Paul  Weyrich

The race issue is the elephant in America’s living room. We all wish it wasn’t there but it’s too big to ignore. So what should the next conservatism say about race?

Of course, the cultural Marxism we know as Political Correctness tells us we can’t say anything. It argues that only blacks can say anything about the race issue, and even then blacks are only allowed to spout the party line. Political Correctness defines any conservative black as “white.” It says the same thing about “women’s issues.” Only Feminist women are allowed to have a say.

This is baloney. America’s race problem affects us all, blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics. As conservatives, we cannot ignore it. Nor can blacks, who suffer more than anyone else from the failure of past policies.

The next conservatism attempts to look down the road to see where we need to go in the future. I think that on race, our starting point needs to be a realization that the civil rights era is over. The main problem facing American blacks is not white racism or discrimination. In fact, under “affirmative action” it is whites and Asians who are discriminated against. The main problem facing blacks is a cultural breakdown within the urban black community, a breakdown that has had tragic effects in terms of crime, drug use, illegitimacy, abortion and an unwillingness of too many young blacks to get a good education so they can join the American middle class.

Ironically, it is the values preached by the cultural Marxists in the 1960s that are mainly responsible for this breakdown. People like Herbert Marcuse preached a culture of instant gratification: “If it feels good, do it.” Middle class white college kids “did it” in college, but then went on to law school and successful lives. In the ghetto, black kids just kept on doing it, resulting in the sort of values we hear in rap music and see in action in our inner cities. It has been an enormous national tragedy, one that has wasted countless lives.

It is important that we, as conservatives, remind ourselves and other Americans that it wasn’t always like this. The black inner city of 50 or 60 years ago was not a bad place. Yes, it was largely poor and then blacks did suffer from outright discrimination, which was wrong. But the black community was not disordered. It was not unsafe. The problems in black schools were the same as in white schools, running in the halls and talking in class. Children were not shot and killed on their way to or from school for their jacket or their shoes. As late as the 1950s, 80% of black children came home from school to a married mother and father. If you were white, you could walk through those neighborhoods in complete safety. The people you met there were friendly to you.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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