Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg gave an address about the infrastructure bill and said this about roads being racist:

A number of conservative pundits pushed back with “roads can’t be racist.”

For example, Tucker Carlson:

This argument is stupid.

While it is true that roads are inanimate so cannot themselves be racist, what Buttigieg was talking about was the racism in the urban planning that went into the road.

His example of low overpasses was mostly true.  Robert Moses was a city planner in New York City.  Like many elites, he had a utopian vision of the public works under his control.  He made beautiful parks and then made them inaccessible to poor people.  Many who were Black or Hispanic, but not all.

Any long time resident of Miami could tell you about Overtown.  Overtown was a black neighborhood, originally called Colored Town, home to black workers of the the Flagler Railroad.  When the highways were built in Miami, City planners put I-95, 395, the Palmetto and Dolphin expressways through Overtown.  Nobody wanted to live under a bunch of eight-lane highways and so property values fell and it turned into a slum.

Then there is the issue of accessibility.  Think of the plot of the Pixar movie Cars.  If planners don’t make traffic in and out of an area easy, it gets cut off and dies.

It’s not exclusively racism, but a mix of racism and classism that motivates urban planners to put overpasses and exits where they do.  People don’t want to live where they can hear highway traffic or have concrete support columns instead of trees so its the people without political influence that get that pit in their neighborhood.

The poor have the exit ramp overhead and the rich get the nice parkway exit that ends next their fancy shopping mall to make their commute convenient.

That’s real and being obtuse about that is stupid and unhelpful.

The way roads target Buttigieg isn’t by denying the racism of urban planning.

It’s to address the fact that Progressives can’t fix a fucking thing.

Remember when Sweden tried “feminist snow plowing.”  It utterly failed.  Stockholm was snowed in and stopped.

Applying progressive values to an infrastructure problem killed the business in a city.

Buttigieg is going to focus on anti-racism transportation and kill transportation.

Whether you think that’s the feature or the bug depends on how tight your tinfoil hat is.

We can fix our infrastructure in a way that keeps business flowing and revitalizes neighborhoods and we should do that.

I don’t trust Buttigieg to do that.

Youngkin showed that a Conservative can win by focusing on social problems and proposing solutions.

“Durpy-durr, roads can’t be racist” isn’t that.

If we want to win with the black community, we need to address their issues.

(On a side note: Youngkin and Trump proved Republicans need the black community to win elections.  We might never get the majority but we can get large minorities and that’s enough. Those minorities are largely the working black middle-class, who like their white counterparts, benefit from Conservative economic policies.  The way to win 30 to 40% of the black vote is to focus on that middle-class black demographic.)

E.g. “This overpass is falling apart and the highway is too congested.  Let’s fix it so that it better serves this area and increases property values.”

I don’t trust Buttigieg to do that.

I trust him to focus on menial shit like busses from black neighborhoods in NYC being able to go to a state park.

I don’t trust him to build anything useful.

We need to focus on transportation that helps the middle-class, including the black middle-class who need good roads.

We need to focus on solutions not obtuse reactionary talking points.

Let’s not clutch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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By J. Kb

9 thoughts on “Dear Conservatives, Pete is right so come up with a better argument against him”
  1. I agree J. KB but would state that the reason why roads and bridges were engineered was not because the planners were racist against blacks and other minorities, but instead influenced by fiscal constraints and productivity objectives imposed on them by elected officials who had to improve their societies lives. Racism in no way occurred.

    Today’s improvements should occur exactly the same way they did when today’s infrastructure was first built—engineered according to fiscal constraints and productivity objectives which best serves the society presided over by elected officials who are charged with this responsibility.

    Again, there are always winners and losers when roads and bridges are constructed, it has nothing whatsoever to do with racism. It has everything to do with taxpayers and their ability to enable a higher level of fiscal responsibility within their particular community—side of town.

    1. I’m not sure J would argue that racism wasn’t a factor in the siting of roads and bridges. My own view is that it was a factor; elitists usually have a significant racist element in their mindset even if they don’t admit it.

      1. Whether or not the elitist have racists mindsets or not, it was not the reason the bridge and road was constructed as it sits today. A road and bridge locations was selected due to the need which was apparent to all who needed it….to be more productive. And there was, in most cases, only so much money available for such projects…thus the best potential outcome was the winner, and the least or not as productive outcome, was the loser.

        The more affluent side of town always is the winner. Imagine if it wasn’t that way, and it was the opposite way—the poorest side of town is where the best roads and bridges were constructed.

        1. Two companies I’ve worked for searched for new offices or expanded them. The easiest way to predict what part of the city the expansions were in was to find out where the executives lived. Same principle.

  2. Important item to note:
    “He made beautiful parks and then made them inaccessible to poor people. Many who were Black or Hispanic, but not all.”

    Not exactly true. When Moses was planning his roads/parks, there were almost no blacks or hispanics living in the NY metro area. That does not mean he was not trying to keep the poor out, but more likely it was the italians or irish.

    However, there is some precedent. There are several sections in the Transportation code that are there specifically because the government would run new roads/railroads/airports through the poor neighborhoods (and parks) because there was less chance of legal action.

    Now, the problem with Sec Bootysex’s statement is not about the reasons why the roads were put where they were. (note, odds are there was no malice, only a desire to build the road with the lowest amount of pushback). The problem is he wants to fix it, to atone for the sins of the previous generations.

  3. I don’t think it’s racism or classism, per se.

    I read a book on the titanic sinking where the author refuted the claim that they intentionally put third class in steerage with few escapes or life rafts. It was his contention that no attention was paid to them whatsoever, much less racism or classism. In those days they simply enter the designers conscience.

    That’s the case here.

    That and the fact when humans get more than two nickels to rub together, they go all NIMBY.

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