I’m still fuzzy about why the Black community overwhelmingly supports the Democrats. Is it because the Democrats support big government handouts, like welfare? (Isn’t it awfully bigoted to say all of “them” are on welfare? Why do middle class Blacks fall for this?) Because Republicans are just all mean racists who will mock people for not looking “like those guys on the dollar bill”? (Oh, wait, Sen. Obama had to call up that spectre himself, since the Republicans would’t say it. Lately, the Democrats seem to be yelling “racism!” over just about anything, including claiming Gov. Palin was racist for connecting Obama to terrorists (namely, Ayers, who is, last I checked, white), and, the Democrats reasoned, “Most people connect terrorists with people of dark complexion, so this was a racist comment.” Right.)
It may be that we’re seeing part of a larger pattern. Maybe most of the Black community is still only comfortable in the us-vs.-them that results from years of discrimination. And the Democrats are quite willing to play victim politics, but the Republicans generally are not.
My theory is that what we are seeing today is similar to the pattern we see over and over again in history whenever a large immigrant group came to the U.S. First, the immigrants were vilified and ostracized; whatever hope they had of a kind welcome in America was squashed by the nativist sentiment too often prevalent throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Catholic immigrants were shunted into dangerous, low paying jobs. Catholic immigrants staffed much of the police and fire departments in New York; why risk good, WASP Americans when those people would do it? Convents, churches, and Catholic homes were burned in many large cities, encouraged by the Know-Nothing party. (Apparently, though, in 1851, Bishop O’Reilly in Rhode Island refused to give up a convent to the mob. When the mob arrived, rather than an evacuated convent waiting to be burned, they found a contingent of Irish Catholics, including the bishop, standing guard. The mob decided to leave the convent alone.) That kind of violence and hatred does not encourage any group to try to assimilate into the larger culture.
Then, gradually, the immigrants began to gain a little tolerance from those who had been Americans longer, but the immigrants themselves tended to stay in immigrant enclaves (Little Italy, Chinatown, etc.) and were suspicious of the larger American community because of the mistreatment they had received. Things had turned violent before, why believe they would get better now just because the nativists had lost interest for the time being? It seemed safer to enforce self-segregation, to simply stay away from mainstream America whenever possible. Finally, usually after a generation or two, both the immigrants’ descendants and the larger American community become familiar enough with each other to become willing to mingle. Some of the old prejudices remain even after generations, but progress continues. (I’ve been called a “papist” before, by a Christian friend at the Academy, who insisted that that’s what I was, since I follow the Pope. She claimed she was completely unaware that that is an insulting word. Anti-Catholicism isn’t dead yet.)
This pattern, obviously, was never allowed to play out with the Black community. If you are a slave (or you can be made a slave again), then why should anyone treat you with respect? (Some people did treat Blacks with respect, but the law certainly didn’t require it.) Before the Civl War, even free Blacks were on shaky legal ground. After the Civil War, the process was allowed to start in Reconstruction, then was completely squashed when the South managed to make the North feel guilty for enforcing the Reconstruction requirements. The North, feeling “mean,” backed off the requirements set at the end of the Civil War and the Black community paid the price. Reconstruction was enforced just long enough to really infuriate the defeated South, then dropped. (Just like the Allies backed off enforcing the restrictions on Germany after WWI and Czechoslovakia and Austria paid the price, just like the UN couldn’t be bothered to really keep enforcing the Gulf War sanctions through the 90’s and dissidents within Iraq paid the price. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it… or inflict that doom on others).
So, with Reconstruction definitively over, Blacks in this country were re-relegated to sub-citizen status. Although they were here, in this country, they were, legally and by habit and prejudice, segregated from the non-black population. They might as well have been on another continent.
With the Civil Rights movement, Blacks finally “arrived.” In some sense, it was like they were the new immigrants, facing hostility, fear, and anger from people they had not previously mixed with. If the comparison holds, we should be at a point of increasing rapproachment between the Black community and “mainstream” America. There are some positive signs, but there are also many people who continue to argue loudly that mainstream America will never be trustable, will never have the Black community’s interests at heart, that Black people will always be different.
Politically, Democrats have tolerated people who play to this fear. Do you really think a Black politician who attended a church that encouraged members to keep their time, money, and business inside the Black community would be tolerated in the Republican party (whether or not he claimed ignorance of the program)? The Democrats nominated him for president. At some point, the “outsider” group has to make the decision to move towards trust and integration (even as remaining prejudice must be fought), not keep playing us vs. them.
And, since the Democrats will play those games, the Black community follows the liberal agenda in a sort of mental self-segregation, and that agenda includes abortion. A black protester at the McCain rally here in Virginia yelled at a black Republican, “Hey, it’s ok,” like he needed permission to be a Republican. A poll just came out that active duty and retired military personnel are significantly more likely to be Republican than Democrat (68% vs. 23%), but black military personnel favor Democrats heavily (8 out of 10). Even black pro-Obama columnists have commented on the pervasive expectation that blacks must vote for Obama.
Thankfully, there are a few voices of reason speaking out in the Black community, questioning the wisdom of the party line.
Father Joe had a complete quote of Bishop Holley’s comments on abortion and the Black community at his blog. It’s good reading, especially for anyone who has been tempted to think that abortion is about being “fair” or allowing poor minorities a chance to advance by eliminating the “burden” of “unwanted” children. (Bishop Holley is the auxilliary bishop of Washington, DC, and is black.)
Many African Americans are not aware that since the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, the number-one cause of death in the African American community has been abortion. We have lost over 13 million lives. To put that in perspective, it is one third of our present Black population. Since 1973, twice as many Black Americans have died from abortion than from AIDS, accidents, violent crimes, cancer, and heart disease combined.
As I noted in my recent Respect Life Program article, A Reflection on the African American Family and the Culture of Life, our legitimate commitment to other social concerns must not push the primary moral issue of abortion onto the back burner. It clearly must be at the heart and center of our discussion of the survival of African American people.
Although some members of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family and those who worked with him have declared abortion to be the civil rights issue of today (in the sense of expanding abortion availability being a good thing), at least one family member disagrees sharply. Dr. Alveda King, MLK’s neice, had an abortion many years ago and has come to see personally the awful effects. She now works for the pro-life cause.
Louisiana Legislator’s Sterilization Proposal Opposed by Pro-Life Advocate
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocate Dr. Alveda King is reacting to the recent proposal of Louisiana state Rep. John LaBruzzo to offer taxpayer money to poor women and men to be sterilized and to offer tax incentives to higher income people to have more children. “The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, used to say, ‘More children from the fit, less from the unfit,’” King tells LifeNews.com. “A eugenicist to the core, she would have loved this idea of the government bribing poor people into sterilization. Aside from its being reprehensible, though, we have already seen that this type of plan doesn’t eliminate poverty.” “For 35 years, we have offered the poor, especially inner city African Americans, abortion as a solution to their poverty,” added Dr. King. “Can anyone seriously claim that aborting one-third of the current African American population has left blacks better off? You can’t improve the present by killing the future. Sterilizing the poor is fighting economic poverty with moral bankruptcy.” [emphasis mine]
Maybe it’s just the transition period and typical of the assimilation process, but it seems something has changed since those other immigrant groups assimilated. We have come to institutionalize Balkanization and victim culture. That does not look good for the mix of cultures and peoples that is the United States.
And never before was that insular self-protection turned against the “outsider” group to convince them to kill almost half of their children.
If Bishop Holley and Dr. King represent the change towards leaving behind victim politics and mental self-segregation, will it be too late?