Watching the recent PBS-hosted Democratic presidential debate at Howard University, I was impressed with the uniformity of the messages communicated to the mostly black audience. I felt like each candidate was reading from one script, making a nuanced change here and there so there'd be some differences between them.
Every problem -- black unemployment, education, crime and incarceration, AIDS -- had one answer. More government programs and spending. There is simply nothing you could have asked any of these Democrats that would not have gotten this same answer.
It's like blacks do not exist as individuals. According to this Democratic presidential line-up, which got plenty of encouragement from the audience at Howard, there is not a single way that black lives could be improved by enhancing individual freedom and personal responsibility.
Nothing speaks to this more clearly than the responses to a question from Michelle Martin of NPR about HIV/AIDS. She pointed out that black teenagers, although just 17 percent of the overall teen population, account for 69 percent of teen HIV/AIDS diagnoses.
The question: How "to stop and to protect these young people from this scourge."
Uniformly, the answers were about, of course, increasing government spending on AIDS programs.
Now there is no question that we have an obligation to figure out how to meet the demand for treating those that are afflicted. But that wasn't the question. The question was how "to stop" the scourge.
This was an instance where Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York truly distinguished herself. Needless to say, she ticked off the usual list of spending proposals. But the leadoff was key. Clinton was the only one to suggest a connection between HIV/AIDS among blacks and racism.
"If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country."
It was as if the senator simply couldn't wait to lay this line of shameless pandering on her black audience. And it certainly worked. She got resounding and spontaneous applause of approval.
I wonder how many young black Howard University students were present to watch their elders, many distinguished black leaders, endorse Clinton's dismissal of black responsibility for their own lives.
It is no mystery that HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease. And it should be no surprise to expect it to be more prevalent among populations that are more sexually promiscuous.
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