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Bill Cosby isn't backing down amid criticism of his recent blunt comments

about black youth culture, the Associated Press reports (racial slur

redacted by AP):

Cosby made headlines in May when he upbraided some poor blacks for their

grammar and accused them of squandering opportunities the civil rights

movement gave them. He shot back Thursday, saying his detractors were trying

in vain to hide the black community's "dirty laundry."

"Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30

every day, it's cursing and calling each other n------ as they're walking up

and down the street," Cosby said during an appearance at the Rainbow/PUSH

Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund's annual conference.

"They think they're hip," the entertainer said. "They can't read; they can't

write. They're laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere."

Jesse Jackson, head of Rainbow/PUSH, defended Cosby: "Bill is saying let's

fight the right fight, let's level the playing field. Drunk people can't do

that. Illiterate people can't do that."

It strikes us that this may be a culturally and politically significant

moment. Cosby's and Jackson's lack of inhibition about airing "dirty

laundry" suggests a realization on their part that, 40 years after the

passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, white racism in America has

dwindled into relative insignificance.

Today, we'd venture to say, most whites understand that the problems Cosby

describes are cultural rather than racial in nature. Well, except for white

liberals schooled in outdated politically correct notions about race. We

don't know if AP reporter Don Babwin is white, but the first two paragraphs

of his dispatch capture the mindset perfectly:

Bill Cosby went off on another tirade against the black community Thursday,

telling a room full of activists that black children are running around not

knowing how to read or write and "going nowhere."

He also had harsh words for struggling black men, telling them: "Stop

beating up your women because you can't find a job."

The idea is that blacks are victims, not responsible for their own problems

because (though the AP doesn't make this point explicit) bigoted whites are

their oppressors. This was true for most of America's history, of course,

but to act as if it still is, is to deny the accomplishments of the civil

rights movement. (For an example from someone who definitely is white, see

our June 17 item <http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110005230> about

John Kerry saying of black criminals that "it's not their fault" they're in

prison.)

The notion that white racism remains the major impediment to black progress

is one of two pillars on which black loyalty to the Democratic Party rests.

(The other is enthusiastic Democratic support for programs that give

material benefits to blacks on the basis of their race.) Cosby's and

Jackson's candor suggests that the former pillar may be weakening, which

could have interesting political repercussions sometime in the future

 

BY JAMES TARANTO

Thursday, June 17, 2004 2:51 p.m. EDT

'It's Not Their Fault' <http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040617-120823-6869r.htm>

Here's a revealing passage from a Washington Times report on a John Kerry campaign appearance in Columbus, Ohio:

Talking about education yesterday, Mr. Kerry also told the largely black crowd at the day care center that there are more blacks in prison than in college.

"That's unacceptable," he said. "But it's not their fault."

Rather than the inmates, the former Boston prosecutor blamed poverty, poor schools, a dearth of after-school programs and "all of us as adults not doing what we need to do."

What do adults "need to do" to prevent youngsters from turning to crime? Surely, above all, instill in them a sense of personal responsibility. Kerry sends precisely the opposite message when he says of criminals--and, it would seem, only of those criminals who happen to be black--that "it's not their fault." There's a tinge of racism, what President Bush aptly terms "the soft bigotry of low expectations," in Kerry's assumption that young blacks can't be expected to do any better than end up in prison. :bomb:

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