- - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In thinking about Black Lives Matter, let’s start by admitting the obvious: There surely are some racially bigoted police officers in America. But no organization of human beings is perfect, because none of us is perfect. So how are we and our organizations to be judged: by those who act morally in caring about others and promoting their welfare, or by those who act immorally in harming others and holding them back? This is a vitally important question.

The Black Lives Matter proponents have answered it by looking for the bad in white police officers. They want to believe that white people are inherently racist and evil, and that all blacks are victims of America’s white-dominated society. But the facts keep getting in their way, because they couldn’t be more mistaken.

Our forebears fought a devastating and costly Civil War to rid our nation of slavery, powered by the Republican Party and an army overwhelmingly comprised of white soldiers. We then enacted the Civil War amendments to our Constitution to assure that slavery be forever eradicated, that blacks be treated equally under the law, and that black men have the right to vote. Again, it was white Americans who made this happen.

Over the next hundred years, to our nation’s shame, racial discrimination and segregation persisted in our schools, our public facilities, our transportation, and even our armed forces.

But in the 1960s, thanks to bipartisan legislation proportionally backed more by Republicans than Democrats, we ended institutionalized racial discrimination.

Interestingly, while blacks had been systemically disadvantaged as a group until then — meaning that they had to be better than whites to go as far in academia and commerce — the reality is that black students were fast closing the gap in terms of scholastic performance. Of course, it wasn’t right that they had to perform better to hope to do as well. The glass ceiling had to be shattered. But the reality that they could be competitive on the merits spoke volumes about the foolishness of white Americans in holding them back for so long.

Just imagine if, at that critical juncture in our history, we had told them how universal moral values and economic freedom combine to bring out the best in each of us, leading us to aspire to grow our individual talents to the utmost, so that we maximize both our value to others and the rewards we earn from pleasing them. Imagine, too, that we had conveyed how crucial it is to work hard to get the best education we can — developing our skills in reading, writing, numbers, logic and general knowledge — as the surest means to help us grow our value to others.

Instead, thanks primarily to the liberals, America chose a radically different course for blacks: affirmative action, with its artificially lowered standards and expectations for black adults and their children. The liberal whites congratulated one another for how wonderful and caring they were. And they made a point of telling blacks that they owed everything to the Democratic Party, to garner their unswerving loyalty. Never mind the Democratic Party’s long history of holding blacks back, from its support for the South in the Civil War, to the enactment of Jim Crow laws, to the New Deal and its minimum wage laws that consistently cost blacks their jobs, to the support of the teachers unions in holding black children prisoners of our pathetic public schools.

So here we are, half a century later, and blacks are lagging behind at ever-worsening rates in our schools and businesses. What are the Black Lives Matter advocates shouting? That our police, being primarily white, are bigots. Yet the facts are that most crimes are committed by black men; that most of their crimes are directed against black persons; that police are sworn to protect us from all criminals, regardless of their color; and that every police force across the nation condemns racism. But never mind these facts, too. The shrill call is for us-versus-them mentality, incendiary as ever, designed to cleave us apart and — not coincidentally — to buy black support for the Democrats who have delivered this abominable status quo.

Black lives do matter — each and every one of them — as do the lives of all human beings. But until we learn to look past skin color and gender to judge each person by his or her inner moral character, and resolve to take the moral high road of caring enough to see the value in others, we’ll continue to be each others’ — and our own — worst enemies. That’s why the Black Lives Matter proponents now occupy the moral low ground. They are, in the parlance of psychologists, suffering from frustration-aggression syndrome writ large.

Yet hope springs eternal, so we should answer their accusations with kindness, patience and understanding. Who knows, if one day they change their attitudes and values, and choose to look forward to what we can be instead of backward to what we were, and further universal morality and freedom, one day they just may be the ones to lead us all to a better tomorrow.

• Blaine Winship is the author of “Moralnomics: The Moral Path to Prosperity” (Moralnomics Press, 2016).

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