Commentary: Conservatives, African-Americans and the Blame Game

Like other conservatives, George Will says that the problems of African-American are self-inflicted.

Posted: 08/26/2013 05:45 PM EDT

When it comes to the evaluation of Black America by conservative officials and pundits, there has long been a blame-the-victim mentality. The difficulties faced by African-Americans, these conservatives contend, are self-inflicted.

The latest version of this tendency comes from George Will, the journalist and political pundit. Speaking on an ABC News program a day after the March on Washington commemoration, Will gave his take on the real problem facing Black America.

"There is a crisis in the African-American community, because 24 percent of African-American children are born to unmarried women,” Will said. “Today it’s tripled to 72 percent. That, and not an absence of rights, is surely the biggest impediment.”

Will’s comments came a short time after Colorado state senator Vicki Marble offered her opinion on the causes of poverty and health issues in the Black community. She said it resulted from too much consumption of fried chicken.

“When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the Black race,” Marble said, speaking to a meeting of the Colorado legislature’s Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force.

“Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it,” she continued. “Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.”

While there are deep and systemic issues within the African-American community, the comments of Will and others are not designed to highlight those concerns to raise helpful solutions. Instead, their comments are offered more to provide reasons why civil rights measures are no longer needed in the world of 2013.

Will, for example, was trying to explain why the call by planners and participants in Saturday’s march for new voting rights legislation was misguided. Like so many others, Will was contending that calls for legislation to create jobs for working class America are not a sensible focus for Black America.

For conservative America, the outcry about the Supreme Court striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act or stand your ground laws are simply the complaints of a self-centered group of people that can’t see past its own pathology. To them, stop and frisk is not a significant enough problem to warrant such a fuss among the young Black and brown New Yorkers who have been detained by the police by the millions.

The sad thing is that these viewpoints fail to see the ills of their own positions. They fail to see that restrictive voter identification laws hurt not just Black America but the nation’s promise to its citizens and that failing to pass laws to provide jobs for Americans at the margins would boost the economic prospects of the entire nation.

Instead of seeking to blame African-Americans for their troubles, they would do better to help persuade their fellow Republicans in Congress and elsewhere to support the solutions to issues that are within their control.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: This Week via ABC News)

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