Narrow bridges

David Marcus: Buttigieg’s fanatic bridging remark was a bag of nonsense

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was sharply mocked this week when asked how the Biden administration planned to “deconstruct” racist infrastructure systems in America.

“Mayor Pete” responded that he was surprised that so few Americans know how many racist roads and bridges there are, particularly citing the low bridges that prohibit bus access at Jones Beach in New York.


First, let’s start with what the secretary gets here. Since ancient times, roads, bridges and infrastructure in general have been used to separate populations. With the advent of the railroads came the common term “on the wrong side of the tracks”, referring to the way the railroad lines divided people. The vast majority of the time, these divisions were made along class lines. But yes, there are examples of infrastructure decisions made on the basis of dividing people by religion, race or ethnicity.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addresses the media during a White House press briefing in Washington, United States, November 8, 2021. REUTERS / Leah Millis
(REUTERS / Leah Millis)

Jones Beach’s Buttigieg example, however, does not appear to be one of them. And that speaks to a bigger issue with progressive race rhetoric. Fact-checkers for CNN and the Washington Post have spoken out for the secretary. Both quoted a narrow passage from Robert Caro’s ubiquitous volume “The Power Broker,” a biography of New York city planner Robert Moses.

But in a reversal on Wednesday, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler tweeted, “Addendum: Experts increasingly doubt this story,” revealing that his original fact-checking had all the intellectual rigor of a Three Stooges routine.

The Jones Beach example of Buttigieg… speaks to a larger problem with progressive race rhetoric.

In Caro’s passage, an associate of Moses said the master builder had contempt for “the people” and devised ways to keep them away from Jones Beach. There is a reference to black buses having a harder time getting permits, but nothing in passing to suggest that the infrastructure choices were meant to keep the resort all white.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at the United Nations <a class=Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK on November 10, 2021. REUTERS / Yves Herman”/>

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK on November 10, 2021. REUTERS / Yves Herman
(REUTERS / Yves Herman)

Consider an important fact. In 1930, a year after Jones Beach opened, New York City was 95% white. It’s hard to believe that Moses was making major infrastructure decisions based on the five percent demise of the population. He was trying to keep people out, but they were poor people from all walks of life. Moses may have been a fanatic, but his views were downright classist.

This betrays an extremely common mistake made by progressives who confuse race and class in American history in a way that just makes no sense. While the Marxist argues that capitalism and the constitutional order must be destroyed to achieve class equality, the modern progressive says they must be destroyed to achieve racial equality, or as they say, fairness. .

There is a reason for this switcheroo. The United States no longer has a “working class” that can be mobilized as it was in the first half of the 20th century. The modern American proletariat, if you will, is far too diffuse politically. The hope of the far left now is that race can replace class to create an anti-capitalist and anti-government movement.


Sadly, Buttigieg takes this anti-historical and confrontational way of viewing our nation’s past as a vindication of left-wing power. Has America Passed Racist Laws in Its History? Sure. Has every decision been made or has every system been designed specifically to hamper blacks and browns? Of course not. Robert Moses was probably much more worried that poor whites, the vast majority of New York City, were going to Jones Beach than the small non-white population.


And it goes well beyond infrastructure. Whether you call it critical race theory or not, the current penchant for teaching all of American history as a paranoid reaction to the threat of non-whites is part of what parents of all races stand against. rebellious. Well. Because that’s just not true. Secretary Buttigieg may or may not know that what he said was mostly a bag of nonsense, but he should educate himself anyway.

The story is only nuance, but the nuance is bad for the radicals. So don’t expect the Biden administration to give up on its constant calls to run. That’s a shame. But that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.