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There’s a television program called America’s Black Forum that runs on many ABC stations across the country and your humble correspondent was a recent guest on the show. Three African-American commentators, Juan Williams, Armstrong Williams and Julian Bond threw a variety of questions at me, many concerning the problems I have with some black leaders – most notably, Jesse Jackson.

At first there was some indignation, especially from Mr. Bond, who seemed downright offended that I would investigate Rev. Jackson’s business dealings. My reply was why shouldn’t I investigate Jackson, he’s left plenty of unanswered questions on the clothesline.

The dialogue was instructive because no one on the panel actually said my opinion about Jackson was wrong. But my motivation – that was the thing! Why would a white guy like me want to hurt a black leader like Jackson? Didn’t I know that powerful white men exploit the system for profit all the time? Why shouldn’t Jackson be able to do the same thing?

Here is where the problem lies. Often bad behavior by blacks is condoned by whites and other blacks. Excuses are made. And many whites fear being brutally honest with blacks because they don’t want to be branded as racially insensitive.

There is no question in my mind that the federal and state governments could provide more help to poor black people, especially those in the ghettoes. For example, I maintain that crack houses and heroin street sales would not be tolerated in Beverly Hills, so why should they be tolerated in Compton?

The answer is two-fold. Many liberal politicians talk a good game, but their solutions usually involve throwing more money at social problems and then not monitoring how that money is spent. For more than 40 years, the welfare system has sent checks to people, but failed to test those people for drug and alcohol addiction. Does that make any sense to you? Tragically, the busiest day of the month for American dope dealers is the day the assistance checks arrive. I know this to be true because I did extensive reporting on the business of drug dealing for ABC News.

Generally speaking, liberals are frightened of offending black Americans and that means holding them accountable for their actions is out of the question. It makes liberal Americans feel good to provide funds and sympathy. But those feelings do not solve problems.

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe that government should not intervene in the free marketplace and that blacks should make it on their own. This is fallacious thinking because the system is stacked against poor blacks in every way. Their schools are often chaotic. The streets are often dangerous. And little kids face corrupting influences far earlier than most of their white counterparts.

Julian Bond was surprised when I told him that Jesse Jackson and I have one major thing in common: We both want a better situation for poor American blacks. But I believe that discipline and accountability is the way to achieve that, while Jackson spends much of his time wrapped up in racial controversy and excusing poor behavior.

The truth is that the African-American community is going to have to change their point of view if the poverty level and inner city quality of life is going to improve. The white power structure will always hold the gold in America. Blacks make up 13 percent of the population and disengaging from white people is a quick way to the unemployment line.

That’s why the message of rap – with its disrespect towards women and cops, and authority in general – is so destructive. That’s why the tragic statistic that 70 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock is so shocking. That’s why the widespread acceptance of intoxication is so damaging.

Economic success requires education and discipline. Speaking poor English is going to hurt you. Failing to read will hold you back. Blaming the majority for your lot in life will get you nowhere.

Life is not fair. But smart thinking and hard work can even the odds some. Feeling sorry for somebody doesn’t help that person. Blaming current conditions on slavery past is a waste of time. Hating whitey because he lives better than you is a crutch.

It’s time for the black leadership in America to drop the political correctness and toughen up. Bad behavior by any American is not acceptable. African-Americans need a realistic roadmap on how to succeed. They don’t need Puff Daddy rapping about guns and ho’s. They don’t need historical bitterness, and they don’t need preferential treatment.

Blacks in America simply need the white establishment to stop being afraid of them. And to treat them as though they lived next door. As the terror of 9-11 showed us, we are all in this together. Let’s start acting like it.


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