Remedial Condescension

Are We Sure This Is What We Want?

An obvious truth that one dare not utter: White America, and in particular the media, academia, and government, holds blacks in utter contempt. This becomes clear the moment one looks at behavior instead of asseveration. It is especially true of those people who imagine themselves to be liberal.

Let me back up.

Decades ago, I decided that blacks should be judged on their individual merits, just as everyone else should be, without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. For this I was called a liberal and sometimes a commy.*

Since then, my views have evolved. Today I think that blacks should be judged on their individual merits, as everyone else should be, without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. I am fascinated to find that in the intervening years I have become a racist and a Nazi.

It's wonderful. A racist is one who believes that people should be judged without regard to race.

This is not a lunge at rhetorical cleverness, but literally true. Suppose I suggested (as I do suggest) that admission to college should depend entirely on scholastic qualifications. Suppose that, to ensure racial impartiality, I further suggested that an applicant's race be concealed from the admissions committees until after it had made its decision. I would assuredly be denounced as a racist.

Why?

Because the universities believe that blacks cannot compete intellectually with whites-that is, that blacks are either stupid, lazy, or disinclined to study. They must therefore be given what others are expected to earn. The implied contempt is clear enough.

"Affirmative action," the evasive phrase for this disguised scorn, presupposes inferiority. To state it clearly, if you are good enough, you don't need it. If you need it, you aren't good enough.

It's that simple. Yet affirmative action pervades racial policy. It is racial policy.

Note that I'm not describing my attitude (which is that people should be judged without regard to race) but the self-evident attitude of nearly every institution in the country.

The theory behind affirmative action originally was that blacks, handicapped by past etceteras, should be hired despite being slightly less qualified than others. The expectation was that they would work hard, catch up, and progress thereafter on their merits. This was governmentally perilous: It began the tribalization of America. It carried a risk that people once accustomed to unearned advancement would come to expect it. Yet if it had worked, it would now be regarded as wise and good.

It didn't work. It has turned into permanent entitlement, in which badly unqualified blacks are advanced and advanced again, without ever being expected to compete equally. If you think this isn't true, name one instance in which a date has been set to end affirmative action. Only the permanently crippled need permanent crutches.

The deleterious effects of an oppressive apartheid were said to justify special help. Fair enough. If I had grown up in a sharecropper's family in the Mississippi Delta in 1945, I'd have done less well academically than I did as a mathematician's son.

However, if racially narcissistic whites really believed this, would they not press for rigorous schooling for blacks? Would they not reason that twelve years of genuine schooling would eliminate any need for affirmative action? Wouldn't they recommend for black children (as I do) more homework, more required reading, more-serious courses?

But they don't, do they? Try to remember the last time the media seriously urged that academic performance be demanded of black kids. The only possible reasons for this, er, oversight are (1) they don't care or (2) they don't believe blacks capable of a high-school education. Take your pick.

That's respect?

I have read that 47% of Detroit is functionally illiterate; subtracting residual whites, the figure for blacks must be well in excess of half. The figures are catastrophic, but not new. Yet the racially virtuous take them in stride. Why, if not unconcern or contempt?

The whole business is revoltingly patronizing. "There, there, we know you can't behave at a white standard. It's all just too hard, isn't it? Let Mommy Government hug you and feel good about herself." It would be more honest to wear shirts saying, "You Can Call Me Bwana."

It is hard not to conclude that a lot of racial policy is aimed less at helping blacks than at sating twisted inner needs of whites. Liberals in particular seem more concerned about feeling superior to conservatives, whom they hate, than about helping blacks, who don't interest them. The results often are disastrous for blacks.

Consider the cascade effect in universities. A black kid who would be among equals at Georgetown gets recruited by Yale, where he is badly outgunned and fails. A kid qualified for George Washington University gets recruited by Georgetown where, being outgunned, he fails. A university that cared about its studentry would accept only those applicants fully able to do the work, instead of desperately seeking to bag trophy blacks. I'm surprised they don't stuff them and put them over mantelpieces.

Institutional contempt breeds individual suspicion. For example, I will not take my children to a black doctor. The reason is not that I hate blacks. Rather it is affirmative action. I know that black students are not held to the same standards as white students-that they are admitted to university with lower qualifications than whites, given grades they didn't earn, passed because one doesn't fail blacks, admitted to medical school on grounds of pigmentation, and so on.

If I knew that black doctors were held to the same standards as whites, I wouldn't hesitate to go to them. I want competence, not color. Yes, there are competent black doctors. But how does one recognize them?

I wonder what being eternally patronized does to the psychic world of blacks. They cannot help but notice the low expectations, which must infuriate those who did the work and advanced on their merits. If you were raised in a country which by inescapable implication treated you as hopeless, while earnestly insisting that it was doing no such thing, how would you respond?

Two courses come to mind. First, you might think, "You sumbitches think I can't do it? Stick around." Then you would study like a demon to beat them at their own game. Second, you might think, "These suckers want to give me everything free. I'll just take it. Beats working." You especially might choose the second course if you had come to believe the low opinion held of you by the government, the media, and the schools.

*The Color Of Education