Jackie Robinson, Welfare Case
Jude Wanniski
May 28, 1997


Memo To: Kweisi Mfiime
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Race Preferences

You really made a "ridiculous" statement on Sunday's "Crossfire," as Abigail Thernstrom of the Manhattan Institute asserted. For you to cite Jackie Robinson as a prime example of racial preference is worse than nonsense. Robinson did not lag by 300 points in the SATs or in batting average. He had been a star in the Dodger farm system, playing with the Montreal Royals. The problem, Kweisi, is that you are having to defend thirty years of Great Society welfare programs, which destroyed the black family. As Louis Farrakhan puts it, "If the government gives a family free food, free clothing, free housing, free everything else, what is left for the man of the house to do?" Having spent the last 30 years demanding more and more government handouts for black Americans, the NAACP was more than complicit in the destruction of the black family. It bears the primary responsibility for that destruction. If at any point since 1967 the NAACP had said "whoa, the white liberal Democrats who are buying our votes for welfare handouts are destroying our families," it would not have happened!

You can blame white America for most of the last 300 years of black backwardness, but the leaders of the black community have to bear the blame for much of the social pathologies that grew out of the Great Society's war on poverty. When you became CEO of the NAACP, I thought you would be a break with the past and would devote your energies to bringing the benefits of entrepreneurial capitalism to the black community. Instead, you have the nerve to demand that government now make up for the wreckage it caused in the black community by giving the few who survived its handouts a place at the head of the line at the best schools in the nation. If you administer enough poison, there will be no survivors. Mrs. Thernstrom was exactly right in arguing that young black men and women who aspire to a college education or graduate degrees in the professions should locate those schools where their test scores show a reasonable chance of success. What would have happened in 1947 if Branch Rickey had brought up a player who could not hit even minor league pitching?

As long as the NAACP continues to focus on government handouts instead of promoting general economic prosperity, it will continue to foster the racist idea that still clings to our social fabric, that the black community cannot make it without government assistance because of an intrinsic intellectual inferiority.