Heretics in the church of progressive liberalism

Religions fear heretics more than non-believing infidels because they are, at least on paper, supposed to be closer to the truth than infidels.  Progressive Liberalism has dogma and heresy as well.  There are certain ideas that are set aside as indisputable.  Those who deny them are heretics.

These two ideas, dogma and heresy, were on display during the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties as it (once again) considered the idea of (still more) reparations for slavery.

In this case, the dogma states that all material differences between races are, a priori, caused by discrimination alone.  When they are differences between black Americans and other Americans — especially white Americans — they are entirely or mostly attributable to slavery and Jim Crow.  Coleman Hughes and, before him, John McWhorter have violated this dogma by questioning both its truthfulness and its effectiveness.  Despite being self-professed liberals, despite being black, despite voting for Democrats, or perhaps because of these facts, they are treated as heretics.  Progressive liberalism is, in truth, a religion since it unmistakably acts like one.

At yesterday's congressional hearing, Hughes said, "Black people don't need another apology.  We need safer neighborhoods and better schools.  We need a less punitive criminal justice system.  We need affordable health care.  And none of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery."  Hughes condemned the idea of reparations as an "insult" to "many black Americans by putting a price on the suffering of their ancestors ... [turning] the relationship between black Americans and white Americans from a coalition into a transaction."  At the conclusion of his remarks, the crowd responded by booing him.  Subcommittee chairman Steve Cohen had to bang the gavel, saying, "Chill, chill, chill, chill!"

Hughes isn't the first black American heretic from within the Left who has run amok with this particular dogma.  Progressives continually revisit slavery and Jim Crow because it is the nexus around which much of their entire political, social, and linguistic universe revolves.  Enter John McWhorter, who criticized this unseemly obsession with the past and the poisoned fruits it leads to, like affirmative action.  McWhorter's writing draws from the long history of black success, which, rather than being dependent on white guilt and state intervention, comes from within.

McWhorter pointed out that affirmative action is bad for both black and white kids — causing self-doubt among the former, who don't know if they have actually succeeded on their own merits, and resentment among the latter, especially if they are rejected from jobs or colleges while seeing demonstrably less qualified people accepted.  For these reasons, among others, he has called for the policy to be done away with.

This turned McWhorter into a heretic among progressive liberals. Ismael Reed, a professor at Berkeley, denounced him, saying, "You have these academics who are removed from the African American community who use anecdotes and gross generalizations to make a career for themselves."  "He is sort of like a rent-a-black-person."  That quote was from 2001 in response to McWhorter's book, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.  That ought to show the timelessness of this dogma, whose durability will continue as long as the public is eager for the liberal white guilt and liberal black resentment that this dichotomy feeds on.

Slavery and Jim Crow are, to the Left, a sort of supercharged original sin — except unlike the Christian version, this racialized version can never be paid off.  Nothing can pay the debt — not by the hundreds of thousands of white men who died ending slavery in the Civil War, not by the billions spent by the Union to prosecute that war, not by trillions of dollars sunk since Lyndon Johnson began the War on Poverty, nor by affirmative action, either.  It is a fool's errand to believe that still more reparations can pay off this debt or ever reduce the culpability and victimhood that progressive liberals wish to foist on those who were not alive either to be culpable or to be victimized by these events.  It is unthinkable that one could question the efficacy or truth of this dogma.  That's what dogmas are: unquestionable first principles.

Religions detest heretics because, unlike infidels, who reject the "truth" in its entirety, heretics are close enough to the orthodox truth to deceive the faithful.  That is why the inquisitors of this Trojan horse religion are so nervous about Americans like Coleman Hughes and John McWhorter.  It's easy enough to dismiss a white Southerner like Mitch McConnell for being opposed to reparations or affirmative action.  He's a white conservative; they're supposed to think that way because white conservative equals racist.  But people like Hughes and McWhorter threaten to upset that Manichean dichotomy of white oppressors and black victims that is the raison d'être for much of the progressive liberal worldview.  As with Galileo Galilei and the parade of historical heretics who have come before, the progressive liberal religion — like all the other religions — expects heretics to refrain from contradicting dogma.

Image: Exploring Minds with Michele Carroll via YouTube.