Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country by Shelby SteeleThe United States today is hopelessly polarized; the political Right and Left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s—when we came together as a nation to fight for equality and universal justice—remains unfulfilled.
As Shelby Steele reveals in Shame, the roots of this impasse can be traced back to that decade of protest, when in the act of uncovering and dismantling our national hypocrisies—racism, sexism, militarism—liberals internalized the idea that there was something inauthentic, if not evil, in the America character. Since then, liberalism has been wholly concerned with redeeming modern American from the sins of the past, and has derived its political legitimacy from the premise of a morally bankrupt America. The result has been a half-century of well-intentioned but ineffective social programs, such as Affirmative Action. Steele reveals that not only have these programs failed, but they have in almost every case actively harmed Americas minorities and poor. Ultimately, Steele argues, post-60s liberalism has utterly failed to achieve its stated aim: true equality. Liberals, intending to atone for our past sins, have ironically perpetuated the exploitation of this countrys least fortunate citizens.
It therefore falls to the Right to defend the American dream. Only by reviving our founding principles of individual freedom and merit-based competition can the fraught legacy of American history be redeemed, and only through freedom can we ever hope to reach equality.
Approaching political polarization from a wholly new perspective, Steele offers a rigorous critique of the failures of liberalism and a cogent argument for the relevance and power of conservatism.
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While the book will find an eager audience among those inclined to agree with Steele that the s and liberalism are to blame for what ails America, it will frustrate not only those on the Left but any reader hoping for a persuasive, empirically sound argument that sheds new light on liberalism or American polarization. Drawing in part upon his personal experiences as a conservative African-American who came of age in the s and 60s, Steele attributes responsibility for American polarization to two strains of liberal thought that evolved out of anger over segregation, the Vietnam War, and other examples of American hypocrisy. Steele is an excellent writer with a gift for clear and forceful prose, and there is more than a hint of truth to much of what he proclaims. He is especially compelling when he recounts his own experiences growing up with segregation, visiting Africa in , and dealing with criticism as a rare black conservative public intellectual. But Shame is much less compelling or persuasive than Blood of the Liberals. And there is little if any mention of major events since the s that contributed at least as much to polarization in contemporary society, including Roe v. Wade , the rise of the New Right in the s, and the spread of cable talk shows and incendiary blogs.
Shelby Steele born January 1,  is an American conservative author , columnist , documentary film maker, and a Robert J. He specializes in the study of race relations , multiculturalism , and affirmative action. Steele was born in Chicago to a black father and a white mother.
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Shelby Steele - Shame