Years ago, someone said that, according to the laws of aerodynamics, bumblebees cannot fly. But the bumblebees, not knowing the laws of aerodynamics, go ahead and fly anyway.
Something like that happens among people. There have been many ponderous academic writings and dour editorials in the mainstream media, lamenting that most people born poor cannot rise in American society any more. Meanwhile, many poor immigrants arrive here from various parts of Asia, and rise on up the ladder anyway.
Often these Asian immigrants arrive not only with very little money, but also very little knowledge of English. They start out working at low-paid jobs but working so many hours, often at more than one job, that they are able to put a little money aside.
After a few years, they have enough money to open some little shop, where they still work long hours, and still save their money, so that they can afford to send their children to college. Meanwhile, these children know that their parents not only expect, but demand, that they make good grades.
Some people try to explain why Asians, and Asian-Americans, succeed so well in education and in the economy by some special characteristics that they have. That may be true, but their success may also be due to what they do not have — namely “leaders” who tell them that the deck is so stacked against them that they cannot rise, or at least not without depending on “leaders.”
Such “leaders” are like the people who said that the laws of aerodynamics showed that the bumblebee cannot fly. Those who have believed such “leaders” have in fact stayed grounded, unlike the bumblebees.
A painful moment for me, years ago, when I was on the lecture circuit, came after a talk at Marquette University, when a young black student rose and asked: “Even though I am graduating from Marquette University, what hope is there for me?”
Back in the 1950s, when I was a student, I never encountered any fellow black student who expressed such hopelessness, even though there was far more racial discrimination then. We knew that there were obstacles for us to overcome, and we intended to overcome them.
The memory of that Marquette student came back to me, years later, when another black young man said that he had wanted to become a pilot, and had even planned to join the Air Force in order to do so.
But then, he said, he now “realized” that “The Man” would never allow a black guy to become a pilot.
This was said decades after a whole squadron of black fighter plane pilots made a reputation for themselves in World War II, as the “Tuskegee Airmen.” There have been black generals in the Air Force.
Both these young men — and many others — have learned all too well the lessons taught by race hustlers, in their social version of the laws of aerodynamics, which said that they could not rise.
You don’t hear about racial “leaders” like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson among Asians or Asian-Americans. Here and there you may see some irresponsible academics peddling that line in the classroom — some of whom are of Asian ancestry, since no race of human beings is completely lacking in fools.
But they do not get the same attention, or draw the same following, as race hustlers operating in black or Hispanic communities. By and large, Asian youngsters rise and fly.
Other groups in times past also arrived on these shores with very little money and often with very little education, at least during the immigrant generation.
A poem by Carl Sandburg, back during that era, referred to a Jewish fish peddler in Chicago: “His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish, terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to whom he may call his wares from a pushcart.”
This fish peddler probably had not gone to college, and so had no one to tell him that he couldn’t make it, and that his children couldn’t rise, because this was such a terrible country.
No one can claim that there was no anti-Semitism in America, any more than they can claim that there was never any anti-Asian discrimination. There was plenty of both. But that is very different from following “leaders” whose message would only keep them grounded, after the skies were open to them as never before.
Bob Costas is one of the premier sportscasters and a very smart guy, so it was somewhat surprising to see him join the chorus of those decrying the fact that the owner of the Washington Redskins is resisting the pressures to change the name of his football team.
The argument is that American Indians are offended by the name, though there is no compelling evidence that most American Indians are worked up about it. Nor is there any evidence that anyone intended the name to be insulting, either by this team or any number of other sports teams that have called themselves some variation of the name “Indians.”
After all, neither individuals nor teams give themselves names that they consider insulting, whether they are calling themselves Indians, Vikings or The Fighting Irish.
Nevertheless, Dartmouth, Stanford and other colleges that once called their teams Indians succumbed to the politically correct pressures and changed their names. But that is no reason why the Washington Redskins should succumb to those pressures.
Among the reasons why they should not is the fact that being offended is one of the tactics of a race hustling industry that is doing more harm to Indians and other minorities than any name is likely to do. Some people are in the business of being offended, just as Campbell is in the business of making soup.
Shelby Steele’s best-selling book “White Guilt” provides sharp insights into the many counterproductive consequences of white guilt that can be exploited by race hustlers, to the detriment of blacks and whites alike. The sports team gambit is just one of many.
So long as the race industry — the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons, and their counterparts in various minorities — can get political or financial mileage out of being offended, they are going to be offended. The only thing that will put a stop to this racket is refusing to be taken in by it or intimidated by it.
Looked at in isolation, Bob Costas’ opinion about the names of sports teams is one that reasonable people might agree or disagree with. But, unfortunately, this issue is not something that exists in isolation.
It is part of a whole grievance-generating campaign that poisons race relations. That campaign is conducted not only by the race industry but also by all too many in the media and in the education system, from elementary schools to the universities.
Young blacks are especially susceptible to the message that all their problems are caused by white people — and that white society is never going to give them a chance. In short, they are primed to resent and hate individuals they have never seen before and who have never done a thing to them.
During the same week when Bob Costas was criticizing the name “Washington Redskins,” the New York Daily News reported an incident in which a gang of young blacks attacked a white couple in a car, beating the man severely and dragging the woman out of the car by her hair down to the pavement, and beating her as well — all the while shouting racist obscenities.
Episodes like this have occurred repeatedly, in dozens of cities, all across the country. The only thing that was missing in this particular episode were public assurances from police authorities and the mayor that race had nothing to do with what happened. Such dishonest assurances have been common in the wake of such plainly racist attacks. Officials in various cities are obviously trying to keep the lid on this incipient race war.
But you cannot keep the lid on forever. In 1961, James B. Conant’s book “Slums and Suburbs” warned that “social dynamite” was accumulating in American cities. Just a few years later, ghetto riots erupted all across the country.
Social dynamite can accumulate among whites as well as among blacks. White extremist hate groups already exist, though they are a fringe, as the Nazis were once a disdained fringe in Germany. It was the people’s loss of confidence in the respectable institutions of society that gave the Nazis their chance for power.
The blind and dishonest political correctness of our media and educational institutions on racial issues today can eventually forfeit the confidence of Americans and give similar extremist groups their chance to ignite a race war in the United States. And once a race war starts, it can be virtually impossible to stop.
One of the reasons for being glad to be as old as I am is that I may be spared living to see a race war in America. Race wars are often wars in which nobody wins and everybody ends up much worse off than they were before.
Initial skirmishes in that race war have already begun, and have in fact been going on for some years. But public officials pretend that it is not happening, and the mainstream media seldom publish it at all, except in ways that conceal what is really taking place.
For American society, a dangerous polarization has set in. Signs of this polarization over the years include opposite reactions between blacks and whites to verdicts in the O.J. Simpson murder case, the “rape” charges against Duke University students, and trials resulting from the beating of Rodney King and the death of Trayvon Martin.
More dangerous than these highly publicized episodes over the years are innumerable organized and unprovoked physical attacks on whites by young black gangs in shopping malls, on beaches and in other public places all across the country today.
While some of these attacks make it into the media as isolated incidents, the nationwide pattern of organized black on white attacks by thugs remains invisible in the mainstream media, with the notable exception of Bill O’Reilly on the Fox News Channel.
Even when these attacks are accompanied by shouts of anti-white rhetoric and exultant laughter at the carnage, the racial makeup of the attackers and their victims is usually ignored by the media, and public officials often deny that race has anything to do with what happened.
These attacks have sent many people to the hospital, and some have died, but the attacks are often carried out in a festive atmosphere. What are called “troubled youths,” in this and other contexts, are often in fact young people enjoying themselves greatly by creating big trouble for others.
Some of these many attacks are covered in detail in a book titled “White Girl Bleed A Lot” by Colin Flaherty.
It was a phrase that I recognized immediately, from my own previous research.
That phrase was uttered by one of a group of black attackers who descended on a group of whites at a July 4th fireworks show in Milwaukee. But what happened there was not unique, either in itself or in the efforts of police and political authorities to play down what happened — and to say that race had nothing to do with it.
When the Chicago Tribune was criticized for editing out the race of the attackers in a series of similar organized attacks in Chicago, it replied that race was irrelevant. Yet race is not considered irrelevant when indignantly editorializing on a disproportionate number of young black males arrested and imprisoned.
Sadly, what happened in Milwaukee and Chicago were not isolated incidents. They were part of a pattern repeated in dozens of cities, located in every region of the country. Colin Flaherty’s book, which is subtitled “The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It,” reveals this pattern in painful detail.
Other books are emerging that are more clearly a white backlash, in the sense that they attack behavior patterns among contemporary blacks in general.
Perhaps the most clearly backlash books are those written by Paul Kersey, whose central theme is that whites have created thriving cities, which blacks subsequently took over and ruined. Examples include his books about Birmingham (“The Tragic City“) and Detroit (“Escape from Detroit“).
Kersey even takes a swing at Rush Limbaugh (and at yours truly) for saying that liberal policies destroyed these cities. He says that San Francisco and other cities with liberal policies, but without black demographic and political takeovers, have not been ruined. His books are poorly written, but raise tough questions.
It would be easy to simply dismiss Kersey as a racist. But denouncing him or ignoring him is not refuting him. Refuting requires thought, which has largely been replaced by fashionable buzz words and catch phrases, when it comes to discussions of race.
Thought is long overdue. So is honesty.