Big Pimpin' in the Big Easy

One benefit of living in Houston is that we get to hear public radio broadcasts by participants in and beneficiaries of the relief effort at the Astrodome. The conspiracy thinking from victims and the various black “leaders” is beyond belief. One guy noted how New Orleanians were traumatized by water, then put on navy ships for shelter, and that this was an insult, particularly because black people were brought to America in slave ships. He made a point of saying that this was likely not “all a coincidence.”

Others expressed understandable anger and frustration about losing everything and the new burden of red tape. Much anger was directed at the notion that the whole catastrophe was a set up by Bush to punish New Orleans for voting Democratic and also because it was a majority black city.

One women talked about how the victims all needed to be brought back to New Orleans, that the money needed to be spent there, and that they "weren't going to let this happen to us again, this time" (implying somehow without evidence or example that ineffective relief efforts after natural disasters represented a repeated pattern of victimization against blacks). She also added with some apparent pride that she was a "career criminal."

The most obvious career criminals in the wake of Katrina are the demagogic, pandering leaders of black America. They are nothing more than pimps, who sell their clients' grief for their own advancement. Like real pimps, they offer their putative charges almost nothing in return. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Farrakhan--what worthless parasites. The current state of affairs in black leadership cannot be blamed solely on the legacy of slavery and oppression. In early 20th Century America, black America's leadership featured thoughtful debates between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington about whether to emphasize an elite or vocational strategy of social advancement. The N.A.A.C.P. began when elite blacks organized their resources to promote educational and social advancement and combat lynching. Today, black leaders with few exceptions pander to their constituency, blame their problems on sinister outside forces, promote racism against white people, and generally encourage a pathological dependence on government in good times and bad. Not only does this hurt the country, but it also hurts blacks, by preventing the development of a self-sufficient culture based on the time-tested values of hard-work, thrift, law-abidingness, personal responsibility, and other means to individual and collective advancement.

We're told New Orleanians have behaved badly or irresponsibly because they are poor. But, this puts the cart before the horse. Poverty is not without cause in America, where wealth changes hands with lightning speed. The same cultural defects that led and sustained multigenerational poverty among so many black families in New Orleans have also contributed to the "storm after the storm," where many of the storm victims found themselves victimized again by their peers or immobilized by their own dependency. These conditions are not insoluble or unchanging, but they'll never be solved by the current cadre of black leaders.

Posted by at September 12, 2005 3:29 PM