One of the most dangerous myths in our lifetime has been that liberalism and the Democratic Party are black America’s best friends. For all of us who desperately want African-Americans to prosper, the destruction of this myth may be the single most important step to that end.
The recent Supreme Court decision affirming the centerpiece of liberal policy concerning blacks — affirmative action — provides a perfect example of a liberal policy that hurts blacks. If the Ku Klux Klan were given the responsibility to develop social policy to hurt blacks, they could not have come up with something more destructive.
Of course, unlike the Ku Klux Klan, liberals mean well. But that is irrelevant. All decent Americans, not only liberals, acknowledge that America has committed great injustices against its black citizens. Only they were kidnapped from their homelands, shipped like cattle, enslaved, and then subjected to legal racism.
But acknowledging America’s historic injustice and debt to blacks doesn’t mean that whatever policy such acknowledgment leads to will necessarily help them. Neither guilt nor good intentions necessarily lead to anything positive. Affirmative action is a perfect example.
The first and most important reason affirmative action hurts blacks is that it renders black achievement suspect. Every campus that practices race-based affirmative action places every black student and professor there under a cloud: Did this individual really merit getting in? Or did the university lower its standards?
Anyone who denies this cloud is lying to himself. As is anyone who denies that black students do not know it’s there. If I were black, I would weep because of affirmative action. All my work, everything that I have done on my own with no one’s help, and sometimes against great odds, is, thanks to affirmative action alone, rendered suspect.
But, defenders of affirmative action respond, what about other students who have gained admission thanks to some form of affirmative action — such as children of alumni?
The answer is that any student who got in thanks to Dad or Mom having been an alumnus or a big donor to the university would also be under a cloud of suspicion — if everyone on campus knew at all times who they were. But there is one enormous difference between those students and black students — few students know which ones have a parent who is an alumnus or a donor, but everyone knows who is black. If children of alumni all had to wear a red hat around campus 24 hours a day just as blacks wear black skin 24 hours a day, the fairness of their admission would also be suspect.
The second way in which race-based affirmative action injures blacks is that it perpetuates the racist myth that race is significant. The notion that racial diversity is important is itself based on this racist idea. It confuses cultural diversity — a great asset to a university — with racial diversity. It tells the black student that the rest of us regard him first and foremost as black. Yet, no white or Asian student thinks of himself this way, or is seen this way by others. Yet universities chisel this racist absurdity into students’ hearts, minds and souls. Thanks to liberals, it will take yet another generation to identify people by their achievements and personalities rather than by their color.
Third, affirmative action tells blacks that America is so racist that they cannot achieve anything significant without having rules bent on their behalf. This is a libel on America, and it is utterly dispiriting to blacks.
Fourth, it discourages self-reliance and hard work. If you knew that wherever you went in life, you would be given special consideration because of your ethnicity or color, would you work as hard? Of course not. Affirmative action is race-based welfare.
Here’s the proof at how toxic affirmative action is to blacks: Imagine a campus where the university announced that it had abolished all racial considerations in admitting students. How do you think the blacks at that college would be regarded by all other students? And how do you think blacks would regard themselves?
The answers are so obvious that it is entirely fair to state that the greatest enemies of black progress are white and black liberals. There is no doubt that one day a generation of blacks will realize this. And when they do, they will finally be free.