Monday, November 30, 2015

The Individualist: An Interview with Anne Wortham

Anne Wortham is an associate professor of sociology at Illinois State University. She is a rare voice in the liberty movement—a scholar and rogue academic. She wrote her first piece for The Freeman in 1966. And we are happy she has agreed to offer her voice to these pages once again.
The Freeman: We have seen Bill Moyers’s interview with you (part 1, part 2). (It was clear he considered you odd.) In that video, you suggest some of the ways the civil rights movement had gone down the wrong path since overturning Jim Crow. It’s now 20-plus years since the Moyers interview. Do you think the civil rights movement has made any positive course corrections? Is there anything you have revised in your thinking since that interview?

Wortham: Odd, indeed. After the two-hour session with Moyers, he said to me: “You know, you are dangerous.” I think he was facetiously referring to the fact that views like mine jeopardized the wish of black leaders to have the public believe that the black community was of one mind regarding their political and economic interests and their view of black history and race relations.

Throughout the twentieth century blacks have had the opportunity to present their demand for civil rights in a way that would move Americans and their government toward a greater appreciation for individual rights. However, in every instance, black and white civil rights advocates have reinterpreted the Constitution as protecting group rights to justify and expand the welfare state. Rather than liberating blacks from their dependency on the state that began with the New Deal, and respecting them by insisting that they take responsibility for their freedom, civil rights leaders, politicians, and the American people proceeded to expand New Deal policies with Great Society policies that have cultivated the American people’s expectation that the costs of an individual’s risky behavior will be borne not by the individual but by a pool of people—by taxpayers in general, by “the rich” in particular, by society at large.

Blacks are now a mature one-party interest group, led by a civil rights industry with its own Congressional caucus that uses the victimization of blacks in the past as justification for preferential treatment of blacks in the present. The black establishment’s racialization of politics has been so successful that a black person who criticizes President Obama is condemned as a traitor and a white critic is vilified as a racist. While the motives and character of whites are openly questioned, and their mobility is seen as the privilege of being white, explaining the plight of disadvantaged blacks in terms of attitudes, values, and resulting behavior is construed as “blaming the victim.” Thus, racial dialogue relies on structural factors like low incomes, joblessness, poor schools, and bad housing. As sociologist Orlando Patterson argues, academics who are “allergic to cultural explanations” are unable to explain why so many young unemployed black men have children whom they cannot support, or why they murder each other at nine times the rate of white youths. Neither can they explain how “good kids” emerge from bad neighborhoods.

Read the full article HERE.