The soft bigotry of low expectations
While dining out recently, I periodically looked up at one of the television monitors to see the score of the first game of the NBA finals. As there was no sound on to interrupt diners’ conversations, the monitor was in caption mode: One could read rather than hear the words spoken. At the conclusion of the game, an announcer was interviewing a member of the victorious Miami Heat. I saw from the captions the player saying the words “they isn’t.”
Closed captions display the words spoken. They don’t correct for poor grammar.
All I could think was: How can a grown man in America today say “they isn’t” rather than “they aren’t”?
First, how is it possible for anyone to graduate an American elementary school, not to mention a high school or, most incredibly, attend college, and leave with an inability to conjugate the verb “to be”?
Second, has anyone, a parent or another relative, a teacher, a friend, a coach, in that player’s life ever corrected his grammar?
I assume that the answer to the second question is “No.”
And I assume that the answers to both questions are re- lated: The left, which dominates our culture and educational institutions, has too often lowered standards for black Americans. Even worse, it has declared that if you are black, “they isn’t” is not only not to be corrected, but many in academia have declared it an acceptable form of English, i.e., Ebonics, or Black English. It doesn’t end. I saw “they isn’t” the same week the Democrats and others on the left virtually unanimously condemned all Republican attempts in state legislatures to pass legislation requiring voters to show a photo ID. The Democrats labeled it a means of “disenfranchising” blacks. Many Democrats compared it to Jim Crow laws.
“Jim Crow, move over, the Wisconsin Republicans have taken your place,” charged Wisconsin Democratic State Sen. Bob Jauch, referring to his state’s new voter ID law.
It is hard to imagine a more demeaning statement about black America than labeling demands that all voters show a photo ID anti-black.
This is easily demonstrated. Imagine if some Democratic politician had announced that demanding a photo ID at the voting booth was an attempt to keep Jewish Americans from voting. No one would understand what the person was talking about. But why not? Jews vote almost as lopsidedly Democrat as do blacks. So why weren’t Jews included in liberal objections to voter ID laws?
We all know the answer. Jews are generally considered intelligent and therefore no one would assume that obtaining a photo ID was demanding too much of even poor Jews (yes, there are poor Jews). Therefore, one can only infer that the argument that demanding photo ID for voting will disenfranchise many blacks suggests that many blacks lack the capacity to obtain a photo ID.
If that is not a legitimate inference, then only one other inference is possible: The argument is made solely in order to score political points by portraying black Americans as victims of Republican racism. Of course, that argument simply takes us back to the original question: Why does requiring a photo ID to vote prevent blacks from voting?
It is, however, effective. Calling Republicans racist has worked for half a century and will not be abandoned until it is universally recognized as the libel that it is.
What we have in both in- stances, the poor grammar that too many blacks use and the argument that demanding a photo ID is too hard on blacks, is not Republican racism. What we have are two more examples of the destructive consequences of leftist policies on black America.
It is difficult to overstate the negative impact making lesser demands on individuals, especially members of select groups, has on them. The message is as clear as day: We expect less of you. Why? Because we think less of you.
Do most of those on the left really think less of black Americans?
Given the lack of demands, given the rationalization for poor speech (before the left took over education, both blacks and whites spoke and wrote far better), given the advocacy of lowering standards for blacks from everything from civil service tests to college admissions and given other examples, it is hard not to conclude that many on the left really do think black Americans are not equally capable of excellence (outside of sports and entertainment). It is what George W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
If this is not the case, there are two other explanations.
One is guilt. White liberals are so filled with guilt over historic American maltreatment of blacks that they have somehow concluded that making the same demands of blacks as of all other Americans is somehow unfair.
The other is political opportunism, portray liberals and their policies as the saviors of black Americans. Aside from its constituting cynical exploitation, the problem is that in order to portray oneself as another person’s savior, one must portray the other as in need of saving.
Conservative Americans, on the other hand, actually believe there is no difference between black and non-black abilities, and therefore see only harm in depicting a substantial percentage of the black population as essentially incapable of obtaining a photo ID.
Which group has more respect for black Americans? The answer is obvious. And one day, most black Americans will know the real answer to that question. That will be the beginning of the final stage of black liberation, as well as the end of the Democratic Party as we now know it.
Dennis Prager is nationally syndicated columnist.