You can’t grow up in Canada in the ’70s and claim to have had some kind of, you know, emotionally fraught, disadvantageous childhood.
Hey, fuck you, buddy!
On the other hand, let’s hand it to Gladwell. He’s cited as an authority on everything, so next time “racism” comes up in conversation, just remind everyone that mixed-race Gladwell said he didn’t experience any while growing up in late 20th century Canada.
And he may get in trouble for this, which isn’t a million miles from stuff Ann Coulter said in her book, Demonic:
When you want to understand why Davids defeat Goliaths, you can’t just tell a story in terms of material advantages, you have to understand that there is going to be sleight of hand and trickery and clever turns and that games will be played. What Martin Luther King’s people, principally, this guy Wyatt Walker, were doing at the climactic showdown of the civil rights revolution in Birmingham, Ala., was playing a trick. Walker played a trick on all of us, that is to say, all of us who were not there, as well as the white establishment of Birmingham, when he used the children and the fire hoses, etc. I think there’s something kind of beautiful, beautiful and heroic about that. It’s a little discomforting to think of the lengths they went to deceive everyone about what they were up to and about what they were capable of, but then, you understand the stakes that they were playing for, right? I mean, you’re trying to end a couple hundred years of oppression. I think playing a few tricks to win the day is totally called for.
A principal part of the strategy of insurgence, whether we’re talking about the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King or a war, is to provoke that kind of excessive behaviour from Goliath. Rebels want Goliath to show the world his thoughtless, brutal side, and when people understand they are members of a Goliath culture, and we realize how often we let our enemies lure us into behaving really badly, that undermines our cause faster than anything else. The whole time I was writing that bit, I was thinking about the use of drones by the Americans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where we’ve been baited into behaving really badly. And, yes, the Albany police chief, Laurie Pritchett; of all the battles that King fought, that was obviously one of his biggest disappointments, because Pritchett wouldn’t go for it, wouldn’t take the bait. He was as much of a segregationist, and probably as much of a racist, as police chief Bull Connor in Birmingham, but King’s activities in Albany never amounted to anything, because the chief remained polite and civil and treated him like a human being and made sure his cops didn’t beat anyone up. So how on Earth do you play the card that King was trying to play, which was to make his opponents reveal themselves?
Q: Thank God, then, for Bull Connor?
A: In a certain sense, yes.