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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

The racial divide is continuing to grow

Sunday, October 2, 2005

The top Housing and Urban Development official in Washington said that New Orleans is likely to be "whiter" as a result of Hurricane Katrina because many of the displaced blacks will not return since they lost virtually everything in the disaster. But civil rights leaders quickly denounced the comment as 'racist" and charged that the Republican administration wanted to change the racial make-up of New Orleans to spread out the largely black and predominately Democratic population.

Never mind that the very same HUD official is black himself. The civil rights leaders - led by Jackson and Sharpton - are going to make every move in this country some form of racial issue. And their followers will believe every single word they speak.

Within the minority community there is widespread belief that the Bush administration intentionally destroyed the levee system in New Orleans to destroy the black neighborhoods. And there is this bizarre belief that somehow the Bush administration was somehow responsible for the hurricane itself. The problem with these wild accusations is that many within the minority community actually believe this tabloid fodder.

And therein lies the root of our problem. A survey conducted following Katrina showed that 9 in 10 blacks thought the federal response would have been faster had the majority of those displaced been white. The same survey showed that eight in 10 whites rejected that statement. Now folks, that's a big difference and just illustrates the growing gap of thought between blacks and whites. For those of us who are products of the '60s, we would never have believed we'd find ourselves in this position in 2005. But here we are.

There's a letter making the e-mail circles these days from a volunteer in New Orleans. It talks of the ruthlessness and arrogance displayed by the displaced population in New Orleans following the hurricane. If the letter is true - and I have no way of knowing - it makes you want to abandon all efforts to help those in need. It makes you want to force everyone to fend for themselves. In short, it kills the spirit of compassion.

The level of distrust among blacks and whites is no less today than it was back in the "bad" days. And unfortunately, I suspect it will likely remain that way for years to come. Experts have spent years explaining why this distrust exists. But they offer few solutions.

I think taxpayers are getting tired of providing help to those who will not help themselves. When those taxpayers resist, those in need try to read some racist attitude toward their resistance. What they fail to understand is that most people would willingly help those in need if those in need would willingly try to provide for some of their own needs. But increasingly, too many people feel they are entitled to a helping hand. And that is a formula for failure.

As long as Jackson and Sharpton and others stoke the fires of racism, we'll not advance one inch in this society. And as long as all motives are viewed with racial intent, our society will slowly erode into anarchy. We caught a glimpse of this future in the days following Katrina. It was not a pretty picture.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen