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Jewish World Review April 4, 2001 / 11 Nissan, 5761

Walter Williams

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Demoralizing young blacks -- DAVID BELL, Harvard law professor, counseled, "Black people will never gain full equality in this country." The late columnist Carl Rowan said, "Racism remains a terrible curse on this society, and ... nothing in sight suggests that that curse will end soon."

New York Rep. Charles Rangel said: "Black men are not the problem. Black men are the victims." Jesse Jackson said: "We (blacks) are under attack by the courts, legislatures and mass media. We're despised. Racists attack us for sport to win votes." New York Supreme Court judge Ivan Warner somberly said, "The entire United States is a racist society."

These comments, observations and counsel are just a tiny sample of three decades worth of defeatist poison bestowed on the black community by leftist politicians, civil rights leaders, professors and teachers.

Black people are taught that every waking thought of white America is racist; black people are perennial victims of white oppression; we have no control over our lives and destiny. The only way black people can achieve anything is to prey upon white guilt, and seek special privileges like quotas, handouts, and lately reparations and apologies for slavery.

We're taught that racism is everywhere. If a disproportionate percentage of blacks are on death row, it isn't because 50 percent of murders committed in America are committed by blacks and almost all the victims are black. No, the disproportionate percentages are caused by racism in the criminal justice system and slavery's legacy. When large percentages of black high-school graduates can't muster even 700 or 800 on the SAT, it isn't because they haven't studied hard enough and applied themselves. It's the result of racism and slavery's legacy.

The strangest feature of this particular claim, and a testament to the power of racists, is that racists are able to wreak the greatest educational havoc in the very cities where the mayor is black, the superintendent of schools is black, and most of the teachers and principals are black.

When it's noticed that black illegitimacy is 70 percent, and less than 40 percent of black children live in two-parent families, and social pathology reigns supreme, it's not because of personal irresponsibility. Instead, it's racism and the legacy of slavery. Nobody bothers to notice that a century ago, when blacks were much closer to slavery, had fewer civil rights and far fewer opportunities, black illegitimacy and family breakdown was a tiny fraction of today's.

The victimization counsel of black and white liberals is debilitating. Think of it this way.

Imagine you're a high-school or college administrator. Your basketball-team coach counsels his players: "You're going to play a team that's better than you. No matter how much you practice, no matter how hard you try, you can't win. The only possible way for you to win is if we can get the scorers and referees to cheat for you." What would you do to that coach? I'd say that simply firing him would be too kind.

The victimization vision teaches young blacks they have no choice or control over their own lives. Success depends not on their own efforts, but on handouts, concessions and leg-ups given by white people. As a black person born in 1936, who's witnessed and experienced gross discrimination and seen the personal sacrifices made by both blacks and whites to create today's opportunities, I find the victimization vision not only offensive and racially demeaning, but a gross betrayal of the monumental bravery and sacrifice of those who came before us.

South Carolina Rep. Robert Smalls (1874-1886) said it best: "My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life."

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