Decrying everyone and everything associated with slavery, the Confederacy, and all things white and capitalist is ignoring the real cause of modern racism in America. The plight of African Americans today has little to do with antebellum America and the Civil War but everything to do with a more recent divisive cultural and economic shift.
I realize I’m going precariously out on a limb here, but I am compelled to offer what I believe has ignited the present racial unrest in America. The protesting, rioting, violence, and borderline anarchy is being blamed on centuries of oppression and lack of justice for black Americans. There has been a history of oppression and injustice. But that is only a small piece of the racism puzzle. What is missing is an unbiased view of this history.
Slavery is despicable. Every American should be ashamed of it. But in the minds and hearts of most 18th and 19th century Americans, it was an economic necessity–the way of life with a world history of thousands of years. Almost every nation on earth practiced slavery until a couple of centuries ago. Our founding fathers owned slaves, but they felt the moral obligation to craft a Constitution that guaranteed eventual liberty for all. And, just eight decades after the Revolutionary War, the US honored the Constitution’s intent by proclaiming emancipation for all slaves.
When the 15th Amendment gave blacks the right to vote in 1870, almost all of them registered Republican. Unfortunately, for the next several years, southern Democrats delayed and disrupted the rights of blacks in constant political battles with Republicans determined to institutionalize their blood-bought freedom. Despite the Democratic push-back, brilliant and tenacious blacks made major headway toward equality rising to public office, starting businesses, and leading industrial innovation. It was not until the mid-20th-century civil rights movement that the upward trend in quality of life for blacks began to reverse.
Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 fixed some remaining gaps in schooling and employment equality, the Act and the social movement surrounding it began the migration of blacks to the Democratic party sponsoring it. From that point forward, African Americans as a whole have regressed exponentially into poverty, unemployment, family breakup, discrimination, abortion, drugs, criminal activity, substandard education, poor health, and the list goes on. The Democratic response to this social and cultural degradation has for half a century been empty rhetoric, coddling at election time, pervasive welfare programs, forced busing, and affirmative action quotas. All of these moves have been disincentives for achievement and advancement. They have widened the socioeconomic gap between the races keeping the poor, poor with little opportunity for upward mobility.
For examples of the effect of political climate on race relations, look no further than the states and municipalities with the most racial turmoil. Almost all of them have been led by Democrats for years.
The last three years prior to the pandemic abruptly reversed the poverty trend as President Trump’s aggressive conservative policies produced the highest employment rate and best economic opportunity that most black Americans had ever experienced in their lifetimes. Sadly, though, when Covid-19 knocked the whole country on its keister, the short-lived gain was insufficient to suppress the pent-up frustration from decades of inequality and subjugation for blacks. The white on black police killings were just the fuse for what was ready to explode.
Therefore, the cancel-culture vandalism of monuments, denouncing of certain symbols, and endless demands for name changes are actions that fail to recognize the real problem. The misguided focus on slavery as blame for the current racial crisis is from one of two causes:
- Little understanding of historical fact, or
- Understanding but refusal to deal with historical fact
The answer to racism is a change of heart on the part of all Americans, black and white, to a genuine respect for all humans. It would require a reality check from everyone. Sadly, such a change is difficult and unlikely in a culture in which the vast majority of blacks is bound to one political philosophy and party–a party that promotes a twisted view of history and an assumption of black loyalty.
For more on this topic, scroll down to my June 1, 2020, post, “Which Party Presents the Best Opportunity for African Americans?”
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