Jason Hill on Ta-Nehisi Coates

Monday, November 06, 2017

Image courtesy of Pixabay.
In "An Open Letter to Ta-Nehsisi Coates," Jason Hill offers hope for Coates's son -- and countless others targeted by his book, Between the World and Me. This hope comes in the form of a stirring tribute to his adopted country drawn from his own experience, along with the helpful message that there is an alternative to the collectivism so many spout out or succumb to. Hill ends his piece:
... I suspect my request for our being ignored and left alone to create our own destiny will not satisfy you. This is because you are trading on black suffering to create a perpetual caste of racial innocents. And the currency of your economic system is white guilt. But your son should never trade in anyone's guilt...

Today, the dream has more than come true for me... My books on ethics and political theory are taught in college courses in the United States, and I achieved full professorship in my mid-40s, long before I expected to do so. Many more personal dreams of mine continue to be nurtured in and by America. In 32 years of living in this country, the United States has never once failed me. Becoming an American citizen was the greatest privilege of my life.

Your book reads like an American horror story because you have damned to hell the noblest and most endearing trait of those who come to this country and who love it: the Dream. You declare: "This is the foundation of the Dream -- its adherents must not just believe in it but believe that it is just, believe that their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works." Well, it is. And we, the Dreamers and achievers who continue to make this country the exceptional wonder that it is, will never capitulate to your renunciation. The world we desired has been won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is ours. And it should be yours, and your son's. [bold added]
There were quite a few other parts I wanted to quote, but time doesn't permit, and I think it might detract from the whole to take them out of their context, anyway. It is a lengthy piece, but worth a full read, be it as inspiration or antidote. (HT: Snedcat)

-- CAV

P.S. Regarding a passage about "trading on guilt" I chose to omit: I repsectfully disagree with the author there. Based on other parts of his essay, I think that rather than focusing on human fallibility (factual though it be), he could have stressed that the currency of the realm is really unearned guilt. Yes, we all make mistakes, yes, some of us have benefited or been harmed by past injustice. But as individuals, we bear no credit or blame for anything that results from events we have had no control over. That said, I completely agree that "[Coates's] beliefs threaten to alienate [his] son from his country and afflict him with a sense of moral inefficacy and impotence."

No comments: