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When we think of American heroes, the Tuskegee Airmen immediately come to mind.
Formed in Tuskegee, Alabama as World War II raged across the Atlantic, they were black pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance crews and instructors who helped break the Nazi war machine and led the way towards de-segregating America’s military.
They courageously fought and died to protect our nation — despite its flaws.
So I wonder what they’d think of Beyoncé’s Superbowl 50 stunt honoring the Black Panthers? In case anyone forgot, it was a 1960s militant group which advocated violence to overthrow the government while killing police officers. And what about today’s Black Lives Matter, a.k.a. the BLM movement? Did the Tuskegee Airmen risk life and limb to protect America — only to have Beyoncé and BLM come along and tear it apart?
Ironically, 40 years after the first Black History Month, race relations seem even worse today.
Ferguson. Baltimore. Chicago. Milwaukee. Oakland. New York.
It’s all because of “racism,” they tell us.
Left-wing politicians Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders say so. Ditto from activists Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan. Same with entertainers Beyoncé, Michael Moore, Kanye West, Spike Lee, and now even Will Smith. Yet blaming America’s ills on “racism” is a gross distortion, making problems harder to solve.
Now that’s not denying legitimate concerns in the black community which must be addressed.
While traveling across America as chief spokesman and foreign policy advisor to corporate CEO Herman Cain during the 2012 presidential campaign, beyond his native Atlanta, we visited places like Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami and New York.
In Detroit’s inner city, together with Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Niger Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality, we saw abandoned blocks which resembled a war zone. It’s where we launched his “Economic Opportunity Zone” plan for urban renewal through tax code reform, a subset of the 9-9-9 plan.
Job creation is key to repairing race relations. I saw on the presidential campaign that America’s racial strife is primarily fueled by a vicious cycle in our urban areas – unemployment, broken families, poverty, crime, drugs and incarceration. The very little racism I did see was directed at Mr. Cain – from other blacks who feared his message.
From the 30,000 foot view, lack of economic opportunity, plus decades of misguided government policies and programs regarding welfare and housing are root causes of racial division.
So how did we get here?
In the past century, mechanized farming put poor blacks out of work in the south, spurring mass migrations north and west for work in big city factories. After World War II, shortsighted city zoning policies and growth of suburbs caused city tax revenues to collapse, negatively impacting public schools and services. When automation eliminated factory jobs, blacks were hit again. And now, jobs are increasingly shipped overseas.
Meanwhile, welfare policies have given perverse incentives to create single mother households with many children each. It’s driven fathers away, destroying families and keeping generations in poverty. Among the urban poor, teen pregnancies have been the norm, not the exception. In recent years, out-of-wedlock births among blacks are close to 3 in 4, considerably higher than other ethnic groups.
A 2011 documentary showing the ripple effect of disastrous 20th century federal housing policies in St. Louis, “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” spells this out clearly. Shocker, it’s just 10 miles from Ferguson.
As if urban dysfunction isn’t bad enough, its trademark violence, drugs and misogyny are glorified by the music and film industry, Straight Outta Compton.
These are the actual problems.
Yet many still blame “structural racism” — higher incarceration rates for blacks; stiffer prison terms for crack cocaine which is more prevalent among blacks than regular cocaine; stop and frisk in predominantly black neighborhoods; fewer blacks climbing the corporate ladder, etc. However, they’re more accurately described as subsets of underlying economic and cultural decline rather than racism.
Thus today’s obsession with racism and America-shaming doesn’t solve anything. It merely creates division, incites violence and wounds our national legitimacy.
That’s fine with Farrakhan. The Nation of Islam leader just traveled to Tehran to celebrate the 1979 Islamic Revolution anniversary alongside Iranian President Rouhani. While unveiling a new military drone, Farrakhan blasted America for “tyranny.”
Racism-obsessed Americans, both in the Obama administration and Ivory Towers of university campuses, ought to re-think that narrative. It’s their own house they’re burning down.
And while Beyoncé’s has a right to free speech, Americans are similarly free to boycott her concerts. It’s refreshing to see police unions take a stand against her race-baiting shows in places like Tampa and Miami.
Lastly, as the free market inevitably takes its toll, Beyoncé’s star will fade. Perhaps the silver lining will be increased attention on heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen. Isn’t it better to fix America than help destroy it?
J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-2009. He is the former Chief Foreign Policy Adviser to presidential candidates, Gov. Mike Huckabee and corporate CEO Herman Cain.