I was recently shown a videotape of people reacting to radio talk shows. Organized by a firm that specializes in analyzing radio talk shows, the members of the listening panel were carefully chosen to represent all major listening groups within American society.
But I quickly noticed something odd — I saw no blacks among the selected listeners. I asked why. And the response was stunning.
Blacks had always been included, I was told, but no more. Not because the firm was not interested in black listeners — on the contrary, blacks are an important part of the radio audience. They were not invited to give their opinion about various radio shows because in its previous experience, the company had discovered that almost no whites would publicly differ with the opinions of the blacks on the panel. Therefore, once a black listener spoke, whites stopped saying what they really thought, if what they thought differed from what a black had said.
I believed that this was the reason — not some racist animosity toward blacks — since such companies are paid to give accurate reports on audience reactions to radio programs, and clearly their results would be skewed without input from black listeners. But I still needed to test this thesis. Do most whites really not publicly say what they believe, if what they believe differs from what a black believes — even when the subject has absolutely nothing to do with race (i.e., reactions to a radio talk show discussing other subjects)?
So I posed to this question to my radio audience, and, sure enough, whites from around the country called in to say that they are afraid to differ with blacks lest they be labeled racist.
I could not imagine anything more detrimental toward abolishing racism and to enhancing black progress in America than such an attitude. But apparently it is the norm in American life to so fear being called a racist that individuals as well as institutions react to blacks as they would to children — humoring them rather than taking them seriously.
This is another terrible legacy of the dominant liberal attitudes vis a vis America’s blacks. For the liberal worlds of academia and media, as for the Democratic Party, blacks are not seen as individuals, the way members of virtually other minority and majority groups are. In the liberal mind, blacks are an oppressed group — the ultimate oppressed group in America — and there is little more about black Americans that one needs to know.
Therefore, in a mind-numbing non sequitur, blacks are not be judged, talked to, talked about or hired as other human beings are. I write “non sequitur” because even if one were to agree that blacks are an, or even the, oppressed minority, why would that obviate the need to judge, talk to, talk about or hire black human beings differently than anyone else? It would seem that anyone with equal respect for blacks would judge and talk to them just as they would all other people. But high schools and universities, newspapers and television, the Democratic Party and other liberal institutions have made it very difficult to do so.
Anyone who argues that standards should be identical for blacks — in hiring and in college acceptance, for example — is likely to be labeled a racist. And if the person making that argument is himself black, he becomes a member of the group liberals most hate, black conservatives — “traitors” to fellow blacks.
This also explains why, if one differs with a black, one is not perceived as merely disagreeing with him, but as “dissing” him. That is what started the liberal hatred of former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers. After asking Harvard Professor Cornel West to engage in more scholarship and less rap music making and politicking (West was a major figure in the Al Sharpton campaign for president), Professor West announced that President Summers had shown him “disrespect.” Even a Harvard president doesn’t tell a black professor what to do.
After dismissing Cornel West’s books as “almost completely worthless,” the New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier was attacked in ways that made it clear that one should simply not attack a black professor’s literary output as one would a white professor’s.
Every time liberals force universities to lower standards for black applicants, and every time liberal activists force civil service exams to be rewritten so that more blacks can pass those exams, another person learns not to treat blacks and their ideas as he would anyone else’s.
That is why most whites won’t differ publicly with most blacks. And that is why liberals and Democrats will have to answer to history for the harm they have done to at least two generations of black Americans.