Friday, November 12, 2010 a Black Conservative?

The Question:
According to a 2004 study 13.7% of blacks identified as “conservative” or “extremely conservative”. And although another 14% of blacks did identified themselves as “slightly conservative”, well, you’d think that most Americans would identify themselves as “slightly conservative”. The same could be said of “slightly liberal”. At the end of the day, no matter how you look at it, the majority of African-Americans, close to 90%, do not identify themselves as politically “conservative” and do not believe that the conservative movement has their interests in mind.

It is no surprise, then, that most liberals of any ethnicity (and perhaps a few conservatives) have asked the question, “How can you possibly be a black conservative or a black Republican?”

The Answer:
Conservatives (of any race, creed or religion) place particular emphasis on personal choice and responsibility. Conservatism within the black community places an emphasis on personal goals such as the pursuit of educational and professional excellence as a means of advancement within the society, as well as public policies that, as they see it, promote safety and security in the community beyond the typical casting of a criminal as a “victim” of societal racism. Conservative blacks believe that the pursuit of local national economic development is best done through free enterprise rather than looking to the federal government for assistance.

Focusing on efforts to obtain reparations for slavery or the forcible integration of blacks by means of affirmative action on any level and in any sphere (schools, corporations, and government) is viewed as misguided, counter-productive, and insulting. Affirmative action and racial quotas, in fact, stigmatize blacks and de-legitimizes the achievements of individuals. When a black has achieved any academic or government position of note, people inadvertently assume that they were there, in part or wholly, because of some program that enforces racial quotas. For a specific example, watch the following video clip of Charlie Rose as he interviews economist Thomas Sowell.

Thomas Sowell Interview with Charlie Rose (1995)
At 3:35 into the clip, Rose in fact makes the assumption that “even Clarence Thomas” received help from affirmative action in pursuing his education. Sowell (a friend of Clarence Thomas) quickly pointed out that this notion was absolutely erroneousness, and yet Charlie Rose thought it was a fact! Nothing could have proved the tragedy of racial quotas than Rose’s own assumption in this interview.

Now, keep in mind that Thomas Sowell is probably the worlds’ top scholar of racial and ethnic policies making. You might notice that he did not jump out of his seat and rip Charlie Rose apart. But I guess, being an economist, a gentleman and a true scholar, Dr. Sowell was very patient and unperturbed during this discussion. Personally, I think he underplayed the event a bit too much. Buy I guess he allowed Charlie Rose to come to the obvious conclusion without any unnecessary strife. After all, Thomas Sowell has been fighting this fight for years and he has certainly been more animated in the past. See a discussion he had about the Welfare State back in 1979.

Anyway, when I say that Thomas Sowell is the “worlds’ top scholar of racial and ethnic policies”, I do mean that he has studied racial and ethnic preferential policies in dozens of countries around the globe and has written several books on the subject. Having read most of his books, I can say that they are empirical, scholarly and, for the most part, devoid of the political vigor that he definitely shows in his weekly syndicated opinion page column, as can be read on The Jewish World Review. Nevertheless, he has come to a definite conclusion about preferential policies based on race around the world in general and regarding blacks in America in particular: that they not only stigmatize the accomplishments of people like Clarence Thomas (or himself), but they do, in fact, cause additional harm to the plight of blacks and others who are meant to benefit from these programs. Specifically, more job loss and less education for minorities are the results of affirmative action policies.

For the hard evidence regarding the harm that quotas cause minorities (stigmatizing aside), I suggest one of the following books by Thomas Sowell:

» Preferential Policies: An International Perspective
» Black Rednecks and White Liberals

However, if you are a bit more impatient for and are eager for a good summary, I suggest watching Thomas Sowell’s 1989 interview on Booknotes with Brian Lamb regarding the book Preferential Policies.

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