Tears We Cannot Stop
is a book by a powerful man. He is peddling white guilt and black victimization. He demands money, aka reparations.
For his project to work, he must denigrate poor and ethnic whites. He singles out Irish people, Italians, Poles and Jews who have no right to tell their story or remember their own history. They are merely "white" and must plug into his "white skin is magic" narrative.
FrontPageMag ran my review of this book here
You can read the full text of the review, below.
Eric Dyson is the University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. One
listed the average tenured professor's 2012 salary at Georgetown at $167,000,
three times the median US income. No doubt a professor occupying an elevated
position such as Dyson's, in 2017, earns more. Dyson received his PhD from
Princeton, ranked by US News as the
best American university, beating out Harvard. Dyson is the author of five bestselling
books and the recipient of numerous awards. His three children have six degrees
including from Ivy League schools. His son is an anesthesiologist.
2017 book, Tears
We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America has received over-the-top praise from Stephen King, Toni Morrison,
and Michael Medved. Reviews call the book "frank,"
"searing," "urgent," "eloquent, righteous, and
inspired … lyrical." "Anguish and hurt throb in every word,"
along with "brilliance and rectitude."
main point is that America is a hellhole that dooms black people to failure,
silencing, and death, while whites uniformly bask in unearned wealth and good
fortune. "You know that white skin is magic."
are analogous to captured birds. Whites will decide whether they want, finally,
to open their hands and liberate blacks, or just, out of spite, strangle them
to death. "It's in your hands."
reparation, whites must hire blacks instead of whites. Whites must pay blacks
more money than is appropriate. Whites must give blacks money for school
tuition and zoo, museum, and movie admission, and pay for massages and textbooks.
White people must also tell every white person they meet that he enjoys white
privilege. Dyson provides the script: "Whites must understand that they
benefit from white privilege in order to realize how white privilege creates
the space for black oppression."
Tears We Cannot Stop opens and closes with quotes from Toni
Morrison and Alice Walker. The first quote, by Morrison, "We flesh. Flesh
that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not
love your flesh … they'd as soon pick out your eyes … break your mouth … What
you scream from it they do not hear." The closing quote from Alice
Walker's The Color Purple: "Everything
want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved."
can't debate with an enslaved fictional character; to do so would be unseemly
and irrational. Dyson doesn't open or close with statistics or peer-reviewed
scholarship; he opens and closes with works of art that imprison African
Americans in stereotypical images of helplessness and suffering, images created
by college-educated, professional women who wrote in faux-Ebonics. Walker and
Morrison have been embraced and feted by a majority-white academic and literary
elite. Between them, they have won every possible prize, including two
Pulitzers and a Nobel. In these opening and closing quotes, African Americans
sound like the roadshow of Porgy and Bess.
does not include quotes by actual slaves. Such quotes often include an
insistence on human dignity, no matter the circumstances, and an awareness of
how complex life can be. Frederick Douglass wrote, "A smile or a tear has
not nationality … they, above all the confusion of tongues, proclaim the
brotherhood of man," "It is easier to build strong children than to
repair broken men," "People might not get all they work for in this
world, but they must certainly work for all they get," "We have to do
with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the
future," and "The soul that is within me no man can degrade."
T. Washington is a treasure-trove of quotes for Dyson to ponder. "Negroes
inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the
school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition … than
is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe …
This I say, not to justify slavery … but to call attention to a fact." Note
that Douglass and Washington chose to make their points in Standard English.
of Dyson's rhetorical ploys: he prostitutes religion to forfend rational
thought. Dyson opens his "Invocation" with the words "Almighty,
hear our prayer. Oh God how we suffer." He closes the book, "Oh, Lord,
black folk are everything … we are going nowhere." In the same way that
one can't debate a fictional character, especially one who merely wants to
dance and be loved, and whose eyes evil white people want to poke out, one
can't debate something as sacred as a prayer.
Old Testament prophets were brazenly courageous. Jeremiah told his fellow Jews
exactly where and how they were disobeying God and tempting catastrophe. Dyson
cannot breathe a single word of criticism of his fellow African Americans.
Dyson never so much as brushes against the New Testament's love and
forgiveness. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do,"
"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against
us," and "Love does not keep account of injuries" are words that
do not appear in Dyson's Bible.
mentions having once lead a Bible study. "I hammered away at the parallels
between sexism and racism" because sexism is bad for "black
Christianity." His emphasis on sexism and racism is truer to identity
politics than to the Bible's larger message. The very concept of "black
Christianity" contradicts Galatians 3:28, "In Christ there is no Jew
nor Greek … you are all one in Christ Jesus." Whites' only path to
acceptance is to acknowledge how debased they are. "I'm a rich, white guy,
and I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it," reports basketball coach
Gregg Popovich, as quoted by Dyson. Dyson mentions Christian publisher Jim
Wallis who prescribed "repentance for white people as dying to whiteness."
No concordance would turn up any Biblical verses that support "dying to
whiteness" as a form of repentance.
prostitution of religion as cover reaches its nadir in blasphemy. He equates
the spit of a black girl on a white girl's body with Christ's presence in the
Blessed Sacrament. The black girl's spit "may as well have been holy water
… Holy Communion … the biggest miracle since you turned water to wine."
is so repetitious one gets a sense of its entire message from two pages of its
"Invocation": Blacks are not free; they are "ensnared."
Whites are "tormentors" and nothing blacks can do will "stop
their evil." Blacks cannot convince whites that "we are your children
and don't deserve this punishment." Whites are "slaughtering us in
the streets" because they want "to remove us from the face of the
earth." Whites "are lying through their teeth." Whites "are
invested in their own privilege" so "they cannot afford to see how
much we suffer." "White folk act like the devil is all in them."
Dyson watches helplessly as racism threatens to snuff the life out of his grandchildren.
the hell is Dyson doing in the US? Genocide, he insists, is inescapable. The
borders are open. He has money. Why isn't he on a plane?
people never do anything unpleasant, but, on those rare occasions when they do,
it is white people's fault. OJ was guilty but "The hurts and traumas against
black folk had piled so high … and the refusal of whiteness to open its eyes
had become so abhorrent that black folk sent a message to white America." Please
note: "whiteness" has "eyes" that "whiteness" can
"refuse to open." Suck it up, Ron and Nicole. Dyson grudgingly
acknowledges the existence of black-on-black crime, only to blame white people
for it. In any case, white people only mention black-on-black crime to torment
blacks. "You do not bring this up because you're genuinely
concerned," he says.
Martin, Dyson reports, "lost his life to a bigoted zealot." Black people
die because white society "hates black folks in its guts." Dyson
avoids facts: according to sworn testimony and forensic evidence, The Retreat
at Twin Lakes, the scene of the Martin shooting, is 50% white, 20% Hispanic,
and 20% black. It is not wealthy, and at the time of the Martin shooting, it
had a history of break-ins by young
black men. Martin was lingering behind homes on a rainy night. George
Zimmerman was a volunteer in a watch that had started up in response to
burglaries. According to Zimmerman, whose testimony was supported by his
injuries, Martin punched Zimmerman in the face and was pounding Zimmerman's
head into a concrete sidewalk. After a struggle over his gun, Zimmerman shot
Martin. Zimmerman is about as white as Dyson – he has one white parent and one
are uniformly demonic entities in Dyson's book. A "pig" will kill a
black in order to "thrill himself to the slow letting of blood … while he
blithely ignores their suffering" so he can "high five" his
fellow police officers. Police are afflicted with "a terminal degree of
black revulsion." Intelligent blacks must suffer the indignation of
mistreatment at the hands of stupid white police officers whose only IQ is their
"Intimidation Quotient." Dyson believes that "some son of a
bitch with a badge" "the white folk in blue" one of the "enraged
white male cops" who "murder us like animals" will murder his
grandchildren. "I want to kill dead" these police, he confesses. Blacks
must "sacrifice our hides to feed America." That's why it is okay to
refer to police officers as "pigs." Because America requires that
blacks "surrender life to fill the bellies of a nation that eats our souls
and culture while excreting us as so much waste." "We think of
police" he writes, "as ISIS."
recounts an anecdote about an encounter between his son Mwata, and a cop. Dyson
baptizes his account with the words, "as I chant this prayer. " An
intelligent, integral person would ignore Dyson's attempt to shield his
anecdote from analysis by disguising it as prayer. We recognize that anecdotes
are one-sided, subjective, self-serving, and subject to the vagaries of memory.
Never does Dyson acknowledge, "I may be remembering this wrong, and the
other person may remember it differently."
his 1977, Academy-Award-winning film Annie
Hall, Woody Allen managed to accomplish, in a scene less than one
minute long, what Dyson never does in 228 pages. Allen depicts his main character insisting that he overhears
people referring to him as a Jew, for example, by asking him, "Jew
eat?" rather than "Did you eat?" The two phrases sound identical
when spoken quickly. Maybe people are expressing anti-Semitism to Woody Allen,
or maybe, as the script says, he is "paranoid."
recently heard an anecdote on NPR meant to seal America as a racist nation: a
cashier was slow to serve a black customer. I had to ask: was the cashier rude
to the black customer, or was the cashier merely distracted? Has the cashier
ever been rude to a white customer? Had the black customer been rude to the
cashier first, and was the cashier using the weapons of the weak, passive
aggression, to avenge herself? What is our standard for rudeness? NPR did not
ask these questions.
questions can have historic consequences. Did Michael Brown raise his hands in
surrender and say, "Don't shoot," only to be murdered by a racist
cop? Witnesses report that Brown attempted to gain access to a police officer's
gun, fled, and later charged. The officer in question was pursuing Brown
because Brown matched the description of a suspect in a recent robbery. Video
and eyewitness accounts reduce to nothingness the "Hands up; don't
shoot" anecdote, and yet Black Lives Matter activists insist on clinging
to it. Ferguson, Missouri, was torn apart for an anecdote.
does not have to acknowledge that anecdotes alone are not adequate evidence
because Dyson does not acknowledge that there is any point of view other than
his own. Merely to suggest that there is, is to exercise racism. The better
part of the book consists of Dyson telling white people what white people think
and what white people feel. When he appeared on Michael Medved's radio show,
Dyson claimed that black people understand black people and also understand
white people. White people understand neither. White people require black
people to speak the truth to them, the truth they, as whites, are incapable of
seeing or articulating. On Planet Dyson, Michael Eric Dyson sees all, knows
all, tells all.
transparently attempts preemptively to silence any disagreement. He repeatedly
says some variation of this – and this is my paraphrase – "I know you
disagree with me. You disagree with me because you are a racist. I will speak
for you." If whites decline to agree with his prescription to hand their money
over to blacks, Dyson preemptively argues – and this is an actual quote –
"Please don't say that your ancestors didn't own slaves … Black sweat
built the country you now reside in, and you continue to enjoy the fruits of
telling white people what they think and feel, Dyson adopts the provocative
habit of addressing whites as "Beloved." A sampling: "Beloved,
white racial grief erupts when you fear losing your dominance," "It
is being proved wrong that leaves you distressed," and "You are emotionally
immature about race." Ironically, Dyson diagnoses all whites as suffering
from "L.I.E.: lacking introspection entirely." His lack of
self-awareness is not surprising; reading the book, one rapidly discovers that
he is full of himself, and that he suffers from a frustrated Messiah complex. Again
and again, those with whom he interacts fail to recognize his genius. For
example, his African American parishioners eventually locked, and voted him out
of the church in which he emphasized racism and sexism. Between his inflated
ego, his seething rage that the white people who have advanced his career
haven't yet crowned him absolute monarch of the known universe, his conviction
that he alone can save humanity, and his gift for blindness to any fact with
which he might disagree, Dyson is just a few Kool-Aid shots away from being
another Jim Jones.
1978, Reverend Jim Jones brainwashed his followers to believe that racist white
Americans would subject their children to "terrible things" and
"bring them up … to be slaves and subhuman." "The kindest thing
to do … to spare them from what's coming" at the hands of white Americans,
his followers, was to force three hundred children to drink cyanide-poisoned
punch. Jones' majority-black
followers believed this narrative of white evil and black helplessness. Of the
909 suicides and homicides at Jonestown, 300 were children killed by their own
insists, "Nothing about us without us." In other words, if you are
going to talk about black people, you must allow black people to speak. Dyson
insists this while silencing, and speaking for, whites. Dyson reserves special
condescension and absolute silencing for his mockery of poor and ethnic whites,
including Irish people, Italians, Jews, and Poles. No doubt he knows that his
rich, white liberal funders join him in their shared
contempt for poor and ethnic whites. Dyson spits on white ethnics' "polkas
and pizzas." Poor and ethnic whites have no right to pride in their
accomplishments and no right to complain about their pain. Poor and ethnic
whites enjoy "dominance" over other cultures.
says that his words may "frighten" or "anger" white ethnics
or reduce them to attempts to "deny" him. "I know this is a lot for you to take in," he
condescends, italics in the original. The Irish, Poles, Italians, Jews and poor
whites are not smart enough or strong enough to understand Dyson. His
intellectual brilliance "must make you woozy and weak at the knees." With
the exactitude of Stalin's photo archiver, Dyson erases epic suffering and
resilience: the Potato Famine, the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Poland, the
Holocaust, and, in this country, restrictive covenants, early
deaths and maimings among coal miners and steel workers – ugly stories of
men "roasted alive by molten slag that spilled from a giant ladle" of
coalminers whose "spit you could use as ink." Dyson erases "No
Irish Need Apply," and lynchings of Italians such as occurred in New
Orleans on March
14, 1891, and massacres of Poles, Slovaks, and Lithuanians such as occurred
in Lattimer, Pennsylvania on September 10, 1897. Dyson
renders taboo mention of how current college
admissions and immigration
policies disproportionately push back poor whites. And Dyson disguises his
own reduction of the word "white" to a smear that conflates vastly
diverse peoples, from Lapps to Jews, into a single, hateful, entity that is
responsible for all the world's problems and has no right to compassion for
grief or pride in accomplishment.
saves special venom for poor and ethnic whites because he knows that poor and
ethnic whites' true narratives are one of the worst enemies to his favored
narrative. They are not the worst enemies of his favored narrative, though.
Dyson never mentions the ethnic group that poses the greatest threat to his
worldview: recent immigrants from Africa. This cohort, undeniably black, is
among the most successful in America, so much so that recent African immigrants
constitute a "model minority." Elite schools allegedly "pad"
their diversity numbers by favoring recent African immigrants in Affirmative Action
programs. If Dyson really wanted to help black Americans, he ought to do what
columnists like Nicholas
Kristof have done, and examine what skills and behaviors help some ethnic
groups to advance.
poor and ethnic white upset by Dyson's words is not upset because a powerful
man who has the media by the short hairs is promulgating propaganda about their
own history – lies about their own grandmothers, mothers, and themselves. No, Irish,
Italian, Polish, and Jewish readers are upset because "so much has been
invested in whitenesss that it is hard to let it go. It is defensive,
resentful, full of denial and amnesia." Dyson's racist bullying of poor
and ethnic whites has the full support of squadrons of rich white liberals and
a near-Ivy League university, Georgetown. "No matter how poor you
are," he rants from his comfortable Georgetown office, from his position
as an author of five bestselling books, from his microphone, from The New York Times, "No matter how
poor you are … you know white skin is magic." Of himself, he insists,
"What you scream they do not hear." He is unheard. In a bestselling
book. That silences poor and ethnic whites and police officers. Clear?
book's structure is grab-bag. Dyson rants against that evil song, "The
Star-Spangled Banner." He declares that "the election of Donald Trump
was all about whiteness … You will deny it of course." He mentions that
America elected Barack Obama, a black man, president twice, mostly because it
just goes to show you how racist America really is. "There is no denying
that Obama is one of the most profound, impressive, gifted, and inspiring Americans
this nation has seen" Disagree? Racist. Dyson is mad at the movie Mississippi Burning because it dared to
mention that not all whites were KKK. Dyson flaunts his messianic power: his
student breaks down and confesses, "For the first time in my life, I feel
guilty about being white." "Savvier" students had concluded the
shame of whiteness earlier than this boy. Dyson still has work to do: "I
wanted the other white students to share his shame."
are almost no references to peer-reviewed studies. Dyson crucifies police officers
as uniformly subhuman scum, but Dyson never goes near the work of Heather MacDonald and
merely dismisses Roland Fryer
for not gathering more data. This is the cheapest of criticisms: tobacco
executives levelled it against early studies linking smoking with lung cancer.
"We need more data," they insisted.
mentions the Moynihan Report very briefly, only to disparage it as yet more
evidence of evil whitie's attempt to "keep blackness in place."
is no air in this room – the windows are nailed shut. The few references to
real facts in a real world outside of Dyson's ego are references to lowbrow pop
culture and those enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame: the Rachel Dolezals
and Colin Kaepernicks. Dyson has the priorities and aesthetics of a preparer of
the front page of a supermarket tabloid. This appetite is evident in the book's
dedication to "Beyonce Knowles
Carter" – boldface in the original – "Lover of Black People
Genius and Greatest Living Entertainer Feminist and Global Humanitarian." There
are subsequent dedications to Solange Knowles and Tina Knowles-Lawson, also
repetitious, lightless, airless, predictable, self-parodying, unspeakably,
thuddingly boring page: after all this, one begins to conclude that the world
is a frighteningly small place to Michael Eric Dyson. You want to kidnap and
deprogram him. Like those blind people who receive miracle-working operations
that give them sight at an advanced age, Dyson would be overwhelmed to
encounter anything that isn't a direct support for his grievance-ego complex. Has
Dyson ever been able to enjoy an ice cream cone for all it is, and not tried to
make it something it is not?
would read this and enjoy it? This dominatrix-inflected iteration of
"Naughty, naughty, naughty, naughty"? Masochists, that's who. It's
not just the white shaming that makes this such anti-literary godawful tripe.
It's the anaerobic divorced-from-reality but true-to-genre predictability of
it. Some rich white liberal out there craves, publicly, to be spanked. And this
craving is so deep-seated that it obliterates the mind's curiosity and
integrity. Rich, white liberals and blacks who prefer grievance to living life
to the full will cling to this book as if it were a sex toy. Both fulfill the
same function: they allow the user to live out rigidly choreographed fantasies.
Planet Dyson, skin color transcends any other reality. Whites who claim to
admire Martin Luther King Jr are wrong. White people could never understand a
man as black as the "real" Dr. King. "You don't really know him
… he sprang from a black moral womb." "King's soul was indeed black …
beautifully black" "He understood the white psyche" so he didn't
tell the truth to whites because whites can't handle the truth. In fact, Martin
Luther King was a universal hero, inspired by a Jew – Jesus – white men –
Thoreau and Tolstoy – and a Hindu – Mahatma Gandhi.
successes were earned through the cooperation and sacrifice of whites from the
Oval Office to Viola Liuzzo, a white housewife and mother who was martyred by
the KKK for her Civil Rights work. Those who insist on implacable white evil use
King's assassination to erase this narrative of black-white cooperation. The
assassination allegedly proves that no matter how nice whites may seem,
ultimately, America will always betray blacks.
decade that took Dr. King was bookended with the culling of Kennedys, Jack and
Bobby. If, as they sometimes do, sons of the Auld Sod cited their deaths as
seal of implacable Protestant anti-Catholicism, Dyson would mock their grief
and insist that "white skin is magic." Ronald Reagan, George Wallace,
Larry Flynt and Andy Warhol were, alas, all shot. These shootings do not prove
that America hates conservative icons, segregationist governors, pornographers
or wig-wearing, Bohunk boho pop stars.
dividing the world into unreconcilable blacks and whites, whose skin color is
their only salient feature, Dyson confers authority on himself. I am black; my
blackness is my authority; you are white; you are genocidal, morally
degenerate, and blind. Interestingly, whites in general, and poor whites and
ethnic whites in particular are not the only people Dyson works hard to silence.
Dyson silences blacks.
paints America as a killing field where a genocide of blacks is imminent, if
not actually occurring. Do most blacks agree? In a 2016 Associated
Press poll, African Americans were more optimistic about America's future
than whites. One African American, 72-year-old Ethel Tuggle, told a pollster
that "she's amazed at the progress she's witnessed since her childhood in
rural Missouri, when she was barred from entering shoe stores and had to trace
her foot on a sheet of paper so a salesman inside could fit her for shoes. Her
grandchildren live under the nation's first black president." Multiple
surveys point to higher self-esteem among African Americans than among whites.
Recent "deaths of despair" among whites have no parallel among
than a brief diss of Clarence Thomas – his "decisions on the Supreme Court
mock our humanity" – I found no reference to leading black conservatives Shelby
Steele, Larry Elder, Allen West, Walter E. Williams, Thomas Sowell, Orlando
Patterson, Jason Riley, Mia Love, or Deneen Borelli in Dyson's screed.
insists that whites tell blacks to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
Alas, no. As Dyson's race-mongering career proves, rich white liberals reward
blacks for displaying real or feigned wounds.
contra Dyson, it is blacks themselves who urge other blacks to exercise
self-reliance. Not just prominent black conservative intellectuals like Steele,
but blacks whose only soap box is YouTube do this. Thanks to YouTube, a black
woman can voice her rejection of the concept of "white privilege" here. Another
woman insists that Michael Brown made decisions that sealed his own fate here. The self-described
"Doctor of Common Sense" rejects Dyson's major premises in a video entitled
"Ghetto Folks Who Blame Whites."
endorse every syllable of the above-cited YouTubers. I agree on this: people
like Dyson are spreading an unholy scripture that emasculates, paralyzes, and
poisons black people. This scripture insists to blacks: you are doomed. You
should not even attempt to improve your lot. Only white people have power. Your
only hope is to perform before whites as a combination of victim to be pitied
and menace to be feared. Then they will give you their money. Begging and theft
are your only professions.
wants my money. He can have it – the day I can buy a ticket to Dyson debating the
producers of the above videos.
My parents lost everything in WWII, and came to America penniless. They made it. They did not get a penny of government assistance, nor any special favors or special rights.ReplyDelete
I never knew that my immigrant parents were so privileged.
Dyson is working very hard to erase your history and your right to speak it.Delete
With all due respect to Dyson, I am more concerned about others that are trying to "erase my history" and "my right to speak it".ReplyDelete
For instance, I recently reviewed three books by a lawyer who specializes in "property restitution", and who is going after Poland. The most recent one is especially sobering. To see it, please click on my name in this specific posting.
Aw very poignant! If you have not yet read "White Guilt" by Shelby Steele you must. He is a highly educated, published black man. His prospective on the loss of the dignity to his community complicity gained through the powerful white "do gooders" handing out entitlements to the black community led to an invidious stripping of normal advancement in society. His is one of first hand perspective. Raised by a hard working father, often humiliated in the public and employment sectors but proud at home and of his family and accomplishments. Then as Steele grows up he witnesses the shift in the societal "guilt" that only demeans his people. Oh I won't go on but this book articulates the subversive, sublime decline of the pride of a former oppressed races personl right to achieve and "come of age".ReplyDelete
Thanks for the very interesting writting you provide.