Attorney General Eric Holder raised considerable consternation along the entire American political spectrum with recent observations about our failure to address and fear of issues involving race.
It’s healthy that he did so even though I disagree with his political remedies because he put those issues up for discussion. Per his request to expand the dialogue, I have one major question about race and politics from an old Republican white guy’s perspective.
Why are black Americans the first minority group to move into the nation’s crappy inner cities who are supposed to stay there? The rest of us — Germans, Italians, Jews, Poles — all got to go live somewhere better. Why are we so worried about the “inner cities” as opposed to helping the folks who live there get the Hell out?
This was well illustrated in the movie “Grand Canyon,” based around a Danny Glover character whose motivation throughout the flick is to get his sister and nephew out of South Central L.A. and into a better neighborhood. Danny ought to take a look at the political coalition he supports and realize why that’s so hard to do.
At the beginning of the last century, black voters outside the South were mostly Republican, courtesy of Abe Lincoln. There weren’t many black voters in the South courtesy of the Democrats in charge there. In the 1930s, big-city Democrat machines, beginning in Chicago, cut deals with black political leaders bringing the black community in on jobs, hospitals, public housing and other things. One condition — they had to stay put.
That was a good deal for the Democrats, guaranteeing them a steady supply of machine votes in state and local elections and a base of safe “separate but equal” legislative and congressional districts. Still is. It was a good deal for black leaders who got to hold all those offices. Still is. It was a good deal for Republicans who have a large mass of Democrat voters impacted in ghetto districts and not elsewhere. Still is. It was a really good deal for racists who wanted to maintain white neighborhoods. Still is. Originally, before the passage of civil rights laws about housing, jobs and schools, it was at least an improvement for blacks. Not any more. It’s usefulness is gone.
The federal government poured lots of money into massive housing projects that displaced the original tenements that became as bad as the tenements themselves. Schools were so bad that liberals decided to load kids from everywhere on buses and drive them all over to equalize educational ineptitude, proving once again that equality above all else is their primary driving force. Too many blacks drank their Kool Aid and demand we “fix the ‘hood,” when the best thing to happen would be their abandoning it.
That’s much easier now. Fair employment and housing laws have replaced the old padrone system of plantation politics for housing and jobs, but more important the attitude of white Americans is a whole lot better than when “block-busting” by black families was feared in many suburbs. The Irish and Italians faced that once, too, and have now become part of the American mainstream. Time for blacks to do the same and for their leadership to do what’s best for them, not themselves or the Democrats.
The final scene in Alex Haley’s “Roots” shows Chicken Charlie and his family leaving the old slave quarters they’d been held in for generations. They stop the wagon for a moment and look around. You expect maybe some nostalgia, but his wife looks at him and says “Let’s get out of this n----- place.”
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