Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pat Buchanan’s rant

I received a question from a regular reader of this blog why I had not commented on Pat Buchanan's Sunday newspaper column. I had not been moved to comment on it when I first read it because I thought it was its own refutation. Here are some excerpts from Buchanan's March 21 column:
Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America.

Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to. This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known. Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the '60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream. Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks - with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas -- to advance black applicants over white applicants.

Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.

We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

Well, now that I think about it I guess I do have something to say about this. Racial prejudice has diminished greatly in this country during my lifetime. A day may come when the disadvantages of being black in America will have diminished so much that they will be outweighed by the advantages and being of African descent will be as positive a thing as Mr. Buchanan finds being of Irish descent is today. That day has not yet come and only a self-pitying white racist such as Mr. Buchanan would think it had.

When people ask Barack Obama why he self-identifies as black rather than white he explains that it is because in many situations, such as trying to hail a taxi at night, he is treated as black. Whether or not he is African-American is not something he can choose the way someone with dual citizenship chooses one or the other of those countries.

In spite of all those programs Mr. Buchanan lists black unemployment, poverty and incarceration rates are much higher than whites. Government assistance targeted at the black community is trying to compensate for the disadvantages blacks face in the job and housing markets because of racial prejudice. When racial prejudice fades away those programs will no longer be needed and will also cease to exist.

Feelings of gratitude arise naturally in those who have reasons to be grateful. Demanding gratitude, as Mr. Buchanan does here, accomplishes nothing. Mr. Buchanan should see the difference between his expectations and reality as a signal that perhaps he is operating with faulty assumptions and he needs to reevaluate everything he thinks he knows.

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