The “racist stigma” of background checks – Tea Party Nation



The “racist stigma” of background checks – Tea Party Nation.

Jack E. Kemp

Heather Mac Donald, writing in the New York Post, recently took New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to task for Quinn’s complaining that the use of  taking finger images of welfare recipients for identification “stigmatizes” welfare applicants and thus should no longer be done. Some of Quinn’s allies also see this as “racist.”…

This was also an issue in Missouri in 2006 when professors at four state campuses complained about having to be fingerprinted.…

  And this was also an issue in the 1990s when New York City wanted to use fingerprinting of welfare recipients. Black groups were outraged about this, calling it a racist device that treated minorities in New York like criminals. I could see blacks being sensitive to the issue, but fingerprinting happened to a lot of non-minority people as well (outside the criminal justice system).

At that time, I called Former Mayor Ed Koch‘s radio talk show on WABC, getting on the air to say that when I programmed computers at a New York bank, they took my fingerprints and sent them to the FBI.  And I was white, Jewish and a college grad. In fact, Koch’s call screener told me moments before my getting to speak to Koch on the air (and I told Koch) that the screener had been fingerprinted as a requirement of becoming a New York City public school teacher. I also added that the bank also made me take a drug test. Ed Koch chuckled and mused about adding that requirement to receiving welfare, knowing it would never happen in New York.

Speaker Quinn is playing to her base, but where money is involved, background checks are in order, particularly if it means millions when multiplied by all the people who are on or applying for welfare. And the Mac Donald article referenced above also stated that:

“The chances that New Yorkers in straitened circumstances would forgo a stream of free food because of a finger-imaging requirement are equally low. New York’s food-stamp rolls have jumped 50 percent in the last three years; 1.8 million New Yorkers now use food stamps, at a cost to federal taxpayers of $3.3 billion.”


Anyone “too offended” to be fingerprinted because they want to indulge in a fantasy about 1930 Jim Crow voting tests in the South raises suspicions as to their honesty and ability to reason. The welfare applicants – and their advocates – had best come to terms with their not being alone, that many white and Asian people also have to provide background information in this society – and that often means finger imaging. To those who object, I say, “Try to imagine that the money was coming from your own pocket.” You’d want proof that the person asking for your money was who they said they were. If someone is a taxpayer, they – and their accountable agencies in the City government – would best see background proof with finger imaging as well. If someone – such as City Council President Christine Quinn – doesn’t want to understand that, then perhaps she should rethink her position before running for the next Mayor of New York (as has been reported). If not, as more people flee the City, Quinn will find that her speeches about “stigmatized minorities” and requests for more welfare funds will not meet with the same enthusiasm and approval in Washington that they do in the liberal echo chamber that is the New York City Council.


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