Monday, March 24, 2008

Benign Neglect?

I've read a fair amount of commentary on the speech Obama gave last week about race, some negative, some positive, but nothing irked me quite as much as this piece in today's NYT, in which Bill Kristol asserts, "The last thing we need now is a heated national conversation about race." Race, it seems, is not something that can be talked about without the conversation devolving into a shouting match. Instead of talking, he recommends dealing with the problem of racism through "benign neglect."

Now, I disagree with this on a couple levels. First, I see no reason that this has to turn into a shouting match. Besides, there are worse things than shouting matches—for instance, racism.

More importantly, however, I don't know of any other problems that we're solving through neglect. Perhaps the real reason for all the ruin in New Orleans is that FEMA was trying too hard to save it. There are few things that can be done to turn around the current economic crisis, but I don't hear a lot of economists and commentators saying we should just ignore it until it goes away. That war in Iraq? Maybe if we just don't think about it, it'll all turn out fine. Better yet, let's pitch this idea to the Sunnies and Shi'ites. Forget history and religious disagreements, it's probably an excess of dialogue that's causing them to go on killing each other.

1 comment:

Brian Hurley said...

Open dialogue makes baby Jesus cry.