On the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Juan Williams has this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the state of Black leadership and Barack Obama. "While speaking to black people, King never condescended to offer Rev. Wright-style diatribes or conspiracy theories. He did not paint black people as victims." Can Obama do the same? "Last March in Selma, Ala., Mr. Obama appeared on the verge of breaking away from the merchants of black grievance and victimization. At a commemoration of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights, he spoke in a King-like voice."
But it wouldn't last.
But as his campaign made headway with black voters, Mr. Obama no longer spoke about the responsibility and the power of black America to appeal to the conscience and highest ideals of the nation. He no longer asks black people to let go of the grievance culture to transcend racial arguments and transform the world.
He has stopped all mention of government's inability to create strong black families, while the black community accepts a 70% out-of-wedlock birth rate. Half of black and Hispanic children drop out of high school, but he no longer touches on the need for parents to convey a love of learning to their children. There is no mention in his speeches of the history of expensive but ineffective government programs that encourage dependency. He fails to point out the failures of too many poverty programs, given the 25% poverty rate in black America.
And he chooses not to confront the poisonous "thug life" culture in rap music that glorifies drug use and crime.
Instead the senator, in a full political pander, is busy excusing Rev. Wright's racial attacks as the right of the Rev.-Wright generation of black Americans to define the nation's future by their past. He stretches compassion to the breaking point by equating his white grandmother's private concerns about black men on the street with Rev. Wright's public stirring of racial division.
Leadership failure is a recurring theme with Williams. Two years ago, he published a book titled Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America -- and What We Can Do About It. Here are a few excerpts from Chapter 5, Crime and Punishment:
Very few leading black voices in the pulpit or on the political stage are focused on having black people take personal responsibility for the exorbitant amount of crime committed by black people against other black people. Today's black leaders sing like a choir when they raise their voices against police brutality in the increasing number of black people in jail. The high note is always centered on white politicians who demonize black criminals.... But any mention of black America's responsibility for committing the crimes, big and small, that lead so many to prison is barely mumbled if mentioned at all.
[Bill] Cosby first broke with this orthodoxy during his original speech in May.... He really went off message when he directed fury at the parents, the church leaders, and the black intellectuals who defend black criminals as victims of racism deserving of sympathy. Cosby had another idea. He said they deserved contempt. He called them pure thugs, knuckleheads, and an embarrassment to the race....
In an interview for this book, Bill Cosby noted that the NAACP's national headquarters is located in Baltimore, a city with one of the highest murder rates in the nation. "I've never once heard the NAACP say, 'Let's do something about this,' " said Cosby. They never marched or organized, or even criticized the criminals.
Jeremiah Wright epitomizes the "phony leaders" that Williams denounces. His paranoid, hysterical rants may very well aggravate the problem of crime. Alienation from society inevitably weakens or even dissolves the bonds that cause people to believe they must obey society's rules regardless of whether or how much they might be punished for violating them. Crackpot conspiracy theories that our own government has intentionally unleashed an incurable, fatal disease can only serve to deepen the alienation and weaken the bonds. So, too, does the nonsense that the government is somehow affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. Not only are Jeremiah Wright and others of his ilk not solutions to the crime problem and the incarceration problem, they are part of the cause.
Back to Williams' WSJ article today:
As the nation tries to recall the meaning of Martin Luther King today, Mr. Obama's campaign has become a mirror reflecting where we are on race 40 years after the assassination. Mr. Obama's success has moved forward the story of American race relations; King would have been thrilled with his political triumphs.
But when Barack Obama, arguably the best of this generation of black or white leaders, finds it easy to sit in Rev. Wright's pews and nod along with wacky and bitterly divisive racial rhetoric, it does call his judgment into question. And it reveals a continuing crisis in racial leadership.
What would Jesus do? There is no question he would have left that church.