Race & Ethnic Politics--America, 2008

April, 2008 Feature--Truth Based Logic

A contemporary obsession with race--neither positive nor constructive, a denial of history & nature. President Bush & "nativism." Senator Obama & the Constitution. Intellectually & morally confused politicians.

America in the Twentieth Century became obsessed with race, but not in a fascination with variations in the human type; neither in a celebration of nature or genealogy, nor in a contemplation of the full significance of the Fifth Commandment. The obsession, rather, grew out of an earlier malady, which we have identified as a compulsion for uniformity--in its local manifestation, an American variety of the same neurotic "need," which fueled the French Revolution during the "Reign of Terror," as the later Communist and Nazi Revolutions in 20th Century Europe. The obsession, here, was not to honor heredity or ethnicity; rather to deny their significance in anything positive to the human condition or progress.

The rationalization, of course, was that racial awareness led to racial prejudice and discrimination; that in a pretense of absolute human equality of potential--a notion for which there has never been the slightest scientific demonstration--we somehow fight "hate." Yet somehow, while it has become intolerable to allow racial preferences in one's business or social dealings--at least among the American White mainstream;-- intolerable that anyone would even suggest a problem with any other race or ethnicity; it has remained perfectly acceptable to show insult, contempt, even outright hatred to anyone who openly expresses a preference for association with those with whom he has a genetic kinship more distant than immediate family.

We could dwell at length on the absurdity of this. Or we could--as we have in Chapter 5 of the Conservative Debate Handbook--explain how this bias, and the pseudo-science that has been used to justify it, has destroyed the educational potential of some of the very minorities, whose interests we are supposed to believe are being served. It helps no one but demagogues and the parasites, who exploit the problems of those whose well-being they claim to advocate. Or we could contrast such obsessive denial of race and ethnicity with the philosophic and moral wisdom of such once honored American Negroes, as Booker T. Washington--or the late great NFL defensive player, Reggie White--who discussed race and history in a positive context, and sought to improve conditions based upon wise lessons from the human past.

Or we could point out the implied insult--present in any pretense of a uniformity of human potential--inherent in the concept that all types are equal, and hence not supposed to justly esteem or emphasize areas where their distinctive qualities combine to give them unique advantages. One need look no further than the profound, yet now denied, differences between men and women, to see where such denial takes us. Yet would any rational person, suddenly stranded in the Kalahari desert, prefer a disciple of the Boas/Montagu school of Cultural Anthropology, from Columbia or Yale, to a never formally educated Bushman, as a guide? Or, put another way, consider the reported humiliations of elderly native White Americans in Airports, including frail women, because our Federal Government disdains any form of ethnic profiling--even in dealing with what is almost entirely an ethnic threat.

But these are reflections, not a quest for definitive statement; reflections prompted by the recent rhetoric of two men who epitomize the break down in American politics: President George W. Bush and Illinois Senator Barrack Obama. In deference to the Office, we will take the President first.

As explored in other features, George W. Bush is intellectually and morally confused. While his two Supreme Court appointees were reasonably Conservative men, his personal initiatives have been anything but Conservative. Nor, despite his frequent assertions of strong religious faith, have they demonstrated much, if any, political morality.

From extravagant spending, a needlessly offensive foreign policy--a meddlesome arrogance, the complete antithesis to the Golden Rule--to the self-defeating demagoguery of the "No Child Left Behind" mockery of formal education--[Have you ever been in a class where everyone progressed, or showed any potential to progress, at the same speed?]--to a failure to defend our borders, while strutting around like a comic opera drama queen with a sense of his own importance--our "defender"--to misnaming an internal security law that fails even to show preference for the rooted American over the hostile alien, while disparaging the limitations on Government validated in the American Revolution; the man has done as much to demean his Office, in a little over seven years, as Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson, in twenty.

Claiming that his intrusive foreign policy is building a foundation for generations of peace--a claim which denies both human nature and clear lessons from past human experience--such as that of the Israelis in an over forty year occupation of the West Bank--the President recently denounced "isolationism" and "nativism," as threats to American well being. "Isolationism" is a deliberately misleading term, adopted by the Wilsonians who lost the League of Nations debate, for the traditional Washington/Jefferson foreign policy. The Fathers never sought to isolate America, but to deal with others on the basis of mutual respect, rather than meddlesome interference, subjects frequently addressed at this web site. "Nativism," defined in Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary in the era before the massive 20th Century assault on Western values, as "Partiality in favor of native born citizens in preference to foreign born," is a simple preference for those whose families have shared a common history. Certainly nothing to hiss about!

Yet with the rise of International Communism, normal human identifications--preferences, if you will--came under systematic attack. In efforts to undermine and overthrow existing social orders, the Communists and their "fellow travelers" sought to exploit any grievance, real or imagined; and, in this, worked to instill the concept of blaming normal human behavior and preferences for all of the frustrations experienced by any identifiable minority. That this was self-defeating did not matter. The object was not to improve anyone's actual lot; rather to destroy traditional socio-economic orders. In this process, "nativism" became a term of opprobrium, something that the demagogic orator hissed with self-righteous fervor. But what an unfortunate term for a supposedly "compassionate" Christian conservative President to employ!

President Bush's sworn duty was to carry out the purpose and mandates of our written Constitution. Yet here, again, he has demonstrated a moral and intellectual confusion. The very first words of our written Constitution are the Preamble:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

A people's "posterity" are their direct descendants, down through the generations. The Founding Fathers, Mr. President, were "nativists," and you were sworn to effect their purposes. We do not seek to grind a personal axe, here. Three of our four grandparents were immigrants, arriving in Cincinnati during the period between 1877 and 1901. But we have always recognized the insult in the Leftist assumption that Americans of newer stock would dishonor the vision and purpose of the nation into whose bosom they sought admission. That vision was never the fantasy day dream of the egalitarian revolutionary, rather the clear image of a dynamic generation by generation building on a known and demonstrated reality.

This leads also to Senator Obama, his response to criticism over his association with Reverend Wright and the latter's expressed hatred of White Americans, and that same demonstrated reality of the Fathers. The Senator delivered an address in Philadelphia on March 18th entitled "A More Perfect Union," which began as follows:

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union," continuing:

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The Senator not only follows the President, in ignoring a clear concern over the ethnic continuity of America, he misrepresents the system as an "experiment in democracy," showing either ignorance or deliberate deception as to the stated purpose--as delineated in Madison's Federalist Paper #10--and makes the ridiculous assumption that the Constitution, which limited the independence of the States to the extent that they ceded powers to the new organization, somehow "made real their [previous, 1776] declaration of independence." He went on with an interesting, yet completely non-factual, recitation of the origins of modern America:

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies[sic] and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

The Senator continued thus for a bit longer, before getting to his actual purpose, to separate himself and his candidacy from the hate filled, anti-White, anti-American, rhetoric of his long time pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But the above captures the essence of the fantasy. The stated purposes of the Constitution were in the Preamble, and there is nothing there about an "ideal of equal citizenship under the law," nor that the union "should be perfected over time." The framers set up a limited Government, with specifically enumerated powers and mandates, yet quite a few limitations. While the slavery question was not addressed directly, the duty to return those held to service in one State, escaping to another, was clearly addressed in Article IV, Section 2. Further, the Constitution explicitly left it to each State to determine--not only for itself, but also as to Federal elections held in that State--which of its residents would actually be voting citizens (Article I, Section 2).

The Senator's rhetoric casts in doubt whether he has ever even read the Charter he was sworn to uphold. It was not, of course, that all--or even most--of the framers approved of the philosophic concept of slavery. But the Constitution was not a wish list--was never intended as a wish list for ideological speculation--but as a compact--a Contract--between specific peoples, the United States of America. They understood, as clearly neither President Bush nor Senator Obama understands, that their obligations were to those with whom they contracted to establish our Federal Union; obligations, to which they intended to adhere for the sacred purposes stated. Seeking to rationalize one's personal values into that compact has all the morality of Eve under the influence of the Serpent, as described in the ancient Book of Genesis!

After this flight of pure fantasy, the Senator engaged in some puffery, and then finally came to his purpose:

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely. . .

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country--a view that sees white racism as endemic. . . .

Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems. . . problems that are neither black or white . . . but rather problems that confront us all.

. . .Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place . . .? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way . . .

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother--a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. . . .

Rather than cringe at his grandmother's comments, the would-be President would do well to investigate the matter. He would, of course, soon find that "Granny" was correct. The resident male Black population produces several times the level of violent crime as does the resident male White population. More significant, the Black crime rate has a considerable correlation to the degree to which the Senator's social theories prevail in any jurisdiction: That is, the more the political leadership accepts the implied mantra that it is up to Government to address inequalities in wealth and achievement--the notion that it is reasonable to blame White society for Black failure--the higher the Black to White crime ratios.

But the Senator went on to show that despite his protestations, he may have as distorted a view of race in America as Reverend Wright. Consider the factual and historic distortion implied in such examples as follow:

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Attempts to "fix them," did more to stir up racial antagonism in the 1950s and 1960s, than anything else in 20th Century America. As for the "achievement gap?" That is no less evident in areas with long integrated schools than in those still largely segregated. Indeed, in the Stell Case in 1963 (United States District Court, S.D., Georgia), considerable evidence was offered from which to conclude the exact opposite of the Senator's assumption.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

The paragraph is noteworthy for the number of non-factual assumptions and "begged questions," contained in just two sentences. Admittedly, there have been incidents motivated by racial hostility, where violence was directed against persons seeking to move into particular neighborhoods. But Blacks have been permitted to own property in America throughout our history. That does not mean that it was considered the business of the Federal Government to interfere with private preferences in land dealings. That non-interference was hardly a grievance in a free country.

As for loans, FHA mortgages, unions, police or fire departments? Does the Senator imagine that the growing wealth of the settlers in 17th & 18th Century America was made possible by loans or FHA mortgages, memberships in unions, or jobs in police and fire departments--the latter, when even present, largely volunteer? Why does the Senator trivialize the struggle of Americans to succeed with this fantasy mantra of dependency on external factors? Contrast his implied tendency to blame White Americans for the frustrations of others, with the constructive approach to racial improvement, once clearly enunciated by Booker T. Washington (Booker T. Washington)!

But to continue with the Senator:

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

Blame White America for every frustration! Yet pretend to be a voice for reconciliation! Reverend Wright's rhetoric may actually be more honest. But enough! The fact is that when Booker T. Washington was the guide, Black crime rates declined; the family structure strengthened. The idea that either race, or any race, is dependent upon another for the quality of its neighborhoods, is inherently insulting--insulting to the race being told that they have such a grievance as the Senator seeks to define. Moreover, long before the "early sixties," those States with the highest Black crime rates had adopted laws making racial preferences ("discrimination") in employment and housing, illegal. The Senator's mindset, not the racial preferences of others, is a more likely cause for much that he deplores.

A few similar passages later, the Senator finally showed a modicum of common sense:

And it means taking full responsibility for own lives by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny. Ironically, this quintessentially American and yes, conservative notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

Here we see Senator Obama, clearly to the left of Reverend Wright! If everyone assumes personal responsibility for his own life, society has already changed--changed back to more moral & constructive values. No matter how bad social and economic conditions, a program of self-help is always constructive. Misdirecting it into a demand that others change--that the society of other men be somehow reformulated-- is, to the extent embraced as essential to personal progress, a diversion from a full application of one's resources to the benefit of family, self and posterity. Senator Obama--considered all in all--is a proponent of the society dependent upon central authority that the American Revolution was directed against; from which the American Constitution sought to protect us by its carefully constructed limitations & balances.

The whole Obama campaign has tried to convey the impression that it is a path towards reconciliation of different facets of the American experience, of different peoples who share the American homeland. In point of fact, it is a rally of all who embrace it to the mantra of egalitarian socialist collectivism--a new, but hardly unique, manifestation of the despicable Marxist view of the human future;--a call for ever greater dependence upon Government, also attested by much that we fail to quote, in order to keep this to a readable length. It is clear that Senator Obama is as hostile to the American tradition as Reverend Wright--no improvement over George W. Bush;--just one more intellectually & morally confused politician.

Both President & Senator need to understand the obvious: There is no sin in being different; but neither is it a foundation for grievance. Nor is there a grievance in the fact that others may have preferences based upon a common history, traits in common or any of an innumerable array of personally defined bases, none of which are anyone else's business. America was not premised upon a pursuit of uniformity of thought; and we need to stand up to such social engineers, who seek to change the very nature of Society.

William Flax

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