In Part One, the past crimes of the Democrat party against black Americans were highlighted via a letter from Reverend Wayne Perryman of Seattle, who asserts that the party owes and should tender an apology for these crimes.
Previously I outlined—sarcastically, as is often my way—why the Democrat Party won’t offer an apology and, oddly enough, I don’t think that it should.
1. Like today’s Republican Party, the Democrat Party of 2004 isn’t the same one as that of 1965 and before. As much as we Republicans excoriate present-day Democrats for their platform and their actions, no one can honestly make the case that the party is actively and overtly attempting to suppress the citizenship rights of black Americans, as was so for the previous incarnation.
2. These types of apologies are “feel good” gestures. Such things are innocuous in and of themselves, but certain segments of the population hold such contrite words—rather than action--up as the *sole* evidence that the individual/group has mended ways; the old style-over-substance problem.
3. Related to the previous two items, this type of apology would serve to perpetuate the notion that the methods which the DP has used to make amends for its adherents’ past crimes are actually helping black Americans right now. (Actually, looking at it from the DP point of view, this could be a reason that they might do it.)
Are those old, venerated programs helping black Americans right now?
Indeed, the DP platforms--colloquially known as the Great Society programs-aimed at the uplift of black America—CRA, VRA, Medicare, Medicaid, HUD, etc.--have been perpetuated in good faith (now, now; leave Lyndon B. Johnson at peace in his grave). The ends were to ensure full-citizenship participation, eliminate povertyand job discrimination and improve the quality of life for America’s poor, a good portion of which were black. (Republican President Richard Nixon’s Affirmative Action Order—initiated during the LBJ administration--should be included as an add-on in this number, to answer Darkstar’s question from Part One.)
Let’s also grant that such programs have had many of the desired outcomes to a point: the black middle class has grown. But like many interventions--political, social and otherwise—the case can be made that many of these programs have outlived their usefulness and need to be modified or scraped. (For the record, I don’t include the CRA and the VRA in this number. Building on top of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the US Constitution, they were the basis of ensuring full citizenship of the American descendents of slaves.)
Let’s use Affirmative Action, for argument’s sake.
To paraphrase Secretary of State Colin Powell, Affirmative Action helped a few black kids get into college. It still does, but, somehow, the idea of Affirmative Action has morphed into the idea that its additional purpose is to afford them with the type of grades that will get them in and keep them there, or to not be required to have the same level of grades and/or scholastic test scores that are required of others. In light of all of the allegedly effective educational reforms produced during the Great Society Era and beyond, however, why are there still so many black (and other) students still “in need” of a lower standard of performance?
The Great Society Programs opened the door and the door remains ajar. Those with the right amount of gumption and preparation stepped in and continue to step through, but only those who understand that just getting in the door isn’t enough have made the transition from poor to middle-class or beyond.
Many putative recipients have come to regard AA as their “right;” as a guard against reversion to the bad old days. Opponents of AA opine that it has outlived its usefulness—for example, in its present form, it overlooks the need for basic education skills to be inculcated early in the primary school years, it overlooks the need for critical-reasoning skills to be inculcated *before* college, it makes the competence of black professionals suspect and it creates resentment from other groups who have no such stepping stone. Often, however, because of the “rights” issue and the distrust of America due to its past, some putative recipients don’t view reasoned opposition to AA as merely honest disagreement.
They view it as racism or race-traitor-ism, depending on the hue of the opponent.
This phenomenon betrays the inability of some to flow as time flows. For some it will always be 1965, when the fire hoses were flowing, the dogs were barking, the crosses were burning, the churches were blowing up and George Wallace was blocking the door to the University of Alabama, keeping black students from enrolling. The advances made by black America don’t exist for some (both white and black alike).
I give more credit to America (and, yes, even to the Democrat Party), via the evidence of my own eyes and ears. America, both black and white, has changed and, it’s my belief that there’s no danger of it reverting to its old, flawed form and that there’s no need to keep apologizing for the past. It’s time to deal with the new flaws; a never-ending battle, to be sure.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled partisan sniping. :-)
ADDENDUM: Reverend Perryman informs me that—along with the DNC and some black professional organizations-- he sent his original letter to various major news organizations: AP, LA Times, CBS, to name a few.