The Race-Hacks Defend Their Industry

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


sharpton_obamaThe race-hack usual subjects recently attacked Congressman Paul Ryan for stating that the problems plaguing the poor––incarceration, fatherless children, drug abuse, rampant violence, and welfare-dependence–– are a consequence of a dysfunctional culture that scorns marriage, parenthood, education, work, and virtues like self-control. Given that blacks are overrepresented among the underclass, these unexceptional observations––regularly made by others, including Barack Obama––called down a firestorm of racialist invective on Ryan. The abuse ranged from the usual clichés about “blaming the victim” and racist “dog-whistles,” to a New York Times columnist accusing Ryan of being as callous as the Brits were about the 19th century Irish famine. Such ad hominem calumny suggests that somebody’s ox is being gored and doesn’t like it.

The overfed “ox,” of course, is the race industry and its enablers in the federal Leviathan. It’s understandable why these grievance-mongers want to deflect attention away from Ryan’s message. Since the rise of identity politics and anti-poverty programs in the 60s, the plight of the black underclass has worsened, even as the self-selected race tribunes––professors, “activists,” lobbyists, government employees, celebrities, politicians––have flourished. Given that the moral capital financing the race industry comes from the misery and suffering of underclass blacks, race-grievance entrepreneurs must ward off solutions to those problems that challenge the narrative justifying their own power.

That narrative is simple: white racism explains the epidemic of black-on-black murder, children without fathers, lack of education, and dependence on the government dole. Since Klan-style racist violence and Jim Crow legal racism have disappeared, “racism” has to be redefined in ever more subtle manifestations like “institutional racism.” The best example of this scam is the “disparate impact” standard for identifying racism, a favorite of the current Department of Justice. By this metric, a mere statistical imbalance in minority participation in car loans or home mortgages is a sign of racism even if no intent can be proven or even identified. This kind of thinking led to the federal regulations pressuring lenders to lower qualifying standards for home loans, which was a major factor in the housing bubble and the ensuing Great Recession of 2008. The hysteria over “profiling” is another example of this racialist voodoo. Even if a group is overrepresented among perpetrators of a crime, identifying suspects from that group when such a crime occurs is automatically racist. 

The biggest victims of the narrative, of course, are those minorities who bear the brunt of the misguided programs and illiberal ideologies that buttress the race industry. The some 80 anti-poverty programs have created well-paying federal and state jobs for bureaucrats and enriched public employee unions, at the same time they reward dysfunctional behavior and punish the hardworking. Rather than gaining the self-respect and sense of achievement that comes from earning one’s daily bread by one’s own efforts, the clients of what Robert Woodson calls the “poverty-industrial complex” are kept mired in dependence, the passive recipients of largess from above, traumatized victims who, like children, must be taken care of by somebody more capable. In short, their inferiority is institutionalized by government social welfare agencies, and rationalized by the “white racism” narrative that excuses bad behavior and absolves those indulging it of all responsibility. Meanwhile the public employee unions deliver millions in campaign contributions to the politicians that work night and day maintaining and expanding these programs, despite their 70-year record of worsening the problems they have spent trillions of tax-payer dollars attempting to solve.

Yet the identity politics at the heart of the narrative is even more destructive because it is more insidious. At the same time that civil rights legislation and the dismantling of de jure segregation were achieved––clearing away the impediments to access to the opportunities created by the post-war expanding economy and shifting social mores––a new de facto segregation appeared in the promotion of an illiberal “black identity” the essence of which was separate and distinct from that of white people. This mythic identity embodied old cultural-Marxist critiques of the soul-killing, inhibited, sexually repressive, “air-conditioned nightmare” of white middle class American life, fused with race-hatred and the sick glamor of revolutionary violence. Elite left-wing whites enthusiastically embraced the version of black identity, for they despised a middle class they had long characterized as rubes and squares inferior to the cultural mandarins safely ensconced in tony neighborhoods and prestigious professions into which black street-rebels rarely ventured. The problem, of course, is that the virtues and habits needed for success––delayed gratification, self-control of appetite, self-discipline, and education in the skills and mores valued by the larger culture––were stigmatized as “acting white” and the acts of race betrayal.

Worse yet, this new identity was in many respects simply the recycling of the old vicious stereotypes racists had used to justify segregation and second-class status for blacks. Those slanders had characterized blacks as less rational, less able to control their impulses of sex and violence, and utterly incapable of the development of mind and character necessary for full inclusion in the dominant culture. Listen to Norman Mailer, in his influential 1957 essay “The White Negro,” reversing the poles of these stereotypes from negative to positive. Scorning bourgeois “conformity and depression,” Mailer admires the black “rebel” and “frontiersman in the Wild West of American night life,” who free of the “sophisticated inhibitions of civilization” lives “in an enormous present,” subsisting “for his Saturday night kicks, relinquishing the pleasures of the mind for the more obligatory pleasures of the body.” The old racist “jungle instincts” had been transformed into black “soul,” and tropes of black inferiority once propagated in every Klan Klavern came to comprise authentic black identity. 

For disaffected whites whose social and economic privilege were secure, a black man who dressed like middle-class Americans, spoke like them, and lived by the same codes and virtues became a figure to be mocked and despised, not encouraged and praised. As a result, today comfortable whites enjoy pop-cultural caricatures of black people as glamorous gangsters and rebels who disdain the codes and protocols of respectable society, the very tools necessary for economic advancement. Meanwhile, more blacks are murdered by other blacks in one year than were lynched by racist mobs between 1882 and 1968, more black babies in New York are aborted than are born, nationally black unemployment remains twice as high as white, 1 in 3 black men will go to prison in their lifetime, the black high school graduation rate is 12 points lower than white, black male college graduation rates are nearly 25 points lower than other students––by almost every measure of social and economic well-being from infant mortality to longevity, blacks lag behind whites despite nearly 70 years and trillions of dollars worth of programs that were supposed to improve these dismal statistics.

Rather than rhetorically kill messengers like Paul Ryan, those truly concerned with these problems need to address the genuine racism holding back millions of black people: a dysfunctional culture created by the unholy marriage of government social welfare entitlements and the self-interested identity politics of race hacks.

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  • Shane

    The hustlers know what they are doing. Please do not see it as misguided, historically driven rationalizing equality leveling humanity on their part. This is the takeover. Liberalism is a mental disorder, socialism is an infectious disease for those with weak brain systems, communism is a cancer that contols individuals by the threat of the group, and life is short.

  • Joe Esposito

    The losers in the end are the clueless minorities who allow these race hucksters to control their lives. After awhile us white folks need to move on and allow these minorities to sink or swim on their own. If people ignore the cries of racism at every turn its impact will be irrelevant.

    • amuncat

      Joe Esposito…never played the Hispanic race card? You are “white folks” today? Hmmmmm

      • Joe Esposito

        Italians are now considered white. When my family arrived from Sicily in 1910 we were considered strong African swimmers by the Dutch and British. How things change here in America 100 years later.

  • fiddler

    “The some 80 anti-poverty programs have
    created well-paying federal and state jobs for bureaucrats and enriched
    public employee unions, at the same time they reward dysfunctional
    behavior and punish the hardworking.”

    Can anyone not say that this has created a sense of cynicism with people who play by the rules?

  • Rdlake

    Race baiting pimps know that there’s a lot of money to be made using the race card. No one has the testicles to call them on it.

  • Sheik Yerbouti

    Leftists have accomplished more damage to black communities than the KKK could have ever hoped for. All a klansman has to do these days is make popcorn and watch the news. Hustlers like Jesse and Al make the problem all to easily perpetuated. It’s amazing how long this has been going on with so little success. That fact alone SHOULD wake blacks in the US up.

    It doesn’t because the hustlers have conned them into thinking that evil whites are the cause of every single problem on earth. Anyone who doubts this is fooling themselves. People like Jesse and Al probably sold African captives to the Europeans. Somehow US blacks are too stupid to see this.

    And of course I’m a racist for calling them out on their sheer stupidity.

    • amuncat

      Well, “sheik Yerbouti” you are calling US blackd too stupid…? Why are you singling out blacks? Most people are too stupid to see what is REALLY going on, and you have just proved it by disparaging blacks, when, in fact, it is for everyone! By your name I can tell that you have don’t have roots in America for very long. Blacks were brought to America over 10 generations ago, and have been used to someone’s advantage as long as they have been here! Get off your high horse! Know your American history! The only reason a Sheik Yerboouti is here in America is because blacks took a stand for Civil Rights, then you came! Never forget that! Before that, you would nave considered America too racist for anything other than whites! Your superior attitude is quite sickening!!! Go back to where your people come from! We have enough of you!

      • Drakken

        It is rather interesting to note that you claim you were here before the rest of whitey, African behavior there is the same as it is here, except the blacks here have better sneakers. If you want to claim victim status and it is all whiteys fault, head on back to the land of your ancestors where they treat black grievance theater folks like you with well deserved contempt and a panga.

        • ebonystone

          Or as Muhammad Ali once quipped: “I’m glad my ancestors got on the boat.”

      • Sheik Yerbouti

        Sheik Yerbouti is the name of an album by Frank Zappa. You have proven yourself to be a bigoted, xenophobic moron. I realize the truth hurts, but hiding from it is what brought black Americans to this point. It will take decades for them to equalize with the rest of American society even if they decided to reverse the decline today.

        But I’m not holding my breath. And the rest of the world isn’t either. We’re all pretty well convinced that as long as black Americans continue to blame modern problems on events from well over a century ago they will make very little forward progress as a group.

        What’s really puzzling though is why the upper crust of black America is doing nothing and saying nothing. Even when Atlanta’s cheating scandal (which screwed a generation of black children out of their education) was discovered, black parents barely said a word. Why? Because it was surely the fault of whites.

        That little old black lady, Beverly Hall, get a pass from black America. With that kind of parental support, it is no wonder we have such a problem in this country with black education. But again, I’m not supposed to discuss this am I?

        I’m just supposed to shut up and recognize how slavery is at the root of it all. Can you see how stupid that excuse gets by the day now? The race card expired with Obama. He made it, why can’t YOU?

    • American Patriot

      Don’t forget Jeremiah [Wright] and Louis [Farrakhan] too. Both of them have also corrupted the minds of many blacks with race-obsessed hatred and identity politics.

      • Sheik Yerbouti

        I expect either one of them to start talking about using the 3rd eye to focus UV radiation and give white people skin cancer. They’re both snake oil salesmen.

        But do I feel sorry for the people they fool? How can I when they do it over and over?

  • amuncat

    Poor and minority neighborhoods are overrun with fast food joints on EVERY corner as well as several liquor stores within one block. They wouldn’t do this in Beverly Hills!!! I’m saying that the vultures are making big bucks off of institutional racism…which still exists!!!
    Also, unfortunately, I have NEVER heard Al Sharpton address the current state of the black comunity and what needs to be done in order to get blacks out of poverty. NO, if there is a line, he jumps in front of it! The last thing black ministers want the black community to do is to wake fully up! If this is done, they have no power! The good news is that they are becoming less relevant.

    • nomoretraitors

      “I have NEVER heard Al Sharpton address the current state of the black comunity”
      And you never will. He makes too much money off the “current state of the black community”

  • Josh Randall

    The bigotry of low expectations keeps parasites like Sharpton, Jackson and Farrakhan in their multiple mansions. They along with Comrade Obama could care less about black people.
    The race card is all they really have to keep their wealth and power. Sadly the vast majority of black people are too ignorant to see what is happening. If they have not figured it out yet they never will.

    • American Patriot

      Don’t forget Mr. “God Damn America!” Wright. he and his hate-preaching liberation theology nonsense have also created a bad influence on the public.

    • Gunner55

      The heck with the black community. If they are stupid enough to elect these nitwit thugs then let THEM live with the them.
      I care about MY PEOPLE. We used to be called Americans, now we are callously called whites. I care first and foremost about how policies affect white people – MY PEOPLE.

  • nomoretraitors

    “self-interested identity politics of race hacks”
    How appropriate that a photo of Obama with Sharpton should run with this story

  • James Foard

    I know Al Sharpton stays in good shape. He’s as strong as an ox and twice as smart.

    • http://www.chaverimisrael.org Norbert Haag

      I figure this is an insult.
      To oxen.

  • John Davidson

    Probably the best written explanation of the Liberal mindset regarding this issue I have ever read. We now see it has worked so well for the Democratic Party we see them now including women and gays in that charade.

    • nomoretraitors

      and illegal immigrants

  • Recce

    White liberal elites = 21st century KKK

    • http://www.facebook.com/aemoreira81 aemoreira81

      Except that they are not. They have not denied blacks advancement through force.

      • nomoretraitors

        No, they deny it by lying to blacks, telling them they’re victims of “white skin privilige” and they need government programs to survive

  • porkrind

    The Community Organizer In Chief will return, in 2017, to the vocation that best suits him. Sharpton, Jackson, and Farrakhan are going to be reduced to fighting over the leftover crumbs.

  • Nixonfan

    The more the Democrats play the race card, the more white voters they alienate. See the latest YouGov and WaPo/ABC polls.

  • The Facts

    Very Victorian, Mr. Thornton. Your essay is charmingly Victorian with elements of white negrology. I applaud the attempt.

  • El Desdichado

    Jesse Jackson, mug full of mush
    hustling, shuffling race cards -
    hush.

    your mouth mutters on,
    with vague perversity
    staking claims upon diversity…

    Read full poem:
    http://connecthook.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/hush-yo-puppies-grit-yo-greens/

  • Richard Fontaine

    Bravo, a great analysis of a long standing problem.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “Even if a group is overrepresented among perpetrators of a crime, identifying suspects from that group when such a crime occurs is automatically racist.”

    Unless you’re accusing “the system” of racism.