I know that some of my readers come in and out, and I know that others are regulars, checking in on some kind of schedule. For those who drop in occasionally, depending on what publishing event draws them, it is possible for you to get wildly disparate ideas of what is going on here. I am sometimes attacked by some folks as a racist, hiding my paleo-conservative outrages under a thin veneer of Jesus-talk. I am also attacked by others as a race traitor, one who believes that blacks can do no wrong.
It is difficult for me not to take this phenomenon as clear evidence that I am a true moderate, right in the middle of the road. I am standing on the yellow lines, arms outstretched, with extremists to my left and right. That’s really the only theory that accounts for all the evidence.
This is said as a run-up to a clarification I need to make. That’s what moderates do—issue clarifications, right? The clarification is important enough that I am filing this post under retractions so that people can find it later.
In my recent response to The Huffington Post, I said this:
“The state of the black family today in the United States is tragic, and you can’t blame slavery for it. Thomas Sowell makes this point. “In the late nineteenth century, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery, there was nothing like today’s level of unwed births or failure to participate in the labor force” (Black Rednecks and White Liberals, p. 161).
“Official Census data show that blacks had slightly higher marriage rates than whites for every census from 1890 to 1940, but far lower marriage rates than whites by 1960” (Ibid. p. 161).
Note, according to the headline, I was talking about the black FAMILY. What slavery couldn’t do, what decades of Jim Crow couldn’t do, the Great Society—brim full of unmitigated whiteness as it was—accomplished in just one generation. And what was that? Demolish the black family.”
Go back to that first sentence, and you will find what I want to clarify. What I wrote was that you can’t blame slavery for the tragic state of the black family today. I still hold that, but a reasonable reader could think that I was maintaining that slavery had absolutely nothing to do with it, which is not what I believe. I do believe that (race-based) slavery two centuries ago has left a complicated and tangled legacy, and that we are all still dealing with it.
But I do not believe that the slavery, and the bigotry that followed the slavery era, are the prime culprits in our current woes. Our current woes are largely being caused by current idiocies. What I believe, and what I was seeking to argue, is that socialistic do-goodery has done to blacks what it is capable of doing to any race or tribe, wherever it is instituted. It is working its magic in Venezuela right this minute.
What has happened to the inner city black family has also been done to our Indian reservations, and the Indians were never slaves. What has been done to the American blacks has also been done to whites in London, where all the same pathologies appear, and have been recorded for anyone who is willing to read. What has been done to the black family, whatever devastation it was, did not fully appear until a century after slavery ended. It did not really manifest itself until the white liberals of the Great Society appeared, checkbook in hand, ready to wreck. And make no mistake—if there is a besetting white sin, it is the hubris and lunacy of rationalized socialism.
So the reason slavery had something to do with it is pretty straightforward. Because of race-based slavery, and because of the resultant bad blood from how slavery was ended, and because of Jim Crow bigotries, the liberals were in a position to make a plausible case for “restitution” of some sort. Every irrational bigot of the previous two centuries was ceding the moral high ground to the liberals, which is why they got a chance to try out their jitney salvation on the black family. Restitution is clearly in order, they said. We have to do something, they said. We have to fix things, they said. They said all these things while carefully holding their economic nincompooperies behind their back.
But you don’t make restitution to a people by destroying them.