Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri prove, if nothing else, that a great many black people are very angry these days and some will use almost any perceived slight as justification for rioting, looting, and arson. So who or what is the source of that anger?
Looking back over the history of black people in America, we are told that a black man in Virginia, Anthony Johnson, became the first slave-holder in America in the 1650s. In 1860, the American people elected their first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, and the following year, in 1861, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves to be free men and women. Then, on December 6, 1865, in spite of strong opposition from Democrats, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, banning slavery in the United States forever.
In 1866, after being defeated in the war to end slavery, Democrats established a paramilitary auxiliary called the Ku Klux Klan to keep the freed slaves in line and to intimidate them into voting for Democratic candidates. However, just because the slaves were freed and human slavery had been permanently outlawed, southern Democrats did not suddenly join the ranks of abolitionists. Instead, once they’d regained control over southern legislatures they set about enacting Jim Crow laws and the Black Codes, dictating where and for whom blacks could work, where they could live, where they could eat and sleep, which restrooms and drinking fountains they could use, and where they were allowed to sit in movie theaters and on trains and busses.
These restrictive policies were in effect across much of America as late as the 1950s. So is it possible that many blacks still feel the indignation of slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow, and the Black Codes, fifty years later? Yes, of course. Such indignities are not easily washed away in only two or three generations. And is it possible that young blacks today feel a strong sense of resentment for a nation that treated their grandparents so inhumanely? Yes, of course.
While human slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow and the Black Codes have been major factors in black-white relations, they are not the primary contributing factor in the question of why so many black people today exhibit such anger, or why so many young blacks walk around with a chip on their shoulders, just daring white authority figures to knock it off… as was the case with Trayvon Martin, in Florida, and Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. So what is it that causes many black people to use any pretext to go into the streets, defy police authority, and set fire to their own neighborhoods? To find an answer to that question we must first determine what has been the major contributing factor in the disintegration of the black family unit.
To find an answer to that question we need look no further than a federal program called Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), the first of two major tipping points in black history following the Emancipation Proclamation. AFDC was passed in 1935 by a Democrat-controlled Congress with a 72-23 majority in the Senate, a 322-103 majority in the House, and signed into law by a Democrat president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. In order for a family to be eligible for AFDC payments, the family must have had at least one dependent child, under age 18, who was “deprived of financial support from one of their parents due to the parent’s death, continued absence (emphasis added), or incapacity.” In other words, if two able-bodied parents lived in the home the family was denied AFDC benefits.
Nothing… not drugs, not poverty, not urban decay, nor lack of educational opportunities… has contributed more to the disintegration of the black family unit in America than the restrictions of the AFDC program. As an unintended consequence of AFDC, marriage was discouraged, fathers were forced out of their homes, and single-parent welfare mothers found they could increase their monthly income by simply having more babies. As a result, we now have a society in which three out of four black babies are born out of wedlock, and where black mothers, unable to discipline their fatherless children, find so many of their young men either imprisoned, addicted to drugs, or the victims of gang violence.
Far too many young black men are like Michael Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, who told the press that his friend was shot to death by a white police officer as he walked toward the officer with his hands in the air. When he gets before a grand jury, under oath, Johnson may have a different story to tell. However, Johnson’s 15 minutes of fame may cost him dearly. When police ran a background check on him they found that he was wanted on an outstanding felony warrant in Jefferson City, Missouri. In that case, Johnson was arrested for theft, lied about his identity, and failed to appear in court on his trial date. How will such young men ever be able to enter the work force as reliable and valued employees? By their own actions, they have thrown away any chance of ever realizing the American Dream. How would they answer that question found on most job applications, which asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
The second major tipping point in black history was the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down the “separate but equal” concept in public education, followed closely by the War on Poverty of the Kennedy-Johnson era. It was then that Democrats resigned themselves to the notion that their century-old campaign to oppress blacks through violence and threats of violence was at an end. Instead, they found it politically expedient to simply buy the allegiance of black people with funds from the public treasury.
Accordingly, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, with a Democrat-controlled Congress, enacted a vast array of social welfare programs designed to mollify blacks and to capture their votes for Democrat candidates. At that juncture, blacks had two well-defined paths to choose from: 1) They could choose what conservatives and Republicans offered: equal opportunities in jobs and education, hard work, and perseverance… the time-honored road to the American Dream, or 2) They could choose the “free lunch” that Democrats offered. Unfortunately, under the self-defeating leadership of race hustlers such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, blacks entered into a “devils bargain” with the Democratic Party, choosing the “free lunch” alternative.
It was pure cynicism on the part of white Democrats. In his well-documented book, Inside the White House, historian Ronald Kessler quotes Lyndon Johnson as he justified his support for civil rights legislation to two Democratic governors on board Air Force One. Johnson is quoted as saying, “I’ll have those n*****s voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.”
The only price blacks had to pay for all the free money, food stamps, subsidized housing, free healthcare, and preferential treatment in jobs and higher education was to pull the Democrat lever on Election Day. Since that time, blacks have consistently given 90-95 percent of their votes to Democrats. Yet, 61 years after Brown v. Board of Education, and in spite of endless Democratic promises of “better times,” blacks have seen little social and economic progress.
So we should not be surprised that, after many decades of being told by liberals and Democrats that they are “victims” of rich whites and business owners, blacks sometimes throw tantrums like spoiled children. Frankly, I’d be angry too if someone made the same promises to me, over and over again, for a half century or more, and I could find no evidence that they’d delivered on those promises. So is it any wonder that, because of all the broken promises and unfulfilled expectations, we now find a sub-culture in which far too many blacks, by their own choices, fail to take advantage of the educational and job opportunities available to them? Instead, we find millions of urban blacks consumed by a seething anger and a sense of crushing hopelessness.
If black parents, at the time of the two major tipping points describe above, had insisted that their children do their homework every night; that they be in school every day; that they always behave themselves, both inside and outside the classroom; and that, once they’ve entered the workforce, they always give their employers at least eight hours of their best effort in exchange for eight hours pay, African-Americans would be far down the road, socially and economically, from where they are today. But that’s not what happened. Instead, blacks have wasted more than half a century of progress cradled in the smothering embrace of liberals and Democrats who were interested in them only for the electoral majorities they helped produce on Election Day.
Because of their fawning obeisance to the liberal cause, blacks have dug a hole for themselves that will be all but impossible to climb out of. To do so would first require that they have what it takes to admit that their political allegiances have been misplaced. But they’re not likely to do that anytime soon. Instead, we find them doubling down on their support for Democrats. And while they’ve paid a heavy price for their fealty to the Democrat Party, forfeiting their political independence and their ability to think for themselves, along with much of their pride, their dignity, and their self respect, they should not be holding their breath waiting for Republicans to enter into a bidding war with Democrats for their hearts, their minds, and their votes. Unlike Democrats, Republicans have a fondness for honesty and integrity in politics, and, unlike Democrats, they will never adopt bribery as a strategic element of their national platform.
By promising them cradle-to-grave economic security, Lyndon Johnson promised that he’d have blacks voting Democratic for the next two hundred years. If that’s true, and if blacks fail to get new leadership willing to speak the truth to them, they will have another 150 years of empty promises to endure. Unfortunately, we have a black man in the White House who seems to think that it is his job, not to unite the races, but to find new and creative ways of dividing Americans along racial and economic lines. So long as blacks continue to believe that he is on their side and that he is trying to do what’s best for them, they’ll just have to go on being angry.