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How Johnson’s War on Poverty Gave Way to Group Rights of Today

VIEW FROM HERE-To be a recipient under Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, one need not be a minority.

Its original impetus was to make certain that no one could or would be excluded due to race, creed, color, or national origin. Following Martin Luther King’s example, the Great Society addressed poverty – not race. Because so many poor were from minority backgrounds, the programs focused on reaching those who had been excluded from the Opportunity Structure. The Upward Bound Program, for example, was designed to help high school students, who for any reason lacked adequate preparation for college. The students came from all backgrounds. There were more minority students because the Opportunity Structure had been more closed to them, but poor Whites, e.g., Appalachia, suffered similarly without de jure segregation. 

Relatively soon, the Great Society ceased to be about helping poor individuals enter the American Opportunity Structure, but it became a nationalized political patronage system where only the minority numbers mattered. In 1971, the University of Judaism in Los Angeles hosted a public affairs TV program on Affirmative Action. There was discussion about how to identify merit among minority applicants to school and work when they had been excluded from mastering entry level skills.  

Afterwards the head of the California EEOC Program confided that all the work on finding merit among minorities was a waste of time since the government did not care about anything except filling the quotas. Like most governments caught doing bad things, the Feds dissembled by calling their quotas “guidelines.”  

Because Washington dropped the concept of helping individuals master the opportunity structure in favor of quotas, local governments, schools, and employers stopped programs which improved the abilities of the minorities. Not only did schools and employers have to admit a certain quota, but they also had to advance people by a certain quota. Employers who might otherwise have undertaken extra training to improve the skills of the disadvantaged realized that it was easier and more reliable to raid another company of its minority employees than risk funding enhanced training programs which might not produce enough qualified minorities to satisfy the quota. In brief, quotas tended to kill programs designed to improve skills. 

At one meeting of executives of national retail chains, it was decided that since the government was playing a numbers game, their stores should adopt a two-facet response. (1) stop raiding each other. It did nothing to help the minorities and cost the companies a lot of money, and (2) accept the fact that each store had to carry its fair burden of non-productive minority employees. They saw it as similar to an extra tax. 

So-called reverse discrimination was not actually a significant problem for Whites, although all discrimination is a moral evil. Since Whites knew certain avenues were closed to them, they made alternative plans. The minorities, on the other hand, suffered terribly as schools gave them inferior education with gut courses and gave away high grades so that the schools could protect government funding by graduating their assigned quotas. 

This practice was particularly devastating to Mexican Americans who had been passed through the undergraduate EEOC programs and then into law schools where the same process applied until they hit the brick wall of the State Bar Exam which required anonymity. The State Bar had no way to know who took any particular exam or the race or ethnicity of the applicants. The Bar failure rate for Mexican Americans was egregiously high – not due to lack of Mexican-Americans’ intelligence but because they had been systematically under-educated in order to satisfy the quotas. 

One Legacy of the War on Poverty Was a Divided Nation 

In response to the turning the War on Poverty into a national patronage system for Democrats was the rise of the silent majority, then the moral majority, then the Christian Right with the tea baggers’ influx into Congress in 2010. Now, the White Supremacists, with the aid of the Dem Identity Politics, are taking center stage. While one could argue that the racist quotas of the War on Poverty may have been naive or innocent, the current racism which divides the nation is 100% intentional. Predatory racism makes money for both political parties. The greater the threat from White Supremacists, the more money the Dem raise. 

Whites Need Not Apply 

American Rescue Plan Act erases the Declaration of Independence’s individual inalienable rights and replaces it with Group Rights. Individuals who belong to the wrong race or ethnic group need not apply. Section 2501(a) permits loans only to members “of a socially disadvantaged group . . .   whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice.” 

In contrast, Black Lives Matter (BLM) follows in the tradition of the Declaration, the U.S. Constitution, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King in its endeavor to end the systematic predatory nature of our institutions. BLM does not say to only stop beating and killing Blacks; it focuses on improving institutions, such as criminal justice, for everyone. The Woker approach, however, demands that certain groups be cast as villains and others as victims. Based on the theory of inherited guilt, wrongs done centuries ago must be rectified by those who today have the same or similar skin hue as the original wrongdoers. 

Wokerism and White Supremacy 

Racist movements make tons of money for their respective political parties, and both are based in Group Rights. These movements are not self-help movements like the Settlement Houses of the Lower East Side in the early 1900s, but rather they are composed of angry, vengeful people held together by their sense of grievance and injustice along group lines. Heretofore, the actual threat of the White is Right groups has been their eagerness to resort to violence more than their sheet numbers. 

One of the worse aspects of group rights movements like Wokers and White Supremacist is the demise of facts in favor of what Trump’s spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway termed “Alternative Facts.” Dems have their own Alternative Facts. Contrary to Dem belief, the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally with its Tiki torch parade goers shouting, “Jews shall not replace us” and Heather Heyder’s murder was not organized by the Right Wing. The actual organizer was Charlottesville’s Democrat Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy. He did so over the strong opposition of other Charlottesville community leaders, but it was Wes Bellamy who devoted about two years taunting the Unite the Right and other white supremacists to converge in Charlottesville to protest removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. 

As the then President of the University of Virginia, Teresa Sullivan, warned, "to listen and respond to these outsiders would only call more attention to their viewpoint and create the publicity that they crave." (Bold added) For the same reason, the local newspaper told Bellamy to stop, but instead he promised White Supremacists a huge counter protest. Without the Democrat vice mayor’s efforts, “Charlottesville” never would have occurred, Trump would not have called Nazis “very fine people,” and the White Supremacist movement would be smaller today.    

We Face Much Worse Than Charlottesville 

With the government’s promoting programs that expressly exclude Whites upon the perverted theory of inherited guilt, we are headed towards internecine violence. 

(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a realtor, and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. The views expressed herein are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch. You may email him at [email protected]).