Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Race Relations: "A Massive Liberal Failure"

It isn’t surprising that Tanner Colbyblames conservatives and Republicans for some of America's problems with race, but he does surprise us when he saves his strongest indictment for the big-government liberals.

It is even more surprising that the long and detailed, and well-written, article appears on Slate, not exactly a right wing tribune.

One recalls that Thomas Sowell has been saying the same thing for decades, but Colby makes clear that, for all intents and purposes, liberals and progressives have been driving the race-relations train and they have driven it into a ditch.

They own it and they broke it.

Focusing, in this article, on school integration, Colby takes the measure of a racially divided America:

Fifty years after the March on Washington, America’s high school cafeterias are as racially divided as ever, income inequality is growing, and mass incarceration has hobbled an entire generation of young black men. Do we really think this is entirely due to Republican obstruction? Or is it also possible that the party charged with taking black Americans to the Promised Land has been running around in circles?

The left has been ceded a monopoly on caring about black people, and monopolies are dangerous. They create ossified institutions, paralyzed by groupthink and incapable of self-reflection. To the extent that liberals are willing to be self-critical, it’s generally to flagellate themselves for not being liberal enough, for failing to stand fast with the old, accepted orthodoxies. Monopolies also lead to arrogance and entitlement, and the left is nothing if not arrogant when it comes to constantly and loudly asserting its place as the One True Friend of Black America. And yet, as good as liberal policies on race sound in speeches, many of them don’t hold up in the real world.

He continues:

 With the right being derelict, the left assumes stewardship of our new multiracial America by default. So there is an added responsibility to get it right, to purge outdated orthodoxies, admit past mistakes, and find real solutions that work.

Who was at fault? Colby accuses the technocrats who gave us the Great Society and who so badly mismanaged the Vietnam War:

 Emboldened by the victories of the New Deal, Washington’s best and brightest had learned to dream big, to put their faith in top-down, technocratic solutions to society’s ills. That’s how they approached public housing and urban renewal, that’s how they approached Vietnam. School busing was no different. They fired up the buses and sent X percent of black kids over here and Y percent of white kids over there. If America refused to integrate, the government would redraw the map and do it by administrative fiat.

To the technocrats, integration is a statistic. It involves how many whites and how many blacks are attending each school. This, statistics-driven model ignores human experience:

Integration is the forming of relationships based on mutual trust and respect. Schools could be forced to desegregate—that is, to accept black students—but genuine integration, as King said, was an “unenforceable” demand. The government can put us in the same room, but they can’t make us get along.

Colby continues:

To this day, the language of racial balance, as used by the left, keeps us talking about “integrated schools.” But institutions don’t integrate. People do. If a school is 3 percent black, but all of those students are actively engaged in making friends and participating in student activities, then those children are well and fully integrated. If a school is 20 percent black but all the black students stay on their own side of the cafeteria and then get bused home at 3 p.m. every day, then there is no integration taking place at that school. Trying to measure integration with percentages is like trying to measure your weight in inches.

It was not a question of how good these or those schools were. White parents refused to send their children to black inner-city schools because of the social cost. Since power and status lay in the white schools and the white school districts, middle class parents—liberal and conservative-- refused to consign their children to schools where they would learn social skills that would inhibit their social and professional progress.

In Colby’s words:

After Brown, white parents fought for 15 years, doing everything in their power to keep black students out of white schools. But when the courts started mandating that white students bus into black schools, white parents didn’t fight for much longer. They just left. They fled for gated communities and private academies; they opted out of the social contract and they haven’t been back since, at least not as far as public education is concerned. Even in Berkeley, Calif.—bastion of liberal, progressive America—when the school district tried to implement a busing plan in 1964 that would take white students into black schools, local white parents launched a recall election to try and throw out the entire school board.

What is the result of this grand effort at social engineering? Colby answers:

Today, America’s schools are more racially homogenous than they were 25 years ago. But to say that those schools are “resegregating” is to misstate the facts. They can’t resegregate. They never integrated. We moved a lot of kids around for the sake of making things look good on a spreadsheet, but our communities and social networks remained largely unchanged. The racial balance created by busing was a fiction, and in the absence of those programs we’re just seeing the country for what it has been all along, what it never stopped being: separate and unequal.

As he says, it is a massive failure of American liberalism.


Dennis said...

If one is damned if they do and damned if they don't then it would seem logical to to think that there is not a thing to be accomplished even though one might want to change things. Remember it was the Republicans that made the Civil Rights Act possible.
As long as minorities fail to recognize that constantly voting for the "Liberal Plantation" they are going to be taken for granted. There is no incentive for the Left to do anything other than talk. Guaranteed voting bloc. Sell yourself for cheap and one will be treated cheaply. Welcome to the world of the "Obamaphone."

Calvados said...

"... the party charged with taking black Americans to the Promised Land..."

I think this quote illuminates a major component of the problem. No political party or entity can 'take' black Americans anywhere. They have to get there themselves. That takes hard work and a will to assimilate and integrate. They must leave the pathologies of the black ghettos if they want a productive place in the larger (and white) society.

Dennis said...

For your edification and a prefect example of why many see it as a waste of time:

Until people are ready to change there will be no change as much as a large number of us would like to see it happen. Many of us had mentors and friends in the military who were minorities so we know that they have the capacity to succeed.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I just saw this story, Dennis. I've reported on several similar stories in New York-- i.e. the Kingbridge Armory. And I agree that it's for the people in the community to stand up for themselves and fight community organizers who seem to be mostly interested in keeping business out of their communities.

Anonymous said...

Are all these massive subsidies, programs and set-asides are intended for the benefit the recipients? Or is it perhaps to empower the activists, ideologues, demagogues and technocrats who claim to "speak" for these recipients? Or is it to assuage the guilt of voters who find it most convenient to give stuff to those marginalized, whom they feel sorry for? Pity is one of the corrosive of the human emotions.

There is precious little conversation about the efficacy of these programs. We don't talk about the results, which speaks to an ignorance of the ends. We turn a blind eye to the means. The means seem to enrich, empower and ingratiate those who don't need the help, while those who the ends are to serve see their material lives grow worse and worse. We need good means to good ends.

This is why I think America is suffering from spiritual problems, not material or emotional problems. We have forgotten who we are, whom we serve, and how best to serve the individual. It requires contact, love, relationship. The government cannot love. These policies are ill-conceived and, after 50 years of failure in every statistical regard, a catastrophe. I view all the self-congratulation around "good intentions" to be a willfully ignorant excuse for serial failure. That's dangerous, narcissistic, and an extension of the definition of insanity. Our programs to benefit the underclass are insane. "I care more about African-Americans than you do" is not a statement (whether actually voiced or part of an attitude) about black America and it's circumstances. It is a pretentious, patronizing statement of moral superiority that has nothing whatsoever to do with a (supposedly) desired outcome of economic improvement for the marginalized. It is an abject failure.

Detroit is a monument to liberalism's great failures. Detroit is on the verge of social collapse, if it is not there already. Detroit is a city where activists and civic leaders say they aren't going back to the "plantation." Huh? Detroit is 90% black. Who are the "leaders" really working for? Who's the master of said "plantation" now?

As for the divided cafeterias, I lived through that. And I can tell you it was initiated by blacks. It's a cultural phenomenon. There is no institutional segregation, only self-segregation. I was friends with lots of black peers in middle school, and then we got to high school. They went and hung out with each other exclusively. And that's okay. I didn't understand it then, but it's okay. I suppose it's part of the "high school sorting out process." I get it. We all want to hang out with people like ourselves, in adolescence especially. Just don't complain about it. Yet the victimization ideology makes all cultural separation and economic disparity seem like it's part of a grand conspiracy. Our educational institutions foster this worldview and our political leaders pander to it. There is a widening cultural divide between white and black America. We're disconnected, and the mass atomization of culture and media makes this even more challenging. We have less and less in common, and this isn't just a white-black thing. It's everywhere.


Anonymous said...

Dennis @2/5/14 6:53 AM:

You said "If one is damned if they do and damned if they don't..." You're right. If that is the case, they WON'T. I think that's where much of white America is at this point. They can't win, so they don't play. Why would you stick your neck out? You'll be crucified.

Americans have largely become spectators with race relations, and root for one of two teams. My sense is the "You have to work hard and assimilate" team has picked up their ball and gone home. The only team left on the field is the victim team. That's all the crowd sees and hears: the victims. That becomes the prevailing worldview. And that's where we are.

Eventually, someone will have to stand up and tell the truth and withstand the fury. Until then, the band will keep playing the same song.


Dennis said...


The worse enemy most minorities have is other minorities and normally within their own ethnic group.

Sam L. said...

" With the right being derelict, the left assumes stewardship of our new multiracial America by default."

Derelict? Not so, leftist-breath. Cut out, vilified, ignored, is how I see it.

Tip said, " We all want to hang out with people like ourselves, in adolescence especially. Just don't complain about it. Yet the victimization ideology makes all cultural separation and economic disparity seem like it's part of a grand conspiracy."

The left refuses to believe that people will sort themselves out, of their own free will, in ways the lefties believe they ought not. Doesn't fit the rules they've made, so "someone evil" must be causing this unexpected result. Like, say the PAALF (Dennis @ 714am.

n.n said...

Denigration of individual dignity as a matter of policy and law for profit delayed full integration. Devaluing human life through the normalization of abortion and other retrogressive behaviors have not aided the cause. While the Democrats are not exclusively responsible for progressive dysfunction, they are its most enthusiastic advocates.