As it appears the American political landscape will be polluted with racially charged rhetoric from here until Election Day and beyond, just keep this in mind.
It’s all about money. And power.
It’s all about money, because race in America is no longer the structural deficiency it used to be. The classic racial struggles of our history – slavery, Jim Crow, the Klan, Japanese internment, the Indian wars along the frontier and so on – are over. Obsolete. It is the height of obscenity for a white person in America to use the “n-word,” though black people use it commonly. Even being called a racist, up until the overkill of the past year, was considered the ultimate in public condemnation.
Such things as cross-burnings, race riots, open discrimination – they’re so rare nowadays they make national newscasts when one happens. Our legal system makes motivations like race particularly unacceptable in the case of crime – it’s not enough of a breach of the peace to beat somebody up; if you do it out of racial animus the penalties are even worse. As such, white-on-black crime in America is virtually nonexistent today.
Which is not to say that racism is gone. Racism will never be gone. “Birds of a feather flock together” might be the truest of all the hackneyed folk sayings there are. Everywhere in the world where people of differing ethnicities live side by side in groups of any size, there is conflict. The fact is, in America we handle those conflicts in a far, far more civilized manner than anyone else in the world.
Don’t believe it? Check out how well Arabs and blacks get along in the Sudan. Or how Koreans are treated in Japan. Or how the Chinese handle ethnic minorities like Tibetans or Uighurs. Or how Hutus and Tutsis manage in Rwanda. Or how whites, blacks and Indians interact in South Africa. Or how well Turkish immigrants in Germany or North African Muslims in France are assimilated. Or Pakistanis in Great Britain, for that matter. Or Russians and Chechens.
Compared to those regrettable ethnic conflicts, race relations in America are idyllic.
Do we have income disparities? Sure. Are opportunities the same on all sides of the racial divide? No. It’s unrealistic to expect uniformity in so diverse a population as the one we have.
So when we talk about the state of race relations in America in 2010, two things are true. First, it’s almost always the group with something to gain by raising the subject who makes the noise. And second, they’re not looking for justice; they’re looking for money.
And it’s all about power. This is why, when the NAACP puts out a “study” which accuses the Tea Party movement of racism for what seems like the 32nd time this year, they’re not interested in “racism.” The Tea Party movement has spawned the rise of some of the best feel-good candidacies of this election cycle; namely, the black conservatives.
Allen West in Florida. Tim Scott in South Carolina. Charles Lollar in Maryland. And more.
West and Scott will win. Lollar actually might knock off Steny Hoyer; if he doesn’t, this is by no means the last we’ll see of him. That’s true of many, or most, of the dozens of black Republicans running for major office this year; the most since Reconstruction.
But instead of trumpeting the rise of the outstanding black conservatives who will have a major role to play in the future of the Republican Party, we see the NAACP attacking them by calling many of their supporters a bunch of bigots. Why?
Money. And power.
An Allen West is going to join with the new majority in the House of Representatives which will move to roll back entitlement programs and shrink the government’s ability to redistribute wealth. He’ll help to break the cozy little realities the race industry, as represented by the NAACP and such groups, has crafted for themselves with the assistance of left-wing politicians who feed off the bloc votes of the black community. He’s going to offer the nation a different idea of what a black politician can be and do.
Let’s face it, the nation has already proven itself receptive to such an idea. Barack Obama ran and won in 2008 on the idea of being post-racial, post-ideological and centrist. Obama has since made it clear that image was an abject fraud, and because of that a majority of Americans say they wouldn’t consider voting for him again. But Obama proved that a black man in America can achieve the highest office in the land. Folks here don’t have a problem with affording talent an opportunity, regardless of ethnicity.
What is no longer acceptable to the American people is a free flow of taxpayer dollars to people who refuse to pull their own weight. The money isn’t there. And with times getting tougher and justifications leaner, folks like the NAACP have to work harder to stay relevant. They realize this only some of the time; otherwise they would likely have spotted the irony in advance of naming a man named Ben Jealous to head an organization whose mission is largely to secure the redistribution of others’ wealth.
Ironic also, then, that someone like Eric Holder could be in such a lofty position as he currently occupies.
Holder is running a Justice Department which runs interference for the New Black Panthers and refuses to admit white people could have their voting rights infringed upon. And he stoked animosities virtually immediately after taking his current job as Attorney General. Holder called us “a nation of cowards” not willing to have an honest discussion on race.
But that was a lie. Holder and the folks he’s allied with don’t want an honest discussion on race, because such a discussion threatens their positions of power – and money.
Here in these parts we’ve got a perfect example. East St. John High School is located in Reserve, Louisiana, a community about a half-hour west of New Orleans. And in Reserve the population is 52 percent black. The median household income is about $34,000. Some 23 percent of the population is below the poverty line. Some 39 percent of Reserve’s households earn less than $25,000 per year. It’s not quite the inner city, but it’s also not what you’d call a particularly successful community.
That said, there’s a bright spot in Reserve. East St. John plays terrific football. They’re undefeated this season, playing in the state’s largest classification. The head coach of East St. John’s team, Larry Dauterive, has been coaching at one level of football or another for 45 years and as a high school coach he’s put some 60 of his players into college programs on full scholarship. Dauterive is a sometimes-controversial figure, but the argument could be made that the coach, who is white, has done as much or more to secure an educational future for black kids in Reserve than anyone else in the past decade.
And yet the black members of the St. John Parish school board forced Dauterive’s resignation today.
Why? Because he’s guilty of accurately describing the socioeconomic circumstances most of his players come from.
On Monday, Dauterive spoke to the New Orleans Quarterback Club and described those circumstances – and the reality of being a white coach of a “100 percent black” team in a place he referred to as “The Gaza Strip” in blunt terms. He was arguing against higher academic requirements for football eligibility; he said if those standards are adopted he might lose half his team and the opportunity to mold the character of some of his at-risk players could be lost.
“At the end of spring training I had 78 kids finish and 69 of those kids come from single-parent homes. So, I’m the only poppa they’ve got. It’s a staggering figure. I’m the only chance (for them) to get out of there.
“We don’t have many Phi Beta Kappas on our team. We have a few that maintain a 3.0, the rest are just glad to be there, so we’re trying to keep them eligible.
“You have to understand that when I look at those birth certificates every year that I have to send in and you see the name of the father with just asterisks – no name – and the name of the mother and age 15, 16 at birth – the kid’s birth, the mom was 15 years old – so you do the math.
“What they have to do is they have to go get a job, quit school, can’t read, consequently they go to McDonald’s and work for $7 an hour to support their child and when the child gets here the child can’t read, so we’re in an endless cycle.”
For the trouble of his describing a situation which is no secret to anyone familiar with what goes on all too often in the black community – the very race industry which discusses “outcomes” as an argument for the continued existence of racism in America will cite the terrible demographic, educational, criminal and economic statistical disparities Dauterive fleshed out in his comments – five black members of the school board said he had to go. Dauterive offered an apology but insisted his portrayal of the circumstances his kids come from is an accurate one. That was yesterday. Today, he’s out.
There is a history here. Last August, East St. John hosted and lost a jamboree against neighboring St. Charles Catholic. After the game Dauterive’s players displayed poor behavior and embarrassed the program, and the coach was stark in his locker-room criticism of them – which led to a suspension and an uproar from the same school board members who are after him now.
Written statements taken from other East St. John coaches, the players and Dauterive, indicate that Dauterive used the word in relaying what he said the fans said after East St. John players stomped off the field, throwing their helmets and kicking a trash can, Wise said.
“(Dauterive) told them that he overheard fans saying, ‘Now they are acting like a bunch of n—–s,'” Wise said.
Wise said that use of the slur — no matter the context — was inappropriate and that he agrees with the suspension.
Dauterive is gone because he spoke the truth as he saw it. He may be no saint, but he’s one of the best football coaches in Louisiana and in nine years at East St. John his teams have consistently been major contenders for championships. He’s done what he was hired to do. But his comments aren’t helpful to the five black members of the St. John Parish School Board who hold themselves out as “leaders” in the black community of that parish; by voicing them, Dauterive exposed that “leadership” as a failure – and put in jeopardy their ability to continue in power after the next election.
That couldn’t be allowed. It wasn’t. And some 60-odd kids have now lost the only prominent, successful father figure they likely have in their lives.
But nobody is in the way of those school board members now. The pressure is off. Dauterive will be the last public employee in St. John to talk about what goes on in the black community there for quite a while. And the benefits of being a “leader” in that community remain.
It’s all about money. And power.