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August 2 2019

Baltimore and Blaming Racism

by Charlotte Hays

Quote of the Day:

President Trump’s boorish manner tends to obscure a hard-to-swallow reality: He often has a point. The failures of LBJ’s War on Poverty are increasingly visible to anyone who cares to look. To paraphrase the philosopher Ernest Gellner, some failed practices can’t be reconsidered, because they already shape the way we think.

--Fred Siegel in the Wall Street Journal

President Trump is being widely denounced on the left as a racist for calling out the civic failings of Baltimore’s poor neighborhoods.

It is possible to rue the way the President expressed himself, and yet be glad that conditions in Baltimore (and, by extension, other troubled U.S. cities) are in the spotlight. People shouldn’t have to live in such conditions.

City Journal contributing editor Fred Siegel has a must-read take on why it is automatic to call anybody who speaks out about conditions in Baltimore a racist. Siegel’s idea is intriguing and it goes back to the Kerner Commission report.

The official name of the report is the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. It was released after race riots in major cities in 1967, in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. It made a startling statement about the origin of the riots:

America’s racial problems, the report claimed, could be singularly attributed to white racism: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

The Kerner report had a profound effect on the way we think about race, according to Siegel:

Over time, the Kerner Commission’s view of racism became gospel in the media, academia and the Democratic Party. An intellectual Iron Curtain descended to protect black politicians—including ineffective ones like Mr. Cummings and even con men like the Rev. Al Sharpton—by denouncing their critics as racist.

President Trump’s boorish manner tends to obscure a hard-to-swallow reality: He often has a point. The failures of LBJ’s War on Poverty are increasingly visible to anyone who cares to look. To paraphrase the philosopher Ernest Gellner, some failed practices can’t be reconsidered, because they already shape the way we think.

Mr. Trump follows the example of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who provoked an avalanche of media hostility in 1995 when he mocked Rep. Charles Rangel for seeming indifference to the decline of his Harlem district. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani was disparaged as a racist. But he wasn’t wrong, and his efforts helped inspire the revival of Harlem’s main shopping stretch on 125th Street.

The Kerner Commission’s vice chairman was New York Mayor John Lindsey, a liberal Republican, and his views seem to permeate the report; in turn the report promoted a viewpoint that continues to be dominant in American politics:

Lindsay’s insistence that white racism is the source of America’s urban problems has mutated in the half-century since the Kerner Report. Among its grotesque modern variations are Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s relentless apologies for her “white privilege,” the media-enforced prohibition on criticism of Mr. Cummings, and the lionization of Mr. Sharpton as “a champion in the fight for civil rights” (in the words of Joe Biden) who “has dedicated his life to the fight for justice for all” (Elizabeth Warren) and “has spent his life fighting for what’s right and working to improve our nation” (Kamala Harris).

Like many people, I wish the President were sometimes more (ah) measured. But I have to defend him on one thing. I saw Chris Matthews having a rant on how “Hitlerian” the President’s Baltimore remarks were.

Matthews said that the President used the word “infested” and that Hitler had said that the Jewish people had “infested” society.

President Trump never said anything about people infesting anything, and I assume a lot of commentators know deep down they are not being entirely honest.

President Trump described parts of Baltimore as a “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Rodents were infesting, Chris. Read the sentence.

And the implication is that we don’t want any human beings to live in places infested by rodents.

Let’s hope we will at last get around to trying to solve the problems of our troubled cities with humility, honesty, and without calling each other names.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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