The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which Bachmann disparages here, partially corrected a long history of racist lending practices, which kept blacks and other minorities from decent (that is, "white") neighborhoods. In particular, the act outlawed the practice of “redlining,” which happened when banks drew actual red lines on maps around minority areas, and then denied mortgages to people within the red border, even though they qualified for such loans. The real effort of Michelle Bachmann and others currently decrying this Act is to deflect blame from the endlessly greedy white-collar managers and investors who built our collapsing economic house of cards and onto America's ever-ready scapegoat, those racial "minorities."
They also want to shift blame from Republican policies that favor the rich to Democratic ones that favor the poor. You see, it's not the rampant deregulation initiated by Republican free-market advocates during the Reagan Administration that's to blame here, nor, again, the financial industry's leaders and managers whose greed was thereby allowed to run rampant. No, it's Jimmy Carter's fault for getting that Community Reinvestment Act passed, and thus the real fault, after all, of those blacks and other minorities that Democrats are always catering to. It's "those people," who in the collective white imagination always remain reliably "irresponsible." And reliably absolving.
In her first novel, The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison depicts, so very well, this psychological use of the weak by the strong. She does this by telling the stories of the Breedloves, an ironically named African American family repeatedly used by the world to wipe itself on. The young daughter, Pecola, suffers crimes against herself so harsh and self-destroying that she's driven to wish for blue eyes, and then to believe she has them. If she has them, she thinks, then people will finally love her.
Pecola's childhood friend, Claudia, narrates parts of the novel as an adult, and at one point she comes to realize what she and others did to Pecola, their convenient, cleansing scapegoat:
Pecola is somewhere in that little brown house she and her mother moved to on the edge of town, where you can see her even now, once in awhile. The birdlike gestures are worn away to a mere picking and plucking her way between the tire rims and the sunflowers, between Coke bottles and milkweed, among all the waste and beauty of the world--which is what she herself was.
All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. All of us--all who knew her--felt so wholesome after we cleansed ourselves on her.
We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used--to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and therefore deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.