Discussions of racial problems almost invariably bring out the cliche of "a legacy of slavery." But anyone who is being serious, as distinguished from being political, would surely want to know if whatever he is talking about — whether fatherless children, crime or whatever — is in fact a legacy of slavery or of some of the many other things that have been done in the century and a half since slavery ended.
Another cliche that has come into vogue is that slavery is "America's original sin." The great Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catch phrase could stop thinking for fifty years. Catch phrases about slavery have stopped people from thinking, even longer than that.
To many on the left, the 1960s were the glory days of their movements, and for some the days of their youth as well. They have a heavy emotional investment and ego investment in the ideas, aspirations and policies of the 1960s.
It might never occur to many of them to check their beliefs against some hard facts about what actually happened after their ideas and policies were put into effect. It certainly would not be pleasant to admit, even to yourself, that after promising progress toward "social justice," what you actually delivered was a retrogression toward barbarism.
The principal victims of these retrogressions are the decent, law-abiding members of black communities across the country who are prey to hoodlums and criminals.
Back in the 19th century Frederick Douglass saw the dangers from well-meaning whites. He said: "Everybody has asked the question, 'What shall we do with the Negro?' I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us." Amen.