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Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

by Shelby Steele


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The United States today is hopelessly polarized; the political Right and Left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s — when we came together as a nation to fight for equality and universal justice — remains unfulfilled.

As Shelby Steele reveals in Shame, the roots of this impasse can be traced back to that decade of protest, when in the act of uncovering and dismantling our national hypocrisies — racism, sexism, militarism — liberals internalized the idea that there was something inauthentic, if not evil, in the America character. Since then, liberalism has been wholly concerned with redeeming modern American from the sins of the past, and has derived its political legitimacy from the premise of a morally bankrupt America. The result has been a half-century of well-intentioned but ineffective social programs, such as Affirmative Action. Steele reveals that not only have these programs failed, but they have in almost every case actively harmed America's minorities and poor. Ultimately, Steele argues, post-60s liberalism has utterly failed to achieve its stated aim: true equality. Liberals, intending to atone for our past sins, have ironically perpetuated the exploitation of this country's least fortunate citizens.

It therefore falls to the Right to defend the American dream. Only by reviving our founding principles of individual freedom and merit-based competition can the fraught legacy of American history be redeemed, and only through freedom can we ever hope to reach equality.

Approaching political polarization from a wholly new perspective, Steele offers a rigorous critique of the failures of liberalism and a cogent argument for the relevance and power of conservatism.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465066971
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 02/24/2015
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 68,208
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Winner of the Bradley Prize and a National Humanities Medal and the author of the National Book Critics Circle award-winning The Content of Our Character, Steele lives in the Central Coast of California.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: The Great Divide
Chapter Two: A Collision
Chapter Three: Hypocrisy
Chapter Four: The Moral Asymmetry of Hypocrisy
Chapter Five: The Compounding of Hypocrisy
Chapter Six: Characterological Evil
Chapter Seven: “The Battle of Algiers”
Chapter Eight: No Past, No Future
Chapter Nine: America’s “Characterological Evil”: A Pillar of Identity
Chapter Ten: The Denouement
Chapter Eleven: After Evil, "The Good"
Chapter Twelve: The New Liberalism
Chapter Thirteen: Dissociation
Chapter Fourteen: Relativism and Anti-Americanism
Chapter Fifteen: The Culture
Chapter Sixteen: Conservatism: The New Counterculture
Chapter Seventeen: A Politics of Idealism
Chapter Eighteen: Liberalism is Beautiful, but Conservatism is Freedom

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