The New York Times worked itself into a fugue state this morning of the MLK holiday with a front-page orgy of reproving headlines: “[Charles] Blow: Trump is a Racist, Period”; “Donald Trump’s Racism, the Definitive List”; “‘I’m Not a Racist,’ Trump says, as DACA Hopes Dim”; “In Trump Remarks, Black Churches See a Nation Backsliding.”
I suspect these are not so much the cries of a people yearning for redress of unfair laws — as was the case in 1963 when Martin Luther King led the now-hallowed march on Washington against the Jim Crow regime in Dixieland — but the hue and cry of a political machine desperate for attention that has otherwise run out of principles and purposes.
Donald Trump is certainly a vulgar fellow of questionable intelligence, and the country might be better off with someone else in the White House. But where exactly would that leave black America? We’re not going to re-run the civil rights campaign of the 1960s, which culminated in explicit federal laws that abolished the southern state’s Jim Crow laws.
What is government supposed to do now to improve the lives of black America? There is, for instance, the quandary of public assistance — welfare of various forms, transfer payments, SNAP cards, housing subsidies. I don’t believe these policies were concocted deliberately to keep people-of-color down, but they’ve been hugely destructive to family formation because of the “man-in-the-house” rule that strongly promotes single-parent households headed by mothers. And these policies have surely shaped a dysfunctional ghetto culture in many other ways. I don’t hear any calls from the black caucuses, or from their professional colleagues in the lobbying industry, or from the black churches, to change that rule. There is no movement at all to get rid of public assistance per se.
We’ve had several generations who, in one way another, have enjoyed the benefits of “affirmative action,” and American black people are still under-represented in the professions, except in government jobs. Affirmative action has been challenged in the courts, but it finds new ways to assert itself, especially in academia. Black public intellectuals — Sowell, McWhorter, Steele, et al — have argued that affirmative action stigmatizes all of black America, and it’s worth considering if that is true. They are in a tiny minority of black non-Leftists who even dare to raise the question.
Who is actually responsible for the murder rate among black men in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and Milwaukee? Is “structural racism” behind the decision to pull the trigger? Are gang-bangers depraved on account of they’re deprived, as the old lyric from West Side Story goes?
How come there is no recognition that the promotion of multi-culturalism militates against the idea of a national common culture — e pluribus unum (out of many, one) — leaving nothing for any people to assimilate into? And how much is the cult of multiculturalism an excuse for black America to stay exactly where it is, separate and steeped in grievance for being “left out”?
These questions are apart from the easily-observed character deformities of the President. But they were there in plain sight before he came on the scene and Trump is not the reason black America finds itself so frustrated and angry.
I had an eye-opening experience three years ago after I gave a lecture at Boston College (a talk on issues raised by The Long Emergency). The social justice hysteria on campus was reaching cruising speed just then. After my talk, I was taken out for dinner by six or seven faculty members. One was ethnically Asian, the rest white. Three of them were professors specializing in “race and gender” studies. Since that was the case, they steered the conversation to issues of race and gender. I made the remark that it ought to be a primary mission in education to teach proper spoken English — because without that ability, kids might not be able to learn anything else.
I was denounced as a “racist” all round the table for saying that. Three years later, it still astounds me that any professional educator would mount an argument against developing skills in the language of this country. That’s something I would definitely blame white people for.
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