I found myself in the car yesterday afternoon listening for perhaps the 30th time to an episode of Avatar being played on the car DVD. I happen to think that Avatar is a rather unusually good kids’ show. Since this was routine car pooling, with the same passel of tired and cranky kids getting shlepped down the same stretch of freeway for the millionth time, I had no problem with stopping the bickering by directing their attention to the small DVD screen hanging from the car’s ceiling. For me, though, never having seen the show, but just having heard it over and over and over again, the whole experience was somewhat mind-numbing.
A numb mind is a wandering mind, and that’s what mine started to do. I started to think about the charges Wright made against America and white Americans — charges that many, many blacks seem to believe are true. The response white America has had to the revelation about these charges is that they are, in fact, not true. That while black Americans might once have been the victims of systemic government discrimination, that is no longer the case. Instead, America is, in fact, a land of opportunity for blacks as well as everyone else. Indeed, everything I’ve since Wright’s attitudes went public has basically said to blacks: “You’re wrong, so get over it.”
My thought experiment went a different way: What if, instead of saying to blacks that their underlying premise is wrong, we instead said that they’re right — That it’s absolutely true that, despite more than 40 years of Johnson’s Great Society, everything they complaint about is true? America does still systematically discriminations against black America, and it is accurate to call it the US of KKK. You — American black citizens — are also right that, more than 40 years after the Civil Rights movement, ordinary Americans are seething with racial hostility to blacks. (Keep in mind that I don’t agree with these statements; this is a thought experiment.)
In this universe, which embraces the belief that the USA is irremediably hostile to blacks and that nothing she has done has operated to their benefit, African Americans nevertheless continue to demand that the American government keep funding and expanding the same programs that the blacks insist have failed. For example, in his race speech, having accepted as true Wright’s complaint that African Americans are still getting the short end of the stick, Obama again demands government intervention:
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination — and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past — are real and must be addressed.
Not just with words, but with deeds — by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations.
Of course, Obama’s speech does not acknowledge one fact: Americans have been investing in school and communities, have been enforcing civil rights laws, have been making the criminal justice system more equal, and, through 40 years of quotas, affirmative action, anti-discrimination rules and public education, have been providing generations of black Americans with ladders of opportunity. In other words, for the past 40 years, Americans have been doing the opposite of saying, “Hell, no! We’re not going to pass any laws or do anything that might theoretically benefit African Americans.”
Nevertheless, despite more than 40 years of passing laws that are intended to affect American blacks, the same laws that Obama continues to demand we pass, Wright and other African-Americans have concluded that we’ve failed dismally in all these efforts. No matter what we do, we’re so deeply tainted and racist that nothing changes. I mean, countries rise and fall in 40 years, but we still haven’t been able, as a nation, the fix the black communities’ problems.
Given what black Americans see as America’s pathetic failure to correct the intrinsic problem of anti-black racism, which translates into black failure, what do you think black America should do? As I noted above, the current attitude from the Left now (and that is the side most black Americans embrace) is that black problems are America’s fault, so it is up to America to continue to try to fix them with more government problems. To date, however, by the blacks’ own testimony, America has proven woefully inept at fixing them.
It seems to me that, in the real world, if you give someone responsibility to fix a problem, and they fail repeatedly and overwhelmingly, then you start looking for new solutions. You don’t just say, “Well, I’ll just sit here in a mess of your making and wait for you to figure it out while I suffer.” Wouldn’t it make more sense to say, “You created the mess, but you’re obviously incapable of fixing the mess. I’d better do it myself.” I do not understand why the black community, having weighed us (white America) and found us wanting, continues to demand that we save it. Even conceding that everything wrong with the black community is indeed our fault, it’s become pretty apparent that we (that is, white Americans) are not fixing the problems. The profound irony, of course, is that the lack of fixes doesn’t affect us very much at all — but it affects black Americans terribly.
If things are as bad as Wright and his fellow travelers say, African Americans should be rejecting the Obama message of more government, rather than embracing it. After all, by their own testimony, the government is a failure. It has not done what it set out to do. African Americans should be demanding an entirely new approach, rather than more of the same. That they’re not making such demands can lead us to a couple of entirely different conclusions. The first is that, when it comes to the subject of government programs and race, African Americans fall within the jocular definition of insanity, which has one doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. The second, alternative conclusion, is that things have, in fact, improved under the government’s aegis, and that African Americans are worried that, if they concede that this is true, white America will say “Great, the job is done,” and then turn off the spigot.
The one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that, if blacks are correct that America has been incapable of correcting the horrors it visited upon them, despite more than 40 years of trying, blacks must start taking care of themselves, rather than waiting another 40 years for us to get it right. What they’re doing right now, with a vengeance, is cutting of their collective noses to spite their collective faces. It may be all our fault, but they’re the ones suffering as they passively wait for us to figure out how to get it right.