David Mamet - a playwright who weaves philosophy and deep thought with fast paced messages, frequently laced with foul language. An interview that will gladden you; at least someone in the arts is still keeping America awake and vibrant.
One of Mamet’s recent plays, Race, is about a controversial trial full of racial implications. He wrote it to tackle America’s “hypocrisy” on the most intractable of social issues.
“In the African American community, one of the legacies of slavery that Thomas Sowell writes so beautifully about is that the generations that endured slavery were the toughest people in the world,” Mamet explains. “The legacy is not that they emerged as slaves, but that they transcended it, and didn’t want to go back. Then Lyndon Johnson comes along and says, ‘I can help you.’ Well, he helped them right back, but that’s human nature.”
The great jazz critic and essayist Stanley Crouch makes the compelling point that the invention of modern music, and the establishment of the blues aesthetic, by illiterate slaves in cotton fields might very well be the “greatest achievement in the history of the species,” but all America hears and sees every February, during black history month, are the slave narratives and pictures of fire hoses.
Mamet pointed out that one of the most tired, and tiresome, tropes of American politics is the piety that “we must have a dialogue on race.” “We’ve been having one continuous dialogue on race for my entire lifetime, and it only worsens and widens the divide,” he said before explaining that American liberalism infantilizes black Americans in a culture of dependency. “Black people”, Mamet pointed out, “are sufficiently smart and strong not to need the paternalism of good willed white liberals to make it.”