Tuesday, September 20, 2005

This notion that race was a factor in the relief effort is not only dishonest, it is reprehensible

Regarding the notion that racism was at play in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Armstrong Williams for one isn't buying it. In fact, he is indignant:
This notion that race was a factor in the relief effort is not only dishonest, it is reprehensible. The reason why most of those stranded in the Superdome were black is because two-thirds of the city’s residents are black. In fact, much of the city’s local representatives are black. New Orleans has a black city Council. They have black elected representatives. They have black judges. All of whom failed to send any buses to evacuate New Orleans’ residents before the hurricane hit. Are the black Democrat elected representatives in New Orleans also racist because they utterly failed to coordinate a timely rescue effort? Of course not.

It is true that the majority of people trapped in New Orleans during the storm were black. But so were the majority of people who escaped. The key factor distinguishing the two groups was that the majority of those left behind were poor. They lacked transportation. Both the local and federal government failed to develop evacuation procedures for people without cars. The people who couldn’t afford transportation were left behind.

The sad fact is that 30 percent of New Orleans residents live below the poverty line. One of the effects of Hurricane Katrina was to bring their plight into focus. The response to their plight, however, is even more telling. The need to crouch this tragedy in racial rhetoric reveals an assumption, now so ingrained in our culture, that the problems of black people—whether its high crime rates, or being victimized by a natural disaster—are primarily the result of white racism.

Implying that rescue workers only saved white families or that President Bush gave the order to let black people drown not only obscures complex issues like race relations, but it also buries the root cause of this tragedy—poverty in our urban centers. This is a very real problem. It has a perverse effect on people of color. And it gets completely obscured when people like Jesse Jackson or Kanye West complicate this tragedy by using race to further divide this Country.

When these people employ racially divisive rhetoric to describe the New Orleans disaster, they shift the dialogue away from the real problems that plague our urban centers. Notice, none of our so called black leaders are discussing economic solutions that are needed to empower urban communities. No one is even placing the problem in its proper political context. Instead, they are simply using this tragedy as an excuse to play the race card. Plainly, their goal is to stir racial tensions. This is how they make a living.

Star Williams agrees:
Politicians who truly care about the black condition in America today need to start reaching for the intestinal fortitude and being honest.

How can racial discrimination be the operative holding blacks down in a city in which at least seven out of 10 residents are black?

New Orleans' convention center, where black residents sat for days in squalor waiting for help (after being directed there by Mayor Ray Nagin), is called the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Ernest Morial was the first black mayor of New Orleans. His son, Marc Morial, also a black former mayor of New Orleans, is now president of the National Urban League.

The chief of police in New Orleans is black, as is the head of the city council. The mayor is black, as is the man who has represented New Orleans in the U.S. House for the last 16 years.

Black presence and power in New Orleans are wide and deep.

The truth about black poverty today, as Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute has aptly put it, is that it is "intricately intertwined with the collapse of the nuclear family in the inner city."

Consider that black households that are headed by married couples have median incomes almost 90 percent that of white households headed by married couples.

The problem in the black community is that far too few black households are headed by married couples. …

The collapse of the black family took off when big government programs, particularly welfare, were launched, compliments of black and white liberals, after the civil-rights movement.

A number of years ago, then-Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, in a debate with one of the drafters of President Bill Clinton's big government health-care plan, challenged Clinton's man that government could ever care about his grandchildren the way he himself does. The gentleman assured Gramm that he did indeed care about the senator's grandchildren. Gramm retorted: "OK, then tell me their names."

It is not simply a moral claim, but a well-documented empirical one, that family and education are the keys to success in our free country. Black children don't need politicians of any color who claim to hold the keys to their future. They need parents who know their names. Two of them.

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