Obama’s Selma Mendacities

Jason L. Riley is a black conservative Fox News viewers recognize from his excellent commentary and analysis on Bret Baier’s “Special Report,” and Megyn Kelly’s “Kelly File,” as well as other programs. I don’t know his age but I’m guessing he’s in his 30’s, a young man who has clearly escaped progressive indoctrination.

He’s written an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal, “Drawing the Wrong Lessons From Selma About America Today,” which I recommend in its entirety but I’ve excerpted what I believe to be highlights below. Why did I choose them? Because these facts, as observed by an accomplished black man in America, utterly rebut progressive propaganda. (Bold text is mine).

Drawing the Wrong Lessons From Selma About America Today

By Jason L. Riley

March 10, 2015 6:58 p.m. ET

…(Many) have used the anniversary of the historic (Selma) march to score political points and draw tortured parallels between the challenges facing blacks a half-century ago and those facing blacks today. In remarks last weekend at the foot of the bridge in Selma where police billy-clubbed and tear-gassed peaceful protesters on March 7, 1965, President Obama decried “overcrowded prisons” and “unfair sentencing” without ever mentioning black crime rates. He repeatedly invoked Ferguson and called photo-identification laws “voter suppression.”…

Ferguson, Mo., in 2015 is not Selma, Ala., in 1965. Black people in America today are much more likely to experience racial preferences than racial slights. The violent crime that is driving the black incarceration rate spiked after the civil-rights victories of the 1960s, not before. And if voter-ID laws threaten the black franchise, no one seems to have told the black electorate. According to the Census Bureau, the black voter-turnout rate in 2012 exceeded the white turnout rate, even in states with the strictest voter-ID requirements.


Liberalism, moreover, tends to ignore or play down the black advancement that took place prior to the major civil-rights triumphs of the 1960s and instead credits government interventions that at best continued trends already in place. Black poverty fell 40 percentage points between 1940 and 1960—a drop that no Great Society antipoverty program has ever come close to matching. Blacks were also increasing their years of schooling and entering the white-collar workforce at a faster rate prior to the affirmative-action schemes of the 1970s than they were after those programs were put in place to help them.

The civil-rights battles of the 1960s have been fought and won, thanks in part to the thousands of brave souls who marched 50 years ago… (and) the racial disparity that persists today is not evidence that too many blacks face the same challenges they did in 1965, that “the march is not yet finished,” as Mr. Obama asserted. Rather, it is evidence that too few blacks… have taken advantage of the opportunities now available to them.

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).