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Jewish World Review Oct. 2, 2000 / 3 Tishrei, 5761

Thomas Sowell

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Dems, GOPers, and blacks II

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- SHOULD BLACKS VOTE for Democrats or Republicans? Since blacks are not all the same, any more than whites are, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Yet the black vote is more overwhelmingly tied to the Democrats than that of any other group.

Most blacks are working people and taxpayers, who are not benefiting from the welfare state programs of the Democrats or from affirmative action. Many live in places where they are more likely than whites to become victims of the violent criminals that liberal judges turn loose and liberal governors pardon.

Blacks are also more likely to gain from vouchers that would enable them to pull their children out of failing public schools and give them a chance to get a decent education in a safer environment. Democrats cannot give them that because of the enormous influence of the teachers' unions within the Democratic party. Since the teachers' unions contribute millions of dollars to the Democrats, only Republicans are free to support vouchers.

Violent crime is another social problem that hits blacks especially hard. In some years, there are more blacks than whites murdered in absolute numbers. However, even in high-crime neighborhoods, most people are not criminals, but are more likely to be victims of crime. That is especially true of black ghettos. In some of these neighborhoods, the probability that a young black man will be killed is greater than the probability that an American soldier would be killed in World War II.

What do the Democrats have to offer? Aside from liberal judges who are forever finding flimsy excuses for turning criminals loose, the Democrats offer "crime prevention" programs that prevent nothing, except for preventing the criminal from being put behind bars. Nothing has a proven track record of preventing crime like locking up criminals. But liberal Democrats are forever seeking "alternatives to incarceration."

Perhaps the most dangerous dogma of the Democrats is so-called "gun control." Gun control laws do not actually control guns. Anyone who lives in a high-crime area knows that criminals have access to all the guns they want. Gun control laws simply prevent their intended victims from being able to defend themselves.

Incidentally, most uses of guns in self-defense do not even involve pulling the trigger. Once you pull a gun on someone who is threatening to assault you, he is likely to have a very sudden change of plans and head elsewhere. In communities where most people are known to have guns in their homes, burglaries are rare and violent crime rates are low. Guns deter as well as defend.

A study by John Lott of Yale showed that it is crimes against blacks and women which fall sharpest where law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry concealed weapons. Yet blacks and women usually vote for Democrats, who want to keep them unarmed.

Guns are, in a sense, the last line of defense against crime and violence. Moral values stop most people, long before they reach the point where they are about to commit a crime. Yet our public schools have been on a crusade against moral values for decades. Programs undermining moral values used to be called "values clarification" -- until parents began to understand what that really meant. Then the name was changed.

The same approach, however, pervades all sorts of other social engineering programs under different names -- programs claiming to be about "drug prevention" or "decision-making" or some other innocuous-sounding name. The idea is that each child should make up his own morality. A more stupid or more dangerous idea could not have taken root anywhere but in a school of education.

Why does this go on? Because the teachers' unions want it to go on -- and because the Democrats are in no position to challenge the teachers' unions. Republicans don't challenge them as much as they should. But any challenge at all from politicians in office are likely to be Republican challenges.

For the majority of blacks, Democrats have little to offer besides rhetoric on the things that matter most to them -- their children's education, their personal safety and their moral values. In all these key things, Democrats are not part of the solution, but part of the problem.

Republicans have an uphill fight to get their message across to blacks and they have not been doing a particularly good job of it. But they have more to offer than the Democrats, if they can ever manage to articulate better in the future than they have in the past.

JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, A Personal Odyssey.

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