“We have a long way to go to catch up to what Martin Luther King said 50 years ago,” writes Thomas Sowell. “And we are moving in the opposite direction”:
Many people — especially politicians and activists — want to take credit for the economic and other advancement of blacks, even though a larger proportion of blacks rose out of poverty in the 20 years before 1960 than in the 20 years afterwards. But no one wants to take responsibility for the policies and ideologies that led to the breakup of the black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and generations of discrimination.
Many hopes were disappointed because those were unrealistic hopes to begin with. Economic and other disparities between groups have been common for centuries, in countries around the world — and many of those disparities have been, and still are, larger than the disparities between blacks and whites in America. Even when those who lagged behind have advanced, they have not always caught up, even after centuries, because others were advancing at the same time. But when blacks did not catch up with whites in America within a matter of decades, that was treated as strange — or even a sinister sign of crafty and covert racism.
Civil rights were necessary, but far from sufficient. Education and job skills are crucial, and the government cannot give you these things. All it can do is make them available. Race hustlers who blame all lags on the racism of others are among the obstacles to taking the fullest advantage of education and other opportunities. What does that say about the content of their character? [National Review, August 27]