Blame it all on blacks

Monday Book Review

November 23, 1992|By Gregory P. Kane

PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS: THE FAILURE OF RACE RELATIONS IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICA. By Jared Taylor. Carroll and Graf. 416 pages. $22.95.

THIS is not boring reading. It is also not what some would expect from the title. Jared Taylor gives us no smarmy, hand-wringing, liberal lament about white racism and racial polarization in America. He gives us, in fact, quite the opposite.

His thesis is that American race relations have gone to hell in a handbasket, and it's all the fault of those horrible, horrible Negroes.

Using no less than 1,339 notes to back up his claim, Mr. Taylor accuses American blacks of falsely accusing whites of racism to explain "black failure," of using affirmative action as a "special privilege" at the expense of whites, of being racist in their voting patterns, of backing black racist leaders and politicians and of virtually ruining the country by committing the most crimes and perpetuating the so-called "black underclass," which grows larger because of black teen-age pregnancy.

He's no word mincer, this Jared Taylor. He says what's on his mind. Think of him as a latter-day Malcolm X, without the melanin. When he writes, "The 'Eurocentric' education that is supposed to be doing such damage to blacks today seems to have caused no harm to Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Ralph Bunche, Julian Bond and millions of unsung black men and women who led responsible, upright lives even in the teeth of Jim Crow and segregation," he merely reiterates the argument against Afrocentric curriculum already used by some blacks. When he asserts, "It takes years of instruction to turn young humans into responsible adults. Societies must teach values to their children and limit their sex lives . . . It is families that must do this," it's hard to argue with him.

If Taylor's book were filled with such pithy quotes, it might be an unqualified success. Unfortunately, the author's pearls of wisdom are interspersed with comments and notions that betray a fundamental ignorance of the impact white racism has had on the American body politic.

One of Mr. Taylor's major themes -- reiterated throughout his work -- is that white racism no longer exists. It no longer exists because, well, Jared Taylor says so. Besides, Harris polls and Gallup polls that questioned whites about their racial attitudes confirm the virtual disappearance of white racism.

One wonder exactly what Jared Taylor's definition of white racism is. One suspects that unless you are burning a cross on someone's lawn or actually making the noose for a lynch rope, you won't qualify as a racist in Mr. Taylor's book. In one passage that's particularly revealing, Mr. Taylor asserts, "If the police and courts are locking up blacks because of prejudice, many people would expect to see the most grievous effects of this in the South . . . where racism is thought to be worse."

We should not let yet another gross example of Dixie-bashing pass unchallenged. When Martin Luther King Jr. led an open-housing march through a Chicago suburb in 1966, the hatred and rancor of the whites in the neighborhood were so vicious that King called them "the worst I've seen." One King aide observed that white Chicagoans could teach white Mississippians how to hate.

Mr. Taylor's examples of black racism are, for the most part, equally curious. "It is blacks who accuse the justice system of systematic bias and who appear to think in terms of race first and the facts second," Mr. Taylor fumes. He cites as evidence the case of former Washington Mayor Marion Barry -- a jury convicted him of "only" one count of cocaine possession -- and two less well known cases in which black murderers were found not guilty despite overwhelming evidence.

Mr. Taylor conveniently overlooks thousands of prisoners in cities like Baltimore who were turned in by black citizens, prosecuted by black state's attorneys, convicted by predominantly black juries and often sentenced by black judges. If black jurors are systematically cutting loose black offenders, how do the jails in Baltimore, Washington and Detroit get so full?

Mr. Taylor also has disdain for black voters, whom he accuses of "rarely crossing racial lines to vote for a white." The author simply hasn't done his homework on this subject, an oversight no doubt caused by his penchant to indulge in racist statements of his own.

Notwithstanding his claim that white racism is dead, Mr. Taylor is guilty of sentiments that will win him no brotherhood awards. To cite just a few:

* " . . . any given black person is vastly more likely to commit a crime against a white than vice versa."

* "When it comes to trying to solve social problems, blacks seem to turn instinctively to whites."

* "If whites are not holding blacks down, it might mean that they have risen as far as their inherent limitations permit. The possibility of black inferiority . . . lurks in the background of every attempt to explain black failure . . ."

* If . . . social engineers were to invent an equivalent of the philosophers' stone, whose touch would galvanize the lazy, inspire the irresponsible and reform the criminal, blacks would rise with everyone else."

Some passages of Mr. Taylor's book indicate that he feels blacks take to crime like ducks to water. He finds something sinister in the establishment of Baltimore's Black Classics Press. And the positive portrayal of black soldiers in the film "Glory" apparently caused him no end of discomfort. Whatever valid points Mr. Taylor may have raised will provide little solace to those who feel he has written the most scurrilous work about American blacks since Thomas Dixon's "The Clansman" was published in 1905.

Gregory P. Kane is a Baltimore writer.

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