Walt Speaketh!

John A. Quayle blueoval at SGI.NET
Wed Jul 21 16:09:01 MDT 1999

Problem profiteers
by Walter E. Williams

One of the outcomes of last week's NAACP 90th Annual
Meeting was a call to mau-mau network executives for
not having enough blacks in leading roles in next
fall's television shows. Another was Kweisi Mfume's
call to sue gun manufacturers.

The NAACP director said, "The time has come for us
to look at the proliferation of handguns." Mfume,
like the mayors of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago,
sees gun manufacturers as responsible for the murder and
mayhem in black neighborhoods.

At the turn of the century, Booker T. Washington warned
against the agenda of "problem profiteers," proclaiming,
"There is a class of colored people who make a business
of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships
of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that
they are able to make a living out of their troubles,
they have grown into the settled habit of advertising
their wrongs -- partly because they want sympathy and
partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want
the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not
want to lose their jobs." Booker T. Washington's warnings
apply aptly to people like Jesse Jackson and Mfume.

Robert Woodson, director of the Washington-based National
Center for Neighborhood Enterprises, points to the
increasing gap between the concerns of the civil-rights
establishment and those of ordinary black citizens for
whom they purport to speak in his recent book, "The
Triumphs of Joseph."

In one survey, 83 percent of blacks said they were in
favor of school choice. Yet in a floor vote at the 1993
NAACP convention, delegates passed a resolution opposing
school choice. In a Washington Post survey, pollsters
asked whether minorities should receive preferential
treatment to make up for past discrimination -- 77 percent
of black leaders said yes, while 77 percent of the black
public said no. Black leaders support forced school busing,
while a majority of blacks disapprove. Only 8 percent of
blacks see racial integration as an issue of importance.
Yet the civil-rights establishment continues to pursue
their '60s agenda of mandated integration and recompense
for past discrimination.

Jackson and Mfume's push to have more blacks in starring roles
on television shows is exactly what Bill Raspberry, Washington
Post columnist, meant when he wrote, "The inner-city poor
furnish the statistical base for the proposals, but the
benefits go primarily to the already well-off." More blacks
on television doesn't do a thing for the major problems of the
inner-city blacks, such as poor education, crime and
female-headed households.

Invoking the names of poor blacks in order to benefit well-off
blacks isn't new. In 1990, Jackson and other civil-rights
leaders accused Nike Corporation of exploiting inner-city black
youngsters.  Among their demands were: more blacks in top
management positions, more Nike advertising in black-owned
media outlets and more blacks on Nike's board of trustees. This
tactic of using poor blacks to provide benefits for their
better-off brethren is known in retailing as "bait and switch."

Since private and Catholic schools do a far better job of
educating blacks, the NAACP could have called for school
choice, but that would have offended their members who are
public school teachers.  They could have called on the Clinton
administration to speak out against slavery in Ghana -- as
featured in a Feb. 7, 1997, New York Times story -- and
slavery in the Sudan and Mauritania, where an estimated
30,000 blacks are held in bondage, but that might offend
Jackson's Muslim backers.

If there's a bright side to the NAACP, it's that ordinary blacks
don't give the organization much attention and financial support.
Most of the organization's financing comes from white liberals,
mau-maued corporations and foundations.

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