Pete Buttigieg just can't stop calling highways racist

Our transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, can't tell us enough times how racist our highways are.  Pete prefers bicycles (even if he has his bicycle dropped off at a spot near the White House so he can be photographed riding a bike to work there without working up a sweat).

And, of course, railroads, the subsidy-loving choice of central planners.

The last time Pete attacked highways as racist was in 2021.

US transport secretary Pete Buttigieg said highway designs in the country were "racist," and claimed that the new infrastructure bill would help fix it. (snip)

This was in reference to his earlier stand that racism was "physically built" into highways.

"I'm still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a white and a black neighbourhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach — or that would have been — in New York was designed too low for it to pass by, that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices," Mr Buttigieg responded.

Unfortunately for Pete:

Conservative commentators quickly pounced on Buttigieg's remarks, leading Washington Post writer Philip Bump to point out that Buttigieg was merely talking about a well-known story from Robert Caro's "The Power Broker," his massive and authoritative biography of Robert Moses. In the book, Caro alleges that Moses designed the overpass bridges on the Southern State Parkway leading to Jones Beach too low to be used by buses that would carry poor minorities there. 

To Bump, it was "not only obviously true that American governmental bodies used infrastructure spending as a way to bolster both directly and indirectly racist policies, but it is an equally obvious truth that such systemic decisions have often been ignored in the teaching of the country's history." And such omissions were why, Bump maintained, something like the 1619 Project was needed. 

But then, in a burst of journalistic honesty, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler walked back Bump's remarks, claiming that the newspaper "knee-jerked" in its defense of Buttigieg. Kessler had heard from several historians who urged caution in using the story about Moses and the bridges. "Buttigieg should tailor his remarks to reflect what is historically unimpeachable — and we should be more careful to double-check on the latest views of historians," Kessler wrote with remarkable judiciousness. "Even a Pulitzer Prize-winning book is not always the last word on a subject." (snip)

Caro said that he got the information about the bridges from one of Moses' engineers. But Ken Jackson, the dean of New York historians (and my former adviser), pushed back against the claim. "Caro is wrong," Jackson told Kessler. "Arnold Vollmer, the landscape architect who was in charge of design for the bridges, said the height was due to cost." Jackson added that there were many ways to get to Jones Beach by train and bus that avoided the supposedly lowered parkway overpasses. The North Shore Bus Company published a bus schedule specifically for Jones Beach in the summer of 1937; it had a number of daily routes from Flushing to Jones Beach. It figures that Pete would hold onto a half-century old anecdote claiming.

It figures that Pete would latch onto a discredited anecdote from half a century ago to accuse his least favorite mode of transportation of being racist.  And even after debunking, he can't let go of the idea that racism and automobiles are two peas in a pod.

Speaking with famed Jew-hater, pogrom-instigator, and all around racial strife–monger Al Sharpton, Buttigieg opened a new attack of racist highways.  They cause victim-class minorities to have more traffic accidents.

Rush transcript via Grabien:

Buttigieg: "We've got a crisis when it comes to roadway fatalities in America, we lose about 40,000 people every year. It's a level that's comparable to gun violence. And we see a lot of racial disparities. Black and brown Americans, tribal citizens and rural residents are much more likely to lose their lives, whether it's in a car or as a pedestrian being hit by a car. There are a lot of reasons related to discrimination, related to the — even the ways that roads are designed and built, who has access to a safe street design that's got crosswalks and good lighting, and who doesn't have that access that can drive disparities, and we have a responsibility to act on that."

Photo credit: Grabien Video screen grab.

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