Monday, September 5, 2016

Here's My Detroit Speech

Last Saturday Donald Trump committed lèse majesté and addressed an African American church in bombed out Detroit. He was very nice to the church members, and I would be too, if I had an opportunity to speak. Here's what I would have said.

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you. Because I am not a politician I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. I am going to tell it like it is, in the immortal words of Howard Cosell. I hope you will not be too angry with me.

In the last few weeks, Donald Trump has been reminding us that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and that the KKK was a Democratic militia group, and Jim Crow was Democratic Party policy.

But it is also true that the Republican Party, after freeing the slaves, walked away from the freedmen, and left them to the tender mercies of the KKK and Jim Crow. Why was that? Well, it was because by the election of 1876 the Republican Party had other fish to fry, and spending blood and treasure on protecting African Americans in the South wasn't on the menu.

Still, African Americans voted for Republicans up until the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. What else were they to do? Meanwhile Republicans in the North were acting to curb the Great Migration with laws like the Davis-Bacon Act (Davis and Bacon were both Republicans) to prevent black laborers from the South from undercutting the wages of unionized whites in the North.

Northern Democrats and Republicans participated in the civil-rights legislation of the 1960s, even though Barry Goldwater voted against, on the libertarian grounds that he didn't want the government getting involved in private transactions.

Nevertheless, northern liberal Democrats took the credit for passing the civil rights laws and they deserve the credit. But let no one doubt that the great genius of the civil rights movement was Martin Luther King and his policy of non-violent protest adapted from Mohandas Gandhi in India.

Why then have not African Americans taken their place as full participants in the American Dream?

It is because, just as Republicans in the 1870s abandoned African Americans to the KKK and Jim Crow, the Democrats in the years after the 1960s abandoned African Americans in the inner cities to drugs and gangs. And eight years of America's First Black President hasn't made a difference. Black inner cities are still victimized by drugs, by crime, by joblessness, by lousy education, and by gangs.

Maybe it is time for a change.

But what? Can Donald Trump make a difference, with his promise to bring back manufacturing jobs and bring school choice to inner cities? Probably not. Would Black Lives Matter and its program of targeting police abuse make a difference? Probably not.

What will make a difference? I'd say that the only thing that can make a difference for African Americans is African Americans.

I'd say that the difference will come from African Americans deciding that they don't care about racism, don't care about police brutality, don't care about institutional racism. Because America lives on people deciding to go out and get a job and take care of their family, and do the best they can. African Americans have tried everything else. Maybe it is time to just go out and look after their own.

Because the thing about politicians is that they don't care about you, they only care about your vote. And the same goes for activists. They don't care about you, they only care about how many people they can get into the streets.

If you sign up with the politicians it is not different that signing up for the military. At some point you will cease to be useful to the generals, and they will cast you aside.

I can understand how African Americans might feel about things. As a conservative, this last year has seen the burial of all my hopes; the conservatism I believed in has been smashed to pieces.

So what do I do? Well, I keep on living, a day at a time, doing what I can in my small personal world.

I dare say the same applies to African Americans, after fifty years down the toilet. You go out, and work, and look after your family. Because nothing else matters.

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