Jonah Goldberg

And the thousands of hours of newscasts, television dramas and movies - remember films such as 2004's Oscar-winning "Crash"? - dedicated to racial issues? It's as if they never existed.

I feel like one of the last humans in an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" movie in which all of the pod people are compelled by some alien DNA to pine continually for yet another "conversation" about a topic we've never stopped talking about. And if I just fall asleep, I, too, can live in the pod people's dream palace, where every conversation about race is our first conversation about race. Snatching me from any such reverie was this masterful understatement from Thursday's New York Times: "Religious groups and academic bodies, already receptive to Mr. Obama's plea for such a dialogue, seemed especially enthusiastic."

No kidding. Janet Murguia is one such enthusiastic person. She hoped, according to the Times, that Obama's speech would help "create a safe space to talk about (race)."

Who's Janet Murguia? Oh, she's just the president of the National Council of La Raza, which, despite what they'll tell you, means "the race." Maybe it's just me, but aren't most of the people begging for a "new conversation" on race the same folks who shouted "racist!" at anyone who disagreed with them during all the previous conversations?

This disconnect between rhetoric and reality is the kind of thing one finds in novels by Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Milan Kundera. To my un-rehabilitated ear, Murguia sounds like an old Soviet apparatchik saying that what the USSR really needs is an open and frank conversation about the importance of communism.

Why do voluptuaries of racial argy-bargy want yet another such dialogue? For some, it's to avoid actually dealing with unpleasant facts. But for others - like La Raza or the college professors scrambling to follow Obama's lead - when they say we need more conversation, they really mean their version of reality should win the day. Replace "conversation" with "instruction" and you'll have a better sense of where these people are coming from and where they want their "dialogue" to take us.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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