by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A member of the editorial board at The Wall Street Journal (published by Dow Jones, which also publishes Barron’s), Riley would surely call himself a conservative. But he pays homage to liberalism’s achievements on behalf of blacks. “The civil rights struggles of the mid-20th century,” he declares, “were liberalism at its best.” He hails the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and includes in his honor roll “Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., the Freedom Riders, the NAACP, and others who helped to destroy significant barriers to black progress and make America more just.”
But Riley believes that liberalism has long since become a part of the problem rather than part of the solution—and especially the liberalism of today’s black leaders. “The civil rights movement of King has become an industry that does little more than monetize white guilt,” he observes. By contrast, “King and his contemporaries demanded black self-improvement despite the abundant and overt racism of his day. King’s successors…nevertheless insist that blacks cannot be held responsible for their plight so long as someone somewhere in white America is still using the n-word.”
Liberals portray young black students as victims of school systems run according to “European American” values, a judgment that exempts the students from responsibility for poor performance. One reason this view is dubious, the author points out, is that black students from African countries generally perform better in school than their American counterparts, even though English is not their first language.
Another reason: Black American students show much-improved performance in charter schools—public schools run by independent organizations according to the same European-American values. The success of charter schools, he notes, is “one reason why they are so popular with black people.” These are black people—as distinct from black civil rights leaders—who refuse to succumb to liberalism’s destructive delusions about the proper schooling of their children.
Please Stop Helping Us is written in a clear but understated style that gains power from understatement. Not once, for example, does the author use emphatic words like “hypocrite” or “hypocrisy.” But he does expose liberal hypocrisy in some of its blatant forms.