Feud for Thought

How seriously should whites take the ever-increasing levels of racial hate expressed toward them in outlets such as The New York Times and Washington Post?

Perhaps the fad over the past eight years to express fear and loathing of “whiteness” (i.e., whites) will always be more bark than bite?

After all, most people find themselves angriest not at large-scale abstractions such as a race but with the individuals who get on their nerves.

And other people like to watch spats.

For example, what really drives social media engagement are feuds between even the most minor online personalities, even though they are often more or less on the same side politically. For example, if I want to get a lot of retweets on Twitter, all I have to do is put down David Frum or David French.

Similarly, rappers devote much less energy to hating white people than to hating other rappers. That’s why aspiring rappers are also often expiring rappers: As Robert Heinlein might say, an armed impolite society is a lethal society.

Overall, in murders committed by black known offenders, about four-fifths of their victims are also black. Why? One reason is that the kind of black guy who brings an illegal handgun to a party doesn’t get dissed by many whites because he doesn’t get invited to too many parties with whites.

Of course, every human society has always been riven by interpersonal disputes. The Iliad, for instance, is about that time Achilles got mad at Agamemnon over a girl.

But cultures differ in how publicly they celebrate personal grudges. My impression is that post-WWII America was unusually insistent on hushing up internal organizational antipathies.

It’s a hard subject to document, but I’ll look to baseball history for evidence, in part because this was highly influential on New York high school ballplayer Donald Trump.

The New York Yankees, the dominant team of the 1950s, were celebrated in Life magazine in 1958 as “The Organization Men of Baseball,” the sporting equivalent of IBM’s white-collar minions in button-down shirts:

By now American business thoroughly appreciates the organization man…. The company fosters and molds the organization man who, as a result, finds himself more comfortable, more important and less of an individual. But though baseball is big business today, only one team has exploited the organization man…the New York Yankees.

The Yankee players were admired by the press for not complaining to the press when their famous manager Casey Stengel would bench them due to his arcane but no doubt brilliant strategies.

In reality, Stengel was an increasingly incoherent old man who had let his success go to his head and thought his hunches and whims about whom to play today were proof of his genius. The 70-year-old Stengel was fired after losing the 1960 World Series for not bothering to pitch Hall of Famer Whitey Ford until the third game. (Stengel went off to manage the new New York Mets, the losingest team of the 20th century.)

In the 1960s, the Los Angeles Dodgers succeeded the Yankees as the most copied franchise. The Dodgers took the Yankees’ corporate line to an even higher level of conformity. Each Dodger was trained to deny to the press any rumor of clubhouse conflict.

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