Shelby Steele

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Shelby Steele (born January 1, 1946) is an American conservative writer and a fellow of the Hoover Institution. His columns and op-eds have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Harper's Magazine. In 1991 he won an Emmy, a Writers Guild award, and a San Francisco Film Festival award for his documentary, Seven Days in Bensonhurst. In 2004 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal.


  • “Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy.

    “Why this new minimalism in war?

    “It began, I believe, in a late-20th-century event that transformed the world more profoundly than the collapse of communism: the world-wide collapse of white supremacy as a source of moral authority, political legitimacy and even sovereignty. This idea had organized the entire world, divided up its resources, imposed the nation-state system across the globe, and delivered the majority of the world's population into servitude and oppression. After World War II, revolutions across the globe, from India to Algeria and from Indonesia to the American civil rights revolution, defeated the authority inherent in white supremacy, if not the idea itself. And this defeat exacted a price: the West was left stigmatized by its sins. Today, the white West--like Germany after the Nazi defeat--lives in a kind of secular penitence in which the slightest echo of past sins brings down withering condemnation. There is now a cloud over white skin where there once was unquestioned authority.”

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