Among the several hidden initiatives in the Obama Administration's goal to bring "fundamental change" to America are plans, already being implemented, to use Federal power and Federal money to require greater "diversity" in each and every American community.
According to an article posted on Fox News Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, while speaking at the NAACP convention last month, spoke of a new policy called "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing." This policy, according to Fox, requires HUD "to gather data on segregation and discrimination in every single neighborhood and try to remedy it."
Remedy it how? Not by new laws passed in Congress, but by the bureaucratic tools long used by HUD -- those of influencing zoning laws, housing finance policy, and infrastructure planning. Basically by telling state and local officials 'if you want our help and cooperation you must...' And if past HUD activities are any guide, along with the carrot will come a powerful stick.
Is it true, as Secretary Donovan reportedly said, that "no matter how hard a child or her parents work, the life chances of that child, even her lifespan, is determined by the zip code she grows up in"? And if a Federal bureaucracy decides that is so -- and if their collected data points, in their judgment, to "segregation and discrimination" in a given "zip code," is it then the Federal government's job to move that child and their family to another zip code?
Obviously the application of such a policy would be a very "fundamental change" in the way American communities come to exist, change and grow. A change that would potentially affect the lives of every American no matter where he or she lives. And if such a change is even being considered -- much less put in place -- is this not something that needs to be discussed openly in the public square?
If the arguments used to support such an initiative are sound, they will stand scrutiny. If, however, they are flawed, the thoughts and experience of the many may bring that to light. In any case, in a nation whose foundation has been described as "government by the people and for the people" such discussion should be nothing less than a requirement.
The idea of having the Federal Government force "integration" (the word of choice before "diversity" came into favor) is nothing new. I personally became aware of it when I was still a teenager in the 1960s. That was the period when The Diversifiers (to coin a phrase) were still pushing "public housing" as "The Answer." Often large apartment buildings, or groups of such, designed to house "underprivileged" inhabitants whose rent was to be subsidized by public monies according to a formula based on income and family size.
Some public housing -- built with much ballyhoo -- was constructed in the communities where these "underprivileged" people already resided. Decrepit slum housing was torn down and replaced with new structures, custom designed for the purpose. Supporters of this approach to improving poor people's living conditions promised great things, all done under the rubric of "urban renewal." Other such housing was being built in the heart of other, already established, communities.
My own mother -- a very vocal supporter of many such initiatives -- explained this one to me so: "People only live in slums because they have no choice and have never experienced the pleasure of having a nice home. If given nice homes they will take pride in them and care for them. Slums will disappear."
My father expressed a somewhat different point of view. He said: "Places become slums because the people in them don't care how they live. Many are lazy. Give them nice homes and in a few years they will have become a slum."
My mother and others like her were ever the optimists -- that was clear even to me as a youth. But what was my dad and others who thought as he did? Were they pessimists or were they realists? Time would answer that question.
By the time I had reached my twenties subsidized public housing -- often referred to as "the projects" -- had been built in many cities. Paradises these were not. What they typically were high-rise, crime-ridden slums with halls that stank of urine.
By the 1970s the push for "public housing" in the form of large, publicly funded, building projects was largely over. By the 1990s many such "projects" had become nothing but urban blight.
Maybe the greatest example of this -- both in its scope and the promises that had been attached to it -- was Chicago's' Cabrini-Green housing development. Indeed, if one wished to answer whose POV had proven correct -- my Mom's or my Dad's -- one could simply look at the history and sad fate of the Cabrini-Green public housing development which had, by 2011, been entirely demolished.
Today the great public housing initiatives of the 50s and 60s are largely dead -- killed by what we now know to be their own folly. Some individuals can and do change -- but the lifestyle choices people have chosen and lived by is reflected all about them -- in the very qualities of the communities in which they live. In some cases those are communities of large, gracious mansions, in others of neat clapboard-sided houses, and in others in filthy, crime-filled, urine-stinking slums.
Note that I say "choices" -- for there is the rub. It is a sad fact of life that all mankind do not have the same "choices." We don't, for instance, get to choose our parents. We don't, when children, get to choose the values that we are taught such an appreciation (or the lack of same) for education, or for making decisions with the long view in mind and not just the gratification of momentary pleasure.
But nonetheless it is true that the communities in which we live reflect the aggregate of such choices.
Walk or drive down any given street and you will be seeing a pastiche of the choices the inhabitants have made -- of the lives that have lived there. By parents, yes, and sadly, by their children -- especially by their teenage children.
Today -- 2013 -- the time of the "public housing" initiative has long passed, ended by all the sad realities mentioned above. But the idealistic desires that created public housing still exist. As does the living spirit of people like my mom. People desirous not only to "see the good in people" but equally, to refuse to see the bad -- either in people or in ideas.
Does the Obama Administration's quietly administered plans to use Federal power and Federal money to force "diversity" on to every American community promise good or ill? Is race, as suggested by that initiative, the true determinant of where and how people live in today's America? Or are choices made by individuals and communities of peoples the main determining factor? And perhaps most important of all -- will people who have consistently exhibited one set of values suddenly choose to live by a different set of values just because the government has placed them in a new home -- in a community whose underlying values may be very different from their own?
In a truly free society with a government "by the people and for the people" we should at least be able to have this discussion out loud and in public. After all, you can always decide to dynamite a Cabrini-Green when you discover that the thinking behind its creation was flawed. But what do you do when the spirit that created such a place has been forced into every town, village and city in the land?
Don Sucher has over a 45-year career contributed to numerous publications on subjects ranging from Bio/Medical Imaging through high performance motorcycle riding techniques.