Listen to the doctor

Posted: May 24, 2004 12:00 AM

Bill Cosby is a lot of things - comedian, actor, educator and philosopher.

A few days ago at ceremonies in Washington marking the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision known as Brown v. Board of Education, which ended mandated segregated schools in the United States, Cosby said things about the state of young black America that not many could get away with. Cosby can because he has put his money where his mouth is, donating millions to black colleges.

Reading Cosby's remarks causes one's jaw to drop. In an age when public figures often put their spoken or written words through the political correctness filter, Cosby was bluntly frank, excoriating black parents for failing to properly rear their children and saying they were the cause of high school dropout rates, crime and other social ills.

Here are a few sound bites as transcribed by Washington Post reporter Hamil Harris:

- "I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is the father?"

- ". . . we cannot blame white people . . . ."

- "People putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? . . . People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up to the crack and got all type of needles (piercing) going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a d--- thing about Africa."

- "With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail. Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. . . . They are standing on the corner and they can't speak English."

Cosby lamented that too many black parents "are not parenting. They are buying things for their kids - $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics."

Seventy percent of black babies are born to unmarried parents. There's the answer to Cosby's question about where are the parents. At least one is not there physically (usually the father) and the other is trying to make enough money just to survive. The mother's ability to keep watch over her children is limited. This is mostly the legacy of the failed welfare state. Until welfare reform, children were paid when they had babies out of wedlock. It was a subsidy not unlike the incentives given to illegal immigrants to break our laws and get a check. If you subsidize what you claim not to want, you get more of it.

The other problem has been the "blame whitey" mentality of so-called "black leadership," many of whom have done well financially, thanks to their unbroken loyalty to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, but who seem less interested in poor blacks getting theirs. As Mark Green has written for the National Center for Public Policy Research, "Ever since Republicans first passed civil rights legislation in 1866, opponents of more rights and freedom and equal status for blacks have lost every battle. They have, however, convinced blacks that conservatives seek to oppress us. That's another lie. The attention we give to hating white conservatives, who actually seek to uphold moral virtues and fight for our independence from government, keeps us from paying attention to our own problems."

School choice, which many liberal Democrats oppose with every fiber of their hypocritical beings, would help turn things around for black children. Instead of a peer pressure to conform to sex, body piercing, ridiculous clothes, academic failure and language few outside their friends can understand, positive peer pressure in private schools would give them the tools they need to succeed on their own and the pride and satisfaction that go with it.

Reruns of "The Bill Cosby Show" on the cable TV channel Nick at Night remind us what all functional families should look like. Viewers see a man and a woman who love each other and their kids. No government program can create such a family. But plenty of government programs and failed black "leadership" have contributed to the ones that Bill Cosby rightly and powerfully laments.