Understanding Derrick Bell And Why We Shouldn’t Mock Him
It's important to understand what Derrick Bell represents and also avoid a trap when discussing him. No matter what one may think of him, or "The Space Traders," there are important reasons to understand him and react to him with some, dare I say, nuance. There are crucial issues at stake here. Bell represents a thinking that is embraced by most black Americans, a large number of white Americans and also the man in the White House.
Yes, there are reasons why some characterize it as racist, anti-white and antisemitic. But it's not enough to simply say that, we must understand and convey why that is so. Much of the attention is focusing on Bell's tactics. That's precisely what he and the left would want. That is not the problem with Derrick Bell. The problem is his underlying assumptions that have taken broad hold in America. It's why we see the court and governent actions we so often do today in America.
For starters, I'd refer you to an item from Ann Althouse in October, 2011, when Bell died. To simply call a man she acknowledges as "eminent" a loon, or anti-semite, is to hand the left a mallet to bash us as stupid, and or racist. Bell is the racist here. Don't fall into that trap. I'll address that below in more detail.
The eminent law professor has died.
He was a pioneer of critical race theory — a body of legal scholarship that explored how racism is embedded in laws and legal institutions, even those intended to lessen the effects of past injustice. Mr. Bell “set the agenda in many ways for scholarship on race in the academy, not just the legal academy,” said Lani Guinier, the first black woman hired to join the Harvard Law School’s tenured faculty, in an interview on Wednesday….
Much of Mr. Bell’s scholarship rejected dry legal analysis in favor of allegorical stories….
The fact is, Bell and the left have been extremely successful in injecting their strain of thinking into the American mainstream; so much so, it is perhaps even now dominant. We see it as liberal, or progressive thinking. But it's what's beneath it that is so dangerous and wrong-headed. Emphasis mine.
One his best-known parables is “The Space Traders,” which appeared in his 1992 book, “Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism.” In the story, as Mr. Bell later described it, creatures from another planet offer the United States “enough gold to retire the national debt, a magic chemical that will cleanse America’s polluted skies and waters, and a limitless source of safe energy to replace our dwindling reserves” in exchange for one thing: its black population, which would be sent to outer space. The white population accepts the offer by an overwhelming margin….
Not everyone welcomed the move to narrative and allegory in legal scholarship. In 1997, Richard Posner, the conservative law professor and appeals court judge, wrote in The New Republic that “by repudiating reasoned argumentation,” storytellers like Mr. Bell “reinforce stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of nonwhites."
That Bell and the left used parable, or allegory to inject a dangerous mindset into American law and culture was a stroke of genius. One can't argue otherwise, as it's been so effective. But that's not what's dangerous about Bell and Obama. What is dangerous is the underlying assumption upon which their thinking is based. That is, all peoples are driven by self-interest, including as groups, or races. Consequently, American whites – and American Jews – are by definition racist and no amount of reason, or logic can ever change that. Because blacks are a minority, Bell holds that they are at critical disadvantage and an Obama in the White House is the only way to combat that by compelling Americans to act in a certain manner through law and regulation.
In Bells' eyes – and, I'd argue, Obama's, all white Americans, including Jews, are inherently racist and will only care, help or do anything about blacks when it is in their own self-interest as whites to do so, or when compelled by government. So, when people call Bell racist (anti-white) or antisemitic, they are doing it because of the way Bell addresses and judges them as a group. That's also what makes Bell precisely what those critics call him; it is he and his progressive compatriots, including Obama, who only see people in groups forever divided by socio-economic, racial, or other lines.
That is what "The Space Traders" is selling. When you think about it, the fact that his underlying and ugly vision is buried in a form of entertainment to penetrate the culture in ways a Harvard professsor never could, only makes it all the more dangerous and deserving of being taken seriously and exposed. But we can't expose it if we don't understand it.
At the core of the progressive mindset, there is no hope for man, so only a controlling state can manifest policies "fair" to blacks, because for now America remains a majority white country.
It's a very ugly way of thinking that only sees the worst in man and offers no room for genuine consciousness, or altruism – unless it is imposed by some allegedly impartial state. This is also why books like my friend Mark Levin's "Amertitopia" are so important. While not dwelling specifically on race, it is the progressive mindset and history this all works into that it exposes, while also addressing the contrasting conservative view.
Yes, all men are flawed and capable of doing bad, or good. What the conservative believes is that that doesn't suddenly disappear when man designs a statist system to control behavior. In fact, all the faults and shortcomings of man only become incorporated into it, making them all the more dangerous due to their scope, reach and power. Instead of individuals being free to do well, or fail, do good, or do bad, on their own, a just as flawed statist system will compel them to do the same. The only thing that changes is who wins and who loses and because progressives want to win, it's why they are intent on controlling government and utlimately the individual, which they only see or appreciate in groups, or races, etc.
While perhaps easy and fun to dismiss Bell and "The Space Traders," (sound like race traders to you? That's what Bell is actually saying, whites and Jews will "trade," or sell out blacks for self-interest every chance they get and nothing can change that except government) as camp, or craziness, the reality is, the thinking beneath it now dominates much of American jurisprudence and culture and unless conservatives expose and defeat it, we will only become it's victims, regardless of our race, because we hold the individual and indivdual liberty so dear.