Racial Progress, Or Stagnation?

It’s generally assumed that Barack Obama’s nomination for President is a sign of great racial progress in the U.S. Perhaps so. But several stories in the news this week suggest that for many, racial politics are stuck in the same dead end of victimology that has held back African-Americans for decades.

Last night, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow. The resolution passed on a voice vote, relieving members of the need to go on record for or against it. But I hope none of our Minnesota Congressmen voted for the resolution. Minnesota became a state in 1858, just in time to send its best men to help preserve the Union and stamp out slavery. We never had Jim Crow legislation here. If anyone should apologize, it’s the Democratic Party, which supported slavery and disunion to the bitter end and did its best to preserve segregation in the South long after the Civil War.

What’s the point of a non-binding resolution condemning something that ended nearly a century and a half ago? Money. The resolution commits the House to further attempts to rectify “the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow.” Those consequences are certain to linger as long as there is money on the table.

The second story, which reads like a parody but, sadly, isn’t, also comes out of the House of Representatives, where Majority Whip James Clyburn told the National Press Club that global warming “disproportionately impact[s]” African-Americans:

Clyburn spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to help launch the Commission to Engage African-Americans on Climate Change, a project of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

The launch came on the heels of a separate report by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC), which claims African-Americans are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. EJCC describes itself as a “climate justice” advocacy group.

“Though far less responsible for climate change, African-Americans are significantly more vulnerable to its effects than non-Hispanic whites,” the report says. “Health, housing, economic well-being, culture, and social stability are harmed from such manifestations of climate change as storms, floods, and climate variability.”

Actually, I think African-Americans are at least as able as the average citizen to cope with “climate variability.” But the culture of victimology requires that they be portrayed as weak. Why? Money:

The report suggested implementing a “fee, tax or allowance auction on polluters,” which was meant to “eliminate the financial burden on low-income and moderate-income households.”

So, what of Barack Obama, the supposed harbinger of change? He spoke to a convention of minority journalists, who gave him a standing ovation. His theme was anything but new, unfortunately:

“There’s no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we’ve got some very sad and difficult things to account for,” Obama told hundreds of attendees of UNITY ’08….

“I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said.

It’s a good thing he caught himself there. Would we really want to elect a president who thinks that the history of the United States is “tragic?” One wonders, too: is Obama unaware of how persistently the “tragic elements” of our history have been not just acknowledged, but dwelt upon with a persistence that may seem obsessive? I doubt it. At his Hawaiian prep school, at Columbia and at Harvard Law School, I’m pretty sure he was exposed to a full dose of “acknowledgement of the tragic elements of our history.”

So, what is the point of Obama’s concern for the “tragic elements” of our history? Money, of course:

“I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.”

“Deeds,” where Congress is concerned, is synonymous with dollars.

I think it is pretty obvious that the culture of victimology has hurt African-Americans more than anything else over the past 30 years. I think it is equally obvious that what drives the race hustlers to continue perpetrating that culture is cold, hard cash. Finally, it appears, sadly, that Barack Obama is just another participant in the hustle, rather than a voice for change.

PAUL adds: Obama says he opposes state law initiatives to outlaw race-based preferential treatment by state governments because such initiatives are “divisive.” I wonder whether Obama considers reparations — the transfer of money from certain racial and/or ethnic groups to other such groups — divisive.

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