The soft big­otry of low ex­pec­ta­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

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.

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