Sunday, March 11, 2007

Let Us Make Man, pt. 5 - And what now are we to make of liberal elites, black and white, who perpetuate the current sense of victimization and grievance amongst African Americans? To begin with, given the track record of both their policies and their misguided efforts, how do we explain their sway over the black community? Perhaps Drs. Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven can best explain the reasoning of those whose thinking they have so influenced.

The national Democratic leadership, however, is alert to the importance of the urban Negro vote, especially in national contests where the loyalty of other urban groups is weakening. Indeed, many of the legislative reforms of the Great Society can be understood as efforts, however feeble, to reinforce the allegiance of growing ghetto constituencies to the national Democratic Administration.
It appears that, even in the face of abject failure upon implementation, certain ideas die a slow death. Even now, after the reductions in both welfare rolls and child poverty that accrued from Republican sponsored welfare reform in 1996 (which passed only after being twice vetoed by President Clinton), the Left is unable to show any contrition or remorse for their reprehensible behavior towards the masses of blacks that they have exploited. Safely ensconced in her current position as Professor of Political Science and Sociology at The City University of New York, Dr. Piven, along with author Barbara Ehrenreich bemoan the demise of welfare in their article, "Who’s Utopian Now?" in the February 4, 2002 issue of The Nation.
We lost something else too: a crucial tool for improving the jobs that exist. An adequate welfare system, capable of supporting the unemployed at some level of dignity and safety, would enable the poor to turn down the most underpaid and abusive jobs. It would, in addition, empower more low-wage workers to take the risk of organizing, knowing that they could still survive even if they were fired. This in fact is what most irked employers about welfare-as-we-knew-it. And it is this aspect of welfare – as a protection for low-income parents and the working poor generally – that most urgently needs to be restored and defended.
Clearly, the deadliest sin of the modern Left is an arrogance that makes repentance or apology impossible. Here are two high priestesses of liberalism, not showing even the most infinitesimal amount of remorse for their destroying (at least) an entire generation of African Americans with their schemes. Rather, they lament that our government quite correctly made efforts to correct and reverse the damage that they intentionally wrought. They certainly seem to show no concern or remorse over the effects of their schemes on the lives of the "subjects" of their experiment.

A fair-minded reading of history informs us that the whole of the Civil Rights Movement, the actions of the NAACP, SNCC and the SCLC, the various marches, boycotts and sit-ins great and small, and all of the jailings, beatings and bombings that were endured, all of it was almost exclusively an effort on the part of a new American mainstream, black and white. Indeed, the courageous souls of every color and race who were involved in those efforts were of brave heart and sober mind. And with few noteworthy exceptions, none of the true heroes of the civil rights movement adopted the radical agenda of the countercultural Left; they most certainly were not Don Henley's "wild-eyed pistol wavers" or the brooding socialists of the counterculture.

The entire goal of the civil rights pioneers was that of equality of opportunity, not that of result. Those men and women understood that America was indeed a great nation and had only to live up to its full potential by improving its treatment of the truly oppressed. (It is true that towards the end of his life, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. flirted with the idea of some sort of guaranteed income for all citizens, but even then, his goal was not the violent overthrow or chaotic upending of American government.)

On the other hand, the efforts of 60s counterculturalists were primarily at the margins of the Civil Rights Movement, their behaviors being more focused on assuaging their own grievances than providing substantive benefit for the recipient. In addition to the counterproductive efforts of the NWRO, other leftists of that period worked with black and Hispanic street gangs, even though by then they had turned their specialties of violence and criminality into high art.

And as for integration, the counterculture’s efforts appear to have been confined to integrating the welfare rolls. If anything, the counterculture dedicated its efforts to disintegration of society through their promoting of a confrontational and oppositional mindset in themselves and in their hapless followers. Perhaps there is some sort of justice in the fact that even as the counterculturalists' efforts towards the expansion of AFDC programs led to the development of a culture that saw ordinary middle-class imperatives and responsibilities as foreign, so it is that the counterculturalists and their accomplices in the African American community who find themselves held hostage to their own culture of resentment and antipathy.

There are inconvenient truths that rest beneath the plain and obvious face of black dysfunction. The simple fact is that while some blacks appear to claim counterproductive behavior as a badge of honor, it is at least as likely that they do so as a psychological defense. By way of this device, more than a few African Americans have lost the need or impetus to confront their evident inability to compete with other races in any meaningful academic or socioeconomic endeavor. In this context, a sense of collective deficit would be appropriate, but for blacks, it is now largely absent. In fact, in measures of self-esteem, black students (including those who lag behind their peers academically) score higher in self-regard than children of other races. Clearly, this outsized sense of self is under girded by something other than scholastic achievement.

But there are also external factors that make black dysfunction seem necessary and even desirable in many quarters. There is a significant contingent in this country that sees the diminished status of African Americans as an indictment against American mores and values. Race-based discrepancies provide a rationale for those who would condemn America as an inherently racist nation. Liberals need black dysfunction at least as much as many blacks themselves do. As long as the phenomenon of blacks behaving badly is seen as something to be understood as a function of overt racism (or "structural impediments") as opposed to individual choice, African Americans and their liberal enablers will never need to examine themselves and their behavior. While this is not to say that black and white liberal elites are directly responsible for all that prevails in the black community, but it is clear that there is a symbiosis between the black underclass and liberal elites.

Because African Americans have been persuaded to use our history of oppression as a guarantee of entitlement as opposed to a source of resolve, we developed neither the desire nor the ability to transcend that history, and so we find ourselves constrained rather than transformed by it. Over time, the learned behavior within the black community has been to hold on to our grievance as if it were a life preserver, and shift any blame for our shortcomings as often as possible, as far as possible, to as many (white) people as possible.

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