Please stop helping us: How liberals make it harder for blacks to succeed | LIVE STREAM

Please stop helping us: How liberals make it harder for blacks to succeed | LIVE STREAM

OK. I think we’ll begin. Good
evening, everyone. I’m Robert Doar. I’m a resident scholar here at the American Enterprise
Institute. My focus is on poverty studies. And in addition to being new to AEI, I am
very new to this format, so I hope you’ll forgive me as I stumble through an interview
which I hope will be interesting and exciting. And then at some point we’ll open it up for
questions from the audience. We are very pleased today to have Jason Riley,
a longtime Wall Street Journal journalist and now a member of the editorial board of
the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the recent author of, “Please Stop Helping
Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.” He’s been, the book has had quite
a good run, I think. All in all, people have been paying attention to it, and if you Google
him or Google his appearances in the popular media, you’ll see that it’s gotten some nice
reception. It says a lot of provocative things, which
I’m not going to quote, but hard, strong, important things. Jason is against hiking
the minimum wage. He’s against affirmative action. He’s strong on crime and not pleased
with soft-on-crime approaches in African- American communities, and he’s pro-school
choice and for vouchers. And he says these things strongly. Just to give you a little hint, he says, for
instance, We are in the second decade of the 21st century and a black man has twice been
elected president in this country, where blacks are only 13 percent of the population. Yet
liberals continue to pretend that it’s still 1965. So, Jason, my first question is, well, how’s
it going? How has the reception been? How is the liberal and mainstream media receiving
you? And how’s it faring? Well, it depends on who specifically
you’re talking about on the left. I think the black elites are responding the way they
often do to black conservatives, which is either to ignore them or put them on the couch. So I’ve often joked that, you know, Justice
Scalia, as far as the left is concerned, is simply wrong or perhaps evil. But Justice
Thomas is a sellout, self-hating Uncle Tom. They psychoanalyze him. And so you get a lot
of that sort of ad hominem response from some on the left. Now, that’s when it comes to
the black elites, by and large. Among the black rank and file, I get a very
different perception, at least as far as I can judge the social media and taking calls
from -on talk radio and so forth. You get a you get a different response, where
I think the message, particularly the cultural arguments I make in the book, resonate in
the black community with parents, with ministers, with store owners, and so forth. I think they
agree that a lot of what’s been tried isn’t working, and they tell me about it. So the way that you answer that
question, it gets to me that it is a truism that liberals react more harshly to black
conservatives than they do to white conservatives. I’ve never been a white conservative.
(Laughter.) I couldn’t answer that. You’d have to ask but I am very much against seeing
blacks seeing themselves as victims, so I’d have to push back a little bit on that. All right. That’s right. I guess
if you answered yes to that then you’d be giving into that kind of rhetoric. So,
now, the president of the United States is a liberal, Democrat, and he is also a strong
family man, married, two children, lovely father, good husband, lovely wife. Do you
think that the cultural issues in America about single-parent families and raising kids
outside of marriage – do you think that he, just in that example, helps in this discussion? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And
from time to time, he does talk about these things, about growing up without a father
and the bad outcomes that result from that. He has spoken to black audiences very pointedly
about this, black college graduates and so forth, commencement addresses. Sometimes I
wish it’s all he would ever talk about, but, unfortunately, he weighs in on other
matters. But, no. I think this is something he does quite well. The problem and I think the reason he doesn’t
do it more often – and, by the way, Michelle Obama does it as well, they both do it, to
their credit- is because they get their heads handed to them by black elites from
the left. Your Michael Eric Dysons, your Tures, your whole MSNBC crowd does not like this
talk. You might recall when Bill Cosby weighed in on black culture some years ago, he got
slammed. He got slammed. And that’s generally what happens to you, no matter who you are
on the left or right. When you start talking about personal responsibility in the black
community, you are taking the focus off of white behavior, and that is not something
that the black left wants to allow, particularly the traditional black left in the civil rights
community, who have a vested interest in keeping the focus on white behavior, not black behavior. You know, I’m the – I said
in my introduction that I work in poverty. I was the commissioner of social services
in the city of New York. And the issue of non-marital births and the extent to which
too many children in America – black, white, Hispanic – are raised outside of two married
parent families makes it hard for social services professionals to help people as successfully
as they’d like to. And you talk about some of that in the book. You talk about culture
in the book. What do you think we could do as a country to turn the trend around on children
being raised in single-parent families? Well, it wasn’t always this
way. I believe as late as 1960, two out of three black kids grew up in two-parent homes
in this country. Today, more than 70 percent do not. It’s quite a turnaround in a relatively
short period of time. I think what public policymakers could do
– and this gets to the title of the book – it’s really what they can stop doing,
which is putting in place incentives that I think do not help in terms of encouraging
responsible child rearing, or even responsible child bearing. The central premise of this book is that blacks,
ultimately, must help themselves by developing the same attitudes and habits and behaviors
that other groups in America have developed in order to rise. And to the extent that a
government program or policy, however well intentioned, interferes with that self-development,
it’s ultimately doing more harm than good. So trying to replace the father in a home
with a government check may seem like a compassionate thing to do, but you are not encouraging that
group to develop a work ethic when you do that, which is ultimately what they must develop
in order to rise out of poverty and stay out of poverty. So, again, it’s what the government needs
to stop doing – stop pricing young blacks, inexperienced blacks out of the labor force
by increasing minimum wage laws; stop trapping them in failing schools by blocking school
choice. It’s what the government should stop doing that I focus on in the book. Now, you – when we came up on
the way up in the elevator, we were talking about another topic you’ve discussed in
writing. You wrote a book called “Let Them In,” about immigration. And sometimes you’ll
hear among some people that open immigration is detrimental to the job prospects of young
African-Americans in the cities. How do you react to that? You reacted to it on the way
up and I’d like to hear more on that. Yes. I pick the easy topics, the
ones that bring us together as a country: immigration and race. (Laughter.) I think
minimum wage laws are much more detrimental to black job prospects than immigrants. And
if you look at labor force participation rates and compare them to the varying levels of
immigration over the decades, you don’t see much change in black (labor ?) participation
rates. Blacks aren’t really competing for these jobs, and that’s get back to the
work ethic I think in black ghettoes, attitudes towards work, and a lack of stigma for not
having a job or not even attempting to look for one. You could also look at black unemployment
under Bush or Clinton, which was lower, even though we had more immigrants coming into
the country back then – a lot more immigrants, both legal and illegal, than we have today. So, again, economists like Richard Vedder,
Ohio University, and others have looked at immigration trends over the entire 20th century
and found that lower levels of unemployment are associated with higher levels of immigration.
I’m just not someone who sees U.S. labor markets as a fixed pie, as a zero-sum game.
An immigrant coming here to take one job does not mean one fewer job for you and me. It’s
not a static situation as I see our labor markets. The immigration discussion and your
current role at the Wall Street Journal, not that the Wall Street Journal plays a big role
in the immigration debate or has a strong position on the immigration debate, reminds
me of my position here with our president, Arthur Brooks. He is often saying conservatives
need to make peace with the safety net. And we need to understand that relief is going
to be a necessary ingredient of providing assistance to people that are struggling.
Now, there may be other elements. And I wanted to ask you, in the anti-poverty fight, what
are some things that you would do? And do you accept that relief has to be available? I think I don’t have a problem
with the safety net per se, but we have to be very careful about putting the wrong incentives
in place. I’m also very hesitant of attempting another huge wealth redistribution scheme
in the aim of helping the black core. That’s what the Great Society program was in essence.
And the black white poverty divide is wider today than it was in 1960. Black poverty is
no longer falling in this country. So the idea that we need yet another huge
wealth redistribution scheme on the left, it’s slavery reparations- if we cut
everyone a check, we’ll do something. I just don’t buy it. I’ll give you a statistic
a lot of people aren’t familiar with: the black poverty rate among married couples in
America is in the single digits, and has been for 20 years. There’s your anti-poverty
program: get married before you have kids. So, you know, I worked in welfare
reform, so the famous Clinton TANF legislation, all the way back in 1996, passed and changed
welfare as we know it. One element of it was a kind of new paternalism in that offices
like the ones I’ve run gave a lot of instruction and guidance and sanction for failure to comply
with appointments and work requirements and workfare. You’ll be happy to know that
Mayor de Blasio is rolling all of that back as we speak. Yeah. Yeah. I’m thrilled by that,
I assure you. In the name of compassion. Yeah. Well, the question is, is
that’s a government intervention and that’s a relief linked to responsibility. Does that
make you a little more comfortable with programs for the poor designed to help them but in
a better way? Of course. I think there is a right
way to do this and a wrong way to do it. Open-ended welfare benefits don’t help people develop
a work ethic, but time limits do. And we know that works because we had welfare reform not
only coming out of Washington, but we know what Giuliani did, we know what Bloomberg
continued to do not only in New York, but in other large cities. And we saw welfare
rolls shrink as a result. So, you know, you give people an incentive to get a job, you
get more people looking for jobs. Yeah. I just think it’s
about getting it right. Again, it’s not an aversion to a safety net per se. Or aversion to assistance to-
(inaudible). No. No. Yeah. OK. There are limits. I mean, there
are limits to what the government can do to help, beyond providing a leveled playing field.
This is another mentality that comes- that came out of the Great Society program
where Johnson said, you know, equality of opportunity is not enough. We need equality
of results, which you’re never going to find- not here, not anywhere, not ever.
But that has become the goal. And then, in the absence of that, to assume something’s
wrong, the government isn’t doing all it can so it needs to tip the scales a little
bit here or a little bit there. That’s where we get into trouble, that sort of social
engineering. I mean, all the job programs, all the job
training programs in the world aren’t going to help if a group doesn’t have a work
ethic. School vouchers aren’t going to work if a group doesn’t value education.
So it does- in some sense, what I get at the book- come back to cultural attitudes,
anti-social, counterproductive cultural attitudes in the black community that don’t get enough
attention because that’s not where the black leadership wants to focus matters. OK. So let’s pursue that a little
because I’m familiar with that in my own way, and it’s not in the same way that
you are, I recognize, in that I ran an agency that was 75 percent minority, mostly Democrat,
all labor union members. And they all had come into work because they saw an opportunity
to work in social services. I ran the welfare agency in New York City. But I found that the people that I had working
on the front line were some of the most conservative welfare policy thinkers you could find. They
believed in responsibility. They believed in work. They believed in family. They believed
in people having to step up. So in that little culture of our office place- not just
me, but my predecessor, Jason Turner, who worked for Mayor Giuliani, we were able to
turn the culture of our office to be strongly supportive of the kinds of things you’re
talking about. And the people that were in that culture were African-American, Hispanic
New Yorkers. And I’m not patting myself on the back- or maybe I am- but my question is, can that kind of shift among people change
in the country at large? You’ve mentioned a couple of times black leaders. So do we
need more black leaders saying things the way you do that will help shift that and would
that do it? I don’t know if leaders need
to be black per se. You know, one of the best charter school networks in New York City is
run by a white woman, Eva Moskowitz, who I’m sure you’re familiar
with. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a black leader. I mean, her students are 80,
90 percent black, low income, free and reduced lunch qualified. She’s doing wonders with
this group that the left likes to blame for the failure of the public education system.
She’s showing it’s not the kids. It’s the schools. She’s producing the same scores
in Harlem that you’re getting in Scarsdale. So I just think blacks in general deserve
a better leadership, political leadership, better social policies, but I don’t care
who’s promoting them, the skin color of the person promoting them. I just want to
see results. And, right now, the policies that are being tried on behalf of helping
blacks clearly are not working. I think it’s a very poor track record. Well, you know, that’s- glad you mentioned Eva Moskowitz because she also showed that she knew how to use political
power and the very people you’re talking about, parents and families of the kids in
those schools. And when she did, it turned the tide back in her favor. So, in a way,
that’s a really great example of a possibility – it was the first time I had seen in a
long time a mobilization of African- American families in New York City against the hardcore,
mainstream Democratic Party, because that’s what de Blasio represented in his efforts
to roll back charter schools. So that- I think you’re right. There’s a sign
of hope there that results do matter. And people, when they see better results, will
turn their opinions around. It’s also an example of the
disconnect between the black elites and the black rank and file. Education policy in general,
as you know, the black left is allying themselves with the teachers unions who put the needs
of their members ahead of the needs of the kids, and this has been going on for a long
time, this alliance. You know, you go back to the busing wars of the 1970s. NAACP wants
these black kids put on buses. Of course, their kids weren’t the ones on the buses,
but the black parents wanted the schools in the neighborhood. You had a divide back there today. You mentioned
President Obama. Since the day he entered the office, he’s been trying to shut down
the voucher program here in Washington. This Justice Department is trying to shut down
one in Louisiana. He claims he wants higher graduation rates, higher college attendance.
There’s empirical data out there showing that vouchers produce both. Yet he opposes
them, not because vouchers don’t work but because he has a political need to do so because
of the Democrats’ alliance with the teachers unions. So there is this huge disconnect between
the people who claim to speak on behalf of the interest of the black core and what the
black core actually want and need. I’ll give you another example in New York
City. Wal-Mart’s been trying to build a store in a depressed neighborhood in Brooklyn
for years. Black leadership, political, civil rights initiative sides with the unions. We
don’t want Wal-Mart to build that store because they won’t use union labor. So
here you have the black elites who’d rather people in these communities stay unemployed
than work at a Wal-Mart. So affirmative action. Your book
is very strongly opposed to any kind of affirmative action based on race. And you raise the issue- you say going forward, defenders of affirmative action will have to explain why blacks deserve
preference over Asians to address past behavior of whites. And that’s an issue for New
Yorkers that’s very common. I once- I was sitting next to a woman
who was probably liberal and I was talking to her at something. And she told me about
the makeup of the kids in Stuyvesant, the most selective public school in New York City,
or one of the most selective public schools in New York City. And she said, only 2 percent
of all the kids in Stuyvesant are minorities. And I looked at her, and I said, Asians are
not minorities? And she said, oh, I didn’t mean that. But my question to you on that is you also
point out that Asian-American leaders or Asian immigrant leaders have not broken, or seem
to be more likely to be aligned with Democrats or with pro-affirmative action constituency
groups. What causes that? Why is that? And do you think that will change- is that
going to change as time goes on? Well, I’d be careful. I think
the argument is that Asian civil rights organizations have typically aligned with their black and
Hispanic counterparts. And the question is when that may end. And we had an example of some tension in California
recently where the Democrats had the super-majority in the state legislature and a Democratic
governor in Jerry Brown, and were starting to just grab anything off the shelf and push
it through while they had the numbers to do so. And they got the idea of trying to roll
back the ban on affirmative action in college admissions- racial preferences in college
admissions to the University of California system. And a number of Asian lawmakers said,
oh, no, no, no. We get hurt disproportionately when we move away from a meritocracy. It’s
our kids who get hurt. You know, there may not be a fixed number of jobs in America,
but there are a fixed number of slots at elite school freshmen classes. And Asians dominate
in a lot of these schools when it comes to filling those slots. And so when you start moving away from test
scores and GPA and class rank to more subjective measures, Asians get hurt, and they pushed
back. And I can see this happening quite a bit more going forward as the number of Asian
population in the U.S. rises. But Asians complicate a lot of arguments made
on the left with regard to racism as an all-purpose explanation for black outcomes, whether it’s
lending- claims made by the left that banks loan to- don’t loan to blacks
at the same rates as they loan to whites but they don’t loan to whites at the same rates
that they loan to Asians and no one accuses the banks of being anti-white. You look at
school suspension rates, where blacks are suspended at a higher rate than whites. Well,
whites are suspended at a higher rate than Asians but no one calls the school suspension
outcomes anti-white. But Asians tend to complicate things for the black left when it comes to
these discussions. So one of the- for those of
you who haven’t read book, one of the best parts about the book is Jason talks about
his one personal life growing up I believe in Western New York or Buffalo? Yes, Buffalo, which is in-
(inaudible). Yeah. One mistake- (inaudible)
– I do know that. New York City guys, I know. You
can’t really That’s right. All- All right. Well, that’s another
story. So how did this happen? How did Jason Riley become a black conservative? Well, I didn’t grow up in a
particularly political household where we sat around discussing these things at the
dinner table. I guess it started late in high school, when I had to start reading newspapers
for a class or something like that, current events, and started reading our local paper
which would run- had a pretty lively editorial page and op-ed page where I’d read columnists
like Charles Krauthammer and George Will and William Safire, alongside columnists like
William Raspberry and Carl Rowan and Alan Goodman and the like. And I- one side
made more sense to me than the other. And it probably started there. I came from
a very religious home so one of the cultural conservatives. Most probably- the groundwork
was probably laid there with the churchgoing and spending so much time around the congregation.
Then, in college, I discovered people like Tom Sowell and Shelby Steele and Walter Williams.
And that’s when I think my thinking on this really started to evolve. And you feel that you have an adequate
ability to get your views out, that the Wall Street Journal editorial page is a good place
to be published? Oh, certainly. Certainly. It’s
been a lot of fun. You get a lot of exposure. I’m also a Fox News contributor so I get
on television and get to talk about some of these things there. The social media- the fragmentation of
our viewing habits has really hit home when I started promoting this book because under
my Fox contract, I’m only supposed to appear on Fox unless I’m promoting a book. Then
I can appear on other networks. I started exploring this window of opportunity and going
on NBC, CNN, and C-SPAN, and the rest. And you walk off the set, and the social media
is so polarizing; you’re either a genius or a pond scum. There’s nothing in between- nothing. It’s immediate. The response is immediate and fierce. And it’s a-
it was quite an eye-opener. I mean, I’d read these studies about how
people watch what they want to hear and- I mean, I did Meet the Press once
and I walked off the set- I mean, I’ve been doing television 15 years. I walked off
the Meet the Press set; I got an e-mail from someone I hadn’t heard from in a decade.
Oh, you do TV? I mean, either you watch Fox or you don’t. Either you watch CNN or you
don’t. And, I mean, my wife and I sit around flipping, but I guess a lot of people don’t
do that. And that’s sort of troubling
really because that- I mean, we’re not hearing- Americans aren’t hearing
enough- they’re hearing only what they want to hear and not something different.
Now, the middle of rolling out a book or actually a little bit afterwards, of course, we’ve
had what’s happened in Ferguson, Missouri. And I wanted to ask you about your reaction
to that just generally and your reaction to the reaction to that. OK. Whenever we have these flare-ups,
whether it’s a Ferguson or a Trayvon Martin, my concern is that we start having discussions
but they’re the wrong discussions. They’re discussions really on what I would consider
side issues that don’t really get at the underlying problem. So we start talking about
gun control or racial profiling or tensions between the black community and the police
or unemployment and poverty in these communities. But what I think what is underlying episodes
like that is black criminality in America. It is the black crime rate. Blacks are about
13 percent of the population. They commit about half of all murders in this country.
Blacks are arrested at two to three times their numbers in the population for all manner
of violent crime, all manner of property crime. Until we solve that problem, until we get
at that racial disparity in crime rates, there’s going to be tension between the black community
and police. There’s going to be racial profiling. Young black men are going to be perceived
a certain way so long as those crime statistics are what they are today. If you want to get
at those perceptions, if you want to get at that tension in the black community, you need
to get at the behavior that is driving those perceptions. And that is not the conversation
we tend to have when these things happen. We start talking about- do cops value
black lives? Does America value black lives? Well, given that half of the murders are committed
by blacks and 90 percent of their victims are other blacks, shouldn’t we first be
asking if the black thugs in these communities value black lives? Am I supposed to hold whites
to a higher standard than I hold blacks when it comes to valuing black lives? So I want to have the right conversation.
I want to talk about black criminality, personal responsibility, and I don’t want to fob
it off on, oh, it’s racism. It’s a racist criminal justice system. The black incarceration
rate in 1960 was lower than it is today. Was there less racism in 1960? The black crime
rate in the 1940s and 1950s was lower than it is today. Was there less racism that time?
These are dodges, and I don’t think we want to have the conversation that
needs to be had if we’re ever going to get at addressing the underlying problem. Now, I did hear you on
one of the shows, however, say that if the action by the police officer in this case
or any other case was an example of bad policing or criminal behavior that the process should
be followed- Sure. and seen through.
So you’re not ignoring the possibility that in the particular instance- No, I said if excessive
force was used, they should prosecute it. But let’s not pretend- (laughs) Yeah, OK. that the black homicide
rate is what it is because cops are shooting black people. It’s because other black
people are shooting black people. The cops are not the problem. The cops are in these
communities because that’s where the 911 calls originate. I was talking to- You’re there trying
to protect the law-abiding residents of these communities. And that’s where my sympathies
lie- with the law-abiding residents in these communities, who are the majority of
these communities. I mean, we had- we got into this discussion about the over-militarization
of the response. Do you know- we sent the First Airborne Division into Little Rock- (laughs) to handle segregation of schools. Were the same people today complaining
about the over-militarization of Ferguson complaining about Little Rock in 1950s and
the response there by the federal government? So let’s turn to-
since you brought up Little Rock, let’s talk about the history of civil rights movement
and the Voting Rights Act. It’s also something that you cover in your book. One of the things
that you talk a lot about is the extent to which what happened in the 1960s with regard
to the civil rights movement, I think you used the phrase, was liberalism at its best. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I
think it was. The freedom riders, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, what those guys
were doing, I think, made America more just for everyone. And I think we can all be proud
of what was accomplished. The issue is what has arisen from the ruins of Jim Crow in terms
of public policy going forward to help low-income blacks in particular. Right, but I’m sticking
on the South for a minute. You talked a little bit about the changing political dynamic in
the South, in the old South states- Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama- and indicated that the
decision by the court to overturn the preclearance in the Voting Rights Act- Oh, yeah. Well, the-
this is of a piece with the civil rights movement’s attempt to pretend it’s still 1960 in order
to maintain relevance. I mean, one of the arguments I make in the book, you know, people
complain about the quality of black leadership today, but I see it as a sort of sign of progress.
I mean, if- because people like Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King and others
handled the serious business more than half a century ago. I mean, if blacks are still being
disenfranchised, if legal segregation still exists, I think, you know, the best and brightest
of the black community would come to the fore and go fight those things. But those battles
have been fought and won. And so you’re left with sort of second and third-tier types
today, running around the country, trying to pretend that nothing’s changed because
we’ve still got a Donald Sterling out there. And it looks a little ridiculous, but I think
it is a sign of some progress. With respect to the South’s change,
one of the things I point to is that- and this is in the realm of politics-
the black voter turnout rate in 2012 was higher than the white voter turnout rate. A lot of
people missed that. In 2008, Barack Obama outperformed both John Kerry in ’92 and
Al Gore in 2000 in Texas, Georgia, and the OK, I’m going to finish.
Before I open it up, I just- I want to, again, ask you to- that’s a progress
positive note, but what more leads you to be hopeful about changing these issues concerning
poverty or the culture or black leadership? Is there anything else besides the appearance
of your book? I mean, is there something that we can hold on to and the build on to- Well, I mentioned Eva
Moskowitz, who runs a charter network up in Harlem. And the school choice movement, I
think, is a real beacon of hope for me. I think getting these kids a decent education
is extremely important. I think as these charter schools succeed, they’ll develop a critical
mass of graduates and people who will support them and promote them going forward, because
it’s their personal experience in dealing with them. So there’ll be sort of a critical
mass of support for them going forward. And I’m very hopeful there with that development.
We know these kids can learn, if given the opportunity. And this movement is proving
that and it continues to grow. I’d like to see more voucher programs
out there. But I think we’ll get there, but right now, the charter movement does seem
to be a viable alternative to failing public schools. And I think it’s a very hopeful
sign, of course. While I’m on that, the
recent flurry of activity among prominent conservatives and Republicans, especially
those who might be running for president on poverty issues- Paul Ryan, Marco
Rubio as a conservative, how do you respond to those? Does that worry you as being a little
squishy, or do you think there’s some merit there? Well, as a- do you
mean as a sort of form of black outreach by Republicans? Yes. Or just, or- well,
I think- I often get asked why more blacks don’t vote Republican, given the poor track
record of Democrats in terms of these outcomes in the black community. And one reason, I’d
argue, is that Republicans don’t do a lot of black outreach. You have exceptions. You
had Jack Kemp back in the 1980s. You had Richard Riordan, Los Angeles mayor. You have
Chris Christie in New Jersey and in his reelection bid he did go into Camden and places like
that, and I think it paid off in terms of the black vote. Now, you have Paul Ryan doing
some of this traveling around with Bob Woodson and other people like that, introducing themselves
to these communities. I’m hopeful they’ll continue
to do that. But to date, they’re really exceptions to the rule. And I don’t ascribe
racial animus to that. I think the issue primarily is a sort of political pragmatism. The Republican
Party doesn’t feel it needs the black vote to win. And until it does, I don’t expect
to see a lot of Republicans courting black voters. Time spent courting one group is time
not spent courting another group. Right now, we’re having this huge
debate in the GOP over the Latino vote and whether Republicans can win elections going
forward without more Hispanic voters. There’s no such discussion going on about the black
vote in the GOP right now to my knowledge. And again, I don’t think you’ll see
that until Republican feel they need these voters going forward. OK. All right, so let’s
open it up to any questions from the audience. I’m going to point to you and then someone’s
going to bring you a mike. And we’re big fans of questions or statements in the form
of questions. And we have one right here, gentleman in the front row, over here, right
there. Thank you, Claire. Thank you. Mr. Riley, I appreciate
your comments very much. I’m Bruce Greenberg from Brinkmann Publishing. You mentioned several
times the gap between black left leadership and the rank and file. So the question for
me is, why hasn’t the political process helped make that gap less? Why haven’t
black entrepreneurs, black political entrepreneurs sought to displace those people? That’s a good question.
One of the arguments in the book is that the left has made blacks overreliant on the government.
And that’s both in terms of jobs, post office workers, your military personnel, civil
service jobs, and so forth. And then, you have an overreliance in terms of
handouts, welfare benefits, food stamps, or what have you. But it is an overreliance on
government per se, a feeling that big government is good for blacks. And they hold on to the
black vote that way. They like that status quo. We’re the party that gives you things.
And the black community, I think, has been taken in by that. But it’s not only the
black poor that have that mentality. I was speaking to a group of very
accomplished blacks- a black graduate fraternity – a couple of months ago. And
about 40 men, all Stanford graduates and law partners and doctors and engineers and so
forth, room full of them. And we started talking about affirmative action. Some of these guys
are second, third generation college graduates, convinced that they’re where they are because
of affirmative action. I mean, the left has done a brilliant job of convincing blacks
that these government programs have produced the outcomes we see today in terms of the
size of the black middle class. And I said to them, you know, the
data on affirmative action does not suggest what you think it suggests. When the University
of California system ended affirmative action, in 1996, black college graduation rates increased
by more than 50 percent, including in the more difficult disciplines like math and science
and engineering. Again, by more than 50 percent. So a policy that had been in place to increase
the black college graduate ranks, the size of the black middle class, was in fact producing
fewer black doctors and lawyers and engineers and dentists than we otherwise would have
had in the absence of this policy. And the reaction was just – it
was shocking. No, no, no, no, no, it can’t be. How’s that possible? I said, well,
there’s a mismatching problem that occurs with affirmative action. Kids are funneled
in to schools where they’re overmatched in terms of the workload, and they subsequently
often switch to an easier major or drop out of school altogether. And that’s what was
happening. And once that stopped happening, because you couldn’t take racism to account,
more blacks were attending more schools where they could do the work and more were subsequently
graduating. So it’s interesting that you have
this mentality that there’s this – and not to mention the fact that prior to the
implementation of affirmative action policies in the 9270s, you had blacks entering the
professions at a faster rate than you did in the decades following the implementation
of affirmative action policies. That history, too, is completely lost on them and lost on
a lot of people, which is one of the reasons I put it in the book. But my point is that
you have this overreliance on government as a solution, as a friend to the black community.
You have that among a lot of blacks, whether you’re talking about lower-income blacks
or even in many cases higher-income blacks. OK, way in the back, gentleman
with the blue jacket. Nick Hahn, RealClearPolitics,
RealClearReligion. I’m curious -you’re referencing the black criminality and the
black behavior as sort of the animus for this. You’ve written elsewhere that there’s
even a more underlying problem and I’d like to get your comments on that, is the breakup
of the black family and the precipitous decline of the black family. So I’d like to hear
your comments on that. Well, yeah, I think we
spoke to this a little earlier, but I mentioned the statistic that as late as 1960, two out
of three black kids were raised in two-parent homes, and today more than 70 percent are
not. And the social science on the bad outcomes associated with not having a black man in
the home, I mean the social science is pretty clear and pretty voluminous on this. The outcomes
in terms of teen pregnancy and drug use, involvement with the criminal justice system, just dropping
out of school, you just go down the list of bad outcomes associated with absent fathers,
and that’s what you have in the black community as the norm these days. And I think that is
a huge problem. You saw the looting in Ferguson. You see these wilding episodes all around
the country. It’s black criminality. It’s this warped sense in the black community of
what it means to be black, what it means to be a man, the whole acting white phenomenon,
the anti-intellectual stream. One episode I related in the book
involves my niece, back in Buffalo. I went home to see her. This had to be some 20 years
ago. She was maybe seven or eight years old. And having a conversation with her and her
little friend before dinner one night, and she stops me midsentence and says, “Uncle
Jason, why do you talk white?” She said – turned to her little friend and said,
“Doesn’t my uncle sound white? Why is he trying to sound so smart?” Seven-, eight-year-old
little girl associating race with intelligence and knowing enough, even at that age, how
not to sound if you don’t want to be made fun of. She’s going to make a conscious
effort to speak broken English. She’s seven years old. And then we wonder why black kids
are graduating, black 17-year-olds are reading and doing math at the level of white 13-year-olds? It starts at a very young age. It’s
cultural. Kids who raise their hands in class, who are bookish, who are nerdish, get made
fun of, get beat up, get harassed. This is one of the reasons that drives me crazy, this
whole anti-black suspension movement that Obama and Duncan have been pushing in our
public schools, trying to pressure schools into racial parity in suspension rates, regardless
of who’s doing the bullying. How are you helping the kids who are in school to learn
by going easy on the bullies? And why would we expect to see racial parity in suspension
rates in schools anyway? Do we see them outside of school? Do you see racial parity in the
prison system? Do you think this bad behavior just starts after the kids leave school? So again, all in an effort to help.
They’re trying to help. They see these disparities in outcomes and it’s so sad.
And there must be something wrong in what we’re doing if we have these disparities.
But they won’t talk about what’s really driving those disparities, which are certain
values and sensibilities and habits and attitudes within these black ghettos that is producing
these outcomes. And that’s the conversation we need to have in this country. OK, right in the middle
there, the gentleman. Hi. My name is Kenneth (Rothschild
?). It’ss not everything that you discuss that bothers me. What bothers me is if –
and the liberals do this, too. It’s like if you frame everything in this old style,
we never get real solutions. For example, if I listen to what you said, the projection
was that all this crime in the ghetto, these bad habits and bad culture. That’s a small
percentage of people, too. A lot of that crime is very small percentage. And we’re not – It’s what I said. I
said the majority of people in these communities are law-abiding. I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t
remember that part. OK, but what I’m saying it persists in the same old, same old, is
that the people that aren’t making it are living off the dole and that’s all they
want to do. The economy and the nature of the economy and the jobs available to people
to pull themselves out by the bootstraps has changed. And that’s part of the discussion,
too. And I just would appreciate your comments on that because – That’s a good question.
How about a comment? It’s changed for everyone.
Why is it disproportionately harming blacks? (Off mic.)
Do blacks operate in a different economy than whites and Asians? (Off mic.) Can you elaborate on that? I don’t know if they – (off mic.)
Yeah, let’s do that. One of the big issues with affirmative
action is the whole question of class- based affirmative action, you know, which some people
have talked about and also what about – the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, raised
the whole question of driving while black and how some African-Americans are disproportionately
treated badly by police. Could you talk about that as well? So that’s two questions.
One was on income-based and class-based affirmative action. No, I’m not a fan of class based
either. Either we’re going to treat people as individuals or not. And once you get away
from that and start with the social engineering, I just think it’s a very slippery slope.
And so no, I would not be in favor of trying to move to a class-based system, either. And the whole idea of trying to solve
this problem at the college level to me is a little ridiculous. If you look at our K-12
education system and the inequities there in terms of quality of schools, why would
you expect – what are you going to solve all this freshman year I the college with
a few remedial classes? I just – I don’t – I don’t – and the second part,
the driving while black- I can just – trust me, it is not that hard to avoid getting
shot by cops. It really is not that hard. It’s much more difficult for these young
black men to avoid getting shot by other young black men in the community. There’s a much
higher chance of that happening, an exponentially higher chance of that happening. (Off mic.) If – well, I’m declining
to try and litigate this in the press. I don’t know all the facts. I do know that the cops
in these communities are not the problem. People complain about these communities being
over-policed, but, again, they’re there because that’s where the 9/11 calls originate.
That’s why the cops are there. Jason, can I ask you a
question about statistics, just interrupt that. And then I’m going to have – you’re
going to have the last question, OK? You talked earlier about a disparity in outcomes between
households with two parents and versus single parents – married households, including
within the black community. I think at one point you said this. When we talk about outcomes
for children or outcomes for Americans, what do you think if we focus more on those disparities
between the black or white, Hispanic, were you raised – are you in a household with
two married parents versus not, and then see how those two different groups do in schools
or with criminal justice. Does that make it a little – well, certainly less racial
and more about parenting and how to successfully raise children? Well, I mean, I discuss
in the racial context because I think it’s of a piece with other cultural problems. If
– there are some white women out there and some black women out there who, if they
decide to have a child out of wedlock, they’re going to be fine and the kids are going to
be fine. But chances are that is not the case in the ghetto because of so many other issues
going on in the community. So it’s – I don’t divorce the problem from race in
my discussion of it in this book. I can understand why you might want to do that as a sort of
academic exercise, but in the context that I’m discussing it here, I think it’s
a of a piece with certain behaviors and attitudes towards marriage and fatherhood. Which are not only in the
black community. Bill Cosby said, you know,
pull up your pants, finish school, take care of your kids. Those shouldn’t be fighting
words on the left, but they are. That’s blaming the victim. That’s condescending.
That’s talking down to people. You can’t state – we all know, everyone in this room
knows the stepping stones to the middle class: education, hard work, delayed gratification.
Those are not the cultural values of the ghetto, and that’s got to change if you want to
change these outcomes. One last question. (Off mic.) Nothing can do what good
parenting can do. That’s the problem. And I think those outcomes you’re describing
in preschool kids have a lot to do with the parenting they get between birth and entering
school – the size of their vocabulary, their attention span, and so forth. And again,
that gets back – that gets back to responsible child bearing and responsible parenting. And I don’t know – I don’t
have the solutions and this book certainly doesn’t pretend to have the solutions,
but I think we have a good 50 years of Great Society programs to look at to see what does
not work. And I focus on stopping – (laughs) – no longer doing what we know doesn’t
work. And I think that is the beginning of getting at the solution. In terms of people moving out of
-you know, climbing socioeconomically, I think you’re going to find that among
all groups. And I don’t have a problem with that per se. The problem in the black
community is the cycle, this generational cycle of not rising. And that’s a persistent
problem, the cycle of dependency, generations of welfare use and so forth. It’s not a
temporary situation for a lot of black families to be in this situation, and then move out
or to have their children move out. What we’re seeing is generation after generation after
generation, and that to me is the real problem. OK, thank you very much.
I hope you’ll thank Jason, our guest. (Applause.) I feel a little bit like saying, and so what
do we have for our guests, but I know that’s not what I want to say. Are we having a little
gathering here now? There’s a reception, so we welcome all to the reception. Thank
you. (END)

36 thoughts on “Please stop helping us: How liberals make it harder for blacks to succeed | LIVE STREAM

  1. @American Enterprise Institute Does Mr Riley have a website or place he would be comfortable with me contacting him that youre able to disclose?

  2. Guys, is it me, or is it starting to look like Black Americans make the best conservatives?

    The White man talks a good game, but the mask is prone to slip on occasion. I'm reminded, for example, of one of our most erudite 20th century conservatives, Bill Buckley, threatening to punch Gore Vidal in the face.

    How about we strike a deal… You get a proper Black man in the White House, we get a White Bill Cosby?

  3. this man Jason Riley is the same (sambo) uncle tom… on the plantation, do your own research people… these Europeans will not invite people like: Dr. Chancellor Williams, Dr. I Barashango, Booker T Coleman, Ashra Kwesi, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. William Mackey, Dr. Yosef Jochannan Ben, Dr. Claud Anderson, Dr. Blair, John G. Jackson, Runoko Rashidi, Dr Ray Hagins, Irritated Genie, Dr. Richard D. King, Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Dr. Amos Wilson, Omali Yeshitela and many others

  4. Strange remarks about immigration. One of the aspects of immigration that is over looked is the demoralizing and disincentivization of the American workers to the point that they no longer either bother to look for work or have lost their work ethic. Currently, the white working class is realizing this is happening to them, thus their support for Trump. For black America this demoralizing and disincentivization really took hold strongly with the advent of welfare (1960's) and later the impact of immigration and deindustrialization (around the late 1970's). For him to talk about the immigration levels under Bush is misleading. At this time the blacks were already long gone from the job market.

  5. It seems the average person does not understand the concept of proportions, nor why proportionate is not always the same as fair or good.

  6. he looks like bubbles from Trailer park boys had a baby with tucker carlson and ate led paint chips his whole life

  7. I believe Jason is right. I believe without doubt that God is the answer to societal ills and injustice. It starts with the individual to be responsible and to help those who are truly powerless. We can do our individual part by changing ourselves turn to God. satan is behind this tribalism and division. Tell the truth always. Which usually is going against popular opinion and will sometimes it will come at a high price.

  8. any time a black man stands up and talks about the failures of blacks (at the hands of blacks) he is called a sell out and uncle tom.  At some point (as in TODAY) blaming the white man for your (black people) failures in life just make you look weak and incapable of bringing about your own salvation.

  9. Too many of my Black Bros. won't listen to this man because he sounds like a puss. Thomas Sowell has the deep Grandaddy voice we need.

  10. They don't want black or white people below the poverty line to succeed. As soon as you start to succeed, you come to realize that it's mostly Republican ideals of less government intervention and true American capitalization that allow one to build his/her own future built upon hard work and the ability to start a small buisness as opposed to sucking up to the liberal tit and plantation welfare entrapment built upon the victimization doctrine and seperation politics.


  12. I see Jason Riley, I think Huzzah! He and Paris Dennard are the two most underrated voices from black (younger gen) conservative men. I'd love from him to run for Congress.

  13. White Liberals want to help because down deep they think we can't cope. I became a stronger person because the playing field wasn't level.

  14. Riley pushes the false assumption that all American Blacks failures are completely self-created! SOME Black failures are indeed self-created! However, many Black failures are the direct result current actual white racism in employment! Riley carefully omits all reference to the existence and effects of actual white racism in employment and elsewhere! He pretends that white racism is nonexistent!

  15. A modern day Tom is right, he believes truly that republicans are righteous and “fair”. He’s everything his white oppressor is and everything whites are against, he’s the constant negro.

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