Shelby Steele: Left expertly uses ‘white guilt’ to manipulate Americans

Conservative scholar Shelby Steele argued Thursday that leftists have become experts at shaming white Americans for the nation’s past sins as a means of leveraging them for political power in the present.

Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that there is a struggle for moral authority in the country right now, brought to the fore by the death of George Floyd.

On the one side are the radical leftists, pressing their case that “precisely because they’re against America, they have the moral authority to come in and take America over.”

On the other side are those making up traditional America, freely admitting the country has failed to live up to all its ideals in the past, but also recognizing that it has made major strides in ensuring liberty and justice for all.

“[The left] work it very well,” Steele said. “They breed doubt in straight-shooting Americans, in good decent Americans, who really want to move forward in race relations and other things.”

“They have this power to stigmatize,” he added.


The author observed that the race card is still a potent line of attack directed at the conscience of Americans.

“White guilt is a big deal,” Steele said. “It is, I think, the force that drives all of this. They keep white guilt alive because they know whites will pay off. They will enable.”

“That is power to the left, that they have that over you and that they use it,” he added.

Steele elaborated on this point in a 2018 interview, telling the Hoover Institution’s Peter Robinson that America has been in the era of white guilt since the Great Society days of the 1960s.

“White guilt is a very specific thing,” he explained. “It is the terror, the literal terror of being seen as a racist. Everybody knows in America that’s the bottom line. If you are seen as a racist, openly in public, you are ruined.”




“This will never change until white America, and whites generally, become morally confident in themselves,” Steele told Ingraham.

There is only one remedy to counter this shaming technique employed by the left: the truth.

So let’s review some key facts about U.S. history.

Contrary to what’s being taught in The New York Times 1619 Project curriculum in 3,500 classrooms, across 50 states a primary cause of the Revolutionary War was not the colonists’ desire to protect slavery.

The curriculum is clearly a vehicle being used to perpetuate the notion of white guilt. The Times’ lead writer on the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has admitted she wants to see reparations being paid to African-Americans.

The 1619 Project derives its name from the year slavery was introduced into the English colony of Virginia.

Hannah-Jones was honest enough to admit that slavery in America predated the nation’s founding by over 150 years.

However, she alleged that by 1776, Britain “had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution.”

Slavery was abolished in Great Britain in 1833 — over a half-century after the founding of the United States.

Also working completely against Hannah-Jones’ narrative is the fact that almost all the states north of the Mason-Dixon Line had voted to abolish slavery by the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783.

By 1804, all the Northern states had passed legislation ending slavery.

So to say that slavery was America’s “original sin,” as many do, is not fair to the founding generation, who took the initial steps to end the institution inherited from their English forebears.

The founders put their name to the Declaration of Independence, which recognized the principles of equality and the God-given right to liberty.

Meanwhile, the Continental Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, which established the laws governing the territorial land encompassing the future states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. The ordinance outlawed the introduction of slavery in the territory.

The Constitution specifically authorized the federal government to ban the importation of slaves in 1808 (approximately 20 years from the date the document was ratified).

Congress did so in 1808, and President Thomas Jefferson signed the bill into law.

Of course, the nation eventually fought a bloody Civil War to decide the issue of slavery once and for all, with leaders like President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass making clear the moral authority to do so came directly from the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would appeal to these same ideals to argue for the end of segregation in the 1960s.

Republicans, by the way, supported passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ending Jim Crow laws in a greater percentage than Democrats in Congress, thus making possible the legislation’s passage.

So much for conservatives trying to hold African-Americans back.

President Donald Trump often has often touted the fact that black Americans enjoyed the lowest unemployment rates ever recorded in the nation’s history during his presidency prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The president also signed criminal justice reform into law, as well as supporting major funding for historically black colleges and universities.

With the future of the country at stake, now is not the time to bow at the altar of white guilt to allow radical leftists to use it to fundamentally transform America.

No country has done more to advance the cause of freedom in the history of the world, and that should be a source of pride.

If we hang on to this truth and continue to promote equal opportunity for all, we, as Americans, shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free from left’s manipulative schemes.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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