Think of this as Volume 17, Number 28 of the newsletter I have written weekly since March, 1997. Enjoy.
Back in April I wrote about the 4th Riding of the KKK mainly in terms of the Republican leadership.
But leaders don't go where their followers won't. This riding of the Klan, like all previous ridings, is based in the grassroots.
The first riding was based on a real fear that blacks were taking over the government. Reconstruction made white voters ineligible to vote in the 1860s, so blacks did take over, and the purpose of the riding was to put blacks back in “their place,” a virtual slavery to replace what was now illegal.
The second riding, which coincided with the fall of populism early in the last century, was designed to enforce Jim Crow laws, and pushed millions of blacks into the new industrial ghettoes of the north, which had a brief golden age in the 1920s.
The third riding, starting in the 1950s, was in reaction to the Civil Rights movement, and was designed to minimize the gains of Dr. King and his followers. That movement eventually metastacized into an uneasy racial peace, with whites becoming Republican and suburban while blacks were given the crumbling cities.
It's pretty high for all young people. My daughter hasn't had a paying job in years. But she has spent that time getting an education. We could afford it. She is lucky. And while it will take her time to get into her chosen career, she has a path.
If she were male, if we were black, the failure of the Atlanta Public Schools to educate my daughter might have been fatal. Her black, male contemporaries on our street have mostly been lucky. One is a line cook. But not all have been so lucky. Another had sex with his girlfriend before she was of age, got branded as a sex offender, and may never get a chance in life.
As the recovery from the great recession has proven to be job-free, at least for young blacks, it's no surprise many have turned to crime. Here's an example, from my neighborhood. But I want you to note particularly the comments below the story:
- “Where's the outrage from the black community? Oh wait...this is Atlanta. The judges will just give them probation and they'll be back on the streets in no time.
- Shoot their african american butts and solve the problem
- It's Atlanta. What do you expect? I'll bet I can correctly guess the race of all of the thugs.”
Notice a pattern? The failure of the young is passed on to the old, the failure of the poor is passed on to the middle class, and gross racism against blacks is thus excused. The kids are crap, their parents must be crap...the next word starts with the letter “n” and rhymes with “bigger” – it's not being written but the sentiment is there.
And this is typical. What's developing is nothing less than a race war, one black people are bound to lose. Our children and our childrens' children will have to live with the consequences of this, just as we have to live with the consequences of the last riding.
White resentment of blacks has an impact on policy. What were formerly called food stamps are being limited or eliminated entirely by whatever white, Republican government can make it happen. North Carolina has completely eliminated unemployment benefitson the assumption that they go to the “undeserving,” in other words blacks. This, along with deep cuts to food stamps, formerly called SNAP, has a long-lasting impact:
Examining adults aged in their thirties to fifties who had differential access to the Food Stamp program during their childhoods in the 1960s and 1970s, we found that adults’ health – as measured by self-reported health status, obesity, and reported diagnoses of diabetes and other chronic conditions – was markedly improved if they had access to the safety net during childhood. In particular, we found that access to food stamps mattered most in early childhood, through ages three to five.
By eliminating aid to young people now, you get a generation of underweight, undereducated criminals, who have to be jailed and produce yet-another generation of the same. The cure starts in early childhood, with nutrition and health programs, and it's no coincidence that today's riding of the Klan is cutting off those very programs that do the most good.
You may ask, what ends the riding? What ends it is a counter-attack that yields a new status quo. Despite the hopelessness of what I've written here, each riding was countered, and what came after was slightly better than what the riders wanted. Leaders rose from the ashes, the middle class increased in size and power, and more blacks rose to real prominence after each riding. It was frustrating for those who wanted real change, but it was always in the direction of progress
So it will be again. The counter to this riding is already rising, across the country. Republicans are going to have a hard time winning election next year, and that problem will increase, year by year, until they abandon their racist grassroots and turn in another direction. The very wealthy know this, which is why they're propping up people like Marco Rubio. It's a Republican Civil War the money power will, in time, win, partly by putting that power into the hands of Democrats.
And the irony here is that the same thing happened over 100 years ago. The Second Riding destroyed the Democratic Party for a generation, as populism turned to racism and southern interests took over the party. (Their only President during that generation was Woodrow Wilson, born in Virginia, a former Georgia lawyer. He was also our most racist President ever.)
Progress, like markets, does not go in a straight line. It's stop-and-start, up and down, but it does tend to trend upward, because the amount of wealth available to distribute keeps going up. It won't take much redistribution to solve today's problems, but that is coming, whether the racists like it or not.