Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Norman Lear has recently spoken of his social conservatism. Maybe he is, but his show, All in the Family was viciously anti-white racism. Every negative stereotype of lower middle-class lumpen caucasia was thrown up. Had he satirized another race in the same manner, he would have never gotten away with it. Maybe the lampooning of the proles was enjoyed in the burbs, but it's been awhile.

Anyway, there was one sketch where Archie Bunker, the series' stooge says to a black neighbor, “I tot you was one of da good ones.” Everybody got the joke, but it has more societal import than that. Not to be discounted is the undertone that for many the president was sold that way in being elected.

For a class of Americans, it is necessary to let others know, they are “one of the good ones” or at least not one of the bad ones. Ted Van Dyk is among them. He must distinguish himself from the unwashed who have no enlightened thoughts. In a Politico article dated August 6, 2015, Ted tells us “School Busing Didn't Work. And To Say So Isn't Racist.” Thanks guy, all along everyone was sure busing had been a roaring success. What took you so long?

Van Dyk wants us to know who the villains were. “In many places, like in Boston as Sokol describes, there was raw racism involved in protests against busing.” He sees the other side, “In many other places, however, there was non-racist consternation based mainly on parents’ concern for the wellbeing of their children.”

Actually, he is being a bit cute. Well, that's the kindest conclusion one can arrive at. I remember the era in Boston well. There certainly was racism, “raw” or “cooked” is how you want to see it and it was not limited to the melanin impaired. Driving a cab while trying to decide on a career, I saw it up close.

Federal Judge W. Arthur Garrity delivered his ukase that racial balance must occur from the lowest grades to the end of high school. I doubt Van Dyk or his ilk had a problem with the use of vast force. His quibble was that it would probably not work.

Elected officials—even those strongly in favor of civil rights—began to conclude that busing was a well-meant mistake. Presidential candidate George McGovern, in 1971, proposed to his advisers, of which I was one, that he would straightforwardly take an anti-busing position. We prevailed on him not to do so because we believed that the issue then was so emotion-laden that busing proponents would misunderstand his opposition.”

So Ted kinda knew it would not work but didn't want his candidate to say it. Huge sums would be spent chasing a mirage and lives and families would be broken, but McGovern's non-existent electability would be preserved.

Ever the racially pure Van Dyk saw with his bien pensant compassion how it was not working. He had two children in the D.C. System. Recounting the failure as he saw it and noted, “Not surprisingly, parents from the neighborhood began looking for private schools for their kids or moved to Maryland or Virginia suburbs—not because of racism but because their neighborhood school no longer was working.”

Families in Boston left as well, but not surely with the same pure motives. Those without sufficient income who were stuck dealt with as best they could. Some transferred to parochial schools that, possibly to Mr. Van Dyk's surprise, had long been to some degree integrated.

For others it did not work out so well. My cousin, who's mom was widowed was helped into an upscale papist high school normally out of reach of the denizens of his downmarket neighborhood. Years later, he related to me that almost all his old public school classmates had legal or drug problems and had not finished school. Well what do raw racists deserve anyway? Without any resources, one might surmise there was some similar devastation in the minority community.

A woman I worked with about ten years after busing told me how they sent their son to a private academy to get him away from the by then broken system. He quickly became friends with all the black students. It might shock Van Dyk, but the woman said this with no sense of horror.

Mr. Van Dyk has made a window into the souls of white people and found some good and others wanting. He has made a similar inquiry of the leaders of the old civil rights movement and here is where he sees them.

I have no doubt what brave leaders of the civil-rights revolution would be saying as they witnessed today’s so-called dialogue about race. It would go something like this:
We did not see how hard it would be to truly free black Americans. No more talk please of white racism by anyone or denunciations of past and present political leaders by folk who never risked anything in a tough period when it counted. Let us get on with the work. What good does it do if we have a black president, black attorney general, black judicial, execuctive, and legislative leaders at al levels, successful black leaders in business, labor and the arts if black communities, North and South, are plagued by high black-on-black murder and violent crime rates, narcotics dealing and use, horrific school dropout and incarceration rates, high unemployment, and broken or non-existent families? All Americans need to get on this now with tangible, practical initiatives. Enough grandstanding, self-righteous talk. Time to separate the talkers from the doers.”

He might be right, but the capacity of political leaders and revolutionaries to, like the Bourbons, learn and forget nothing is not to be despised. If the old civil-rights heroes had remained at the forefront, no one knows how they would have felt or acted. Nothing ever goes according to the original plan.

The one big thing Van Dyk and all the other well meaning wonks might want to learn is no big dirigiste social project ever works. Then again, what wonk could ever learn that. Their souls only yearn in that direction. No harm ever comes to them.  Policy people are, as a class, Daisy Buchanans, smashing things up and not having to pay the price.

Whether it's busing or invading Iraq, the grand plan is usually a loser. Going back to ancient Greece, that Syracusan invasion looked like a winner to the Athenian assembly. True, that didn't work well for Alcibiades, but Van Dyk did not lose his career and gets published by Politico and all the Iraq shills have not done badly according to Peter Beinart.

Come to think of it, why would anyone learn a lesson?

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