government has bailed out states. When there isn't enough money to keep the dysfunctional political machine built on corruption and subsidies going, there's always some larger entity to foot the bill.

The problem with this current government is that it's operating at the federal level and there is no longer any larger entity to foot the bill. All the shopworn radicalism, the cries about making the rich pay their fair share, are old hat. The rich and the upper middle-class can pay more, but there's no amount of money that will cover a government that spends money as if there is no tomorrow.

That is the lesson that has yet to be learned from the cities whose dysfunctional politics have been transplanted to the national government. Along with the politics has come the grievance mob, the outrage machine, the outpourings of self-righteousness, the class warfare fought by corrupt pols and the rest of the bread and circuses show that has blighted the American city.

Grievance theater isn't about race, it's not about slavery, police brutality or separate lunch counters, it's about power and money. Black politicians are not fundamentally different from white ones. They have more in common with their white colleagues than they do with their own communities. The only difference is that they are playing with the race cards they have been dealt.

The ghetto didn't evolve naturally, it was created through a web of national and local government regulations that played with real estate, social welfare, voting districts and the manufacturing sector to achieve the desired results. We don't have to have ghettos, we have them because at one point they were convenient for a number of political interests and because they were the unintended side-effect of a number of government policies. 

The ghetto farms black communities for votes and more importantly for subsidies. For every dollar that is taken to help minorities, a penny goes to the problem and ninety-nine cents goes to the hucksters, the administrators, the bureaucrats, the wives of influential pols hired on massive salaries to oversee some aspect of the program, the experts who monitor compliance, the affirmative action contractors who charge four times as much to build a school or provide meals, the unions who have the exclusive right to service the program, the slumlords who administer affordable housing and finally the politicians who have the money kicked back to them by all of the above.

When you look closely at where the school property tax money goes, why health care is so expensive and why so much money has to be spent on housing, a big chunk of it goes here. It's the hole in our budget ozone layer and it can never be filled, because it is designed never to be filled. For a sizable number of influential people, both black and white, the black community's social problems are a cash cow. The grievance theater is their way of collecting protection money and making sure that no one pays too much attention to what's really wrong.

The problem isn't limited to the black community. The same phenomenon crosses over different minority communities and some white ones as well, but the race card is still the best card in the deck. It carries too many emotional triggers, too much guilt and too much hope not to use it over and over again. The moral power of the civil rights movement still isn't exhausted as long as hopeful white people smile at the sight of a black man in the White House as if his political power testified to their innocence.

But the power can only be retained through constant indoctrination in the rituals of guilt, through repetitions of the grievance theater which reminds us that national bankruptcy is a small price to pay for peace and that we are a better people and a better nation when we vote for Obama against our own economic interests. Grievance theater takes many forms, but its elemental form is the street production that the Trayvon Martin case has brought us.

The local productions of grievance theater have gone national and we are all compelled to watch them play out. The country has been turned into unwilling participants in a national drama that places a distorted idea of race at the center of our identity for the benefit of the same hucksters and politicians who have destroyed the city and are hard at work destroying the country.


  1. You've nailed it! My parents and I came here--a long time ago--as immigrants from a failed polity in Latin America. Now, the same social, cultural, and economic attitudes that has made for failed polities throughout the Third World seem to have become rooted here. God save us all!

  2. Anonymous14/7/13

    Grievance Theater, excellent column, hit the nail right on the head.

  3. Anonymous14/7/13

    I don't know where we go with this because reason is not part of the discussion. It's just an agenda being played out with our lives.

    I think that a new part of the narrative of the left is southern racism. Not that that is a new concept, but just as Obama made people believe we are still in the civil rights era with no progress having been made, they are starting to go after people in the south. I tild my husband 6 months ago to pay attention. The south has been targeted and it is going to be the new topic, another southern white racist incident. Enter Paula Deen.

  4. Anonymous14/7/13

    Every sentence of this fine article seems to be quite justified and understandable even to me, a faraway Russian, but I wonder if it is as understandable to the majority of your voters. The same kind of the weird experiment was successfully done in my country by the Marxist elites, thanks to their century-sharpened instrument of fear. It seems, however, that the present-day American elites prefer to use much more "human" instrument of social welfare – and with much greater efficiency and speed, at that! The GULAG tool has demanded many hard-working decades to reach its aim of general public apathy, while foodstamps and subsidies did the same job during just a few Obama-led years… Rostislav, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

  5. To Anonymous,
    I think that you are correct. I was raised in Brooklyn NY, and moved to Georgia 20 years ago when I was 38. So glad I did. That is when I became a conservative.
    This administration knows just how to tear the country apart. That apparently is the goal. As Glenn Beck says "bottom up-top down." Create such a level of unhappiness and sorrow at the bottom level, (such as the effect the immigration bill will have on young black work force putting them at the bottom...as if it could get any worse) and you have civil unrest and we will look to a leader to stop it..anybody. We are in so much trouble.

  6. Anonymous14/7/13

    Bravo! Outstanding, spot-on article that thoroughly outlines the corruption overtaking our country, from top to bottom and bottom to top.

    I'll be saving this one for future reference.

    Thank you, Mr. Greenfield.

  7. History has proven that when you push white people too far, they will wipe you out. It's a fact no one can deny. The media is a major cause of all this racial tension. They keep at it and never stop. I really now believe the black people are being set up for extermination by the those in power. This latest trial for example; an Hispanic man suddenly becomes white, and the court did everything they could to steer the jury toward a guilty verdict but it didn't happen. Why wasn't he called an Hispanic? Because it's easier when the media plays on white oppressors.

  8. Anonymous14/7/13

    Great analysis; brilliantly stated. Too bad that most black people (and too few whites for that matter) fail to understand the operative equation of the likes of the loathsome Al Sharpton and his ilk; i.e., the need to keep poor urban blacks on the grievance plantation while constantly harnessing, for personal power and gain, the dividends of white guilt.

  9. Anonymous14/7/13

    To Marlene,
    I remember Glenn Beck explaining "bottom up-top down" when he was on FNC, and thinking, I wonder what the events will look like. Now we know.

    I never forgot him explaining this.
    - BarbaCat

  10. DenisO14/7/13

    You have to wonder what more this effort to divide the races can accomplish for the Left. The Blacks support them at about 90%, already. It is too simple to say they just want to tear down America, the goose that lays their golden eggs. How can they get more, or is it pure unthinking hate? Perhaps David can figure it out; I can't see it as anything more than cutting off the nose to spite the face. Returning race feelings to post Civil War days certainly makes no sense, but sadly, neither does most of the Left's agenda. The creature they manipulate can turn and eat them, and that seems most likely.

  11. As usual, great work. The question remains, how do we reverse it? I think the only way it can be reversed is if we have a complete and total crash economically. So that the entitlement peddlers and takers finally understand that the money to fund their politics and lives isn't from space or some magically money fairy.
    It comes from Obama and the Democrats personal slush fund provided by the American tax payer. And also their bank roller these days, China and a few middle eastern entities.
    And eventually that will all dry up.

  12. Anonymous14/7/13

    Daniel, You are a clear thinker and always right on.You have 2 million visitors. It should be 2 billion. We need you on a national stage.
    Steve Brennan

  13. Steve Brennan is right. Love this article and the way you shoot straight, David. However I fear... This kind of straight forward non-BS would attract these very people, who would want to silence him by fabricating things to discredit him...or worse. This is an article worthy of National Attention!

  14. Anonymous14/7/13

    I think George Zimmerman might be wise to leave the country for awhile.

  15. Excellent commentary except for one vital notation - where we are in the end of the Age.

    Jesus - "nation shall rise against nation .." Nation, Greek; ethnos.

    Ethnicity. If I need to draw you a map, you'e not going to get it.

  16. Anonymous14/7/13

    “The country has been turned into unwilling participants in a national drama that places a distorted idea of race at the center of our identity…”

    I agree with everything but this. If most of the country was really made up of unwilling participants, we wouldn’t have this bad theater. There would not be an audience. Because the reviewers – the media and all watchdogs of decency – would have an incentive to critique it honestly. But because challenging conventional wisdom on racial conflicts carries much more risk than reward - because of the PC sensibilities of voters/viewers - every cheap race baiting drama is considered pitch perfect.

    To put it another way, the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il once kidnapped a South Korean director and forced him to film the dictator’s awful idea for a Godzilla movie. American media outlets and scholars have about as much incentive to pan a performance of Racial Grievance Theater as North Korean critics would panning the dictator’s masterpiece, “Pulgasari.”

    -- CJ

  17. "It's about a black leadership that is more interested in posturing as angry activists and shaking loose some money than in healing the problems of their own communities."

    There is definitely anger in the black communities, especially in the inner cities, and in my view, it is entirely justified.

    The problem is - What is the proper focus of that anger?

    For more than 50 years, Detroit has been ruled by the Democrats, who have wrecked the city and left it bankrupt.

    If I hade grown up there, I would be angry also.

    But black anger should be focused on the Left wing, who has sold them out for political power in a never ending series of corrupt city administrations.

    Socialism and the welfare state have left inner citizens with no jobs and no prospects, other than demanding that more government money be poured down the open sewer that is federal, state, and local spending.

    The anger is legitimate. The target is all wrong.

  18. Common 'Tater15/7/13

    Another great analysis and description of the current race-baiting. I have tried to explain to people that the reason our "war on poverty" failed is that there is money in poverty. We have complete sets of federal, state, and local politicians, bureaucrats, businesses, consultants, experts, and "journalists" whose livelihoods depend upon there being MORE poverty and conflict rather than solving them.

    To Marlene: This is how the Marxists work. If they go to a country with oodles of unemployed, underemployed, uneducated, and unhappy people, they are in heaven, as it does not take much to promise a better life and stir up the mobs. However, in a country that has prosperous, educated, and content people, they must manufacture the discontent. In some countries they resorted to antigovernment terror that resulted in police states, which the public finally got sick of and tried the Marxists (did not make life any better). Here, they are using a multi-point attack on us: race baiting, never-ending government spending on fruitless programs, marginalizing and ridiculing those values that promote a stable and prosperous society, and pushing for legislation that expands government at the expense of real liberty. Ultimately, the hope is that when things spiral out of control (civil unrest, antigovernment protests, financial collapse) the Marxists will be there to show the way! Never mind that every place they tried their magic has ended up as a failed state.

  19. Excellent analysis. The term "grievance theater" ought to enter the common parlance. It is the perfect descriptor of the phenomenon.

  20. roger in florida15/7/13

    @Doug Mayfield:
    "There is definitely anger in the black communities, especially in the inner cities, and in my view, it is entirely justified".
    Could you elaborate on that please: What are they angry about and who are they angry at?

  21. Roger: I meant that to grow up in poverty, without the prospect of a job or improving yourself, as happens in the inner cities, is a situation which breeds anger.

    But the causes of that situation and the consequent anger are the welfare state and the corrupt city governments run for many decades by the Democrats.

    You see Democratic politicians of both races crying 'Racism', 'Whites keeping Blacks down', etc. whenever anyone comes out in favor of cutting government/welfare spending.

    This is all a smoke screen to keep people from seeing the real cause of inner city problems, the omnipresent welfare state, which happens to have hit the Black community the hardest, but would destroy any race, creed, color, sex, etc.

  22. Anonymous16/7/13

    In the New York Post of Monday, July 15th, there is an amazing quote from mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. It's part of an article about how the candidates for city office are all pandering to the narrative of white man kills unarmed Black man for no good reason, visiting Black churches, etc. But Thompson, identified as the "only African-American candidate" goes over the edge of reason by saying: "That could've been anybody who was black, anybody who was Latino." In other words, since the media defined the man with a Peruvian mother as "white" Thompson mindlessly tacks on Latino to black in his stream of racism accusation and generalization. He's so far over the line, he almost makes sense. If the concern was about teenagers being killed, then there would be some proportional concern about blacks killing blacks, latinos killing each other, Asian gangs, etc. But that wasn't on Thompson's mind. It's all "anti-White" like the lynchings in the Deep South never stopped. It's hard to get a grip on reality with chatter like this being presented seriously.

  23. roger in florida16/7/13

    Nice try Doug, but you are missing the elephant in the room. The truth is that in ghetto areas and in ghetto cities the human capital required to build and sustain a civilized society does not exist. The difference between Detroit and Freetown, Sierra Leone is geographical only, they are both dumps run by Africans. There are many cities in the US run partially or completely by democrats that are prosperous at least if not booming. Cities like Seattle (do you remember what a dump Seattle was 30 years ago), Portland OR, Pittsburgh, San Francisco?
    As for growing up poor, many people have lived in poverty; my wife grew up in Ireland during the late 40s/50s; no running water, no electricity, no sewage and depending for sustenance mostly on what was grown in the garden or trapped, she thought and still thinks her childhood was magical.
    "Without the prospect of a job, or improving yourself". What happened to moving to a high employment area, what about community colleges or vocational institutes? What about cleaning yourself up so as to look presentable, speak clear English and work hard doing what you are told?
    But that won't happen will it? While blacks are constantly told (and are eager to believe) that all their problems are due to "systemic white racism", well they are absolved of all responsibility for their plight, this gives them the green light to turn to crime and gangs, which is the easy alternative in the short term.
    what is happening to the US now is that we are (deliberately) being turned into Brazil. We already have a black underclass, with a Hispanic underclass shortly to be supplemented by another 30 million or so, God help the white people who cannot escape from the ghetto and barrio areas.
    There is no doubt that our current level of welfare spending is not about helping those in distress but is actually being developed and used as a wealth re-distribution tool, essentially from whites to minorities. that has to change.

  24. Anonymous16/7/13

    Beyond the Fog – No this agenda is not about race. This is about manipulating the legal system to achieve a goal; ultimately this Administration and their Media want to create a “legal precedence” whereby they can eliminate the fundamental right of self-defense. Race baiting has been inserted in order to create a public outcry (race) is the disguise. Many in the media just want headlines (“If it bleeds- it leads”) they are perfectly happy to incite riots in order to get the scoop. Politicians are slightly more subtle, if they can’t cheat the legal system they are nearly as happy with “social justice” generating division.
    I guess if Zimmerman is a white/Hispanic then 0bongo is a white/black?



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