Gary Hofmeister: Certain things never change
August 8, 2010
Steamboat Springs — When in undergraduate school, I headed up the campus organization of Congress on Racial Equality, which had a very liberal bent. As I've noted before, my move to the center/right direction of the political spectrum came shortly after graduation, but my feelings on racial equality and indeed, equality of opportunity, have not budged an inch to this day. Please note the dramatic separation of these two concepts as opposed to forced equality, which it appears our president and groups such as the NAACP now are promoting. One is Freedom Plus and the other a roadmap for serfdom and allegiance to an all-powerful state. I'll stick with freedom, thank you.
I often interact with liberal friends and acquaintances on this subject since we now have a historic event of a black president to bookmark our progress in this area. Virtually everyone agrees that even a couple of decades ago, they thought such a step forward was impossible in our lifetimes. I contend that much of the reason for this thinking is the constant barrage of print devoted to the fiction that there still is large-scale institutional racism rampant in our society. Media coverage of the antics of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, whose careers have been built upon stirring up victimization in the black community, has given this lie a long life that should have been cut short at least a couple of decades ago. Black linguist Dr. John McWhorter documents this beautifully in his seminal book "Losing the Race." I highly recommend it.
One of the recurring arguments I hear from those who accuse conservatives of being insensitive to the travails of the underclass, whether black or Latino, is that many of those communities are filled with people so unable to take responsibility for their own lives that "we had better learn we have to take care of them or they are going to start a revolution to take us all down." I am astounded that this thinking doesn't register as incredibly condescending and even racist … in the sense that it ascribes no intelligence, talent or ambition to those with whom they purport to empathize. One of George W. Bush's speechwriters came up with the phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations." How accurate and telling it is!
I will, however, concede we are not yet completely a color-blind society, a laudable and possible goal. Much of the reason for this is it would severely wound those such as Jackson and Sharpton, who would see their grievance and extortion empires vanish. Consequently, they will jump on a plane to arrive at the scene of the slightest indication of discrimination to inflame the situation to the max. I contend they and their ilk deserve a special place in hell for their success. They have convinced tens of millions that they are not really responsible for their own actions and futures but can blame discrimination and oppression for their inability to prosper. Worse, the prisons and jails are filled with men and women who have internalized such thinking to block out their own culpability for their chosen actions that have landed them there. How sad.
Still, I believe that these demagogues' days are numbered. More black leaders understand that the politics of victimization and dependency literally are killing their people and communities. They also know their people don't need the blessing from "The Man" to succeed if they are given opportunities beginning with a decent education and respect as humans who can make it on their own. I anxiously await that day.
Gary Hofmeister is the owner and operator of Hofmeister Personal Jewelers in downtown Steamboat, a company he founded in 1973. He is a director of The Steamboat Institute and a former Republican nominee for Congress in the 10th District of Indiana. He made 18 trips to the former USSR to teach democratic capitalism during the 1990s.