Saturday, April 3, 2010

Racial Questions, Even If Politically Incorrect and Offensive, Require Exploration

Beneath the surface of our national discourse are a collection of important race based facts that almost everyone recognizes but few are willing to discuss. Emblematic of these is the extraordinarily high percentage of black public officials who have been and continue to be engaged in illegal activities. 

The problem is a significant one both nationally and in many of our communities. Nonetheless, nothing is being done to deal with it, and it cannot be dealt with so long as open recognition of it is avoided.

No problem can be resolved if it is too politically incorrect,  sensitive, or offensive to be recognized and openly discussed.

The unpleasant fact is that in the more than half century that has passed since the nation decisively repudiated and turned away from legal racial discrimination, the  so called black community has failed to develop any significant responsible leadership. Instead, we have charlatans and race hustlers such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, successive mayors of Detroit and other declining big cities, that cold cash Louisiana congressman, the tax avoiding guy in charge of writing our tax laws . . . the list goes on and on . . . and at some point somebody has to ask why and what can and should be done about it.

The purpose of this post is not to attempt to answer those questions, but, instead, to (i) suggest some possible reasons for the failure, and (ii) contribute to the beginning of an honest and open discussion and consideration of the problem.

There is one major difference other than skin color between most of the nation's black citizens and their non black counterparts. Unlike those counterparts, few black citizens or their ancestors chose to come here. Other Americans or their ancestors emigrated to the United States for the opportunity to build better lives for themselves and their progeny. Such immigrants are a self selecting group . . . an elite if you like . . . with the courage and initiative to leave a settled existence for something unknown that might be better. That daring spirit lives on in the genes of most Americans.

The ancestors of most black citizens were brought here as slaves, unwilling immigrants. They too were selected . . . but they were selected by others as being too slow, too stupid, or just too unfortunate to avoid being captured and kept as slaves by other blacks who sold those who were unable to escape to the slave traders who transported them to our shores.

Neither group had a monopoly on privation, grueling labor, or discrimination. All but forgotten today is the bias that every wave of new immigrants to our shores suffered -- the Scandinavians who were shunted out to the old northwest territories swamplands, where they were expected to perish but instead survived and ultimately prospered, and in the process built a thriving agricultural and manufacturing society, the despised Irish who fled their homeland's potato famine and overcame rejection here to build many of our great cities and much of the country's infrastructure -- to mention but a few examples that also included eastern and southern Europeans and Jews, Asians, and many others. All chafed, struggled, and fought against the prejudices and discrimination against the newcomers, ultimately winning full membership and participation in American society through their own efforts . . . . The struggles by successive waves of newcomers to overcome the challenges they faced here has, in my opinion, given our society a vitality absent in the societies from which the immigrants came.

The black experience was different. Imported blacks certainly suffered from their status as slaves and many were over worked and treated inhumanely and unjustly. But they by and large were kept and had no need or incentive to strive to improve their lot as improvement generally was unattainable. On the other hand, every slave represented an investment by the slaveholder and therefore the slaveholder had an interest in keeping the slave in good enough condition to keep working, to bring a return on the investment -- a marked contrast to the Irish or Chinese laborers who could be worked to death and replaced without cost.

This is not to condone or excuse the immorality of slavery that was recognized too slowly and then allowed to continue far too long and then replaced with equally reprehensible discriminatory practices.

That series of sins by our society, when we ultimately and belatedly ended them, led to an equally serious mistake -- because of a collective sense of guilt, instead of really ending discrimination against blacks and freeing them to strive to earn a place in society, we tried to atone for our transgressions by continuing to keep them, giving them preferences -- a leg up, which was called affirmative action. This, it was felt, was owed to the group for what its members previously had suffered.  And the result of that was the creation of a sense of entitlement, a sense of victimhood, that appears to have become permanent.

Thus it is no wonder that so much of the so called black community responds to those who exploit, and live large by exploiting white guilt and the corresponding black sense of entitlement and victimhood. The exploiters naturally seek to make both permanent features of our society.  Does anyone truly believe that either of the two above-mentioned reverends would lift a finger if he was able, with wave of his hand, to wipe out every vestige of black inequality?

Meanwhile new Asian immigrants progress toward full participation as equal  citizens of the nation through their own efforts.  So too do many newly arrived Hispanics despite attempts by many of their would be leaders to adopt the black model. All one needs to do to identify where any purported minority group leader stands is to see who decries as racist any criticism of, or disagreement with their divisive efforts or reprehensible conduct.

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