Baa baa black sheep

There is no good reason why the black community should vote like the populations of communist countries, who lack the ability to exercise free choice.

By David Horowitz

Published November 9, 1998 8:00PM (EST)

What if 90 percent of the white electorate had turned out last Tuesday to vote for Republican candidates in virtually every electoral district across the country?

What if Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott had spent the last weeks before the election visiting all-white churches and making not-so-covert appeals to the congregations' alleged racial interest in expanding the Republican majority?

What if Carol Moseley-Braun had been defeated because 93 percent of whites voted against her?

What if a Republican representing a white suburban district had received 94 percent of the vote against his opponent, the way Charles Rangel actually did in his Harlem district? (This, mind you, was only 1 percent less than the widow of the Tennessee candidate murdered by his opponent received in defeating her husband's killer.)

What if Colin Powell was president and Tom Wolfe wrote a piece imitating Toni Morrison's fatuous New Yorker article, hailing the first white African-American president because he did not come from a dysfunctional family, spoke the King's English, played the violin and favored cuisine like quiche Lorraine?

The morning after the election, I received the following phone message from a black family member, recorded on my answering machine: "Well, I just had to call to chuckle over the election results. Black people finally got heard. I guess O.J. and Bill Clinton do have something in common." (Well, she got that last point right, though not in the way she undoubtedly meant it.) I didn't respond in kind, but suppose the circumstances had been reversed, and the Democrats had lost big time, and I had called my black relative and said, "I just had to chuckle because white people were finally heard."

Of course, the double standard by which we have come to judge the behaviors of white and black Americans has gone so far that a significant portion of the public has been persuaded that the lock-step political choices of the African-American community are motivated by a justifiable racial solidarity. In other words, they have nothing remotely in common with the counterexamples I have suggested, which they would rightly regard as the expressions of a deplorable racial prejudice.

But are these political reflexes of the African-American community so obviously appropriate to African-American interests, as liberals claim? Larry Elder, a black libertarian talk show host in Los Angeles, thinks they are not. Recently, Elder published the following list of "15 Reasons Why Blacks Shouldn't Support Clinton":

1. Tax hikes. Elder reminds us that during the Reagan years, black teenage and adult unemployment fell dramatically because lower taxes stimulated business formation and expansion, creating employment opportunities for unskilled labor.

2. Affirmative action, which promotes the fallacious idea of the "Big Bang Theory of the Black Middle Class" -- that the black middle class owes its existence and success to government preferences rather than to its own achievement. In fact, the growth of the black middle class was more rapid before affirmative action programs were put in place.

3. Minimum wage increases. Elder cites Milton Friedman's observation that the minimum wage is "one of the most anti-black laws on the statute books" because it destroys entry-level jobs for second-paycheck earners, teens and other unskilled workers.

4. Welfare. Clinton vigorously opposed welfare reform until Republicans forced him to sign on to it, and he threatens to undo the reforms in place. Yet welfare reform has liberated thousands of black Americans from the prospect of lifetime dependence on government handouts, at minimal levels of existence.

5. Gun control. Clinton and the Democrats oppose concealed weapons permits, yet inner-city blacks remain the most vulnerable to violent crime. Meanwhile, studies show that in states that allow concealed weapons, murder rates have fallen.

6. Opposition to school choice. Threats of Clinton vetoes and Democratic opposition to voucher programs denies poor blacks the same options Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson and other Democratic leaders take to rescue their own kids from the traps of dangerous and failing public schools by sending them to the private schools of their choice.

7. Opposition to the privatization of Social Security. Blacks have shorter life expectancies than whites and thus stand to gain less from Social Security benefits they are forced to fund, and would gain enormously by being able to control their own retirement funds.

8. Expansion of government in health care. Government-mandated health insurance programs have vastly increased the costs of health care and decreased the chances that small businesses can afford ample benefit programs for their employees. "As usual, the least skilled and most vulnerable get whacked the most."

9. Abuse of black friends such as Vernon Jordan and Betty Currie, whom Clinton lured into positions of legal jeopardy through self-serving lies.

10. Expansion of the war on drugs. In this area, black leaders have employed a double standard, opposing drug laws that penalize urban blacks disproportionately while remaining silent over Clinton's responsibility for these measures.

11. The Race Advisory Board, which has promoted the tired liberal red herring that what ails black America is a "lack of understanding" on the part of whites, instead of welfare dependency, bad schools, illegitimacy and criminal behavior.

12. The reopening of the inquiry into the assassination of Martin Luther King. The original investigation headed by black liberal congressman Louis Stokes, D-Ohio, closed the case years ago, after proving that James Earl Ray was the assassin. "Re-opening the case keeps the 'blacks-are-victims' cottage industry pumping."

13. The White House defense of lying under oath, which puts blacks who are more likely to suffer from the perjuries of law enforcement officers at greater risk.

14. Expansion of hate crime legislation, which exaggerates the frequency of such crimes, while depreciating the significance of the same race crimes from which blacks suffer most.

15. The war on cigarettes, whose tax penalties will fall disproportionately on lower-income people who smoke more and can afford the taxes less.

It is not necessary to agree with all or even most of these points to see that there is no particular reason why the black community should vote like the populations of communist countries, who lack the ability to exercise free choice. By contrast, for example, the Asian community in California split 55-45 percent in the race pitting a Chinese-American, Matt Fong, against incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (Fong actually got the smaller portion of Asian votes). But while black Americans do not live in a totalitarian country, those blacks who do dissent from the liberal party line experience a level of hostility and intimidation in their own community that is unusual for democracies.

Larry Elder himself has been the target of vicious attacks from the principal black newspaper in Los Angeles, received death threats inspired by such attacks and finally been boycotted by a radical group called Talking Drum. The boycott reportedly caused Elder's employer, Los Angeles radio station KABC, to lose millions of dollars in advertising. A year ago, the station's management informed Elder that he would be removed from his four-hour drive-time air slot. A replacement was hired and Elder's hours reduced. Meanwhile, there was not a single editorial in the Los Angeles Times about the political movement to silence his voice, or a single protest by the ACLU and other liberal organizations normally so quick to oppose such moves as censorship.

It took a conservative organization (which I head) to mount an effort to defend Elder in the form of a half-million-dollar TV ad campaign. This resulted in a dramatic boost in Elder's ratings, the firing of the station manager and Elder's replacement and the restoration of his hours. Today, Larry Elder is the No. 1 drive-time talk show host in Los Angeles and about to be syndicated nationally.

Was the attack on Elder, accompanied by the unusual silence of liberal elites, an aberration? Hardly. In fact, it was integrally connected to the 90 percent black vote for Democratic Party candidates like Los Angeles congresswoman and black caucus head Maxine Waters last week. Waters was one of Elder's antagonists.

Liberals and the Democratic Party need the economic dependence and monolithic political choices of the African-American community in order to secure their own political power. That is why liberals and Democrats constantly inflame the racial fears of black Americans while maliciously demonizing conservatives and Republicans as their racial enemies. That is why they are either collusive in, or silent about, the character assassination of black conservatives like Clarence Thomas, Gary Franks, Ken Hamble, Thomas Sowell and Ward Connerly.

Where would liberalism and the Democratic Party be without the dependency of black Americans on government programs and government offices and the monolithic politics that follow naturally therefrom? (Government actually employs 24 percent of black Americans -- in contrast with 14 percent of whites -- while blacks make up only 10 percent of the work force).

Where would liberalism and the Democratic Party be if poor urban black youth were not trapped by their policies in dangerous and failing public schools? This situation -- tragically destructive for African-Americans -- ensures that billions of education dollars will continue to flow into the pockets of the administrative bureaucracies and public sector unions, especially the teachers' unions, which form the heart of the Democratic Party's political machine.

It is the same self-interest that causes the Democratic Party to defend affirmative action programs whose true (and virtually sole) beneficiaries are the black elites who are the enforcers of the political monolith. In a new book, written to justify these policies in education, university presidents Sisela Bok and Roger Bowen focus their attention on racial preference admissions in 28 elite colleges. Their study shows that 86 percent of the African-American beneficiaries of these racial preferences already come from the upper-middle and upper classes of the black community, and that they go on to top leadership positions in government and society.

If I were still a leftist, I would describe this privileged class of African-Americans as a comprador or neocolonial bourgeoisie, granted privileges by the imperial power to maintain its own control over the colonial masses and to secure the profits and powers that flow from the system. What is going on here is the aggrandizement of liberals, the Democratic Party and their neocolonial elites off the backs of minorities and the poor. That is the bottom-line significance of the 90 percent African-American support for Democratic big-government candidates in the 1998 elections.

Republican policies of lower taxation, school choice and welfare reform are actually in the interests of the disadvantaged and poor. Republicans could be the party of liberation for these downtrodden masses. As the success of welfare reform shows, Republican policies will lead to a better life for blacks and other minorities oppressed by liberalism and the welfare state. For now, however, as the election has shown, the problem is that Republicans don't seem to know how to communicate this message to the minorities themselves and, worse, don't seem to care.

David Horowitz

David Horowitz is a conservative writer and activist.

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