By Fred Reed
Most of the profound anger and apparent actual insanity afflicting the United States stem from racial antagonism: The Floyd riots, the tearing down of statues, affirmative action, the renaming of buildings, hostility to everything Confederate, racial attacks on whites by blacks, critical race theory, the fury over trials. Racial policy isn’t working and isn’t going to. America had better find another approach before, one day, the guns come out.
Sez I, a massive step toward racial reconciliation could be achieved simply by deregulating the schools. The races have very, very disparate cultures and want different things. In the integrated schools, either blacks must be forced to learn things of interest only to whites, or whites must be prevented from learning these things. It is hard to see why black students or their parents would have any interest in Jane Austin, Mark Twain, Shakespeare, or Beowulf. Nor is it clear why whites, of either generation, would care more than passingly about Africa. Why, unworkably, force each to do something both alien and of no interest to it?
Many object that the study of mathematics constitutes racism, or is a means of oppressing blacks. Why force math on blacks or, more importantly, prevent white kids from learning them? Similarly, English grammar is now said to be racist. Why should black young of a background having no interest in such things have to be burdened with it?
These difficulties could within an administrative district be remedied by allowing different groups to establish such schools as they chose, for such students as they chose, teaching such material as they chose. Charges of discrimination could be avoided by requiring by law that all students be subsidized at the same per-pupil rate. Further, allow schools to select such students as they choose. If some schools wanted only white students, or black, or racially mixed, so be it. As long as they were given equal resource’s, it would be their business. If some parents preferred schools of mixed race, it would be their business. Evangelical schools? Fine. Jewish? Equally so. Chinese? Equally.
The right of schools to choose teachers without governmental bureaucracy—most importantly, certification—would be crucial. Certified teachers are often of low quality and always carriers of industrial-strength political correctness. The teachers unions are just that—unions, interested chiefly in the good of the membership, not the students. I would not be allowed to teach either writing or journalism whereas a half-literate political hire would be.
This would also allow parents of very bright kids to use such tests as they chose to find the extraordinarily smart and then to teach them at their level. Those opposed to testing could avail themselves of schools not engaging in testing. Forcing kids of IQ 140 or better to agonize in classes at the level of “Mommy Beaver had two sticks and Daddy Beaver had two, how many did that have in all” is child abuse. A child in that range in the second grade is reading at the ninth-grade level and school is nothing but an obstacle. Why do this?
In aggregate these measures—we could call them “freedom”—might go far to reduce hostility.
Smaller and seemingly less important matters count in racial relations. Blacks often deprecate other blacks for “acting white.” This is not unreasonable. People naturally want to be around others who share their culture, manners, and ideas of consideration and propriety. I don’t want my children, or people around me, “acting black.” I don’t know what “acting white” means and I don’t care. I don’t want my children wearing their pants below their knees and saying “muggafugga” every second word. These practices do no actual harm, but are extremely disagreeable to most whites. While I do not want to dictate the culture of blacks—it isn’t my business—neither do I want them transgressing mine. Would not separation be the comfortable solution?
Housing is another matter in which less government would be of use. Here again, policy is disastrous. The races obviously do not want to live together. When blacks move into white neighborhoods, the whites leave. When whites move back into the city, “gentrifying,” blacks are enraged. Upon reaching university, blacks often demand dormitories only for blacks, courses only for blacks, student centers only for blacks, and graduations only for blacks. If whites had the same privileges, friction would diminish. By (again) providing these things on a rigid and transparent basis of equal money per student, discrimination could be avoided.
Since the races usually want to live apart, why not simply let them? Those who wanted to live in mixed neighborhoods could, but if a black neighborhood wanted to avoid gentrification, it could vote to do so.
The voluntary separation of races would greatly reduce the very high rates of crime against whites by blacks, and the fear and intensifying hostility caused by this crime. I don’t know how to end crime, but reducing the fear of blacks would go far to encourage racial reconciliation.
Blacks say that white police discriminate against them. Whether this is true would make no difference if blacks policed black neighborhoods and whites, white. Cities typically burn because white policemen have beaten or shot a black. The blindingly obvious solution is, in racially homogeneous regions, to have the local race do the policing. Friction might in some degree continue between police and policed, but at least it would not be racial.
Further, though it will at first sound strange, I suggest that black and white neighborhoods be permitted to decide what laws to enforce, at least in those matters affecting only the neighborhood. If blacks chose to ignore use of marijuana, drinking in public, selling crack, or driving without a license, why should they not? Do they not know their neighborhood, its needs and problems, better that I? Why are these things my business either way? The result would be vastly fewer arrests of blacks by whites and fewer blacks in prison, both of these contributing greatly to hostility between the races.
I am not recommending the abandonment of black neighborhoods to crime, but rather letting those affected decide. For example, blacks often hate stop-and-frisk policing. Why not let those affected make the decision? This would reduce the impression of the police as an occupying army, often white.
Nor am I suggesting the subjection of blacks to a punitive regime. I believe that all citizens should have access to good medical care, that providing schools with textbooks of their choice is a proper function of government, as is maintenance of streets, water supply, and electric supply. If a black university wants microscopes or a computer, it should get them. And universities should be free to hire any staff they choose, depending only on the willingness of the staff to be hired. The various forms of welfare should be continued as there is no choice other than causing great hardship–even hunger.
Since the races are in America, and none is going to leave, finding a workable approach to amity would seem a good idea. What we have hasn’t worked, is not working, shows no sign that it ever will, and indeed things are getting worse. A little distance might go a long way. If there is ever an explosion of the very real, very deep anger in the country that the media are hiding from themselves, it might make Floyd’s uprising seem trivial. In the Floyd riots, the guns didn’t come out.
FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”