* White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era by Shelby Steele HarperCollins, May 2006 $24.95, ISBN 0-060-57862-9
The long subtitle of White Guilt lays bare Shelby Steele's intentions, though his name is enough to tell us all we need to know about where he stands on race relations. Ever since he exploded on the public intellectual scene with The Content of Our Character (St. Martin's Press, 1990), Steele has declared an unabashed allegiance to the conservative ranks, and this latest book further confirms that association.
Even before I read the book, I watched him on Book TV, and the buzzwords of his ideological underpinnings--"black accountability," "psychology of dependency" and "victimization"--were spewed without interruption as he talked to caller after caller. "Minister Farrakhan is a demagogue," he told one caller. "He has not succeeded in demonstrating the importance of individual responsibility."
"Responsibility" is a relative word, and one might level the same charge at Steele in as much as he seems irresponsible in placing most of the blame on...