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Coleman Hughes. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Coleman Hughes on the New Racism

Plus: Douglas Murray meets the son of Hamas, LBJ’s lessons for Joe Biden, and more.

At just 27, Coleman Hughes is one of the most important voices on race in America. In his speeches and his writings as a Free Press columnist, he has argued for a return to the color-blind ideals of Martin Luther King Jr.

You might think that’d be uncontroversial. But it puts him at odds with the most dominant black intellectuals today, led by voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ibram X. Kendi, who believe that the only remedy for past discrimination is current discrimination. 

But Coleman refuses to accept any discrimination as legitimate, asking: “Where does it end?”

In his new book, The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America, he writes:

I am a descendant of slaves. I learned about slavery not just through history textbooks but also through family lore. I have a well-preserved record of my enslaved ancestors. My grandfather, Warren Hughes, traces his ancestry to Wormley Hughes, a gardener on Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation. Because of interest in Monticello, there is unusually robust evidence of our family’s roots.

Whenever I have faced challenges, physical or mental, I remember that my enslaved ancestors had overcome much worse. But whatever traumas I’ve endured are caused by events that have happened to me in my lifetime, not to them in theirs.

In an exclusive excerpt from the book that we are thrilled to publish today, Coleman calls today’s fashionable anti-racism a form of “neoracism” that “denies our common humanity.” 

Read Coleman on “The New Racism” here:

When a president says he isn’t running 

lol hey guys.” So said the President of the United States on Sunday night. Or at least, that was the caption of the first post on his campaign’s new TikTok account. 

Biden’s goofy pitch to the youth came just days after a damning Justice Department report called him an “elderly man with a poor memory”—and he made matters worse in a disastrous press conference that evening, in which he referred to Egyptian premier Fattah el-Sisi as the president of Mexico.

The TikTok post is a strange move given that Biden signed a law banning the Chinese-owned app on government phones. But more importantly, it does nothing to persuade voters he is capable of a second term.

A new poll published Monday found that 86 percent of Americans think Biden, 81, is too old to be president. To put that number in perspective, there are about as many Americans who think the earth is flat as there are who think Biden is up to the job. (H/t Jonathan Turley.) 

Given these dire developments: Could Biden drop out? The last time an incumbent president announced he would not seek a second term was LBJ in 1968. So I called the man who knows more than anyone else about that moment: Luke Nichter, the historian and author of The Year That Broke Politics.

LBJ decided not to run when he “began to doubt his own chances of being reelected. That’s the turning point,” says Nichter. “An awful lot that happens in Washington happens for selfish, personal reasons.” 

Johnson’s decision came after the unsuccessful Tet Offensive in Vietnam and a weak showing in his party’s New Hampshire primary. “I’ve heard him say increasingly these last months, ‘I do not believe I can unite this country,’ ” noted Lady Bird Johnson in her diary shortly after her husband’s announcement. 

Health was a factor too. “Two hospitalizations for surgery while I was in the White House had sharpened my apprehensions about my health,” Johnson later wrote in his memoirs. 

Johnson was 60 when he made the call not to run, two decades younger than Biden. Johnson’s approval rating in early 1968 hovered around 40 percent. Biden’s most recent Gallup approval rating was 41 percent. 

“What amazes me is that as feeble as [Biden] obviously is, no one is willing to come out and seriously challenge him other than a member of the House nobody’s heard of and some very minor candidates,” says Nichter. In ’68 Senators Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy challenged LBJ in the primaries. No one of the same stature has challenged Biden. And Nichter notes that doing so can be a risky move: “The lesson of history is that if you challenge him you might have a chance to win, but you can seriously divide your own party.”

Douglas Murray meets the son of Hamas

Mosab Hassan Yousef has lived an extraordinary life. Born in Ramallah, Mosab spent his youth involved in Hamas. That was expected of him, given that his father, Hassan Yousef, is one of the founders of the Islamist movement. But during a stint in Israeli prison in the late ’90s, at age 18, something changed. Or maybe the better way of putting it is that he flipped.

Eventually, Mosab became Israel’s most valuable intelligence asset, foiling suicide bombings and other terror attacks. They called him The Green Prince.

A few weeks ago, Mosab sat down with Free Press columnist Douglas Murray in Tel Aviv to talk about the world he left behind, what motivates Hamas, and whether or not the movement can be defeated.

Click below to watch a short clip from their conversation. 

Later today, we’ll send out a video of their full, fascinating 60-minute conversation, which will be available only to paid subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed, now’s the time. 

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Palestinians—and the world—need better Palestinian leadership. Here’s how we get it. 

One of the clearest lessons from Yousef’s story—and from October 7—is that no sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians is possible as long as Hamas has power in Gaza. And so, the question is: Who should lead Gaza once Hamas is destroyed?

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has backed the idea of giving control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority that runs the West Bank. The PA, notoriously corrupt, has been run since 2005 by Mahmoud Abbas, who is now 88. 

Is there a way to encourage newer and better Palestinian leadership? Douglas J. Feith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the George W. Bush administration, thinks so. Here’s his proposal:

The Gaza war is a chance for Palestinians, with outside help, to make a quantum-leap improvement in their politics and society. And that starts with leadership.

Western countries and perhaps Arab states will inevitably send large sums of reconstruction aid to Gaza after the conflict.

They should use that money to empower a new elite in the territory.

The United States can help arrange to channel the aid through some kind of body whose governors would include Palestinians committed to conditions set by the donors. The main conditions should be radical but hard to argue against:

(1) don’t steal the funds,

(2) fund only civilian projects, and

(3) don’t promote hatred of Israel or the donor countries.

There could also be more specific guidance; for example, construct permanent housing rather than rebuild “refugee camps,” and require schools to promote nonviolent resolution of disputes rather than extremism. This would be the opposite of the approach taken for 75 years by the UN agency for Palestinian relief (UNRWA), which has dedicated itself to perpetuating the war against Israel.

Palestinians agreeing to administer the reconstruction would need security for themselves and their families, who might have to be removed to safe places abroad, as the current Palestinian leaders would see them as enemies.

The Gaza war is a major historical event, and donors can set goals accordingly. They need not be content to aim for minor reforms of current institutions. What is needed is serious improvement in the political culture. There is no harm in trying to move substantially beyond the status quo.

It would be wasteful (at best) to put reconstruction aid into the hands of the PA or UNRWA, let alone Hamas. The existing political institutions are the problem, not the solution. A random set of Palestinian businesspeople would do a better job than the leaders now in power.

The aid donors can draw on the talents of Palestinian engineers, medical doctors, and lawyers, especially Palestinians who have lived in the West and know firsthand the benefits of living under the rule of law. What is crucial is that the new administrators do not come from the ranks of the PLO (which runs the PA), Hamas, or other terrorist or extremist groups.

There are capable Palestinians who are not ideologically extreme. The aid donors’ challenge is to recruit those who might have the courage, integrity, and ability to spend aid money properly. It bears repeating that this means using the funds to buy not explosives, rockets, and tunnels for terrorist attacks, but apartment buildings, sanitation systems, power plants, and financial support for farms and factories. It should finance schools that teach useful skills rather than indoctrinating kids to become martyrs in hopes of destroying Israel and the West.

The Palestinian people have never had such leadership. They have never benefited as they should from the billions of aid dollars donated to help them. And the aid donors—shamefully—have never before actually insisted that their funds be spent properly.

Would the newly empowered Palestinians have legitimacy? Not at first, but no Palestinian leader now has a democratic mandate. The issue is not democracy but effective, relatively humane administration. And once in place, new leaders may garner support if they use the aid to improve their people’s lives, without enriching themselves or provoking war with Israel.

Better Palestinian leadership would serve not only Palestinian interests but also those of Israel, the United States, and much of the world. The effort may not succeed. But the alternative is to retain the current disastrously bad actors. For all President Biden’s talk of a “two-state solution,” there’s not even a glimmer of a chance of that outcome without change at the top of Palestinian society.

It is hard to overstate the significance of bad leadership. For over a hundred years, violent, self-serving authoritarians have failed the Palestinian Arabs, producing neither general prosperity nor statehood, but only endless unsuccessful war against the Jews.

Many of the millions of Palestinians are accomplished people who, under the right circumstances, could provide better leadership than Haj Amin, Yasser Arafat, or Mahmoud Abbas has done. It’s a low bar. We should help decent people hurdle it. 

Oliver Wiseman is an editor and writer for The Free Press.

The Free Press earns a commission from any purchases made through Bookshop.org links in this article.

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