Racism-O-Rama

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Racism-O-Rama by James Howard Kunstler

The New York Times worked itself into a fugue state this morning of the MLK holiday with a front-page orgy of reproving headlines: “[Charles] Blow: Trump is a Racist, Period;” “Donald Trump’s Racism, the Definitive List;” “’I’m Not a Racist,’ Trump says, as DACA Hopes Dim;” “In Trump Remarks, Black Churches See a Nation Backsliding.”

I suspect these are not so much the cries of a people yearning for redress of unfair laws — as was the case in 1963 when Martin Luther King led the now-hallowed march on Washington against the Jim Crow regime in Dixieland — but the hue and cry of a political machine desperate for attention that has otherwise run out of principles and purposes.

Donald Trump is certainly a vulgar fellow of questionable intelligence, and the country might be better off with someone else in the White House, but where exactly would that leave black America? We’re not going to re-run the civil rights campaign of the 1960s, which culminated in explicit federal laws that abolished the southern state’s Jim Crow laws.

What is government supposed to do now to improve the lives of black America? There is, for instance, the quandary of public assistance — welfare of various forms, transfer payments, SNAP cards, housing subsidies. I don’t believe these policies were concocted deliberately to keep people-of-color down, but they’ve been hugely destructive to family formation because of the “man-in-the-house” rule that strongly promotes single-parent households headed by mothers. And these policies have surely shaped a dysfunctional ghetto culture in many other ways. I don’t hear any calls from the black caucuses, or from their professional colleagues in the lobbying industry, or from the black churches, to change that rule. There is no movement at all to get rid of public assistance per se.

We’ve had several generations who, in one way another, have enjoyed the benefits of “affirmative action,” and American black people are still under-represented in the professions, except in government jobs. Affirmative action has been challenged in the courts, but it finds new ways to assert itself, especially in academia. Black public intellectuals — Sowell, McWhorter, Steele, et al — have argued that affirmative action stigmatizes all of black America, and it’s worth considering if that is true. They are in a tiny minority of black non-Leftists who even dare to raise the question.

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.