Banish The Bling

Juan Williams argues in an op-ed in today’s Post that, while “systemic racism remains a reality, there is also a far more sinister obstacle facing African American young people today: a culture steeped in bitterness and nihilism, a culture that is a virtual blueprint for failure.” The money ‘graph:

With 50 percent of Hispanic children and nearly 70 percent of black children born to single women today these young people too often come from fractured families where there is little time for parenting. Their search for identity and a sense of direction is undermined by a twisted popular culture that focuses on the “bling-bling” of fast money associated with famous basketball players, rap artists, drug dealers and the idea that women are at their best when flaunting their sexuality and having babies.

It’s not a new argument, having been made by people from Bill Cosby the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Indeed, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton say much the same thing when talking to black audiences. Still, it’s one that bears repeating, especially when it comes from highly respected minority voices with impeccable civil rights credentials.

While Williams is decidedly left-of-center in his politics, he’s very much a product of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. school of social policy. While I have not yet read it, his new book, Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It, is hardly a departure from the author of Thurgood Marshall, Eyes on the Prize, and many other books. Williams is a man of deep religious faith and spirituality, as exemplified by his 2004 book, This Far by Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    It’s not a new argument, having been made by people from Bill Cosby the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Indeed, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton say much the same thing when talking to black audiences.

    Of course, it goes further back than that–WEB Dubois made the same argument a hundred years ago.

    Hell, Cornel West said the same thing in Race Matters more than a decade ago.

    Whats missing in this piece is a solution. Decades of moralizing hasn’t really helped the problem. William Julius Wilson has an interesting remedy in his late 90s book, “When Work Disappears” which explicitly rejects race-based solutions in favor of ones based on economic need.

  2. legion says:

    Well, a guy named Mohammed made the same argument to members of his tribe in Medina over 1300 years ago. See where that got him…

  3. Bithead says:

    First of all, This is to some degree, the same argument that I have been making for some years now; this argument is not about race, nor has it ever been. Not in the last century at least. It is about culture. The race business was merely a label. At the core of the problem is the culture.

    Second, let’s point out that the only reason one Williams has “impeccable civil rights credentials” is because he’s been touting the leftist mantra all his working life. I can’t help but suspect that one of the reasons that he’s starting to make this argument he’s making now, is that he started to see the consequences of what he’s been promoting. I’m willing to bet, though, that he is not willing to identify the problem as such. Not yet, if he ever will. When you blame everything, after all, on a lack of “civil rights” you can do no wrong. Certainly, that is the attitude of those exhibiting the behavior which Mr. Williams has finally gotten around to decrying.

    My reading of WEB Dubois, 20 years or so ago… my memory of it… suggest that he was making exactly the same argument over a century back, now. And yet, we are where we are today. Why, is simply put; even the proponents of this argument cannot drag themselves away from the “civil rights” argument… the idea that the plight of black individuals is not the fault of the individuals, but rather some event that happened long before the individual was born. Until such time as that problem is overcome, the remainder of this argument isn’t going to stick at all, to anything…. and Mr. Williams is preaching to a choir in a church he all too seldom attends… The church of individual responsibility.

    If Williams were to actually think about what it was he was preaching, individualism, and a self reliance, his politics as a necessity would be violently swung away from the leftism he’s been espousing for the last decade and longer. But it’s my guess, that he will not allow himself to do that.

    It has been noted over the past couple of election cycles, that blacks in this country have been moving steadily away from the Democratic party, and it’s socialist mantra… and it’s pandering to blacks with “it’s not your fault… its Whitey’s racism. Here’s some taxpayer money. Remember, vote Democrat… wink, wink”.

    Finally, I submit that the reason for this trend is simple. Blacks across the country are starting to come to the same conclusions that Mr. Williams has made observation of here. When a logical and moral implications of the argument that Williams is paying mere lip service to, here, finally slam home, they leave the Democratic party behind, as being what they are; contrary to the goals of freedom, REAL equality and individualism.

    One wonders when Mr. Williams will be smart enough to listen to the implications in his own words. I somehow doubt that I will be alive to see that day.

  4. legion says:

    Yeah, because if the rightist “mantra” had won out during the early part of the 20th century, those darn blacks wouldn’t even be literate, let alone have enough money to buy bling! And if they complained, you certainly wouldn’t have to hear about it in the national media!

    C’mon, bithead – you’re seriously suggesting that the best thing the blacks in this country could do is to wholesale join the party that still has senior members who, just a few decades ago, would have happily lynched them for making a pass at a white woman? Yeah, I know society has moved beyond that sort of open hatred, but that’s not because of anything the GOP did.

    I mean, you could try to argue that the “modern” GOP has evolved beyond such overt thuggishness, but it’s also apparently evolved beyond the concepts of a limited government to foster personal responsibility and fiscal responsibility – two tenets you seem to think are important…

  5. Bandit says:

    Leg – as usual you’re a little confused. It’s Robert Byrd who was in the KKK

  6. LJD says:

    Legion, not only does your post have absolutely no merit, but I find it deeply offensive.

    The party of lynchings? Give me a break!

    Obviously, your far left sensibilities are offended by the fact that Mr. WIlliams thinks African-Americans can and should be taking care of themselves. Because then, what would you lefties have to do to feel good about yourselves, if there’s no poor, oppressed black people to rescue?

  7. legion says:

    KKK? Well, there’s always David Duke, but bringing him into a racial/political discussion nears Godwin territory. And I suppose Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms don’t count as ‘active’ anymore. But there’s always The Man Who Would Be Senate Majority Leader (and likely will be again, if Frist keeps losing support) Trent Lott.

    What’s amazing is folks like LJD, who think that blacks who talk about becoming stronger andmore self-reliant must, by definition, be leaving the Dem party one-for-one.

    It has been noted over the past couple of election cycles, that blacks in this country have been moving steadily away from the Democratic party, and it’s socialist mantra… and it’s pandering to blacks with “it’s not your fault… its Whitey’s racism. Here’s some taxpayer money. Remember, vote Democrat… wink, wink”.

    Bithead, I won’t argue the trend you mention, but what makes you think it has to do with black rejection of Dems and the “socialist mantra”, rather than the GOP’s relentless terror-hyping? What sorts of taxpayer money have the Dems forced the GOP-controlled Congress to dole out lately? Take a look at what Bush promised New Orleans (after he was reminded that blacks still vote), and what he and Congress have actually delivered.

    Describing the GOP as the party that welcomes black Americans & has their best interests at heart is about as laughable as the Log Cabin Republicans believing that homosexuality wouldn’t be outlawed if their “chosen party” had its way…

  8. Bithead says:

    Yeah, because if the rightist “mantra” had won out during the early part of the 20th century, those darn blacks wouldn’t even be literate, let alone have enough money to buy bling! And if they complained, you certainly wouldn’t have to hear about it in the national media!

    C’mon, bithead – you’re seriously suggesting that the best thing the blacks in this country could do is to wholesale join the party that still has senior members who, just a few decades ago, would have happily lynched them for making a pass at a white woman? Yeah, I know society has moved beyond that sort of open hatred, but that’s not because of anything the GOP did.

    Perhaps somebody should remind you of the party that was the biggest roadblock to the passage of the civil rights act of 1964 . (Hint: It wasn’t the GOP)

    Bithead, I won’t argue the trend you mention, but what makes you think it has to do with black rejection of Dems and the “socialist mantra”, rather than the GOP’s relentless terror-hyping?

    Simple; that trend was already in motion on 9/11 else we’ve not had a Republican majority in both houses of Congress and Mr Bush wouldn’t ahve been President.

    The fact of the matter is that the democrats and their “you’re a victim” politics have done more to damage black families than anything Lynch mobs could’ve done. For background, I refer you to the writings of Doctor Thomas Sowell.

  9. LJD says:

    I fail to see any part of my post that even slightly suggests your conclusion. Your continual and unfounded charges of systemic racism on the part of the GOP are laughable.

    You effectively portray yourself as a brainwashed idiot.