1 Oct 2010

Institutionalized racism

(via WEH) Thomas Sowell doesn't suffer fools:
Few things have captured in microcosm what has gone so painfully wrong, where racial issues are concerned, like the recent election for mayor of Washington, D.C.

Mayor Adrian Fenty, under whom the murder rate has gone down and the school children's test scores have gone up, was resoundingly defeated for re-election.


One key fact tells much of the story: Mayor Fenty received more than 70 percent of the white vote in Washington. His opponent received more than 80 percent of the black vote.

Both men are black. But the head of the school system that he appointed is Asian and the chief of police is a white woman. More than that, most of the teachers who were fired were black. There were also bitter complaints that black contractors did not get as many of the contracts for doing business with the city as they expected.

In short, the mayor appointed the best people he could find, instead of running a racial patronage system, as a black mayor of a city with a black majority is apparently expected to. He also didn't spend as much time schmoozing with the folks as was expected.


How did we reach the point where black voters put racial patronage and racial symbolism above the education of their children and the safety of everyone?

There are many reasons but the trend is ominous. One key factor was the creation, back in the 1960s, of a whole government-supported industry of race hustling.
I agree fully with this analysis. Racism will persist longer when governments make rules based on racism,* whether negative (allowing slavery) or "positive" (giving jobs or money to people with different skin colors).

Governments should not discriminate on the basis of color. If anything, government should help people under criteria that are not permanent. Poverty is ok, sick is ok. Tall, short, black, white, man, woman, gay, or straight? Not ok.

And that's not even acknowledging that most government programs crowd out private programs (educating kids, caring for the local homeless) that can do the same thing, better.

Bottom Line: Governments are necessary some of the time for some things, but for all of the time for all things. Just ask yourself: Is there another way? And then go do it.

* For more on why racism is NOT about skin color, read this brilliant research:

Cosmides, L., Tooby, J. & Kurzban, R. (2003). Perceptions of race [pdf]. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(4), 173-179.

Kurzban, R., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2001). Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization [pdf]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98(26), 15387-15392.

1 comment:

  1. Sowell's in the wrong country then, because this one has been taken over by fools. (As I think Mencken predicted long ago.) DC voters have done this before, haven't they?

    The problem of poor voter choices is certainly not limited to racial issues. Much of the country is presently convulsed with voter irrationality and rage, often over issues that have little substance. Voters in Colorado, Delaware, New York, Nevada, and of course South Carolina have made some appalling choices.

    And really, this has been going on for some time. We Americans don't learn from our own mistakes, in fact we tend to not only repeat them but magnify them with each repetition.


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