In the opening article to this series, we bemoaned the fact that most Republicans and conservatives don't bother to even try to reach out to black voters. CNN writer Roland Martin, whose article inspired this series, pointed out that even when they do they often make a hash of it, by sticking to old stereotypes like the assumption that all blacks care about is welfare payments.
The other major racial stumbling block is affirmative action. As conservatives, we like to argue for policies based on Martin Luther King, Jr's famous admonition that individuals be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skins; any programs or regulations that specifically call out people by skin color are, to our mind, evil.
On the other hand, that wasn't Dr. King's only quote on the subject. There's another which liberals prefer:
A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.
There's no debate that American society certainly did treat Negroes especially bad for a long, long time. Dr. King agreed with today's supporters of affirmative action, that it was only right to do something specially good in recompense.
One could argue that two wrongs don't make a right, and that harming white people so as to benefit black people because yesterday's white people hurt yesterday's black people will only breed racial resentment and hate. Set that aside for a moment and ask yourself this question: have racial preferences, in fact, helped actual black people?
At first glance, how could they not? If black people are pushed to the front of the line for hiring, education grants, government contracts, and so on, of course they're benefiting. They were pushed to the back for years; now the opposite is taking place and they're catching up to where they ought to be if they'd been treated as equal American citizens all along.
Except that they're not. There has always been a massive gap between the wealth of white families and black ones, which is what you'd expect between the descendants of slaves and slave-owners. You'd naturally expect this gap to close over time now that black people have the same rights to employment, education, and political power - even if you don't think they're equal, surely things have improved since the days of Jim Crow much less slavery?
Not the wealth gap! CNN reports:
The wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled over the past 25 years... The difference in wealth between typical households in each racial group ballooned to $236,500 in 2009, up from $85,000 in 1984, according to the study, released Wednesday. By 2009, the median net worth of white families was $265,000, while blacks had only $28,500. [emphasis added]
The article goes on to blame property values which is where we get a hint of the underlying problem. As Scragged has discussed in the past, the primary cause of the property bubble was government requiring banks to loan money to people who were too poor to actually repay their mortgages. This temporarily drove up housing prices, but when the economy crashed, all those homes got foreclosed.
Naturally, the foreclosed homeowners had their credit ruined, but foreclosures also drag down the home values of everybody in the neighborhood, even people who've been paying their bills. The hardest hit? Poor and minorities, of course.
As is so typical of government, a program that was intended to force banks to let poor people onto the ladder of home ownership, instead shoved them and a whole lot of other folks onto a slide into bankruptcy. Good intentions led directly to bad results and the disproportionate impoverishment of black people.
As we've seen, Dr. King believed it was just for government to be biased in favor of black people. Do you suppose he would have supported programs that claimed to help poor blacks, but in actual fact harmed them worse than before?
We see the same perverse logic with affirmative action in education. It might seem helpful to proactively admit poor blacks to elite institutions where they'll get a first-class education and be prepared to compete with white elites.
Unfortunately, that's not how it's worked out. It turns out that admitting poor blacks to top schools that they're not academically prepared for leaves them worse off than letting them go to the community college that their grades would suggest suits them better.
Prof. Richard Sander's groundbreaking research into race and law school admissions leaves no room for doubt:
Sander's study shows that racial preferences in law school admissions result in a counterproductive mismatch between the academic abilities of black beneficiaries of racial preferences and the law schools to which these students are admitted under "affirmative action". According to Sander's research, this mismatch demonstrably results in a much higher failure rate than would otherwise be the case if the black students were admitted to law schools which more closely matched their academic preparation and abilities. [emphasis added]
Again, we have a policy that harms whites in order to help blacks, but which in actual fact harms blacks just as bad if not worse than the whites they displace. How does that benefit anyone other than the usual race-baiters?
Our current media climate being what it is, it does absolutely no good for Republicans to argue against affirmative action - they'll just be called racist as they have been for years. But there's no reason we can't loudly argue for other ways of helping black people specifically, many of which are core parts of the conservative platform and which have been proven by years of experience. If a given policy will actually help everyone, what's wrong with explicitly saying that it'll help blacks?
One of the foundational rules of medicine is "First, do no harm." Leftist policies have manifestly done massive harm to America's black community; in some ways, far worse harm than the evil of Jim Crow which at least left black families intact. We needn't repeat Prof. Sowell's account of all the other damage to blacks by so many liberal policies. These evils will never change unless somebody sets out to do battle with them in clear terms those affected can understand.
This series has laid out a clear case for specific, longstanding conservative policies which directly benefit the lives of America's black people, particularly the poor ones. Yes, it's true that they also benefit poor whites, American taxpayers, the country, and even Republican officeholders and the party itself. What's wrong with that? And what's wrong with trying to sell the benefits to black people specifically? We can't know it won't work until we try; what we're doing right now isn't working, that's for sure!
And by showing black Americans the respect they deserve of, well, politically acknowledging that they exist, maybe we'll earn some of their votes and turn around our political fortunes and, with them, the country.
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.