Thursday, August 29, 2013

Martin Luther King of Kings

The adulation continues, and we're constantly being confronted with the seemingly contradictory facts that 1. Martin Luther King fixed the race problem and 2. the race problem is worse than ever. Number one, of course, makes MLK the greatest American, nay, greatest human being who ever liveD. The second gives all the little MLK wannabes something to whine about.

I guess it has gotten worse.  Fifty years ago, it was illegal to murder Black teenagers, but now, according to Al and Jesse and Eric, it's perfectly legal, and rednecks like Zimmerman plunge into the ghetto every day to murder, murder, murder.

John Derbyshire contrasts the bad old days of 1963 with the even worse days of 2013:

He Had a Dream

This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I have no recollection of the 1963 event myself, but I have good excuses for not remembering: (A) This was not my country at the time; and (B) I was in the Styrian Alps.

Well, this is my country now, and I’m bound to respect the national totems, of which King’s speech is certainly one, so don’t be looking for any ruthless deconstruction of the thing from me. I am merely going to compare King’s time with ours.

First, that was an America supremely confident in our ability to do anything. We had come out of the 1940s bursting with pride and vigor into a world where our competitor nations lie in ruins. Everything was possible! The USA was buzzing with energy, creativity, and wealth. Heck, we could even go to the moon!

Thus Martin Luther King:

…we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

Most of us would think it in bad taste to talk like that in a time of seventeen trillion dollars of national debt and a looming entitlements overhang. And we sure won’t be going back to the moon anytime soon. These are more sober times, with lower hopes and expectations.

Second, we are a lot less religious now than we were then. King’s biblical diction, those quotes from Amos and Isaiah, would be lost on hearers nowadays. Blacks are still more religious than nonblacks, but even black leaders—even Sharpton and Jackson—don’t talk like King anymore, not outside church anyway. Barack Obama sure doesn’t.

(American friends of the older generation tell me that even at the time, educated blacks made fun of King’s rhetorical style. Those blacks were yuppie agnostics, scornful of Bible-quoting Southern rubes. A lot of them, including some senior figures in King’s entourage—notably Jack O’Dell—were members of the Communist Party.)

Third, King made it sound a lot easier than it turned out to be. He was reaching for low-hanging fruit: segregation laws, voting tests, police brutality. King’s listeners believed that once those obstacles were swept away, blacks would rise to equality with whites.

Well, the obstacles were swept away, and then some. Not only was discrimination against blacks outlawed; discrimination in their favor was legislated across major areas of American life—in college admissions and in government hiring, promotion, and contracting.

Yet the equality didn’t happen. Huge differentials in crime, academic achievement, and wealth accumulation remained. In some cases, they increased.

The best-documented crime is homicide, where there is a corpse to be accounted for: Blacks commit homicide at seven to eight times the nonblack rate, according to statistics published by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice. In academics, every measure—from NAEP to LSAT (Figure 14)—shows black mean scores a full standard deviation below the nonblack means. For median household wealth, the Census Bureau reports whites at twenty times the black level, and this gap seems to be widening.
(Read the rest HERE.)

1 comment:

  1. Eager Young LiberalAugust 30, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    King was first and foremost a pastor, his call for justice was meant to resignate with all Christians.

    Is the author saying that all of those injustices should have been left in place? Yes equality did not come once the most horrific injustices were removed but they were an extremely large obstacle standing in the way of equality. If we want true equality the fight must continue, but instead many have decided that equality means they no longer feel superior, even though there is nothing spectacular about them. The ills that exist within the African American community are largely due to economic factors. That does not excuse homicide but it cannot be used to show some racial profile. It means that inequalities still exist, and that the freedom that corporations have been given (way to go libertarians) has allowed them to further oppress the poor.