Shelby Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution said Friday that the contemporary civil rights movement under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” was deeply unserious, catering to an old form of victimization that has accomplished nothing to lift up black people.
“There’s a pathos here. It’s like we’ve done this too many times. We’ve been here too many times, we’ve seen this kind of thing and there’s a big hallabaloo and then it sort of fades away and this is already beginning I think to fade. What was it all about? What was the point? What did these various groups, what did they want?” Steele asked on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier.
“Striking to me is that about this particular one is that there was not even a list of demands. Usually there’s always a long, elaborate list of demands. That wasn’t the case here. There’s nothing that you could come away from, this entire episode, the last two weeks or so that’s meaningful,” he said.
Baier then asked Steele about remarks delivered by Reverend Al Sharpton Thursday at Floyd’s memorial service in Minneapolis.
“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being is you kept your knee on our necks,” Sharpton said.
“He went on to say that this is the moment and repeated the systemic racism in this country. Your response to that?” Baier asked.
“Al Sharpton is the master of this old form of politics that comes out of the ’60s where we as blacks cry victimization and demand the larger society give us things of some kind or another,” Steele said.
I don’t take Al Sharpton seriously. I know him, he’s a nice person. I will take his message here seriously when he stands before a congregation like that, a black people in America over a tragic event and says what black Americans can do to get out of the situation that we’re in. No one from the president on down anywhere says what role, what’s going on with black America? Why are they so dependent on white America, on the government. That all they can think of is themselves as victims which of course deflates themselves as human beings, undermines their best energies, their best intentions, and so after 50, 60 years now past the civil rights bill, we’re worse off than many socioeconomic categories than we were.
Steele went on to explain that this African-American dependency emerged out of white Americans desperately seeking to prove themselves as non-racist.
“White Americans live under this accusation that they’re not racist. They need to prove that they’re not racist. In order to prove that you’re not racist, you need to take over the fate of black people and say, go with us, we’ll engineer you into the future. We’ll engineer you into equality,” Steele said. “Life doesn’t work like that. We have to engineer ourselves. Period. There is no other way.”
Baier pushed back on Steele’s assertion about an absence of demands from today’s Black Lives Matter movement, including the destruction of law enforcement and reparation payments to African-American communities.
“Is there a solution out there that politically you can get your head around?” Baier asked.
“I will take those things seriously when I also hear from Sharpton and others the argument that we need within the black community to work on the institution of marriage,” Steele said, citing the fact that 75 percent of black children are born out of wedlock with no father.
“I don’t care how many social programs you have. You’re not going to overcome that.”