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The Lies at the Base of "Black Lives Matter"

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The "Black Lives Matter" Movement took root a little more than a year ago in Ferguson, Mo.  A white policeman, Darren Wilson, shot a blameless and unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, as Brown had his hands up, trying to surrender (hence the Movement's first slogan, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot").  Thereafter, Wilson walked up to Brown, now prone, and, as noted in stories briefly recounted in this New Yorker article, shot him in the back.

Or so is the fable.  It's a pack of lies, and was from the day it started. The point of BLM was never to tell the truth, so when the truth came out  --  as it did in two grand jury investigations, including one by Eric Holder's Justice Department  --  it was dismissed. The point was always something different:  To intimidate the police and thus benefit criminals.

There's evidence that it's worked.  Police work has become more fraught.  Some cops say they're pulling back.  When the State's Attorney indicts the police and the city's mayor says rioters must be given "space to destroy," what were we expecting?  We should have been expecting, e.g., Baltimore, and a spike in murders coast-to-coast, which is what we got and are getting.

The wretched irony in this is, of course, that black lives do matter, and that blacks, who disproportionately bear the brunt of poverty, depend more than better-off whites for the basic protection policing provides.  In part for that reason, I repeat the following entry on PowerLine, a bitterly humorous tribute to the insidious deceit and tragic carnage of "Black Lives Matter."
We often hear that lack of opportunity for legal employment is a "root cause" of crime.  That is likely less of a factor than many would have us believe, but it would be equally fallacious to believe it is not a factor at all.

We need to be concerned, then, that the ladder of opportunity always be there and that those who want to climb it be able to do so.  Unfortunately, people pretending to have the best interests of low-wage workers at heart are busily sawing off the bottom rungs.

Drug Dealers, Prey or Predator?

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Heather Mac Donald exposes the myth that drug enforcement creates criminals out of otherwise productive, peaceable young men who never had a chance.  In her article in The City Journal, she aptly sums up the reigning academic wisdom painting The System as a monstrosity and the drug dealer as the would-be Jean Val Jean: 

[Leftist author Alice] Goffman contends that it is the legal system itself that is creating crime and dysfunction in poor black communities. Young men get saddled with a host of allegedly petty warrants for having missed court dates, violated their parole and probation conditions, and ducked the administrative fees levied on their criminal cases. Fearful of being rounded up under these senseless procedural warrants, they adopt a lifestyle of subterfuge and evasion, constantly in flight from an increasingly efficient and technology-enhanced police force. "Once a man fears that he will be taken by the police, it is precisely a stable and public daily routine of work and family life . . . that allows the police to locate him," Goffman writes. "A man in legal jeopardy finds that his efforts to stay out of prison are aligned not with upstanding, respectable action but with being a shady and distrustful character."

But that's not the reality of it:

Goffman's own material demolishes this thesis. On the Run documents a world of predation and law-of-the-jungle mores, riven with violence and betrayal. Far from being the hapless victims of random "legal entanglements"--Goffman's euphemism for the foreseeable consequences of lawless behavior--her subjects create their own predicaments through deliberate involvement in crime. 

You need to read the whole piece in order to understand how utterly fictitious is the tale of Mr.-Nicey-driven-to-crime by a callous (and of course racist) system. Clue:  He wasn't Mr. Nicey to start with.

Way Beyond Unhinged

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Criminal justice, sentencing, and police behavior  --  especially behavior toward African Americans  -- have become contentious issues.  As one would expect, they have shown up in the race for each party's Presidential nomination.  They have opened a window on (1) what treatment is given speakers with opposing viewpoints, and (2) what, in some circles, is considered an "opposing viewpoint."

The appalling state of play was summed up in this headline from CNN:  "O'Malley Apologizes for Saying 'All Lives Matter" at Liberal Conference."  The first three paragraphs of this extremely depressing story are:

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley apologized on Saturday for saying "All lives matter" while discussing police violence against African-Americans with liberal demonstrators.

Several dozen demonstrators interrupted the former Maryland governor while he was speaking here at the Netroots Nation conference, a gathering of liberal activists, demanding that he address criminal justice and police brutality. When they shouted, "Black lives matter!" a rallying cry of protests that broke out after several black Americans were killed at the hands of police in recent months, O'Malley responded: "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter."

The demonstrators, who were mostly black, responded by booing him and shouting him down. 

When the President of the United States hypes racial grievance at every turn, this is what you get.



What Happens When We Lose Our Nerve

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What happens is that we return to past failures.  An article in Quadrant begins:

Welcome to the 1970s! In New York, anyway, one of the decades Tom Wolfe denominated "purple" has made a stunning comeback. Consider crime. After a precipitous decline that began under the mayoralty of Rudy Giuliani and continued under Michael Bloomberg, violent crime has soared in the city. From May 2014 to the end of May this year, shootings increased almost 10 per cent while murders jumped a stunning 19.5 per cent during the same period. Meanwhile, Central Park has once again become a haven for thieves and muggers. "Police are investigating another mugging in Central Park," begins a May 20 story in the New York Post, "the latest in a string of robberies that has residents on edge."

It continues:

The centrepiece of Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign in 2013 was a promise to end one of the most effective weapons against violent crime: "stop and frisk", the practice by the police of stopping, questioning and, in some cases, frisking suspicious characters. De Blasio wanted to end the practice because the overwhelming majority of those stopped and frisked were Black. The reason for this was that the overwhelming majority of suspicious characters that the police encountered were Black, but that reality did not prevent de Blasio from pretending that the practice was inexcusably racist. Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly warned that "people would suffer" if the prophylactic practice was abandoned. No matter. It was too good an opportunity for a left-wing demagogue to ignore.

I don't subscribe to everything the author argues, but I very much subscribe to the underlying thesis:  If we turn away from standards, and the enforcement of standards, that made life safer and better, it will return to being more dangerous and worse.


The Destruction of Baltimore

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Actions have consequences.  So do failures to act.

When rioters smashed their way through Baltimore, supposedly as an exercise of First Amendment "protest," Mayor Rawlings-Blake chirped that they would be given "space to destroy."  They heard her loud and clear, and took advantage.  The police stood down.  

The cynical among us believe, however, that the "protesters" were less interested in the First Amendment than in just looting.  Not being dummies, among the most coveted items for them were the drug supplies of smashed-in pharmacies.

Now those drugs are fueling a turf war among traffickers, much increased drug abuse, and --  guess what  --  a murder spree unlike anything Baltimore has seen in decades.

If you think, however, that this will change the narrative that the whole problem is racism, cops, and thuggish prosecutors using mandatory minimum sentences, you haven't been keeping up with Al Sharpton and his enablers in Congress and academia.
No, they aren't.  

And this goes beyond the fact that the Police Commissioner, the Mayor, the Chairman of the City Council, and a goodly chunk of the police force are black.

Liberal African American columnist Colber I. King points the finger elsewhere:

Births to teen mothers; families headed by single women; violent crime; where police recorded gunshots; people age 25 and older without high school diplomas; the unemployed; people living below the poverty line; and welfare and food stamp recipients.

So is the answer more welfare programs, fifty years of which have brought Baltimore to its present state?

A Culture of Shirking

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I don't recall specific episodes at the moment, but I know I have seen instances where, when there was some horrendous accident in, say, Japan, Taiwan or somewhere else in the Far East, the person responsible and/or the head of the company makes a public apology. He admits wrongdoing and seeks (or sometimes begs) the forgiveness of those he has injured. The concept of responsibility, shame and remorse still has meaning.

I thought of that when I read the following excerpts from the reporting of attempts to interview the engineer of the Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring about 200:

What was Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian doing and thinking when his speeding train careened off the rails in Philadelphia, killing eight people and sending over 200 more to the hospital?

He can't say.

That's what Bostian's lawyer told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, saying his client "has absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the events" after losing consciousness in the crash Tuesday night.

"He remembers coming into the curve (and) attempting to reduce speed," the attorney, Robert Goggin, said.

The Real "Root Cause"

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We have heard a good deal about the "root cause" of the Baltimore riots, not to mention a great deal of other criminal behavior.  Thomas Sowell sets the record straight:

You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization -- including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility, and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain -- without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state -- and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves. 

One key fact that keeps getting ignored is that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits every year since 1994. Behavior matters and facts matter...


Satire vs. Reality

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Kent posted earlier today about how difficult it has become to tell satire from reality. His subject was what remains of freedom of speech on campus.

In a matter of hours, I stumbled across the following.  It's from a New Age piece about how we can fix inequality.  The basic suggestion is that we should abolish the family, since childhood experience tells much of the tale about where a kid will wind up, and where he winds up is likely to be unequal to where some other kid winds up. And no, this is not something I imagined.  Unfortunately, it's not satire, either:

One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.'

'What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn't need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people's children'. . .

'The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don't--the difference in their life chances--is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don't,' he says.

This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion--that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted.

This kind of stuff is enough to make Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby look sober.

Root Causes and Baltimore

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William McGurn has this column in the WSJ:

There is another view. In this view, the disaster of inner cities isn't primarily about race at all. It's about the consequences of 50 years of progressive misrule--which on race has proved an equal-opportunity failure.

Baltimore is but the latest liberal-blue city where government has failed to do the one thing it ought--i.e., put the cops on the side of the vulnerable and law-abiding--while pursuing "solutions" that in practice enfeeble families and social institutions and local economies.

These supposed solutions do this by substituting federal transfers for fathers and families. They do it by favoring community organizing and government projects over private investment. And they do it by propping up failing public-school systems that operate as jobs programs for the teachers unions instead of centers of learning.

In her New York Post column, "The Perilous New Push to Excuse Lawlessness," Heather MacDonald brilliantly sums up the racial demagoguery actually at work under the guise of criminal justice "reform":

[A] wide-ranging movement is already under way to transform the criminal justice system in order to avoid a disparate impact on blacks. This push will jeopardize the country's two-decade-long crime drop.

The pretext for the current decriminalization movement is the half-dozen highly publicized deaths of blacks in encounters with police over the past nine months, including the recent case of Freddie Gray in Baltimore....

The criminal justice pendulum is swinging against personal responsibility and toward the use of race and poverty as an excuse for noncompliance with the law....

[A] two-tiered system of justice that winks at lawlessness when it is committed by officially favored victim groups will make life miserable for the millions of law-abiding residents of poor communities and erode the public-safety gains from proactive policing.

The Ghost Game

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For the first time in major league history, a game will be played before an audience of zero.

The Baltimore Orioles decided that, given the riots, arson and looting, it was too risky to have fans at the ballpark for the game this afternoon against the Chicago White Sox.

The Washington Post reports, inter alia:

The decision to play in an empty ballpark will cost the Orioles revenue: no ticket sales, no concessions, no parking. The first two games of the series against the White Sox, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. starts Monday and Tuesday nights, have been postponed, and the club announced it will make up those games in a 4:05 p.m. doubleheader on May 28 at Camden Yards.

Of course, it's not just the Orioles who will lose revenue.  It's the dozens of people  -- generally not people at the top of the economic ladder  --  who man the concession stands and carry hot dogs, ice cream and drinks up and down the aisles for sale to the fans.

Those losses will barely count among all the other, more appalling ones, that have come from this lawlessness.   But those people work for their money.  So, even if their losses don't count with The Elite, they will count with me.
The WSJ has this editorial, titled The Blue-City Model with the above subhead.  Here is the portion on-point for this blog:

The dysfunctions of the blue-city model are many, but the main failures are three: high crime, low economic growth and failing public schools that serve primarily as jobs programs for teachers and administrators rather than places of learning.

Let's take them in order. The first and most important responsibility of any city government is to uphold law and order. When the streets are unsafe and crime is high, everything else--e.g., getting businesses to invest and create jobs--becomes next to impossible.

People also start voting with their feet. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has stated that one of her goals is to attract 10,000 families to move to Baltimore. Good luck with that after Monday night.

It's not that we don't know what to do. Rudy Giuliani proved that in New York City, which he helped to revive in the 1990s starting with a revolution in policing that brought crime rates to record lows. A good part of this was policing in areas that had previously been left to the hoodlums.

His reward (and that of his successor, Mike Bloomberg, who built on Mr. Giuliani's policies) was to become a villain of the liberal grievance industry and a constant target of attack. Few blue-city mayors elsewhere have been willing to take that heat.


Why Culture Is More Important than Law

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And why strong parents are more important than every entitlement program and every Public Defender's office ever invented.

Watch one of the few encouraging things to come out of the Baltimore meltdown.

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