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CHALLENGES FOR BLACK PEOPLE A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON A BRIEF COMMENTARY 15 July 2016 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

CHALLENGES FOR BLACK PEOPLE

A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON A BRIEF COMMENTARY

 

15 July 2016

 

Dear Friends and Patriots,

 

          Embedded below in this missive is the article which provoked it.  The article is by Dr. Walter E. Williams, whom many of you may follow and virtually all are aware of.  Dr. Williams has been a very vocal social conscience in more recent years and one of a few nationally known black spokesmen for the causes of conservatism.

 

          A friend at work, Mike Holliday, forwarded the article for my comment.  He made none in his forwarding note; he just sent a web link.  I popped open the article, read it, and realized I wanted to add a different context to Dr. Williams’ thoughts. It’s not that I think I know more than Dr. Williams, but because he cites many facts about the “what” of things, but not of the “why.”  The “what” is vitally important for all to know and acknowledge.  The “what” helps to define problems in need of solutions.  But, I tend to be more about the “why.”  I do understand that knowing history doesn’t fix anything, but the context of historical truth often indicates whether a particular solution has a chance of succeeding or not.

 

          This is the article, posted on-line on 13 July 2016, in its entirety:

 

Challenges For Black People

Walter Williams Wednesday Jul 13, 2016 11:00 AM

President Barack Obama and his first attorney general Eric Holder called for an honest conversation about race. Holder even called us “a nation of cowards” because we were unwilling to have a “national conversation” about race. The truth of the matter is there’s been more than a half-century of conversations about race. We do not need more. Instead, black people need to have frank conversations among ourselves, no matter how uncomfortable and embarrassing the topics may be.

Among the nation’s most dangerous cities are Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, Memphis, Milwaukee, Birmingham, Newark, Cleveland and Philadelphia. These once-thriving cities are in steep decline. What these cities have in common is that they have large black populations. Also, they have been run by Democrats for nearly a half-century, with blacks having significant political power. Other characteristics these cities share are poorly performing and unsafe schools, poor-quality city services, and declining populations.

Each year, more than 7,000 blacks are murdered. That’s a number greater than white and Hispanic murder victims combined. Blacks of all ages are killed at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. According to the FBI, the police kill about 400 people a year; blacks are roughly one-third of that number. In Chicago alone, so far this year, over 2,000 people have been shot, leaving over 320 dead. It’s a similar tale of mayhem in other predominantly black cities.

Heather Mac Donald’s most recent book, “The War on Cops,” points out some devastating and sobering statistics: “Blacks were charged with 62 percent of all robberies, 57 percent of all murders, and 45 percent of all assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, while constituting roughly 15 percent of the population in those counties. From 2005 to 2014, 40 percent of cop-killers were black. Given the racially lopsided nature of gun violence, a 26 percent rate of black victimization by the police is not evidence of bias.”

The primary victims of lawlessness are black people. To address this problem and most others, black people should ignore the liberal agenda. If civil authorities will not do their job of creating a safe environment, then black people should take the initiative. One example comes to mind. In 1988, at the request of residents, black Muslims began to patrol Mayfair Mansions, a drug-infested, gang-ridden, unsafe Washington, D.C. housing project. The gangs and drug lords left. The Nation of Islam sentinels were not deterred by the wishes of politicians and the American Civil Liberties Union. They didn’t feel obliged to give kid glove treatment to criminals. Black residents of crime-infested neighborhoods should set up patrols, armed if necessary, to challenge thugs, gangs, drug dealers and other miscreants and make black neighborhoods safe and respectable. No one should have to live in daily fear for his life and safety. Most Americans have no idea of — and wouldn’t begin to tolerate — the climate of fear and intimidation under which so many black people live.

Without self-initiative, there is not much that can be done about the high crime rate in black neighborhoods. Black and white liberals and their allies in the ACLU, as well as many libertarians, will not countenance the kind of tools needed to bring about civility. For example, the Chicago Police Department recently entered an agreement with the ACLU to record contact cards for all street stops. The ACLU claimed that police were disproportionately targeting minorities for questioning and searches. The practical result will be fewer investigative stops by policemen and more crime, and it will be black residents who suffer.

Black people have the capacity to run the criminals out of their neighborhoods. Let me put the issue another way. Suppose it were the Ku Klux Klan riding through black neighborhoods murdering 7,000 blacks year after year. How many black people would be willing to wait for the Klansmen to behave themselves or accept political promises and wait for a government program?

 

Dr. Williams is a nationally syndicated columnist, former chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, and author of More Liberty Means Less Government.  The article above was posted to the on-line blog, Human Events.

 

          After reading the article I knew I had to say . . . something.  It’s too provocative to just let lie. This was my E-mailed response:


Mike,

At some risk, I will make a few observations.

1.  If white people were the target population for entitlement programs in the same proportion as black people the white population would suffer from almost the exact same maladies, and to virtually the same degree.

2. It's not a function of race, but of decades of policy intended to control one race.  Oddly the politicians who set up all the control mechanisms get praise for their efforts instead of blame.

3. While the statistics tell one story, there are many other aspects, and all are tied directly back to LBJ's Great Society program and the so-called War on Poverty.  Both of those programs were, at best, misguided attempts at social engineering.  They may have been something much more sinister.  It could be the Great Society was intended to be one where poor people were purposefully herded into subsidized ghettos, and the War on Poverty was actually a War on the Poor.

4. If you accept the notion that there's a difference between the poor and the impoverished, consider that the majority of social welfare programs that have been put into place in the past 50+ years have increased the percentage of impoverished, while doing nothing at all to alleviate the suffering of the poor.  This is race neutral.

5.  Violent crime is largely perpetrated by two classes of people - the poor and the criminal.   Often the criminal found crime as a handy means to escape poverty, which implies it's poverty that is the breeding ground for violent crime.  Does that imply that infusing poor communities with money is an answer to poverty and crime?   No it doesn't.   If our history in shoving money into poor urban communities can be judged fairly it's obvious there is an amazingly consistent record of total failure in achieving any positive objective.  It shouldn't take much to convince anyone that the answer doesn't lie in money; at least not money alone.   Giving a person an EBT card does not change that person's talent, work ethic, skill set, or basic value system.  What is it that's not understood?

6.  Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell are two black men who have steadfastly and continuously commented on the true elements that keep the black population of America poorer than whites, Asians or Hispanics.  Both are champions of self-improvement, renouncing pride that's based on existence alone instead of personal accomplishment, personal self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, education as a means to self-improvement, promoting philosophic instead of material values, and looking inward for both the causes and solutions to community and family problems.  Both promote the notion that the cures for the ills of the black community are not magic, but things only the black community itself can accomplish.

7. Note the notion that less police presence allows for higher crime.  That's the crime-deterrent effect of the police presence.  If the police withdraw because of neighborhood animosity, who suffers?  It's already bad due to a culture of non-cooperation with authorities.

8.  The emphasis should be on changing the culture of the poor folks.  If the efforts to change their values and culture can succeed, even moderately, the people will see the benefit and will take over the process themselves.  Currently the "system" is set up to do exactly the opposite - to further diminish any positive attempts to improve and to keep the people as clients to a bureaucracy that exists mainly to sustain itself instead of help.

Them are my thoughts, paltry though they are.  //Steve

 

          My comment regarding a differentiation between the poor and the impoverished references a discussion in my first book, The Battle For America’s Soul.  I’m convinced there are differences between the two and the lack of understanding of those differences plays a part in the failure of virtually all our government’s social programs.  If not the failure, certainly their costs.

 

          One historical truth shouldn’t be ignored.  That truth regards the social degeneration of urban black communities.  Before professional agitators came into those communities and before the massive social legislation of the ‘60s there was a thriving, vibrant, and increasingly successful culture.  Before Black America was looked upon as a means to a political end the heaviest anchors to black social progress as a racial segment of society was the burden of all the racist laws and regulations intended to segregate white from black.  If, instead of creating an entirely new system of bureaucracies intended to impose federal paternalism upon blacks in our land our government, our court systems had revoked all laws that had blatant or even unintentional negative racial consequences, what would have happened?  Would our entire nation have been better off?  I suspect it is so.

 

          When you look at statistics alone there is a sorry tale being told.  It’s a tale of trillions of dollars wasted.  It’s a tale of struggle, faith, and hope for a better day that just never seems to materialize.   What went wrong?  I won’t say, “I know!” but I will say the data and the history of what happened in politics during the ‘50s and ‘60s gives inference to the truth. 

 

          That truth may just be the so-called Great Society was designed more to create a new plantation society than to cure any of America’s ills, much less those of Black America.  The plantation created is inhabited by much the same population as the plantations of the Old South.  The difference is the people inhabiting the New Plantation get “hush money” from the federal treasury.  They’re paid to stay on the plantation, take the money, and to not complain.  How’d that work out? 

 

          Control mechanisms were funded by the government.  Planned Parenthood operated in and near all urban plantation enclaves to help control black population growth.  Regulations were invoked within Great Society social programs that had the effect of breaking up intact families and creating disincentives for new ones. 

         

          Being poor became something of a career field.  It’s not that anyone purposefully aspired to poverty, but “the system” was rigged to create lifestyles designed around entitlement programs.  An entire underground network was formed for the purpose of sharing information on gaming “the system” to maximize the money taken from it.  There’s nothing aspirational about any of it.  There’s nothing that feeds the spirit or the intellect.  The Great Society social system is a giant, sterile desert. Those dwell within it don’t thrive, they exist.  And, because that system includes financial disincentives to aspiration, there are unseen, but real, barriers to individual success.  To escape the New Plantation takes a lot of guts, determination, and personal sacrifice.  Those who make their living running the New Plantation are rarely much help.  They require clients to ensure they stay employed.  Individual success from within the client base only puts a government employee’s livelihood at risk.  Who would want that?

 

          I’m describing an unholy, symbiotic relationship between an ever-expanding group of people and their masters.  It’s the poor and their bureaucratic overlords.  The poor don’t think of their governmental “helpers” as overlords, and I’m pretty certain those government officials don’t use that term for themselves, but what else is it?

 

          Here’s a possible solution to all this mess.  It’s called Equal Opportunity.  While I know that term has been around for decades, I contend it’s only been a buzz-word, not the actual intent of any government effort.  We now have all the laws necessary to preclude institutional racism and discrimination.  In fact, we may have too many.  What we need is to stimulate the desire for achievement.  What we need is to go back and recapture the original spirit of America, back when people seemed to understand freedom and liberty and how to use those then-new American realities to their personal advantage. 

         

          Black Americans who live within the New Plantation are hardly freer than their ancestors who worked the fields as slaves.  Their current chains are figurative in some ways, yet real in others. They are chained by lowered expectations, by excuses built into “the system” and their community experience, and by the very presence of that “free” money they are paid just because they don’t earn to a certain level.  When government stops “helping” perhaps people will re-learn an old American tradition and go forth to help themselves.   The solution is already halfway there.  The Equal Opportunity part has been accomplished.  That was done by the removal of all legal barriers to individual success.  Now what’s needed is that aspirational part, the part where each and every poor person who has the physical, mental and emotional means goes forward as truly liberated individuals and strives to stand on their own two feet and claim their share of the American pie for themselves.

 

          While that last paragraph hints at how America could be different if much of current the social welfare system were to be dismantled, I am not deluded.  I understand, as should all of you, the probability of it happening is near zero.  To do such a thing would take many politicians with more courage, intelligence and steadfastness than exists in the land today.  No, instead the Great Society, and the New Plantation it created, will continue to be a burden for all Americans, a rotting albatross that will never go away.  The merchants of hate and division will continue to ply their trades.  More entitlement programs will be created.  More of the nation’s treasury will be wasted.  Ever more lives will be ruined and lost.  The greatest social crime of the 20th century is poised to continue and possibly become the greatest social crime of the 21st.  

 

          It is all shameful.

 

In Liberty,

Steve