On Sunday, Al Sharpton appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press to fulfill his weekend race-baiting quota, discussing the grand jury results in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. After Chuck Todd asked Sharpton about addressing the problem of “economic hopelessness” in the black community – Garner was arrested for selling “loosies,” cigarettes outside the pack, illegally – Sharpton explained that he supported a “jobs bill…infrastructure development.”
Then he continued by explaining that if Congress didn’t pass such bills, black men could not be held responsible for taking care of their children:
You can’t kill a jobs bill and infrastructure and then tell men to take care of their families. You can’t have it both ways.
Actually, you can. It turns out that taking care of your family is a basic facet of being a decent human being. But this sort of moral blackmail – the notion that black men cannot be expected to obey the dictates of fundamental morality without government support — has become commonplace among members of the left. Darlena Cunha, author of “Ferguson: In Defense of Rioting,” appeared on my show, The Ben Shapiro Show on KTTH 770 in Seattle, where she explained:
We’re talking about decades and generations worth of people who have been downtrodden. Mom and dad don’t have the opportunities to stay together, to work….They are burdened in different ways because people are leaving them behind because we think we’ve solved racism. At least when they were segregated they had a community….We need to start teaching them how to work every day, how to get along in a work environment, and how to act in a business society…
When I asked Cunha why we couldn’t encourage people to simply not have children before marriage, graduate high school, and get a job, she answered:
I don’t think you can encourage people not to have children before they get married and to get a job and to graduate high school when they’re dealing with issues that we don’t have to deal with….We need to help them have personal responsibility. They can’t do it when they’re busy trying to eat.
In other words, give people money, or they will abandon their children, drop out of school, and refuse to get a job – even, as Cunha defends, burn down the property of their fellow citizens and attack police officers.
That’s racial blackmail.
It’s also nothing new. In his book, The Future Once Happened Here, Fred Siegel of the Manhattan Institute writes of the 1960s “riot ideology,” the belief on the left that in the aftermath of race riots, “more money for the cities was essential – if not to halt riots, then to contain the still rising racial anger, which expressed itself in rising rates of often violent crime.” That is why, for example, President Lyndon Johnson’s attorney general, Nicholas Katzenbach, “warned of riots in ‘thirty or forty’ more cities if the Model Cities legislation providing funds for community renewal projects wasn’t passed quickly.”
The threat of riots became the hallmark of black governance in major cities like Washington, D.C., where the now-sainted recently-deceased Marion Barry held sway. “I know for a fact that white people get scared of the [Black] Panthers,” he once said, “and they might give money to somebody a little more moderate.” Barry helped take advantage of 1968 riots in D.C.; following those riots, Siegel reports, “Barry received at least $3.8 million in additional federal, largely Labor Department, grants to expand PRIDE.” Barry would go on to pledge “war on the police department and the city,” which he would then enact after becoming mayor.
In New York, Mayor John Lindsay, a titular Republican, gave way to the same sort of race-baiting. Lindsay attempted actively to enroll people in welfare and hire them to useless government jobs, all in the name of avoiding violence. One of Lindsay’s aides explained, “Our experience is that some good can come of confrontation politics.” The good, of course, was expanded government services. In one incident, a mother shouted at Lindsay, “I’ve got six kids, and each one of them has a different daddy. It’s my job to have kids, and your job, Mr. Mayor, to take care of them.”
This ideology destroyed two of the greatest cities in America. It has similarly destroyed Detroit, where riots in the late 1960s did not spring from poverty – Detroit’s rioters were 83 percent employed – but from racial rage. Mayor Coleman Young ripped the “suburbs” – code for “whites” – and drove all the white taxpayers out of the city in the name of racial justice.
Today, as then, that ideology is now federal policy. The Department of Justice Community Relations Service has now descended on Ferguson, Missouri, where instead of insisting on law and order, the DOJ tells residents about “the issues of white privilege and racism.” The President of the United States is in on the act, telling BET on Sunday, “This is something that is deeply rooted in our society, it’s deeply rooted in our history.” His attorney general, Eric Holder, is set to announce DOJ policies on racial profiling today, even though there is no evidence that either Michael Brown or Eric Garner was racially profiled.
The next step, of course, is to make the connection Sharpton makes – to connect “income inequality” with racial unrest. Then the circuit will be complete, and we will have come full circle back to the politics of the late 1960s – the politics that destroyed America’s greatest cities and laid the groundwork for the destruction of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of racial equality through decency.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.