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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
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Black and White Standards


The Washington Post (10/25/2012), in giving President Barack Obama an endorsement for another four years, wrote, "Much of the 2012 presidential campaign has dwelt on the past, but the key questions are who could better lead the country during the next four years — and, most urgently, who is likelier to put the government on a more sound financial footing." The suggestion appears to be that a president is not to be held accountable to his promises and past record and that his past record is no indication of his future behavior. Possibly, the Washington Post people believe that a black president shouldn't be held accountable to his record and campaign promises. Let's look at it.

What about Obama's pledge to cut the deficit in half during his first term in office? Instead, we saw the first trillion-dollar deficit ever, under any president of the United States. Plus, it has been followed by trillion-dollar deficits in every year of his administration. What about Obama's pledge of transparency, in which his legislative proposals would be placed on the Internet days before Congress voted on them so that Americans could inspect them? Obama's major legislative proposal, Obamacare, was enacted in such secrecy and with such speed that even members of Congress did not have time to read it. Remember that it was Rep. Nancy Pelosi who told us, "But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what is in it." What about Obama's stimulus packages and promises to get unemployment under control? The Current Employment Statistics program shows that in 2008, the total number of U.S. jobs was more than 138 million, compared with 133.5 million today. As Stanford University economics professor Edward Lazear summed it up, "there hasn't been one day during the entire Obama presidency when as many Americans were working as on the day President Bush left office."

While Obama's national job approval rating is a little less than 50 percent, among blacks his job approval is a whopping 88 percent.

I'd like to ask people who approve of Obama's performance, "What has President Obama done during the past four years that you'd like to see more of in the next four years?"

Black support of politicians who have done little or nothing for their ordinary constituents is by no means unusual. Blacks are chief executives of major cities, such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, Memphis, Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, Oakland, Newark, Cleveland and Cincinnati. In most of these cities, the chief of police, the superintendent of schools and other high executives are black. But in these cities, black people, like no other sector of our population, suffer from the highest rates of homicides, assaults, robberies and shootings. Black high-school dropout rates in these cities are the highest in the nation. Even if a black youngster manages to graduate from high school, his reading, writing and computational proficiency is likely to be equivalent to that of a white seventh- or eighth-grader. That's even with school budgets per student being among the highest in the nation.

Last year, in reference to President Obama's failed employment policies and high unemployment among blacks, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, "If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House." That's a vision that seems to explain black tolerance for failed politicians — namely, if it's a black politician whose policies are ineffectual and possibly harmful to the masses of the black community, it's tolerable, but it's entirely unacceptable if the politician is white.

Black people would not accept excuses upon excuses and vote to re-elect decade after decade any white politician, especially a Republican politician, to office who had the failed records of our big-city mayors. What that suggests about black people is not very flattering.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



11 Comments | Post Comment
Excellent article Mr. Williams. Too bad things have changed so much for the worse in the black community since you were a young man. Hopefully, the community will once again be what you knew back then, so Dr. Kings dream can finally come true.
Comment: #1
Posted by: big Doug
Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:07 AM
Sir;... America is lucky it wasn't me... If I ever promise you that I am going to run into a burning building and save your kitty; what I mean is: I am going to run in there and smell like smoke, and If I can grab your damned cat and get out alive I might just do it, but if I ain't coming out the front door I am headed toward the back...

Some promises are destined not to be kept, and everything is dependent upon the situation as discovered, and all we can ask of anyone is to do the best they can, and in the case of Mr. Obama, I think he has; and what is more, is that he is dealing with a situation far worse than a burning building and a lost kitty... Our whole economy is on its knees, and I trust in the attempt to bring the world economy to its knees; but regardless, we are learning the hard way that capitalism does not work... And now the whole of our government is leveraged to make capitalism work; and so you can expect the government to wring every right and every cent out of the people to make capitalism work and all in vain...
Let the suffering begin... We are not free of guilt... We get to elect those who will bleed us dry to make free enterprise a success...We have all bought into free enterprise, worked for it and fought for it, and now we must suffer its agony as our own... We could just say, as I do, that the dead should bury the dead... I don't care what they do if they don't try to collect all the money the rich did not pay in taxes to pay the rich money they loaned to the government instead of paying... If they had the money; why didn't they pay???... If they had the money, why weren't they taxed???... Tell me they had it to loan, but not to pay, and I will ask: if the expenses of government were just, and required; then why did those with money and means not pay the cost???
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:03 AM
Re: big Doug;... At least the prospect for employment as Uncle Toms has improved outside of Hollywood in the century since Mr. Williams was born...
While agreeing that there once a Black middle class, that hardly compares with Black people with ability actually able to have equal educational facilities... At the time of the Warren Court, the Supreme Court had separate restrooms for black people...
I don't know why, and perhaps it was from the experience of the Navy and the obvious discrimination against blacks on board ship; but my father was not discriminatory... He was a patty... In the words of Red Fox, my father was a patty... If he had a chance he would pat a black man on the head for good luck... I wonder who the black man would pat... Still; back in Battle Creek, he used to go to a black barber rather than a white one, and it was there I got my first hair cut... The terror was so complete that to this day I fear black people...But my father told me the man always kept his door locked, and when my father was in, the man would wave off other black men, I suppose so they were not so over whelming, as they can be, culturally...
Come to think of it; that black barber did me the greatest of favors... After him I could never convince myself that all black people were good any more than I could convince myself all white people were good, so I was spared positive discrimination as much as negative... I could give them a chance, one at a time, rather than lump them all together which either way, is sort of insulting...
And perhaps I can tell you another story about another time that was so good in the moldy past... Back in the early sixties I was walking around my home town, swinging St. Iggy, in the Northland of Michigan, and I walked up on a car down by the bay early in the morning, and saw a black man with a white woman sleeping in his arms in that car... It turns out they were married, and on their honeymoon in a place black people were as common as moon men... They was rare... And I mentioned seeing the folks to my buddy whose uncle owned a hotel up toward the Soo... He said they had stopped there looking for a room, and he told those people to hit the effin road, which is what they heard from every motel in the U. P. from what I could gather... Nice people, but hard... Not a whole lot of room in their hearts for love, I guess...
Terrible thing, you know when people have to be told to be decent to their own countrymen, and forced by law to do what is only right...I can remember my old man getting a call from a BA, business agent- to yous... He had a call in the hall for men, and work was good...The BA said: I got a man, and my dad said: send him out... And the BA said: Just one little thing, Sweeney; he's black... My old man said: so what, send him out... Just like that... No waffling, backpeddling, floundring around with excuses why not... A man is a man is a man is a man... What is obvious to some is clouded by prejudice in others... And it did not turn out well for that man... He self destructed... A lot of men do... But we, Detroit Local 25, produced some grade A ironworkers who just happened to be black men as well... And it likely would not have happened much, if at all without the law, and people like Earl Warren having the sense to seek fairness in the law...
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:01 PM
Pretty gutsy position to take, Dr. Williams -- but an insight that is much needed. If only the right people will read and heed.Thanks.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Doug Morelly
Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:51 AM
Re: Doug Morelly; There is nothing unique about the third eye vision of the right... What you call insight is the common blindness they share... They stand around the elephant saying it is this, and it is that, and not one of them understands that they are speaking out of individual perception rather than knowledge guided by history and inspired by morality...
I don't see humanity in guilded hues... I don't see humanity as right and left, or right or wrong...One of our honest American Philosophers said: you can't take an honest man... Neither can you take a moral one, and it is our shared immorality that allows the majority of the population to be victimized by only a fraction, and for many of the victims to celebrate that fact... The terrible problem in getting anyone to stand up against injustice and slavery is that we are so by nature inclined to accept it, so naturally conservative, and so fearful of change so that slavery decends by degrees upon our lives as we try to carry on...
I believe people should read these reactionary columnists, and listen to the foxes until they puke...No one can learn in a school or in life if they do not first learn to read between the lines... What are they getting at???
The right wants to pay back the debt, for example... Are you prepared to pay your share of 50,000 dollars for every man woman and child??? You can buy a house for less than that today, and many people are living in such houses owing far more for them without the possibility to depart and start over... What have they by way of assets to cash in for their share of the debt???... The problem is far beyond extreme, but would it not have been prudent at some point to tax the rich for what they owed rather than borrow from them money they refuse to help pay back, to themselves??? What have you got to pay them what they should have paid but your inalienable rights and the commonwealth???
A reading of history will show that every revolution in modern times has begun with national bankruptcy; but before a people can revolt, they must have some hint of morality in their character, a sense of right and wrong...So long as we equate poverty with dishonor and wealth with honor we are lost... To seize the future people must be prepared to seize the day, and for that dangerous task they must have something of the honorable to them... And I would ask you; if you think Mr. Williams is to be applauded, where is your honor, and where is your intelligence???...
These rich people who count on one half of the population on principal to hold down the other half while the rich pick everyones pockets do not count on them as example of honor or moral character...They know as I do that if you put a begger in the saddle that he would ride the horse to death...We are all demoralized, and what is our cure???
It is not for the desires of moral people to live in moral company that people are made moral...People may learn morality at their mother's knees, but they spend the rest of their lives learning immorality... You can teach immorality, because it is so rational, and our whole society and economy exist for that purpose, and by the success of that purpose... Those who know morality only remember it from their childhoods when they learned the meaning of family and community, because they learned it prerationally in the process of bonding...

By what help of God would I make you a revolutionary capable of leveraging your life for the future of America???You would hang onto your pitiful life and have nothing rather than give your life to be free and have all.... I could labor in vain for a thousand years on you if we had so long, and never give you a moral sense... That is why my outlook for our society is so grim, so unclouded by hope... People only do right as they can see right, and most cannot see at all...If you trust the likes of Mr. Williams for your sight, your future will be very like your past and only more uncertain...This I promise you... Enjoy...
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:16 AM
Sweeney. What the tarnation are you talking about? Your answers seem to be addressing a different article. Mr. Williams is pointing out that black support of black politicians in spite of poor representation of black people is a sign of racial bias or prejudice. Since Mr. Williams is black his opinion on this is probably just a little more valid than yours. Seems like Mr. Williams is pointing out that decades of black politicians playing the victimhood card had done nothing to advance the conditions of black citizens. They still are dropping out of highschool at alarming rates, pregnancy outside of marriage is sky high, and unemployment is significantly higher than their white counterparts.
Comment: #6
Posted by: david
Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:06 AM
Re: david... The right is guided by principals, which are moral ideas, but what others use to think with, -principals, the right uses rather than thought... In reasoning the Axiums people take as true must always be checked against reality... Fine; so Mr. Williams thinks it is bad on principal that Mr. Obama promised to halve the deficit... Well; even if you would normally agree that it is wrong to lie, certainly wrong to deliberately lie, that once a person is aware of the situation he is in, what he said before hand does not amount to much of a charge against him... On such principal I would urge every one to consider Mr. Romoney who clearly lies every time he opens his face... But consider the principal...
Look at me for example... After my first wife I really tried to learn about women, about relationships, and to find the honor essential to sticking with them... If any one had asked me if I thought I could be a good husband and father, I would have said: yes... I would not have gotten married again if I did not think I could be great at it, and perhaps I have, compared to my first marriage; but all relationships must be judged against themselves, and compared to what I thought possible on the front side, I am a failure and a miserable failure, and so shall I feel till I die.. To judge Mr. Obama poorly in a miserable situation that no one could really know on the front side is wrong... But to get to your point.
Judging black politicians wrong is not insight, as Doug Morelly would have it, but bald faced ignorance... Not one of us in this country has any good representation, and many representatives come from district overwhelmingly black and democrat... That is; they are given districts that might turn sever districts democratic if they were not designed to deny black people and democrats the power of their votes...
Sure they are victims, and having some black representatives, and a causcus is not sufficient to their needs for good representation... Whites are victims too, and their representatives play the victim card with regularity... They do not tell the suburbians that they have found a fool proof method of keeping the poor ill housed and uneducated forever... They tell the suburbs: Look at all those irresponsible low lifes living on your dime high on the hog and everything they can get a hold of... They never tell those relatively well off white to think about it for a gdamned moment before judging, and consider what all that pull yourself up by your boot straps means when you haven't got boots, decent clothes, transportation, food, medicine, or the money to pay for it....
The job departs when the boss decides he does not want the over head, as old infrastructure and crime are, or the cost of training those willing to learn, and instead sets up shop in greener pastures... Is it the fault of the teachers that life teaches other lessons than are in the text books, and life's lessons will kill you first and correct you later??? Is it really the fault of the representatives for recognizing what all their constituents feel, and justly so, -that they have not got a fair chance from one end of their lives to the other???
I will say that when blacks kept to themselves, and knew they could rely on no one but themselves, that many of them were regular people who were middle class, who owned businesses frequented by blacks... They lost in integration... There have been few winners among the blacks from integration... There were black millionaires and black republicans before they were more or less put out of the party...There were also republican progressives, and it was a republican movement before it became a dirty word to republicans...
What I would ask you is: Do you think black representation in the house equals their percentage of the population???... I think it is obvious over all that democrats do not have the representation these national office races reveal, and that is the power of gerrymandering...
The solution for the blacks is the same for the democrats and that is to increase representation, and it would be best if we went either to a direct democracy, or to representation equal to that enjoyed by our founding fathers... Having districts too small to divide would disempower the parties, but everything that empowers the people either to make their government work for them, or to help them help themselves would be an improvement...
To suggest that black toleration for black politicians is greater is wrong...The sqeaky wheels getting greased do not forget how to squeak, or who greased them... A little grease from black politicians in black districts may be sufficient to get them re-elected, but it does not gain much toleration... When every republican goes on the record to deny Mr. Obama's citizenship, and refer to him with the veiled insults that have always been aimed at the intelligence and manhood of black men, you are daring black people to support him or suffer such nonsense in silence forever...
They do not have much good to defend in the performance of Mr. Obama... In office he served the rich far better than the poor... He has been more republican than any republican could have gotten away with simply in the effort to revive a dying economy... He deserves to fail... Not a single democrat will cast their vote for Mr. Obama free of regrets... He has done what he can for us, perhaps... But he has done far more for people who would not lift a leg to piss on him if was wearing napalm jammys and caught fire...
Comment: #7
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:23 PM
Attention commenters: Don't feed the troll
Comment: #8
Posted by:
Thu Nov 1, 2012 10:03 AM
Reply to Hamilton
Don't let Sweeney get to you. He is only making his commentary like the rest of us. He does a good commentary.
You do not have to reply to Sweeney if you so choose. Do as he does and reply to Williams. It's good to have a
good mix. cwc
Comment: #9
Posted by: Charles Coats
Thu Nov 1, 2012 7:25 PM
Re: Charles Coats... Thank you Charles... All opinions welcome... I may challenge opinions, but I really want to know, and I care about what people are thinking... The oracles speak, and their loyal crews agree, or tweek; but just as I write long replies trying to tell them where my opinions are coming from, I wish they would do the same... Maybe there is something behind their agreement, some moral force, something besides veiled self interest... It does no good for me to presume.... It is easy to presume of those reactionary writers that they are answering the meal bell like Pavolov's dogs, with joy and saliva; but what is behind the opinions of those who answer oracle with obedience???
Comment: #10
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Nov 2, 2012 4:39 AM
Nah, I like don't feed the troll better. I'm still alaugh.

Comment: #11
Posted by: Tom
Fri Nov 2, 2012 7:46 PM
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