“Part III and Part IV” of this series reviewed 1) the tremendous progress that blacks in America were making before the War On Poverty (“WOP”) began — despite very high levels of racism and racist laws that intentionally impeded black progress, and 2) how the WOP brought the pace of black progress nearly to a halt and tore asunder family and neighborhood cohesion, which had facilitated the progress that had been achieved before the WOP. The long overdue and extremely positive civil rights laws and court cases to rid the country of Jim Crow laws and other racist barriers to blacks’ progress (clear examples of “structural racism,” “institutional racism,” or “systemic racism”) were insufficient to counteract the harmful effects of the War on Poverty.
Because the WOP laws inured to the disadvantage of blacks over the long run, one might be tempted to claim that it was an example of “structural racism.” That would be a mistake (although President Johnson, who ushered it in, was undisputedly racist). “Racism” (“[A] belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others”) is reviled by the vast majority of Americans. Such revulsion serves multicultural societies well and may be necessary for multicultural societies to thrive or, possibly, survive. Watering down “racist” to mean anything to which people of color happen to object takes the sting out of being called a racist. If being called does not sting, it’s power to cause people of all hues to act civilly toward each other will sapped.
While President Johnson and some congresspeople who voted for the War On Poverty were racist, there is no reason to believe that the voting public that supported the war had animosity toward blacks. Moreover, blacks supported WOP policies.[i]
Because the WOP inflicted great net harm on blacks,[ii] it was unfair to blacks. It wasn’t, however, “racism,” structural or otherwise, because most people believed that the WOP would help blacks. Sadly, Democrats still support discriminatory, but not racist, policies that disproportionately harm blacks.
The most debilitating unfair structures imposed on blacks by Democrats are inexcusable and deserve immediate attention. The following are two of the more critical examples:
EDUCATION. To thrive in a modern industrialized society without a good education, both intellectual and moral, is exceedingly difficult, if for the vast majority of people. Yet Democrat ideas about education have failed the vast majority of poor blacks.
The crony compacts between Democrat politicians and teachers’ labor unions[iii] crush effective education in virtually all inner-city schools, which are mostly populated by non-whites. Because teacher’s unions’ effects are not limited to Democrat-run cities, the Union/Democrat Compact prevents black children from escaping the clutches of almost all big-city public schools. Those schools fail to teach all but a small percentage of black students.[iv] Not only do they fail to teach the skills to enable most black students to compete for and keep jobs, but they also fail by teaching black students that they should not have to work to have a good life because they are owed a good life because of their grievances. As valid or invalid as those beliefs are, holding those beliefs induces most of those students to live unthriving lives of dependency and to vote for the politicians who are politically advantaged by the grievances of those students and the dependence and poverty those grievances cause. Consequentially, the last thing those politicians can politically afford to support are policies that would enable those black students to thrive. The result is that as few students will be able to escape generational poverty and the perpetual exploitation by Democrats and labor unions.
An example of the corruption: “School expenditures in high-poverty districts are typically well above the national average,”[v] but “In the last 20 years, the number of K-12 administrators has increased 2.3 times faster than the number of students in school…”[vi] Significant reasons for spending money on expanding administrative staff instead of teacher pay increases or student education is that adding administrators increases the number of dues-paying union members. Why? 1) Some of those dues will find their way into campaign coffers our outright gifts; 2) More union members increase the size of armies of people willing to pound the pavement when Democrats run for office; and 3) educated students are more likely to be prosperous and no longer dependent on Democrats, all of which would be devastating to the Unions/Democrat Compact.
Neither those politicians nor people who vote for them are necessarily racist. Indeed, many of them wish that they did not have to exploit black students to keep their office. It’s not racism; it’s corruption.
THE FOUCAULT FALLACY
In his book, “Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison,” Michel Foucault chronicled the atrocious history of government and industry using punishment and discipline to cause people to serve the state and the economy. I thought the history he recounted was fair, although not completely accurate, and agreed that, although the brutality of punishment diminished over time and, where practicable morphed into discipline, the modes of discipline and punishment evolved to achieve the same ends as has always been the case. Whether he intended it or not, his highly influential book so discredited both discipline and punishment that ever more people have concluded that neither discipline nor punishment is necessary to civil society. The eternal questions about discipline and punishment are how much and how it is applied is optimal. The only question leftists are willing to countenance is: “How much less and how much milder can discipline and punishment be (unless civility can be maintained with trophies alone).”
As I have discussed HERE, HERE, and HERE, the fallacy that discipline and punishment are dispensable has done untold damage to black students. In “Nike’ Mistake—Supporting a Counterproductive Cause Against Police,” I described how Nike’s support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against all police (which have been generally supported by Democrats, will cause there to be a higher percentage of bad cops is police forces over time — which will disproportionately hurt blacks.
[i] “Black Past: WAR ON POVERTY”: When the Office of Economic Opportunity was not funded to Martin Luther King’s satisfaction, he “expressed the sentiments of many civil rights and anti-poverty activists when he argued that the War on Poverty was being ‘shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam,’” (connecting the underfunding was a consequence of spending on the war).