Looking Charitably Upon Those With Power

TNC watches the above section of my Princeton speech:

[Conservatives] have used a skepticism of change, to mask a defense of institutional evil. In the South in 1860, the conservative position was to defend slavery. It was, after all, an ancient institution, with seemingly Biblical sanction. It was the "Radical" Republicans who gave the franchise to black people, while conservatives embraced phrenology and racist pseudo-science ...

A bias toward time-tested, societal institutions almost necessarily means a bias toward institutional evil. Likewise, a skepticism of change almost necessarily means a skepticism of those who seek to expand democracy beyond property-owning white men. Taken in sum you have an ideology, whatever its laudable merits, that will almost always, necessarily, look charitably upon those with power, or those who control the institutions, and skeptically upon those without power, or those who seek to change those institutions. 

As a black person, I find that really hard to take.

And I have to say I get that. And I have to say that even true conservatism will tolerate evil in ways that good people should not. I wrestle with this a lot. I think what balances it - and makes conservatism morally bearable - is also a belief in individual freedom against state power. There is a conservatism that values the dissident and the wanderer, the adventurer and the free spirit, while respecting that societies do have a coherence achieved over time that has a mystery worth respecting.

That makes America a hard case for conservatism of my variety - and race is, indeed, its undoing. For so much of America was not founded on an evolving society of human beings, but on the mass enslavement of an entire people under the auspices of constitutional government.