"Why is it that the black crime rate fifty years ago, when you could honestly say that black people were oppressed, was much lower than it is today?" Mr. Right asked the room rhetorically. A rhetorical question, in this case, means that he rather than we would provide the answer.
That didn't stop me from asking what the black crime rate was fifty years ago. I honestly didn't know, but I wanted to know whether he had facts behind him or was just making an assumption.
He didn't have specific statistics to give me, but the question inspired a litany of categories, from employment rate to graduation rate, in which he claimed that blacks performed better fifty or more years ago. Then he repeated the question: why are blacks worse off now?
The answer: "White liberals." White liberals in the schools and the media, he claimed, had relentlessly demoralized black youth by telling them that they could not succeed on their own because of the pervasive racism in society. As a result, he presumed, blacks too often opt for welfare dependency or crime.
"Can you cite specific white liberals?" I asked, "Do you have any direct quote where a white liberal says outright that black people can't succeed on their own?"
He said he did, but I'm compelled to notice that he's been in no hurry to produce them.
Mr. Right was in a defensive mood because it had been insinuated that the President's race had something to do with Mr. Right's opposition to him. To an extent that charge is unfair, but as a matter of probability Mr. Right is likely to oppose most black politicians because most of them are liberals or further to the left. I'm satisfied that he doesn't believe in black inferiority, but to the extent that the black political class has an affinity for "progressive" policies, Mr. Right will again find himself opposing most black politicians. He has argued that there's no reason that blacks should automatically be liberals. He's tried to argue from history that blacks should support Republicans because the GOP had been their friend from the time of Lincoln through the early 1960s, while the Democrats had opposed him from the days of Confederate sympathies to the resistance of white southerners to the civil rights bills -- neglecting the fact that the parties switched sides more than 40 years ago. He also points out that Obama's supposed political mentors (Bill Ayers, etc.) are almost all white, so that the President's alleged extremism has nothing to do with his race. But the fact remains that, so long as the overwhelming majority of black voters lean to the left, to oppose liberalism or the Democratic party is to oppose black people, and Mr. Right should not be surprised if some people see it that way. He can be offended, but not surprised. But if he's going to say that blacks lean left because they've been brainwashed by wicked white folks, then we can be offended.