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From the Pen of David Horowitz: December 16, 2009

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Posted on December 16 2009 6:45 am
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here

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A new scholarly study by two civil rights veterans has now been introduced into this debate. Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom’s America In Black and White reconstructs the history of racial progress and conflict in the postwar era, and examines the impact of affirmative action solutions. The authors cite a statement made in 1996 by Atlanta’s black mayor articulating the view implicit in the position of Clinton and Jackson that every black person in America “has benefited from affirmative action. There’s not been anybody who’s gotten a job on their own, no one who’s prospered as a businessman or businesswoman on their own …”

Yet consider these unruly facts presented in the Thernstroms’ book:

In 1940, 87% of American blacks lived in poverty. By 1960 — five years before the Civil Rights Acts and ten years before the first affirmative action policies — the figure was down to 47%. This twenty year drop was an even greater and more rapid decline in black poverty than the one that took place over the next thirty-five years, a period which saw the black poverty rate come down to 26% as of 1995.

In 1940, only 5% of black men and 6.4% of black women had middle class occupations. By 1970, the figures were 22% for black men (a nearly four-fold increase) and 36% for black women (a more than five-fold increase) — larger again than the increase that took place in the twenty years after affirmative action was put in place (roughly 1970) when the figures reached 32% and 59%.

The cause of black poverty, as the Thernstrom’s show (and the dramatic expansion of the black middle class should make self-evident) has little to do with race. Consequently, its solution will not be affected by affirmative action set-asides. Currently, eighty-five percent of all poor black children live in fatherless families. In other words, the poverty rate for black children without fathers is nearly six times that for black children with two parents. A far more effective anti-poverty program would be to promote black marriages.

Even in higher education, affirmative action has not been the indispensable agency its advocates imply. The rate of gain for blacks in college enrolments was greater between 1960 and 1970 before affirmative action policies were instituted (enrolments for blacks increased from 4% to 7% of the total college population), than it was in the decades after, between 1970 and 1980, when black enrolment went from 7% to 9.9% and between 1980 and 1994, when it went from 9.9% to 10.7%.

Hating Whitey

I don’t normally comment on the quotes selected for “From the Pen of David Horowitz” but I do feel compelled to note the importance of the information and arguments presented here.

The key facts are these: in 1940 87% of African-Americans lived in poverty. In 1960 it was 47%. In 1995 it was 26%. Horowitz uses these figures to destroy the concept of affirmative action. They struck me in a very different way. You know what these numbers do? They quantify the American Idea. They prove that social mobility in America is an indisputable fact. In just over 50 years the poverty rate among blacks dropped over 60%. (And most of that was done before the Civil Rights victories of the ’60s and the institution of the Great Society — so it’s not like the Left can claim that the government did it.)

How did this happen? The Left has no answer for this. (I don’t think many leftists are even aware of these facts.) The Right’s Answer: African-Americans lifted themselves and their families out of poverty by working hard and bettering themselves.

As an added benefit these numbers also smash the idea of “institutional racism” — the leftist lie that America is fundamentally, irredeemably racist.

Keep these facts and these arguments in mind the next time the Left lectures about how the government needs to spend tax dollars to lift people out of poverty.

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