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Argument: Not rebuilding New Orleans has nothing to do with race

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Stan Guthrie. "Don’t Rebuild New Orleans". 12 Sept. 2005 - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, speaking to the National Baptist Convention of America, noted what he called “the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a significant role in who survived and who did not.”

Unfortunately, loony conspiracy theories are nothing new for Dean, or for a significant percentage of the nation’s African American community. According to Reuters, “A survey by researchers from Oregon State University and the Rand Corporation released earlier this year found 16 percent of African-Americans thought AIDS was created by the government to control the black population.”

The report went on: “Conspiracy theories also sprouted among Hurricane Katrina evacuees camping out at Houston's Astrodome. Several told Reuters they suspected black residential areas were flooded purposely in an effort to divert water from white housing.”

Such irrational fears play into the hands of a Democratic power structure ever eager for an excuse to bash the president, and looking for ways to keep African Americans on the liberal plantation. They are also a significant hindrance to many African Americans ever getting a realistic shot at the American Dream. While some discrimination still exists, the bigger problem for many blacks is their worldview.

As author Shelby Steele, a scholar who is black, noted years ago in The Content of Our Character, such conspiracy theories are a convenient cop-out on personal responsibility. “When a people of a race or nation are insecure about their ability to thrive in the larger world, they inevitably evolve an identity that allows them to recompose inner fears into external threats,” Steele writes. “It is not that we fear that we can thrive as well as others; it is that others are hostile to us, and we must be tightly unified to defend ourselves.”

Perhaps this dysfunctional group mentality helps explain the otherwise incomprehensible comments from some black leaders pooh-poohing the looting of New Orleans by marauding blacks. (Celine Dion said simply, “Who cares?”)

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