eration of economically obsolete Americans.rnBut remarkably, the tragedy we face is still worse.rnUnlike many of our ancestors, who came out of slaveryrnand entered this century with strong backs, discipline, arnthirst for literacy, deep religious faith, and hope in thernface of monumental adversity, we have produced “arngeneration [that does] not know the ways of thernLord”—a “new jack” generation, ill-equipped to securerngainful employment even as productive slaves.rnWe should not be surprised to find that Mr. Rivers’ superbrnessay evokes some of the essential values associated withrnRichard Weaver and the luminaries of the Southern conservativerntradition. For a substantial portion of black America hasrnlong adhered to those values, notwithstanding deep disagreementsrnover the ensuing politics. Mr. Rivers believes that America,rnblack and white, must adhere to the moral baseline providedrnby the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on thernMount. And he insists that, so far as practicable in a worldrndominated by a global economy, political power must restrnwith the people of discrete communities, the historicallyrnevolved preferences and prejudices of which must be respectedrnso long as they do not violate that moral baseline.rnThus he has forcefully opposed those who argue that the culturalrnwar has already been lost and that attention should bernturned elsewhere. He has replied that if the cultural war is lost,rnall will be lost. In response to Mr. Rivers’ initiative, GlennrnLoury, the “black conservative” economist, made a criticalrndistinction between the market economy, which he supports,rnand the improper extension of a free-market ideology to societyrnas a whole. And in truth, it is hard to believe that we couldrnexpect to live as civilized human beings in a society that makesrnconsumer choice the arbiter of our moral and spiritual life.rnThus from across the political spectrum we are hearing calls forrna reexamination of the relation of religion to society and longrnoverdue challenges to the monstrous mendacity that interpretsrnthe constitutional separation of church and state as justificationrnfor the suppression of religion in our schools and ourrnpolitical institutions.rnSadly, the primary obstacle to a critique of the relation of religionrnto American society arises within the mainstreamrnchurches themselves, significant sections of which have virtuallyrnrepudiated the essentials of historic Christian doctrinernand undermine their own institutional autonomy by submissionrnto prevalent political ideology. It is therefore especiallyrnheartening that black clergymen are raising their voices againstrnthese perversions of doctrine and attendant political opportunism.rnBut we dare not mince words on the lamentable stancernlong taken by Southern conservatives on race relations. Tragically,rnSouthern resistance to national consolidation and totalitarianrntendencies, combined with a discretely admirable defensernof community autonomy, has historically served as arnrationale for the defense of slavery, racial segregation, andrnmanifold injustices. Here the intellectuals and communityrnleaders failed miserably. It would have been one thing ifrnSouthern conservatives had taken full account of the plainly irrationalrnprejudices and vicious racial practices of their communitiesrnand worked calmly and steadily to bring their peoplernto a higher standard of justice. Instead, they either fell silent orrnactually endorsed those prejudices and injustices.rnGood Burkeans should not have to be told that an effectiverndefense of historically evolved community prejudices andrnpolicies depends upon a willingness to effect needful reforms,rnespecially in the face of blatant injustice. Those who today dornnot struggle against the enormity of racism in their own communitiesrnmight at least spare us their whining when a federalrngovernment, with its own questionable and sometimes sinisterrnagenda, imposes antidiscrimination measures from without. Itrnserves no useful purpose to rail that consolidationist measuresrnwill, in the long run, do inestimable damage to black people asrnwell as white. Black America is bleeding from every pore andrncan hardly be faulted if it gambles on a problematic federalrnintervention in the absence of effective alternatives.rnAt issue here is not this or that political or economic program,rnabout which honorable men may disagree, but therncontext in which those battles are being fought out. Regardlessrnof the political specifics, the American people, white as well asrnblack, have poor prospects without that minimal moral consensusrnwhich Dr. Weaver insisted must rest on standards derivedrnfrom the Judeo-Christian tradition and the piety inherentrnin what he called “the older religiousness of the South.” Andrnit is to that very piety which Mr. Rivers has appealed—as haverncountless unsung heroes in the ghettos, who selflessly strugglernagainst a subculture of drugs, crime, and hopelessness.rnny effort by thernblack communityrnto combat spiritualrnand social decay must dependrnupon its ability to impose considerablernsocial discipline and to rein inrnantisocial elements.rnThere are, then, excellent prospects for a coalition acrossrnracial and inherited ideological lines to combat the moral degeneracyrnthat now runs rampant throughout both white andrnblack America. But the unspeakable misery that plagues blackrnAmerica cannot be cured by the resurrection of demonstrablyrninadequate integrationist formulas, whether of free-market, liberal,rnor socialistic varieties. So far, nothing has worked because,rnfor different reasons, liberals, conservatives, and radicals alikernobscure the essentials of the black experience in America.rnThey all assimilate that experience to the experience of othersrn—European and Asian immigrants, colonial peoples abroad,rnor the laboring classes in general. Yet its uniqueness emergesrnfrom the history of slavery and segregation, which confrontedrnblack people with a raw oppression and exploitation well beyondrnthat experienced by European immigrants.rnOn this big subject permit me a few broad strokes. Otherrnpeoples contributed much to the development of an Americanrnnational culture, but despite acute discrimination, they werernnot condemned as an inferior race, and they were able tornprogress and consolidate their gains through the steady accretionrnof political power. Not so for Africans and their descen-rnAUGUST 1994/21rnrnrn