If libertarians built the roads, maybe they wouldnt be racist – Washington Examiner

Posted: November 13, 2021 at 10:52 am

Libertarians face many trite and tired arguments against their ideology, but none is more famous than the ever-present Who would build the roads? attack.

But while libertarians are forced to spend a good bit of time talking about roads, the rest of the country is typically less focused on our nations infrastructure that is until this week when Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg made comments that ignited a firestorm over the topic.

In remarks made about the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, Buttigieg alluded to the racist design of Americas highways and his plans to use the funds to address the problems theyve caused.

I dont think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality, he said. And I think we have everything to gain by acknowledging it and then dealing with it, which is why the Reconnecting Communities, that billion dollars, is something we want to get to work right away putting to work.

In response, conservative pundits went to work defending the government which they often do when accusations of systemic racism come up. Its an odd stance given the fact that the Right claims to believe the government is inherently corrupt, vile, and perverse. But racist? Not a chance, how dare you allege such a thing.

If we step back from the culture war for a moment, though, it is easy to come up with a number of examples of systemic racism that most on the Right would not argue. Gun laws were implemented to ensure black people did not have access to firearms after the Civil War. Government schools, which are assigned based on zip codes that are affected by the policies of redlining, consistently produce racially disparate outcomes. And occupational licenses have commonly been put in place to block certain people from entering careers.

While the policies that built our nations roads may be less familiar to many, there are countless historical examples that back up Buttigiegs claims.

Our highways were mostly built throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Ambitious engineers sought means to link downtown business districts with the suburbs, and to do so, they often had to cut through existing neighborhoods, meaning a great deal of disruption to those residents and a good amount of eminent domain seizures. Wealthier neighborhoods, which tended to be white, had the political might to fight off these projects while the poorer neighborhoods, which were often mostly black, did not.

To build Interstate 10 in New Orleans, engineers cleared a large portion of land along the oak-lined commercial thoroughfare of North Claiborne Avenue. The black residents fought this plan unsuccessfully at the time, and dozens of homes and businesses in the community were destroyed while the nearby French Quarter was left untouched.

Its a pattern one can find replicated dozens of times throughout virtually every city. According toThe Pew Charitable Trusts , In Miami, Interstate 95 flattened swaths of a Black neighborhood called Overtown, forcing some 10,000 people to leave their homes. In Nashville, Tennessee, the I-40 expressway demolished 620 houses, 27 apartment buildings and six Black churches.

The impacts on the black community were severe. Not only were they not compensated for their properties at market rates eminent domain seizures rarely are but the roads ruined black-owned businesses, caused home values to fall, increased pollution, attracted homeless camps and crime under overpasses, and cut communities off from one another.

This is what people mean by systemic racism. And whether it was done intentionally by government actors to cut black communities off from white neighborhoods as segregation became illegal, or if it was merely done because these communities lacked the political power to fight back, the results are the same.

We should not seek to tear down existing roads as Buttigieg has flirted with, but we should seek to learn from our history and use this as yet another example of the failures of government power and central planning.

One thing is certain: If libertarians built the roads, theyd have a lot better chance of not being racist.

Hannah Cox (@hannahdcox ) is a libertarian-conservative activist and a contributor to the Washington Examiners Beltway Confidential blog.

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If libertarians built the roads, maybe they wouldnt be racist - Washington Examiner

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