Book review

A Powerful Indictment of America's Failed Racial Policy

Reviewed by Charles Stanwood

During the 1950s and 1960s, America's black civil rights leaders, with support from liberal politicians and the most influential molders of public opinion, pressed hard for “non-discrimination” in voting, education, housing, and employment opportunity. Equal opportunity, it was argued, would inevitably lead to equal social-economic results. Upholding the standard of a “color-blind” constitution, this movement succeeded in anchoring its demands in law, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the 1968 Open Housing Act.

When equal opportunity failed to bring the hoped-for results, America's political and cultural leaders abandoned their original goal of color-blind “non-discrimination.” Armed with new state and federal laws, key court decisions and a network of administrative guidelines and regulations, they instead fashioned a new social order based on racial preferences for non-whites and proportional distribution of benefits among ethnic (and now gender and linguistic) groups. New theories of “compensatory justice” have been invoked to provide a philosophical gloss for this revolution in policy.

Moreover, as author Jared Taylor graphically relates in this meticulously documented, closely argued and powerfully written review of the lamentable state of race relations in America, a system of “prevailing taboos” has been allowed to evolve, a dangerous consequence of which is that honest and intelligent discussion of race and related issues has largely been proscribed.

Boldly defying this proscription, Taylor has produced the first book in decades issued by a mainstream publisher that forthrightly confronts the profound failure of America's racial policy. In his introduction to this damning indictment, the author sets the tone of Paved with Good Intentions:

Race is the great American dilemma. This has always been so, and is likely to remain so… In our multicultural society, race lurks just below the surface of much that is not explicitly racial… Race is the fearful question that looms behind every social problem in America.

Almost from its opening pages this book casts doubt on the basic assumptions about race and society that have driven social policy for decades. In attempting to show how mistaken assumptions begot mistaken policy, it has been necessary to show just how miserably those policies have failed.

In the pages that follow, Taylor spares no words in portraying the harsh reality. “Hideous things are happening in our country,” he writes. “Millions of Americans — many of them black — live in conditions of violence and squalor that would shame the rulers of Third World nations.”

What's worse, he goes on, in spite of billions of dollars and countless pledges by platoons of politicians, conditions have actually deteriorated in recent decades. A large proportion of America's black population is much worse off today than it was during the pre-civil rights era. Over the past 40 years, the lifting of social or institutional restraints on blacks has coincided with a drastic worsening of their condition.

Grim Figures

Citing an impressive — even numbing — array of facts and figures, Paved With Good Intentions thoroughly documents the extent of this deterioration, and the yawning gap between black and white America. A few examples:

Interracial crime rates show a similarly stark asymmetry. When whites commit crimes of violence, they choose black victims 2.4 percent of the time. In contrast, blacks select white victims in over half of the crimes they commit. Blacks are 325 times more likely to engage in gang attacks on whites than whites are to take part in pack assaults against blacks. Interracial rape is overwhelmingly black on white. Analysis of recent crime statistics reveals that black men rape white women 30 times more often than white men rape black women.

'Hate Crimes'

Even in the special case of “hate crimes” — a new category invented in the late 1980s to track “abuse” of ethnic and gender groups, and which was supposed to disclose widespread discrimination against blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and homosexuals by white males — whites are victimized much more often than are blacks. Observes Taylor: “The fact that blacks are far more likely to commit 'hate crimes' than whites is a fact for which there is simply no room in the conventional view of how American society works.”

Institutionalized Hypocrisy

A good portion of this book is devoted to the hypocritical double standard on matters of race that has taken root in our society. “There are now many things that whites may not do but that are tolerated and even encouraged among blacks,” he writes. “We have double standards in politics, in school, at work, in the press, even in our speech. Many Americans are reluctant to acknowledge these double standards.”

The author details how the national news media deliberately distorts reality by failing accurately to report black-on-white crime. The relatively rare instances of racially motivated white-on-black crime are often seized upon and sensationally blown out of all proportion. On the other hand, crime against whites is largely ignored or vastly under-reported. This may help explain why whites have not organized protests, or sought revenge, for attacks against co-racialists committed by blacks and other non-whites.

"…One of the most striking — and destructive — examples of the way the media handle news about race was the Rodney King affair,” Taylor contends. “It is not an exaggeration to say that the coverage of this incident was so slanted as to be a major cause of the riots that later rocked Los Angeles.”

America's entertainment media engages in anti-white racist stereotyping. On television and in motion pictures, blacks are rarely portrayed as bad guys, while white businessmen are routinely depicted as villains.

School textbooks similarly reinforce the notion that wicked whites are responsible for black poverty and lawlessness. They present a racially skewed picture of America, Taylor writes, one that exaggerates non-white contributions to society while playing down those of whites.

Whereas whites are forbidden to think in terms of racial identity, “blacks are encouraged to identify with their racial 'brothers,' to promote 'black consciousness,' and to see themselves as a group defined clearly by race.” One consequence of this is that black jurors are less and less likely to convict black defendants, even in cases where the evidence against the accused is overwhelming. This is especially true in cases where the victims of crime are white.

"Many whites,” Taylor contends, “thunder against the faintest trace of white racism, while they ignore the blatant racial excesses of blacks. The have convinced themselves that blacks cannot get ahead without handouts and special treatment. By exempting blacks from individual responsibility, they treat them as vassals.”

Predictably, black-white relations have deteriorated, and whatever sense of community may have existed in the past seems largely to have evaporated. The sometimes euphoric confidence of the 1960s about the future of race relations in the US has given way to a national mood approaching despair.

All this has become possible, concludes Taylor, because “whites have stripped themselves of collective racial consciousness. They do not see themselves along racial lines.”

White Racism to Blame?

The familiar explanation for black failure — repeated endlessly in motion pictures, newspapers, magazines, and by political and educational leaders — is lingering white racism. As Taylor stresses:

Americans are so accustomed to hearing — and repeating — this view that they scarcely bother to think what it means. It means, essentially, that white people, not blacks, are responsible for black behavior. It implies that blacks are helpless and cannot make progress unless whites transform themselves.

Do blacks drop out of school? Teachers are insensitive to their needs. Do black women have children out of wedlock? Slavery broke up the black family. Are blacks more likely than whites to commit crimes? Oppression and poverty explain it. Are ghetto blacks unemployed? White businesses are prejudiced against them. Are blacks more likely to be drug addicts? They are frustrated by white society… There is scarcely any form of failure that cannot, in some way, be laid at the feet of racist white people.

This kind of thinking denies that blacks should be expected to take responsibility for their own actions. More subtly, it suggests that they cannot do so.

Taylor marshals an army of facts to explode the myth that whites are to blame for the problems that plague black America. In fact, he documents, blacks and whites with similar backgrounds and educational levels are doing about equally well. Although the general public is unaware of these facts, studies reveal that black women, for example, earn more than white women with equal qualifications. Blacks holding doctoral degrees make as much or more than comparably educated whites. Young black couples who manage to remain married have family incomes almost identical to those of white couples. In families where both spouses are college educated and both work, black families generally make more than white families.

In the area of criminal justice, the comparison is instructive. Contrary to what the public has been led to believe, black police officers are “more active disciplinarians” who are “more likely to make arrests.” In fact, Taylor goes on, “black policemen are more likely to shoot blacks than white police are,” and black judges often deal out harsher sentences to black criminals than do their white counterparts.

The figures on the death penalty do not support often-repeated charges of “institutional racism.” Whites convicted of murder are more likely to receive the death penalty than black murderers. Whites who kill other whites are more likely to be executed than are blacks who kill whites.

Virtually every study comparing like groups of blacks and whites has arrived at similar findings.

'Affirmative Action'

The two long chapters devoted to a discussion of “affirmative action” are among the best in this outstanding book. Although this ambiguous term first cropped up in a 1961 executive order by President Kennedy, it was the Nixon administration that really institutionalized “affirmative action” policies. The author reveals that after “equal opportunity” legislation failed to lead to equal results, the elites in control of government, big business and education agreed to lower standards and devised a race-based point system. In every sector of American life, whites — and especially white males — are officially discriminated against. “'Civil rights' now means special treatment for blacks, the meaning of 'equal opportunity' has been neatly reversed, and 'affirmative action' is a euphemism for officially sanctioned racial discrimination.” Today, writes Taylor, “essentially any non-white can get preference, including recent immigrants.” Nowhere is this more true than on the campuses of our colleges and universities, where preferential treatment for non-whites has become the operating norm.

"Sensitivity training” designed to defuse white resentment against manifestly unfair practices in access, hiring, and promotion is now obligatory in government, business, and education. While blacks are openly encouraged to act in their own interests, “whites, on the other hand, are expected to support, or at least remain silent about, a system that discriminates against them.” As the author goes on to note, “one of the great, unwritten rules of race relations in America today” is that “affirmative action has lowered employment and admission standards for non-whites all across America, but everyone must pretend not to have noticed.”

High Price

The United States is paying a frightfully heavy price for all this. For example, Taylor discovered that only 14 percent of Fortune 500 companies confess that they now hire new personnel strictly on the basis of merit. The author cites report after report documenting how less-qualified blacks are being admitted to, and graduated by, colleges and graduate schools — including medical and law schools — and then hired by police and fire departments, other government agencies, and private business firms. Around half of the “black middle class” is employed by government. Those in business serve often as affirmative action/equal opportunity apparatchiks, or they are carried along, with white co-workers taking up the slack (though without extra compensation). The double standard prevailing throughout American education should be regarded as a national scandal. All this has undoubtedly affected the morale of conscientious and hardworking Americans, who are understandably ever more cynical about the nation's political and cultural institutions and leaders.

If not white racism, what then accounts for the disparity in black-white performance and lifestyle, and the calamitous state of black America? The answer, Taylor explains, “is that the black population is not identical to the white population.”

While carefully avoiding any exploration of the thorny and highly emotion-charged question of racial differences, he does muse at one point:

If whites are not holding blacks down, it might mean that they [blacks] have arisen as far as their inherent limitations permit. The possibility of black inferiority is the unacknowledged goblin that lurks in the background of every attempt to explain black failure. Part of the shrillness with which white racism is denounced stems from the belief that any letup in the struggle against it might leave room for a theory that is too dangerous to be contemplated.

Courage to Face Facts Needed

Given the grim reality of racial relations in America, what, then, is to be done?

"The first step in halting black decline,” Taylor insists, “is to throw out the deadly equation of Black Failure = White Guilt. Black shakedown artists and white guilt mongers alike must be exposed as the dangerous frauds they are.”

Secondly, he argues, the reproduction of the underclass (white as well as black) should no longer be subsidized by society's productive element. At a minimum, he recommends that the government should provide free contraceptives and abortions for poor women, and require some welfare recipients to use the Norplant contraceptive device, which prevents pregnancy for up to five years. Here Taylor echoes the arguments made against “legal theft” by the brilliant 19th-century French political economist, Frédéric Bastiat.

In any case, Taylor argues, only by confronting the true dimensions of a failed policy can we hope to resolve the many daunting problems that are its consequence. He writes:

One hundred thirty years ago, this nation very nearly tore itself apart because of race. It could do so again. Policies based on white guilt and reverse racism have failed. Policies based on the denial of individual responsibility have failed. We must have the courage to admit that they have failed, and forge new policies that will succeed.

For producing this wise, disturbing and even enraging examination of the most crucial issue facing our nation, Jared Taylor deserves the thanks of every American who cares about the future. (The book's New York publisher, Carroll & Graf, likewise deserves praise for its courage in daring to issue this bold volume, and for committing substantial funds to promote it.)

If any single book can re-open an honest debate on race relations in America, and motivate concerned and thoughtful (but now silent) Americans, it is Paved With Good Intentions.

Taylor's Paved With Good Intentions is available from the IHR for $22.95, plus $3 shipping.


From The Journal of Historical Review, March/April 1993 (Vol. 13, No. 2), page 37.