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Rebuilding New Orleans and the black family

September 6th 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans and the black family

Rebuilding New Orleans

Of all the horrific pictures of New Orleans, the pictures of African Americans are the most troubling and telling.  Iím speaking of the pictures showing lawless black men looting and shooting, obese black women trying to walk to safety with their children, and thousands of blacks waiting for the government, or ďthe man,Ē to rescue them.


The pictures show what happens when the government fails to perform its most important role of protecting life and liberty, and what happens when it exceeds the role by doing things for people that they should do for themselves.


I am not referring to what the government should have done to protect New Orleans from Level 4 hurricanes or what it is doing after Katrina to help the victims.  Iím referring to two historical injustices inflicted on blacks:  1) the failure of various governments to protect their lives and liberty for centuries, by allowing slavery and then Jim Crow; and 2) the U.S. governmentís efforts over the last 40 years to remedy the failure with misguided programs and policies, especially the Great Society, which atomized inner-city black families, made black men superfluous, and resulted in black women becoming dependent on the government instead of the fathers of their children.


No doubt, if the government had performed its most important role for centuries and had not exceeded the role for decades, pictures of blacks after the hurricane would be different from what they are today.  The pictures would be the same as pictures of whites.  Inner-city blacks would not be more lawless, more dependent, more unruly, and more obese than whites.  Nor would they have less money, less education and fewer options than whites.  And the same percentage of blacks as whites would have left New Orleans in private automobiles before Katrina hit.


Before the Great Society did its damage, I worked as a teenager as the only white on a black maintenance and janitorial crew at an exclusive country club upriver from New Orleans in St. Louis, Mo.  For extra money, I would wash and wax the big Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles of the blacks who waited tables in the country clubís restaurant.  Former Pullman waiters, they were better mannered than the club members.  Despite the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, and despite the awful conditions in segregated ghettos, blacks were on the ascendancy, due in large part to black men behaving like men and not as yet being replaced as husbands and fathers by the state.   


The silver lining in the hurricane is that the government has an opportunity to rebuild inner-city black families as it rebuilds New Orleans.   It will take hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild New Orleans.  The money should be spent in a way that restores self-reliance and industriousness in the inner-city, and gives black men an incentive to behave like responsible citizens.  Instead of sitting in refugee camps doing nothing, they should be taught construction skills and other skills.  And instead of returning them to public housing, they should be given the opportunity to build their own housing and gain financially from sweat equity.


Yes, the devil is in the details.  But as the pictures from New Orleans show, there is a worse devil in keeping inner-city blacks dependent on the government.


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By Craig J. Cantoni
Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (HAALT)

An author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni has published a new book, Breaking from the Herd:  Political Essays for Independent Thinkers by a Maverick Columnist.  He can be reached at ccan2@aol.com.


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:38 PM