Shelby Steele: Kill 'Em All, Let the (White) God Sort 'Em Out

At least, that's what I thought I heard him say. I'm still in that tent at Aspen. David Bradley has finished speaking, and now various smart people have been invited up to the stage to share their ideas. The first one was a famous dancer of some sort, who made everyone in the audience (of a thousand, it seems) stand up and follow some dance move of his that involved extending an arm in a Nazi-like salute, which was momentarily disconcerting.

Steele is arguing for the end of white guilt, which is something legitimate to argue about, but now he's saying that America conducts itself with excessive politesse in Middle East war zones because of white guilt. And I always thought we tried to respect human rights whenever possible because it's the right thing to do, and, by the way, slaughtering people indiscriminately doesn't tend to win over the people you let live.

I'm not even sure, come to think of it, that I'm with his general notion that white people can stop worrying now about the consequences of slavery, and stop acting on those consequences. Maybe I'm a little bit freaked out because the audience here is 99.44 white. His talk gives me an idea, though: tomorrow, instead of moderating panels on Islam and on nuclear non-proliferation, I'm going to give a speech called, "Dear Christians: You Can Stop Thinking about Buchenwald Now."

Now John Holdren from Harvard is up there, telling us that climate change is a nearly-irreversible catastrophe, and he blames America for egregious fecklessness on the issue. I would note that many members of the audience at Aspen flew here on private jets.

His talk is making me thirsty. Two rows in front of me (one row in front of Jay Lauf's shirt) is Linda Resnick, the woman behind Fiji Water, who is at this moment drinking a bottle of same. I wish I could reach over and grab that bottle.