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Savings Blacks from Liberal Leaders

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I get why Blacks turned out in force to elect Barack Obama president. He was their guy – the first Black man (half Black to be accurate) to have a shot at the position of most powerful person in the world. Someone who could really speak for them and understood their lives. Bill Clinton may have been called the “First Black President,” but he was not really a “brother.” I can see Blacks turning out for Obama the second time because their guy losing reelection would have been a horrible ending. Unfortunately, Obama has not helped the Blacks just like every other liberal politician neither hasn’t over the years. Just ask Jason Reilly, author of Please Stop Helping Us.


Reilly, a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, weaved his own life experiences growing up in Buffalo, New York, with the facts about the black culture in the United States. Included is the harm done to the black community since the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson’s full-term presidency from 1965-1969. Reilly takes you back to before our government attempted to help his community to the time they deluged it with money and commitment. His analysis makes one question whether they would have been better off without these self-righteous attempts at providing a helping hand.

One area that Reilly emphasizes is how the black elected officials have not served the black community. He first delineates how other communities (the Irish) suffered from their community progressing in the political arena prior to advancements economically and how that actually harmed the progress of the community. He then tells of how badly the elected and self-anointed officials have served the black community. He refers to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. (famous for the Beer Summit) describing the disconnect between the community and the elected officials. Gates wrote “A 1985 survey found that most blacks favored the death penalty and prayer in public school while black leaders oppose these things. Most blacks opposed school busing, while most black leaders favor it. Three times as many blacks opposed abortion rights as their leaders did. Indeed, on many key social issues blacks are more conservative than whites.” Opinions have not changed much since then.


Yet blacks keep on voting for these ‘off the boards’ liberal leaders. Leftist liberal leaders like Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee and Barbara Lee get 75 percent or more of the vote to reelect them to Congress. Between 1970 and 2001, the number of black elected officials increased from 1,500 to over 9,000. When you get done reading the entirety of Reilly’s analysis of the current state of the community, you really question whether those officials are doing anything other than advancing the well-being of their own existence at the expense of the harm done to the remainder of the community by their actions.

A perfect example is the avid support of unions that the black elected officials exhibit to the detriment of the community. It was not always that way. Reilly cites W.E.B. Du Bois stating that trade unions were “the greatest enemy of the black working man.” Booker T. Washington also questioned their value. Current black leaders consistently support unions which Reilly shows regularly work against the interest of blacks. Whether it be black leaders fighting against Wal-Mart going into poor neighborhoods in parts of New York City where they can provide jobs, lower prices and greater product selection, or defending teachers’ union against the interest of black students, black elected officials work for the unions against their community members’ well-being. The trade unions have historically excluded blacks which Reilly tells about chapter and verse. These are prime examples of elected black officials serving their own needs and not those of their constituents.


Reilly fittingly ends his book quoting one of America’s top commentators on urban society today, Fred Siegel. In his book Revolt Against the Masses, Siegel observes how liberalism has deserted blacks. Reilly states “Liberals naively sought to improve conditions for blacks without passing judgment on antisocial black culture.” He then quotes Siegel saying “Like devout Christians trying to get right with Jesus, liberals tried to get right with racism. They wanted to help blacks in the worst way, and that’s just what they did.”

Solving the challenges that face American-born blacks today is a complex matrix that defies simple analysis. Reilly in his relatively short, readable book answers some of those questions. The main one is maybe why some people are trying so hard – liberal guilt.

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