Wednesday, February 02, 2011

James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley Jr

In 1965, the Black American writer and intellectual James Baldwin debated William F. Buckley Jr, the leading white right wing American intellectual at Cambridge University in the UK. Baldwin was the leading Black intellectual during the Freedom Movement during the 1960s. Buckley was the leading anti-Civil Rights intellectual in the US at the time. Buckley was the presentable face of white supremacy. Unlike the uneducated Crackers of the Deep South, who were only able to express inarticulate emotional rage and hostility to racial equality, Buckley was able to couch his reasoning for white supremacy beneath an intellectual veneer. Buckley became the archetype of "intellectual racism", leaving a trail followed by David Duke and Pat Buchanan. In this debate, Baldwin outlined the intellectual contours of white supremacy and its effects on the intellectual and psychological development on Black Americans. Baldwin noted that it was not only the overt forms of racism that must be fought but the economic rationalisation of racism that must be dismantled. Baldwin effectively showed that Blacks are thinkers and intellectuals on par with whites.

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