July 2, 2014

Civil Rights Act Turns 50

We’ve come a long way, but how far?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That landmark federal law was the culmination of a decades-long fight against racial oppression in a nation scarred by slavery and post-Reconstruction bitterness. So how far have we come in the last five decades?

By some measures, a very long way. We are no longer a forcibly segregated nation, and oppressive white racism is largely a thing of the past. But by other measures, we’ve not gone anywhere. Hillsdale College history professor Paul Moreno writes of today’s anniversary, “The goal was – and is – a noble one. Yet the ink was hardly dry on the new law before it became an instrument for racial classifications and preferences that the bill’s sponsors swore would be prohibited.” As a result, there is a seemingly intractable entitlement mentality now among blacks, fed by the guilt of white leftists.

CBS News asked how far we’ve come, and their findings are telling. “Nearly eight in 10 Americans think there’s been real progress since the 1960s in getting rid of racial discrimination; just 19 percent say there hasn’t been much progress,” CBS reports. “Views on progress differ by race, however. Whites (82 percent) are more likely than African-Americans (59 percent) to think real progress has been made. More than a third of African-Americans say there hasn’t been real progress.”

So why do a third of blacks think racial discrimination remains a serious problem?

The answer is surprisingly simple. The primary protagonist of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, proclaimed famously, “I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” But the Left has done nothing to advance that proclamation. They judge by the color of skin instead of a person’s character. This affirms the statist status of most blacks, who, in effect, are enslaved on urban poverty plantations. That may seem harsh, but look at the facts.

Since the Civil Rights Act was passed, blacks have become disproportionate recipients of federal benefits, and, in particular, the welfare benefits for children born out of wedlock have resulted in the near total breakdown of the black family. That in turn has caused outsized incarceration rates for young black men. And the cycle continues. Yet 95% of blacks blindly vote for Democrats because that’s who the sugar daddies are.

In 1766, Ben Franklin observed, “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Yet today’s practice is the vision of avowed socialist George Bernard Shaw, co-founder of the London School of Economics: “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

We are, however, ever optimistic. In light of Friday’s celebration of our nation’s birth, we hope the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence prevails for our great nation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Let it be true for red and yellow, black and white.

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