Recently, we examined some resources for Black History Month, a time which opens the door for discussions on issues key to libertarians.
This week I’m concluding with some more issue-oriented Black History Month resources and talking points.
First, a look at state-created poverty and unemployment affecting black Americans.
- “Race and Economics,” a short column by economist Walter Williams, examines this often-ignored point. Excerpt: “Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today. … During the 1930s, there were a number of federal government interventions that changed the black employment picture.”
- Walter Williams looks at the racist outcomes of the minimum wage more closely in “Minimum Wage’s Discriminatory Effects.” Excerpt: “Minimum wage laws have massive political support, including that of black politicians. That means that many young black males will remain a part of America’s permanent underclass with crime, drugs and prison as their future.”
- Walter Williams’ outstanding 1982 short book The State Against Blacks (long out of print — check your library) — shows how numerous government programs, supposedly enacted to help blacks and the poor, have caused enormous harm to blacks (and others).
- In his 2004 column “A Painful Anniversary” economist Thomas Sowell argues that the 1960s Great Society / War on Poverty programs helped destroy black families. Excerpt: “The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”
Government’s role in protecting slavery and enforcing Jim Crow laws is often ignored. Yet of course it was government that created and defended such abominable and unlibertarian practices.
- Mary Ruwart points this out in “Wasn’t government action necessary to halt slavery and racial oppression?”
- In “Discrimination and Liberty” from the Cato Institute, four distinguished libertarian scholars debate aspects of antidiscrimination law. It’s a rich and sometimes controversial argument.
Still another fascinating topic tailor-made for Black History Month is the little-known history of how gun rights helped protect civil rights activists and advance the civil rights movement.
- For starters, check out “Yes, Guns Are Dangerous. But They Also Save Lives and Secure Civil Rights” by Damon W. Root of Reason magazine.
- Also see this excellent review of the 2004 book The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement by Lance Hill, from The Nation magazine. This book tells the remarkable story of the Deacons for Defense, who at their peak had several hundred members and twenty-one chapters in the South.
- “Black Open Carry: Why Gun Rights and Civil Rights Need Each Other” is a provocative new Reason TV video. It examines the little-known long, intertwined history of the gun rights and civil rights movements, from slave revolts to Reconstruction-era armed resistance to the Black Panther Party. “One of the great untold stories about the civil rights movement was that it required violent resistance from blacks to be effective,” says historian Thaddeus Russell. Seven eye-opening minutes in length.