Walter E. Williams bio photo

Walter E. Williams

Bradley Prize Winner 2017

Professor of Economics.
(703) 993-1148
D158 Buchanan Hall
Department of Economics
George Mason University

Related Sites:
The homepage of George Mason University.
Homepage of the Department of Economics at GMU.

        Bill Cosby's May 17 remarks at a Washington, D.C., gathering commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision continues to draw controversy and debate. That's good. Some of the debate highlights a point made by my colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell:

“Bill Cosby and the black ‘leadership’ represent two long-standing differences about how to deal with the problems of the black community. The ‘leaders’ are concerned with protecting the image of blacks, while Cosby is trying to protect the future of blacks, especially those of the younger generation.” 

 Let’s compare and contrast the tenor of Cosby’s comments with an example of one made by a black “leader.” You decide which class of comments is more helpful to the black community.

 Cosby: “With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail. Brown vs. the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. We have to go in there – forget about telling your child to go into the Peace Corps – it is right around the corner. They are standing on the corner, and they can’t speak English.”

 And on teen sex, Cosby said, “Hey, you have a baby when you are 12; your baby turns 13 and has a baby. How old are you? Huh? Grandmother! By the time you are 12, you can have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I’m just predicting.”

 Cosby went on to say, “What is it – young girls getting after a girl who wants to remain a virgin? Who are these sick black people, and where do they come from, and why haven’t they been parented to shut up? This is a sickness, ladies and gentlemen.”

 Contrast the gist of these remarks to those of Julian Bond, NAACP chairman, to the group’s 94th annual convention: Republicans appeal “to the dark underside of American culture, to the minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality.” Bond added, “They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division … their idea of reparations is to give war criminal Jefferson Davis a pardon.”

 Cosby’s comments, as well as others he made, show that he’s willing to address the pressing problems of the black community, as opposed to Bond’s grandstanding on the behalf of the Democratic Party. Black people will accomplish much more by focusing on the issues of crime, illegitimacy, poor parenting and slovenly behavior than worrying about whom the Republican Party is appealing to and racial discrimination.

 It’s really a matter of diagnosis. In medicine, the key to effective treatment is correct diagnosis. If one presents to a physician with chronic fatigue, and the physician incorrectly diagnoses it as caused by the patient’s toenail fungus, he can treat the toenail fungus until kingdom come and do nothing for the chronic fatigue. Similarly, if black politicians and civil rights groups diagnose black illegitimacy, crime and anti-intellectualism as caused by racial discrimination or the Republican Party, they can spend all the resources they please fighting discrimination and the Republican Party and do nothing for illegitimacy, crime and anti-intellectualism-induced poor academic performance.

 As a medical doctor would be obliged to prove the causal connection between chronic fatigue and toenail fungus or face malpractice charges, black politicians and civil rights organizations should be obliged to prove the causal connection between illegitimacy, crime and anti-intellectualism, on the one hand, and racial discrimination and the Republican Party on the other. I think the Cos has the more accurate diagnosis, and what we have to come up with is the effective treatment regimen.