Emancipation, not slavery, makes America unique
Emancipation, not slavery, makes America unique

Emancipation, not slavery, makes America unique

Jason Riley, opinion columnist for the CHAUTAUQUA – Wall Street Journal, is a fan of economist Thomas Sowell.

Both are articulated. No one pulls punches.

Focusing on his Aug. 8 “Advocates for Balance” presentation at Chautauqua or ABC on Sowell, Riley touched on big-city public charter schools, policing, voter identification. Laws, school choice, and critical race theory.

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“Today’s public schools, which often have low-income, predominantly black and Hispanic student groups,” Riley said, “are simply not doing a better job than traditional public schools serving the same demographics. In many cases, inner-city students outperform their peers in the wealthiest and whitest suburban school districts across the country. In New York City, for example, Success Academy charter schools have effectively narrowed the academic achievement gap between black and white students.”

“The educational success of these charter schools undermines theories of genetic determinism, … claims of cultural bias in testing, … claims that black students must sit next to white students to learn, (and) assumptions that differences in family income explain differences in education . results,” he said. Still, support for charter schools has waned among some who have “moved sharply left on education.”

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“Many of today’s activists operate under the assumption that the only real problem facing the black underclass is white racism. A good example of this is the recent focus on policing in black communities,” Riley said. “Are there racist cops? Absolute. Are some police officers abusing their authority? Of course. But are poorer black communities so violent because of racist cops or police brutality? And will reducing police resources improve the situation?”

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“If police use of deadly force is a problem … it’s clearly a secondary problem to civilians using deadly force against each other,” Riley said. “Young black men in Chicago, Baltimore or St. Louis, maybe every day they leave home worried they’re going to get shot, but not by a cop. Will cutting police resources really solve the problem? And is that what people living in high crime areas really want? Less police?”

Riley recalled a 2021 ballot measure in Minneapolis that “would have cut police funding and defunded the police.”

“Not only was the initiative thwarted. It was most strongly opposed by black residents of high-crime areas who want more police, not less. And black residents of Minneapolis are no exception here. They’re typical,” Riley said. “Efforts to defund the police are being led by activists and liberal elites who claim to speak for low-income minorities. But as the polls show, they mostly speak for themselves.”

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Distinguishing the beliefs of “most black people” from the beliefs of “most black intellectuals, most black elites,” Riley said, “Black intellectuals no more represent most blacks than white intellectuals represent most whites.” … Most blacks, for example, support voter identity. Laws and school choice, while most black elites are…opposed to these things. Instead, most blacks reject racial preferences in college admissions and … defunding the police, while black elites support these things.”

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Quoting two such people, he said: “If you think (they) represent the views of the majority of black people, you need to know more black people.”

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“Think about the current debate we have about critical race theory and racial propaganda in schools. These ideas were once relegated to college seminars. Now they are entering our workplaces through diversity training and entering our elementary schools through the New York Times’ Project 1619, which seeks to place the institution of slavery at the heart of America’s founding, which is absurd. Slavery has existed in societies around the world for thousands of years, long before the founding of the United States. More African slaves were sent to the Islamic world than to America. Slavery still exists today in parts of Africa,” Riley said. “What makes America unique is not slavery. It is emancipation. That’s how we went from slavery to Martin Luther King to a black president. The economic and social progress of black Americans in just a few generations is something historians have described as unparalleled in recorded history. This is what sets America apart.”

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Does this mean there is nothing left to do? Not at all, and Riley didn’t suggest otherwise.

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“These facts about slavery are known to serious thinkers, most historians, but where are those serious historians right now? A few have reached out,” Riley said. “But why are serious historians so afraid… The reason they are so afraid is… they will be called racists. They are labeled as sexist. It could harm her academic career. You could be fired. You could be deplatformed. Social media mobsters could be after them and so on.”

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ABC was founded in 2018. Its mission is to “achieve a balance of speakers in a mutually civil and respectful environment consistent with the historic mission of the Chautauqua institution.” ABC is a separate Section 501(c)(3) organization legally separate from the Institution.

Dr. Randy Elf’s August 20, 2020 ABC presentation titled “How Political Speech Law Benefits Politicians and the Rich” can be found at https://works.bepress.com/elf/21


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