The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Way to Blow It, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Posted on | March 22, 2014 | 26 Comments

The headline on the Atlantic column is intriguing:

Black Pathology and the Closing of the Progressive Mind

It’s one of those intra-liberal feuds about something “controversial” Paul Ryan said 10 days ago, which of course was controversial only because Paul Ryan is a prominent Republican. But the feud among liberals is actually rather interesting in its own right, with one group of effete pointy-headed do-gooders squabbling with another group of subversive America-hating intellectuals. All of them agree that Paul Ryan is a dangerous right-wing reactionary, of course, but they disagree on the correct way to hate Paul Ryan.

Anyway, it’s possible Ta-Nehisi Coates had something important to say about all this, except I never got past the first sentence:

“Among opinion writers, Jonathan Chait is outranked
in my esteem only by Hendrik Hertzberg.”

Rick Fucking Hertzberg? Are you fucking kidding me?

Look, man, I have no great love for Jonathan Chait who, like all liberals, is reliably wrong about almost everything. But if his ideas are all wrong, at least Chait’s writing is usually somewhat lively.

The same cannot be said for Hendrik Hertzberg, who has been boring readers into a helpless stupor for three decades. When a writer’s most notable accomplishment is co-authoring Jimmy Carter’s infamous “malaise” speech, it’s best to avoid praising him.

It’s like a musician saying Barry Manilow is their personal role model — evidence of bad taste and poor judgment.

Anyway, for you young folks, let this be a lesson: Whatever you do, never start a column by brown-nosing Rick Hertzberg, because nobody will bother to read anything you write after that.



26 Responses to “Way to Blow It, Ta-Nehisi Coates”

  1. jakee308
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

    I was amused by the byline for this article listed at Memeorandum as being from someone else (Alexis C. Madrigal which is the only reason I read it).

    About part way through, I realized that this was a black deconstructionist screed aimed only at making sure everyone understands that Black people have never done anything wrong and have been misused and abused for thousands of years (or so it seemed). Therefore they are not responsible for anything they do, say, believe or don’t accomplish because white man/white privilege.

    I got to the end and said “That sounded familiar” looked at the byline that’s at the Atlantic and lo and behold it’s actually by Coates. I said “Ah Ha”.

    This is a guy so secure in his self righteousness that he hardly ever has comments open for any of his articles. Probably because of the venom that he stirs up. He really is annoying. So I can understand if they put his article under a fake name so as to draw views.

  2. Julie Pascal
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 7:27 pm

    Coates spends most of the article getting on the case of progressives for insisting that black culture simply must have been destroyed by centuries of slavery and then a good deal more of the article explaining about how insultingly surprised those post-slavery progressives were on the high value put on family by former slaves, who they felt couldn’t have retained those values. Also… the love of the former slave for travel was one of his major points.

    If someone named Robertson had pointed any of this out he’d have been sent to mandatory sensitivity training.

    He didn’t, of course, contrast those strong family values and love for travel to the current case (unless he was explaining that it wasn’t true of the current case) of black single parenthood rates and seeming inability to leave bad neighborhoods. And he didn’t even attempt to present a way forward away from this, and infact said it would be true forever until the country turns to dust.

    Except for the immovable chip on his shoulder (understandable or not) he’d probably find a lot of common cause with conservatives. It is not at all surprising to me that former slaves had extremely strong family values… families had been denied them… I would expect that former slaves also put extremely high value on education… since education had been denied them… I’m not at all surprised that people who’d been slaves would revel in the freedom of travel. Conservatives do not believe that there is something about being black that is contrary to amazing levels of virtue, industry, family loyalty or responsibility, bravery or chivalry or *any* admirable thing. When someone like Ryan talks about a culture problem, he’s not code-wording “black” and he’s not speaking in the *progressive* context of culture as a *product* of ethnicity… as “multiculturalism” sees no possibility that culture is anything other than genetically determined and conservatives reject that blatant lie.

    Coates sees the insult and the damage done by the progressive mindset, but he simply can not take the next step.

  3. Lightwave
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 7:39 pm


    “Except for the immovable chip on his shoulder (understandable or not) he’d probably find a lot of common cause with conservatives.”


    “Coates sees the insult and the damage done by the progressive mindset, but he simply can not take the next step.”

    …are true for 95% of African-Americans, not just Coates, and yet they choose to vote Democrat 95% of the time and then blame Republicans.

    And yet the moment you say “You collectively have to live with your bad decisions” you become a racist.

    Why bother with them?

  4. Julie Pascal
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

    Because when you say, “You collectively…” anything, you’re promoting a progressive mindset. And I don’t intend to ever treat anyone “collectively”.

    That’s why.

  5. JeffWeimer
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

    I rad the article, and came out of it the the impression that there are three types of people discussing the issue: 1) the Conservative, who doesn’t acknowledge the historical roots of the situation AAs find themselves in, 2) the Liberal, who only acknowledges it in passing, and 3) people like Ta-Nehisi Coates, who nurse a grudge until it becomes a white-hot fire in their guts.

    1) and 2) are much better than 3). They recognize that dwelling on the past is not helpful towards correcting the problem. 3) allows one to feel excused from lifting a finger to help themselves.

  6. Quartermaster
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

    Coates is a racist bag of venom. It’s all whitey’s fault, and not there’s. Because Slavery! The rest is just shutuppery.

    I noted that Atlantic didn’t even enable comments. I’d say they have very good reason to not do so. Their own readership would cut Coates to pieces.

  7. PGlenn
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

    Painful as it was, I also read the article.

    Coates actually deftly rebuts Chait’s suggestion that, in the past, “white supremacy necessarily ‘bred a cultural residue that itself became an impediment to success'” for African-Americans in subsequent generations. Whereas Coates wants to blame all past, present, and future problems in the black community on a persistent, still prevalent white supremacy and oppression of black folks, etc. Coates points out that we’d expect this “cultural residue” to have been most debilitating right at the end of slavery, yet the historical record suggests that blacks in the immediate post-bellum era tended to have stable marriages, were passionate about education, etc.

    Unfortunately, Coates didn’t think to apply such logic to his own argument. In the last 5+ decades, white supremacy has been on the decline, efforts to increase awareness of racism accelerate, new projects designed to reduce the effects of “white supremacy” and racism kept getting added . . . in other words, Coates’ main negative explanatory variable (oppression), which is supposed to be the prime impediment to success, is declining and yet the dependent variable (success = happiness, fewer dysfunctional families, improved economic indicators, etc.) isn’t having the effect we’d expect with the negative variable being reduced.

  8. PGlenn
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 8:54 pm

    The irony is, that if he were right, and all past and present dysfunctions should be attributed to old school white supremacy (overt, self-conscious) and new school white supremacy (subtle, sneaky) . . . there really would be nothing a good little white “progressive” could do about it. Because if we accept Coates’ interpretation of reality, the racism and oppression continues to be almost all-pervasive and able to assert itself in new powerful ways that the vast majority of people cannot even comprehend (although Coates can, of course).

    And the only “remedy” for these realities wouldn’t quite work out so well for some of Coates’ “progressive” buddies.

  9. Dianna Deeley
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

    I shall definitely keep that in mind. Especially given how much I enjoy your verbal pyrotechnics.

  10. Bob Belvedere
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

    Hendrik Hertzberg is still alive?!? :O

  11. Bob Belvedere
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 11:13 pm

    It’s something I’ve noticed that the Memeorandom Bot does now and again…or, maybe, you’re right, as it would make sense.

  12. robertstacymccain
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 11:25 pm

    Liberal crackers are keeping the black man down.

  13. What Is ‘Holding Down The Black Man’ | The Camp Of The Saints
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 11:40 pm

    […] analysis of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s argument in one of his recent columns, over in a post by Stacy McCain, I think, explains why a majority of Blacks in America find themselves in the bad situation they […]

  14. Bob Belvedere
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 11:41 pm

    Quoted you here.

  15. bet0001970
    March 22nd, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

    HEY! I like Barry Manilow. And before you go off on Andy Gibbs…Shadow Dancing was genius.

    You know what, I’m just gonna leave before we say something we’ll both regret.

  16. Dave
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 12:04 am

    “…but they disagree on the correct way to hate Paul Ryan.”



    “And we do not find an era free of white supremacy in our times either, when the rising number of arrests for marijuana are mostly borne by African-Americans…”

    I learned a secret about 30 years ago. If you don’t possess, smoke, or deal marijuana, your odds of being arrested for marijuana go down dramatically. Nobody tell Coates though, so we can keep on keeping the black man down. Shhhh.

  17. Adjoran
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 12:17 am

    Ta-Nehesi “brown-nosing” will be defined as racist, so we’ll see you when you get back from the reeducation camps.

    The guy is the son of a former Black Panther who was a “stay at home Dad.” Yeah, got that.

    Even his claim that “Ta-Nehesi” is “Egyptian for ‘Nubia'” is spurious. It’s a fabrication from an interpretation of the ancient glyph for Nubia, which is claimed to translate as “nshy” but of course there is no such literal translation of hieroglyphs, they do not correspond to letters at all.

  18. jakee308
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 12:32 am

    I like the part about Manson.

    Sometimes it seem that freaking Charlie was right. He was just a bit ahead of his time is all. (that and being the spiritual leader of a murderous gang of hippies and druggies).

  19. Adjoran
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 12:51 am

    I’m surprised as well.

    Of course, he was only ever “alive” from the neck down anyway.

  20. K-Bob
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 3:39 am

    I can’t take having to speed dredge another “We’re so screwed now that Hitchens is dead” Atlantic article for at least the rest of the quarter.

    You guys go on without me. I’ll only hold you back.

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    March 23rd, 2014 @ 6:41 am

    […] The Other McCain is flabbergasted. […]

  22. Rob Crawford
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 8:59 am

    Can anyone explain Tennessee Tuxedo’s career to me? From what I can tell, his shtick is to hate whites, hate liberty, hate personal responsibility, while hiding behind a goofball name and his skin color.

    Folks, just because leftist idiots give someone attention doesn’t mean we have to.

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    March 23rd, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

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  24. Bob Belvedere
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

    I should have been clearer.

  25. Quartermaster
    March 23rd, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

    Please! Someone put this guy out of our misery!

  26. ajpwriter
    March 25th, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

    Coates and his ilk are going to be with us for a while. The kind of things AA’s ate in the 100 years between Civil War and Civil Rights don’t just melt quietly away. Trusting the White Man means it when he talks of equality and opportunity requires unlearning habits of mind that existed for a reason.

    Of course, the Progs contribute to this. But it’s not terribly hard for them, and we haven’t really tried to riposte it yet.

    It is what it is. Maybe in another 50 years, when Jim Crow is gone from living memory, things will be different.