Somewhere, Someone Black Is Getting Away With Something

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Over at the Dish, Conor looks at a new National Review piece on the Pigford case which he feels makes a solid case for potential fraud regarding Pigford. I haven't read the piece so I can't evaluate the case, but Conor is bothered by the fact that conservative bloggers evidently concede that the USDA discriminated against blacks, but are mostly outraged by the alleged fraud:


A word about the bigger picture. There are conservative bloggers expressing outrage that Americans haven't been told more about this story. It's worth pondering that reaction. It's understandable: the misuse of public funds is always a legitimate story, and I hope this one gets reported out if that's what has happened. 

But the fact that Americans have never heard of the Pigford case before now is most damning because it means we were utterly ignorant of the fact that the federal government was discriminating against thousands of blacks for almost 15 years, and as recently as the late 1990s! That is far more troubling than the possibility that private citizens perpetrated fraud on a poorly conceived settlement (though it doesn't excuse it).

Read the whole post. This is where you see "conservative" effectively becoming a synonym for "white populist." You would think that the government discriminating against a class of farmers over 15 years, under three different presidential administrations, from two different parties, not in the distant, but recently, would be a pet cause for people disturbed by the overreach of government. In fact those who claim that banner, are disturbed by the remedy applied--not the problem, itself.

I'm reminded of David Brooks, lamenting the fact that Sonia Sotamayor didn't go to school in the '50s, while neglecting to mention that her alma mater (Princeton) didn't even admit women until a decade later. The opportunistic rush to elide hard problems, in order to disparage imperfect, and perhaps even wrongheaded, solutions is an essential feature of modern conservative. In regards to blacks it shows itself in this sense that racism--even government-sponsored racism--isn't actually a problem, people trying to fix it are a problem. 


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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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