Jason Riley at The Wall Street Journal writes Liberals Choose Racial Catharsis Over Progress for Blacks:
The political left is much more interested in black suffering than in black accomplishment, but black history is about more than victimization at the hands of whites. It’s also about what blacks have achieved notwithstanding that victimization. And in the first half of the 20th century, long before an expanded welfare state supposedly came to the rescue, blacks accomplished quite a lot. Incomes rose, poverty fell dramatically, and education gaps narrowed. Blacks entered the skilled professions—medicine, law, accounting, engineering, social work—at faster rates in the years preceding the 1960s civil-rights legislation than they did in the years afterward. Among racial and ethnic groups rising from similar circumstances, historians have described the rapidity of these gains as unprecedented.
Black Tulsa residents of a century ago would also be shocked to learn that it is no longer racist white vigilantes but black criminals who pose the bigger threat to safety in black communities. Liberals blame today’s disproportionately high black criminality on the “legacy” of slavery and Jim Crow. But violent crime among blacks declined in the 1940s, then dropped even further in the 1950s, while remaining relatively stable among whites. In other words, blacks living during Jim Crow segregation, and much closer to the era of slavery, experienced significantly lower rates of violent crime and incarceration both in absolute terms and relative to whites.
The Biden administration would much rather discuss white criminal behavior in Tulsa 100 years ago than black criminal behavior in Chicago, Baltimore or St. Louis today. Likewise in his Selma address, Mr. Obama invoked high-profile police shootings, “unfair sentencing” and “voter suppression,” giving the impression that little had changed in the past 50 years, his own election and re-election notwithstanding. Liberals focus on this history of black suffering rather than success because it helps Democrats get elected and activists raise money. What’s less clear is how any of this helps the black underclass improve its situation.
The fact that the history of the Tulsa massacre is such an outrage is because it is so rare today; indicative of the phenomenal progress we have made. We cannot change the past but we can impact the future. That means reckoning with the past honestly but also reckoning with the present honestly. In Discrimination and Disparities Thomas Sowell addresses several other causes of inequities other than discrimination in the past and the present. Real progress requires honesty more than outrage.