“The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do. . . . And that is to destroy the black family”

So argues my idol, Walter Williams, in the WSJ Weekend Interview to launch his new autobiography, “Up from the Projects.”  A snippet:

“We lived in the Richard Allen housing projects” in Philadelphia, says Mr. Williams. “My father deserted us when I was three and my sister was two. But we were the only kids who didn’t have a mother and father in the house. These were poor black people and a few whites living in a housing project, and it was unusual not to have a mother and father in the house. Today, in the same projects, it would be rare to have a mother and father in the house.”

Even in the antebellum era, when slaves often weren’t permitted to wed, most black children lived with a biological mother and father. During Reconstruction and up until the 1940s, 75% to 85% of black children lived in two-parent families. Today, more than 70% of black children are born to single women. “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do,” Mr. Williams says. “And that is to destroy the black family.”

Or two:

But Walter Williams was a libertarian before it was cool. And like other prominent right-of-center blacks—Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele—his intellectual odyssey began on the political left.

“I was more than anything a radical,” says Mr. Williams. “I was more sympathetic to Malcolm X than Martin Luther King because Malcolm X was more of a radical who was willing to confront discrimination in ways that I thought it should be confronted, including perhaps the use of violence.

“But I really just wanted to be left alone. I thought some laws, like minimum-wage laws, helped poor people and poor black people and protected workers from exploitation. I thought they were a good thing until I was pressed by professors to look at the evidence.”

During his junior year at California State College in Los Angeles, Mr. Williams switched his major from sociology to economics after reading W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Black Reconstruction in America,” a Marxist take on the South’s transformation after the Civil War that will never be confused with “The Wealth of Nations.” Even so, the book taught him that “black people cannot make great progress until they understand the economic system, until they know something about economics.”

He earned his doctorate in 1972 from UCLA, which had one of the top economics departments in the country, and he says he “probably became a libertarian through exposure to tough-mined professors”—James Buchanan, Armen Alchian, Milton Friedman—”who encouraged me to think with my brain instead of my heart. I learned that you have to evaluate the effects of public policy as opposed to intentions.”

Bingo. And the effects of public policy over the last sixty-odd years has devastated families and our liberty. 

One of the reasons I love listening to Williams when he subs for Rush: his bracing honesty.  To wit:

“Racial discrimination is not the problem of black people that it used to be” in his youth, says Mr. Williams. “Today I doubt you could find any significant problem that blacks face that is caused by racial discrimination. The 70% illegitimacy rate is a devastating problem, but it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with racism. The fact that in some areas black people are huddled in their homes at night, sometimes serving meals on the floor so they don’t get hit by a stray bullet—that’s not because the Klan is riding through the neighborhood.”

Truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?  Read the rest.  It’s full of Williams at his best. 

Have I ever mentioned that I saw him once, exiting the library at GMU?  I was chatting with my husband via phone on my hike from the parking lot since I wouldn’t be home from my last class until long after he was in bed.  He was stuck in traffic. I was stuck in grad school.

“Ohmygoodness! That’s Walter Williams!” I whispered into the phone, awestruck to see one of my idols while on my way to hear more endless race/class/gender garbage spewed from the mouths of  sycophantic graduate students who never really knew what zeitgeist, hegemony, phallologocentrism of the patriarchy, or the difference of the différance meant because they sure as hell never made any sense when they spoke. 

“Go say hello,” replied my savvy husband who knew of my deep and abiding affection for the best econ professor this side of the Mississippi (three cheers if you can guess my other favorite econ professor. Hint: they’re friends.).

“I can’t chase him down! I … I … eeek!  He’s entitled to his privacy……  Ok! I will!”

And like that, he was gone.  It must be all those work-outs he talks about where the young ladies fawn over him at the gym.  He’s a flash.

H/t: Dan Mitchell.


4 Responses

  1. […] “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do. . . . And that … […]

  2. Walter Williams is BRILLIANT! I love when he subs for Rush too. This was a great read! Thanks.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fuzzy Slippers, politicaljunkieMom. politicaljunkieMom said: "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do. . . . And that is to destroy the black famil… http://wp.me/pKYgb-xw […]

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