“It’s the CIA’s wet dream; there is no Yuri.”
—Gene Hackman as Secretary of Defense David Brice in No Way Out
I know better than to read Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts. But sometimes I can’t help myself.
All-too-predictably, Pitts is thoroughly inflamed over the jury’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Florida. But he takes it a step farther than the typical outrage over the perceived injustice, or even the bogus use of the case as a springboard for opposition to “stand-your-ground” laws (which weren’t even an issue in the trial). Pitts cries out that the verdict must serve as a wake-up call for the black community to take action to prevent what he claims is an impending tsunami of white erosion of hard-won black rights.
Arguing that black history has always been a cycle of two steps forward, one step back (one could make a good argument that that’s a universal story of mankind, but who’s counting), Pitts warns that blacks are standing on a cliff with whites preparing to push them over into a new era of deprivation. For him, the Zimmerman verdict—a unanimous verdict of a jury approved by the state of Florida in a trial in which the state overreached in its charges and then couldn’t make its case despite having virtually every possible advantage—heralds a new “crushing period of pushback” against which blacks must be vigilant.
Pitts tells blacks:
- While we were celebrating, others were calculating.
- While we were writing nasty rap lyrics, they were writing senators.
- While we were organizing Obama victory parties, they were organizing tea parties.
- While we were buying DVDs, they were buying candidates.
- While we were sending texts, they were building propaganda machinery.
- While we were resting in the past, they were seizing the future.
What the hell is he talking about?
Pitts, of course, cites exactly zero evidence for his charges that unnamed “others” or “they”—we can understand him to mean universally racist white people, although he doesn’t say that out loud—have been “calculating,” “writing senators,” “buying candidates,” etc. And although Pitts insinuates that these activities are inherently sinister and aimed at blacks, just what these racist whites are going to deprive blacks of, Pitts conveniently leaves unspecified. Who these people are, and what they’re going to do (if anything) are unknown, but blacks should nevertheless be very afraid.
For all Mr. Pitts’ incessant whining about pervasive racism, the fact is—leaving aside the impact of the continuing Great Recession, which has hit all groups—by almost any measure the black condition has steadily—if slowly—improved over the last half century. Consider the following:
- We have a black President, recently re-elected despite an objectively dismal record in office;
- In the 2012 election, black voting turnout surpassed white turnout for the first time, and in 2008, 2010, and 2012, blacks voted in record numbers;
- Black per capita income, while still lagging behind that of whites and of the nation as a whole, has closed that gap from 43% below the mean (in 2011 dollars) in 1967, to 31% below the mean in 2011;
- The mean income for middle fifth of the black population has risen from $25,294 in 1967 (again in 2011 dollars) to $32,452 in 2011, although that has tailed a bit with recent extended recession;
- From the peak of the 1982 recession, black unemployment dropped steadily from a high of around 21% to a low in 2007 of about 7.5%;
- Black-owned businesses increased by 60.5% from 2002 to 2007, and represent one of the fastest growing segments in the US economy;
- The percentage of black students at U.S. colleges rose from 9% in 1976 to 14% in 2010, meaning blacks are actually now slightly overrepresented relative to their percentage of the population.
- In 2011, the FBI recorded 2,076 “hate crimes” with anti-black bias, down from 3,674 incidents in 1996, the earliest year for which such statistics are available. That reflects a 43% decrease over the last 15 years.
This hardly suggests an impending new white conspiracy to roll back the clock on blacks. Blacks are voting and getting their candidates elected. More blacks are getting jobs and earning more money. More blacks are attending college. Black business is up, racially-motivated crime against blacks is down. Yet somehow Pitts contends that the Zimmerman verdict is a harbinger of doom for blacks.
The Zimmerman case had nothing to do with race. Zimmerman isn’t white; he self-identifies as Hispanic. And in his 911 call to police—if you get the one NBC didn’t fraudulently edit—he didn’t originally identify Trayvon Martin as black. Nor is this a situation where a racist Jim Crow government turned a blind eye because the victim was black and the accused was white; there was a trial in which the State of Florida did everything it could to finagle a conviction even after the local police, the original D.A., and the FBI all concluded there wasn’t enough evidence, and the jury didn’t buy it. That’s how the system works: if the State can’t prove its case—and here Florida couldn’t and didn’t—the defendant is acquitted. That’s not racism.
And despite Pitts’ unfounded fear of the Tea Party movement, the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with Tea Party politics, and the Tea Party movement has nothing to with race. The Tea Party movement didn’t invent the law of self-defense, or even the irrelevant “stand-your-ground” law. The Tea Party movement didn’t hire the prosecutor, appoint the judge, or select the jury. The Tea Party movement is all about reeling government back in to its Constitutional limits, reducing spending, and playing by the damn rules. Yes, that may mean fewer handouts and less voter fraud; if that hits black people, maybe Mr. Pitts should be looking at how blacks are conducting themselves, rather than trying to find racism under every pebble.
I am not so naïve as to believe there is no racism. But the constant blame whitey cry is a cop-out, and it’s getting old. What’s holding down blacks today—to the extent they’re held down—isn’t white vigilantes hunting down innocent black children. It’s young black men killing other young black men by the hundreds. It’s too many black kids growing up with unmarried mothers (or their grandmothers) with no father around. It’s too many blacks in a permanent cycle of dependence on government welfare. Only one of those—welfare dependency—has anything to do with whites, and that was a creature of the white Left, not Tea Party racists.
But that doesn’t sell well in the race-victim industry.