Paul Gottfried and Robert Weissberg on race relations in America

Race in America?
Race in America?

Photo used under Flickr Creative Commons license / No Borders and Binaries

By Joseph Cotto

OCALA, Fla., January 28, 2014 — This month the Department of Justice expanded its list of forbidden categories for racial profiling, a practice that nevertheless persists in the United States. Police chiefs in Connecticut, Utah and San Diego are all dealing with the subject, and racially oriented stop-and-frisk practices in New York City have been a point of contention between the police and minority communities.

Race relations are a tricky, contentious subject. In the fall of 2008, shortly after Barack Obama secured his first presidential victory, many believed that America was entering an age of post-racial politics. They thought that race was increasingly unimportant in virtually every facet of American life.

They were wrong. Race has exploded as a major issue in politics and in society. This was made obvious last year during the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. Critics have charged that the DOJ under black Attorney General Eric Holder, takes attacks on white people less seriously than attacks on blacks, while liberals often claim that attacks on Obama Administration policies are actually racially motivated attacks on Obama.

There are several explanations for this. The election of America’s first black president and appointment of the first black attorney general have not defused race as an issue, but instead have forced  it to center stage. The gradual disintegration of our nation’s social fabric, brought about by the ideology of multiculturalism, may be speeding up. Generational poverty, exacerbated by the sluggish economy, may have inflamed racial passions as people mired in poverty look for someone to blame.

Whatever the reasons, race relations are breaking down.  

Dr. Paul Gottfried is an outspoken conservative intellectual. A recently retired professor at Elizabethtown College, his observations of the human condition have generated both accolades and animosity.

“I think race relations have soured largely because of white people who treat blacks indulgently largely because of their fear of sounding politically incorrect,” Dr. Gottfried explains. “I would also mention that white society is coming to look like a disintegrating black society because it is under the same cultural and social influences. Indeed whites now show a higher out-of-wedlock birth rate than blacks did well into the 1960s. When I was a kid in the 1950s living in a factory town in Connecticut, most blacks lived in two-parent families. The daddies worked and everyone went to church on Sunday, where presumably they heard hell and brimstone sermons.  

“I don’t think that on the whole the civil rights revolution benefited the black family or black morals. It created a climate in which whites would be blamed for the failures of the black community; and a climate in which whites would proclaim their guilt as a public orthodoxy. This has helped no one but the designers of ‘social policies,’ anti-discrimination agencies, black race hustlers, and what I refer to in my writing as the ‘guilt industry.’”

One of the few public intellectuals who has found more controversy than Dr. Gottfried is Dr. Robert Weissberg. For decades, the University of Illionis, Urbana emeritus professor was a popular columnist and public speaker. He was fired by the National Review for his opinions, but continues to write about sociocultural relations.

“The 1960s civil rights agenda has become law and then some,” says Dr. Weissberg. “We have a twice elected a black president. Yet, endless disparities in income and educational attainment persist and seem intractable. Not even spending billions — perhaps trillions — has resulted in equality. Naturally this has brought frustration and explanations on the order of ‘invisible racism’ or similarly invisible ‘white privilege.’

“But, the repeated failure has not resulted in abandoning the emphasis on political solutions. Instead political pressure has been intensified and the upshot is that the enterprise often goes backward. So, when the DOJ demands that businesses hire blacks despite criminal backgrounds, firms relocate to places with fewer blacks and black unemployment increases. Similarly, when pressure forces colleges to issue worthless degrees (‘retention’), employers disregard degrees and use other means to screen prospective employees or, better yet, automate the job. Perhaps the worst aspect of all this is that black leaders really don’t care; they will support policies harmful to blacks if that helps them keep office.”

Dr. Weissberg claims that “of the utmost importance” is “the seeming intractability of black crime, much it targeting whites. This includes things like the knockout game and flash mob riots. These are clearly anti-white, and try as the mainstream media may try, the word gets out. Their existence cannot be explained by the usual suspects: racism, history of slavery, unequal opportunity etc.  They suggest a permanent violent black underclass and the reasons for this are unspeakable.” 

Perhaps the most important question anyone can ask is, Can we expect racial tensions to ease during the years ahead?

“I can’t imagine why racial tensions shouldn’t get worse,” Dr. Gottfried says. “On the other hand, gender tensions may get better, because our educational system and cultural industry are totally demasculinizing men.”

What Dr. Weissberg says is even less optimistic: “Things will get worse as the failures mount and ill-advised government coercion grow. Detroit, Newark, Baltimore, Trenton, Camden, N.J., East St. Louis, Birmingham, Alabama and so on may be the future for millions of blacks. Hope not, but … Conceivably, Chicago and Philadelphia among others are next. Look at the bizarre response to the Trayvon Martin incident — an ‘innocent’ kid. Blacks are become more hysterical by the day and such over-reaction hardly helps close the racial divide.

“Moreover, as policy failures mount, PC will be more intense. Lies, lies and more lies to keep a lid on things. Messenger shooting is becoming industrialized and those who note the rising black crime, out of wedlock births and all the rest will be vilified as racists of the worst type. The PC crusade would be unnecessary if ameliorative measures succeeded as promised.”

Dr. Weissberg explains that, “eventually people will be terrified to say anything, no matter how mild, that displays racial insensitivity, e.g., Santa Claus is white. Yet one more trend to widen the racial divide. The Internet will, thankfully, provide the only outlet for truth. Coerced silence about plain-to-see reality will be an intolerable situation and I have no idea of how long it will last.

“Further add that the growing government dependency of blacks — things like food stamps and subsidized housing — only exacerbates social tensions. It is hard to justify these disproportionate benefits and any criticism of dependency is automatically declared ‘racist.’ White resentment can only build as economic policy grows increasingly racialized.”

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