From the VG Bookshelf: “We Have Overcome”
From the VG Bookshelf: “We Have Overcome”
Professor Jason D. Hill published his third book, “We Have Overcome” on July 10, 2018. The subtitle is “An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People.” This is a love letter. Like the best of love letters, this book is honest, raw and steadfast with a passion for the United States of America that is startling. While many of us feel this passionate love for Our Country, it is considered, by “our betters”, nationalist, jingoistic and xenophobic to declare this love. Professor Hill is that bold in his love.
The title is, of course, a reference to the Civil Rights movement’s anthem “We Shall Overcome”. As Hill notes, it has been more than fifty years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. While he’s not letting America off on her past sins of both omission and comission, Hill notes frequently that America is always “becoming”, just like you and me.
From his childhood in Jamaica to his present day life as a tenured Professor, Honors Distinguished Faculty, and Director of Teaching Practicum in Philosophy at Depaul University in Chicago, Illinois, Professor Hill walks us through his journey. Much of the book feels like talking with a friend, albeit a really, really smart friend. I could almost feel the mountain breezes and smell the delicious cooking while the family discussed colonialism, socialism and philosophy. During the airline journey from Jamaica to Atlanta, Hill tells the reader of his anticipation and his fervent “covenant” with his new country. Each step forward and each fall back brings him to where he is today as a university professor.
Hill’s word pictures bring to life his story. Regarding the food and talk, he writes:
…a discussion of ideas and their unmistakable connection to human lives was always complemented with mouthfuls of steaming rice and peas cooked in coconut milk, fried sweet plaintains, and crispy red snapper so soft it dissolved right there on your tongue as a thought came to mind. Oh, the commingled joys of eating and thinking: the food ministering to the mind and its thinking, the mind and its thinking aided by a satisfied palate.”
Regarding the covenant that he made with his new home at 32,000 feet on his way to Atlanta, Hill writes:
…I closed my eyes and made a covenant with this new country I would call my permanent home. I promised that, in the name of the best within me, I would cultivate the noblest virtues in my character and use them as the only legitimate currency to purchase a life that would be worthy of an American. I made a covenant with my soon-to-be approaching country that in the name of the best and highest in me I would seek faith in life’s better possibilities.
To anyone who has ever read anything written by the late American immigrant philosopher Ayn Rand, Hill’s covenant does sound very familiar. In his fearsome belief in himself and his mind, body and spirit, Jason Hill is very much cut from the same cloth as Howard Roark, John Galt, Francisco D’Anconia and even Dagny Taggert, all fictional Rand characters. They are all believers in the principles set for in the founding documents of the United States of America and of the power and integrity of the disciplined mind.
Hill’s “We Have Overcome” takes on several current cultural issues. He takes on far-left liberals, progressives/socialists, or whatever they are calling themselves this election cycle. This passage from the book truly stuck with me. I highlighted it (Actually, I highlighted most of the book.):
Finally, I began to understand the racism of these far-left liberals. Their sense of their own whiteness required black helplessness and inadequacy to shore up a sense of guilt, which would then prompt action on their part, from which they could seek redemption and contrition. There is unbridled hubris behind all this psychic exploitation, because one needs to posit an inferior before one can mosochistically experience redemption. Redemption from some perceived wrong one has inflicted against another. That wrong, which the so-called progressive feels she or he has wielded, is white privilege. Earth has no greater self-righteous and moralistic avenging angel than the progressive afflicted with a sense of wrongful white privilege.
That is exactly the undercurrent that we all (non-progs, that is) have been feeling tugging around the edges of our minds. We may not have the experiences or words, but that is it. The Social Justice Warriors must feel so smug and superior to have that savior mentality, and that superiority makes the rest of us uncomfortable. We, non-progolodons, dare not say aloud what we feel. We will be called (shudder, gasp, horror) “racists”.
Professor Hill takes on some of the darlings of the leftwits, especially writers like (yawn) Toni Morrison and Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the book “Between the World and Me”. As Hill discusses Coates’ book, you will hear, again, an echo of the exaltation of the individual in a Randian way:
Coates’s appeal to some special black racial essentialism is affecting and sympathetic . He writes: “My working theory then held all black people as kings in exile, a nation of original men severed from our original names and our majestic Nubian culture. Surely, this was the message I took from gazing out in the (Howard) Yard. Had any people, anywhere, ever been as sprawling and beautiful as us?”
Hill answers Coates:
Unfortunately, there is nothing special about the black body. There is nothing special about any physical, racialized body per se. Black skin does not convey nobility. Neither does white skin or yellow skin. Your body is not special until it conjoins itself to a mind and adapts nature to its needs and desires and rational aspirations, its self-actualization and manifested agency. Any human body that fails to achieve a self-cultivated moral character and inscrutable human will is merely an ecological social ballast: ignoble, exploitable, and a heap of unintelligible junk on this earth.”
If that doesn’t describe some of our citizenry today, I don’t know what would. Slump shouldered zombie people are walking around this amazing country, with no hope and, what’s worse, no vision.
I could tell you about the maltreatment of Hill by his fellow professors, or his prescription for colleges and universities today. The book is only 171 pages, but it is a jam-packed book sure to feed your mind and soul. Don’t get an electronic copy. Get a hard copy so that you can underline and highlight and make notes in the margin. “We Have Overcome” shows Our Nation the way forward.