Quick background: Philly mayor Mike Nutter (Democrat, but nobody’s perfect) has had enough of young African-American mostly-male idiots organizing flash mobs that run through his city and steal things; and he’s being as forthright about it as only an African-American mayor probably could be, in these circumstances. Which is to say, he’s calling said idiots idiots, and making it clear that they need to start taking personal responsibility for the way that they may be perceived by others:
“If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied and your pants half-down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you?” Nutter told the congregation “They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy. You have damaged your own race.”
But that’s not the Quote of the Day. Neither was his excellent response to other idiots complaining that they broke curfew because they didn’t know what time it was (“Buy a watch.”). No, the quote of the day comes from Columbia University professor Fredrick Harris, who gives us this whopper:
“If this discourse was led by Ronald Reagan, for instance, people would call him on his racism, but now that you have a black face to these explanations it gives it legitimacy,” he says.
You gotta love what Professor Harris did there, for two reasons: first, he’s rather determinedly trying to define Nutter’s demand for self-responsibility among a self-identified cultural/racial/ethnic group as being inherently racist. Second, Harris knows darned well that his aforementioned definition is not universally accepted even among African-Americans; he should, because he helped with a survey that shows precisely that. From Harris’s “Towards a Pragmatic Black Politics:”
“Given the debates over the past decade about the role of personal responsibility in black America – first initiated during the 1980s by black and white conservatives and more recently by Bill Cosby – it should not come as a surprise that African Americans are divided over whether society is to blame or if blacks as individuals making bad choices are to blame for the social ills facing black communities.” – Which means that possibly around half of the African-American community is itself racist towards… the African-American community… for agreeing with Mayor Nutter that dressing and acting like an idiot doesn’t get you anywhere in life.
You really have to be an Ivy League professor to reach these kinds of Laputan heights of scholarship, you know. Of course, it has to be remembered that it’s going to be hard for Harris to write books on the unique political problems facing African-Americans in politics if African-American politicians stop having them, so perhaps this isn’t so much punish-the-race-traitor as it is please-don’t-make-me-revise-my-book-draft-again. Which is a marginally more noble motivation, I suppose.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
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