While I have not read any of Professor Glaude’s works I have seen him on television frequently and appreciate his intelligent comments and his critique of many American delusions. Yes, we are not a City on a Hill, largely because all biblical allusions refer to a human race not in fact really here or there. It is easy enough to take on the trappings of virtue and morality without worthiness; the Bible calls that pharisaism, even though the Christian view of the pharisees has been shown by historians to be bigoted anti-Semitic observation based on little truth.

Glaude says he is not an optimist and I agree that optimism is not called for in our discussion of racial matters today. But he seems to buy the notion that revolutionary change is both good and moral, even if it is not necessarily around the corner. I would differ by claiming that revolutionary change is rarely good, often disruptive, and that the result is often worse than the disease in the first place. This is Burkean, and while Edmund Burke in his own day was ridiculed as an Irish lap dog for factions of the British aristocracy and one who saw the French Revolution less through proper glasses than through myopic lenses, in time his sort of conservatism was generally held to be more practical, more moral, less dangerous and more commendable than the versions found east of the Rhine River or south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

My own lack of appreciation for James Baldwin could be considered evidence of my racism, but actually it is admission that white people still have trouble with Black people for many reasons, not all or most of which are racist; most problems whites have with Blacks, and Blacks with whites, are based on early experiences with “the other” which have left damage in our brains and our souls, things which are very hard to deal with and correct if ever and which politics surely will fail in the endeavor.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.