Thursday, September 19, 2019

Not Biden, At Least Not In This Answer

It was a response infamous for the invocation of the "record player."  However, a trio of Young Turks blasted for another reason Joe Biden's response at the last Democratic debate to the question "as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?" The former senator and former vice-president responded

Well, they have to deal with the — look, there's institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red-lining banks, making sure that we are in a position where — look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools, triple the amount of money we spend from 15 to $45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out — the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need — we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy.

The teachers are — I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have — make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School. Not daycare. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.

It's not want they don't want to help. They don't — they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — the — make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there

Ideally, Biden should have fashioned his response around the critical point that students have "problems that come from home" highlighted by the (not vetted) remarkable statistic that there is "one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today."

There also are far fewer school nurses than needed, a problem even greater than the paucity of school psychologists.  This, however, was not the issue for the TYT ladies, including for Brooke Thomas, who contended

But I think what was missing in a lot of discussion about this, at least right after the debate, was (excuse me) was, like, the racism, the coded racism in that comment and the far too widespread-held belief that black people can't be good parents-aren't good mothers, aren't good fathers, don't know how to take care of their children.

The reason the racism was "coded" is that it was not racism.  Biden himself did not raise the issue of the "legacy of slavery;" it was asked of him. His reply pertained to poor people, as in "a kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background..."

The stereotype often held by whites is that black children are raised exclusively by mothers or grandmothers. Not so with Biden, at least not as reflected in his answer. He not only did not say "black people can't be good parents"-  the thrust of his argument was that mothers and fathers can be good parents- play the radio, the record player, and "make sure that kids hear words." 

If Thomas were to sit around with a group of black women and ask about problems in the black-majority community they live in, she'd likely hear complaints about parents raising their children. If she asked a group of white women about problems in their majority-white community, she probably would hear the same. It's what many people do when they talk about problems neighbors encounter from youth; they blame the parents.

That doesn't mean that Biden's remarks about parents were wise.  Perhaps he should have clarified that he was speaking of both black parents and white parents, given that much of the left is sensitive of anything that implies there may be issues more prevalent in the black community than in the white community, which is true as is the reverse.

When Quinnipiac in July asked voters if they believe Donald Trump is "racist," slightly over half admitted they do. Those respondents were not asked whether they nevertheless would vote for him, but it's a fair bet that some would.  They may have concluded that in a nation of "racists," being a racist might not be disqualifying. When we attribute such motives to people like Joe Biden, we shouldn't be surprised that serious bigots among us are tolerated.

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