Recently in Social Factors Category
The word spread within minutes of Michael Brown's death -- a young black man with his hands raised in surrender had just been shot by a white cop.I disagree. Truth always matters, but especially when the goal is to cure or at least ameliorate a pathological condition, whether medical or social.
Soon, "Hands Up. Don't Shoot!" became a rallying cry for protesters in the streets of this St. Louis suburb and a symbol nationwide of racial inequality for those who believe that minorities are too often the targets of overzealous police.
Yet the witness accounts contained in thousands of pages of grand jury documents reviewed by The Associated Press show many variations about whether Brown's hands were actually raised -- and if so, how high.
To some, it doesn't matter whether Brown's hands literally were raised, because his death has come to symbolize a much bigger movement.
Even in the best of times, survival rates for small businesses don't inspire loads of confidence. Fifty percent of them close after four years.
But Natalie DuBose of Ferguson, Mo., did not open her shop in the best of times. She opened Natalie's Cakes and More in downtown Ferguson in June. In August, police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.
The city erupted.
DuBose's customer base evaporated. She went two weeks without a single person walking into her shop, she told local media. Then things turned around. After interviews with local radio and television stations, her community turned out to support her business.
"By the time I got back from [local radio station] KMOX, I had people outside the door," she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. What's more, they kept coming. The single mother of two, who raised the funds to open her shop by selling her cakes at a flea market, could breathe a little easier.
Then, this week, DuBose was faced with another crisis. After news broke that a grand jury would not charge Wilson, rioters broke the glass of her storefront Monday night. They damaged baking equipment.
[In the name of the welfare state narrative], Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin have to be victims, not aggressors.
Still, the truth is that they were victims. Not victims of a mythical white power structure-the concept is laughable as applied to either [the Walter Mitty-like] George Zimmerman or Darren Wilson. And certainly not victims of a racist judicial system. On the contrary, in both cases America's court system rendered the right verdict under tremendous pressure to bend the truth to political expedience.
Rather, Martin and Brown were victims of an African-American culture in which the family has been pretty much destroyed, government checks have largely replaced employment, education is disparaged, criminality is respected, and racial animosity is a sign of authenticity. That culture...has been an utter disaster for millions of young black men like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Instead of tearing down other human beings who are acting upon decades of pent-up anger at a system decidedly against them, a system that has told them they are less than human for years, we ought to be reaching out to help them regain the humanity they lost, not when a few set fire to the buildings in Ferguson, but when they were born the wrong color in the post-racial America.
Racial profiling and tensions between the police and poor black communities are real problems, but these are effects rather than causes, and they can't be addressed without also addressing the extraordinarily high rates of black criminal behavior--yet such discussion remains taboo. Blacks who bring it up are sell-outs. Whites who mention it are racists. (Mr. Dyson accused Mr. Giuliani of "white supremacy.") But so long as young black men are responsible for an outsize portion of violent crime, they will be viewed suspiciously by law enforcement and fellow citizens of all races.
Behind the scenes, he has consulted with the mayor and the president on matters of race and civil rights and even the occasional high-level appointment. He was among a small group at the White House when Mr. Obama announced his nomination of Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to become the next attorney general.
It must be noted that all this--the quarantine argument, the travel ban--is another expression of the deep, tearing distance between America's professional and political elites, who operate as if they are estranged from common sense, and normal people, who are becoming more estranged from the elites, their oblivious and politicized masters.Those that Ms. Noonan calls "normal people" I call "persons of sense." The other side is not just "elites." It started that way, but the dearth of sense among educators, media moguls, and the celebrities that too many people look up to have caused a spread of Common Sense Deficit Disorder throughout our society.
That distance has been growing all my adult life, but the Ebola argument has brought it into sharper relief. The elites should start twigging onto it. They are no longer immediately respected, their guidance is not reflexively taken. They seem more immersed in political thinking--what is the ideologically enlightened position to take, where's the boss on it?--than in protecting public health.
Or thinking commonsensically, like your great-aunt.
Which is too bad because great-aunts built America.
This is one of the greatest dangers to our society today. It looms in the background of the actual root causes of crime -- permissive parenting, standardless schools, and acceptance of excuses for wrongdoing.
This article makes some very valid points, but it is disappointing in its failure to fully explore why the use of traditional school discipline has declined, and at one point it goes completely off the rails:
In recent decades, a new philosophy in law enforcement had been applied to schools. It was "deal with the small stuff so they won't go to the big stuff, and also it sent a strong message of deterrence," said James Alan Fox, the Lipman Professor of criminology at Boston's Northeastern University.Fox is seriously trying to equate "broken windows policing" with "zero tolerance" nonsense? The two are nearly diametric opposites.
The zero-tolerance approach started as part of the 1994 Gun-Free Schools Act, Mr. Fox said, but it expanded to other weapons, then to drug contraband and "finally into ordinary violations of school rules, disrespect, skipping. It eventually became an across the board response to discipline."
But the primary emphasis here should be understanding why traditional school discipline has declined and fixing it. School administrators just don't want to punish misbehaving kids like they used to. When they do punish, their instrument of choice is suspension, exactly the wrong thing to do with a kid who doesn't want to be in school anyway. Suspension has gotten so absurd that some schools suspend kindergarteners. What are these people thinking?
President Obama has announced to the world that America's police officers are as disruptive to civil society as Middle Eastern beheaders and Russian-backed rebels. Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, he agreed with "America's critics" who point out that America, too, has "failed to live up to [its] ideals; that America has plenty of problems within [its] own borders." He went on to explain the particulars:In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri--where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. And like every country, we continually wrestle with how to reconcile the vast changes wrought by globalization and greater diversity with the traditions that we hold dear.All the more important, then, for Obama to set the record straight. The idea that the Ferguson riots were the result of a predatory police force tantamount to sectarian murderers in the Middle East is a poisonous calumny. The threat to America's blacks comes almost exclusively from other blacks, not from the police. Every year, thousands of African Americans are gunned down by other African Americans, with no attention from the media and local government officials.