Sunday, July 12, 2015


You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

Despite his Magna Cum Laude degree from Grambling State University, NYT columnist Charles Blow has never shown any strength in logic or recognizing the bleeding obvious. Case in point, his recent piece here.

Confronted with the widely known but little publicized fact that the numbers of black on black murders completely dwarf the few tragic deaths of black men by police officers each year, Mr. Blow refuses to acknowledge what is staring him in the face and retreats to extremely shopworn excuses. At least he doesn't blame slavery. Behold.

[The black murder statistic] has fueled something of a debate about whether all black lives matter — including those taken by community violence — or whether that designation is reserved only for lives taken by state violence.
But this is a wedge in search of a crack. To me, there is no discontinuity between these lives because there is no way to separate structural violence from community violence.

So all Black Lives Matter, but all black murder victims are the result of white racism and not the individual choice of the murderers of the black victims (and more than 95% of the murderers are black themselves).

His specific laying of blame is remarkably lame:

Concentrated poverty is a direct result of structural inequity, and that concentrated poverty is attended by hopelessness and desperation, all of which are a prime breeding ground for violence. 

People didn’t simply wake up one day with a burning desire to live in the poorest, most violent parts of our cities. Generations of discriminatory housing, banking and employment practices created those powder kegs. And then we blame racial culture rather than racist culture for their constant explosions.

Concentrated poverty has a number of causes but what exactly is the "structural inequity" he's talking about? I'm not even sure poor people are more violent than rich people but most criminals I met in the criminal justice system were stupid. Are there any studies about concentrated stupidity and crime?
And is this sentence his definition of "structural inequity": Generations of discriminatory housing, banking and employment practices created those powder kegs? I couldn't get a loan so I murdered someone? I have to admit that I'm not seeing the connection. Maybe he explains this below. But my last question about this section is: Do blacks have a racial culture? Is it different from white culture or Asian culture? Let's move on. Mr. Blow is unhappy with what he calls the reductive either/or argument regarding personal responsibility and structural oppression, whatever that is. So he offers this.

Actually, the more nuanced and sophisticated position is that personal choices are made within a social construct, and that construct is heavily influenced by oppressive forces — interpersonal biases, structural inequities, aversion to otherness.

How "interpersonal biases" is the oppressive force causing black crime is unfortunately beyond my ability to comprehend. He can't be saying blacks have a bias against blacks? If bias was the oppressive force from whites onto blacks, wouldn't blacks strike back against whites and leave members of their own race alone? And I have no idea what "aversion to otherness" means in this context. But he is merely repeating the meme 'structural inequity' which he totally failed to illustrate in  a meaningful way earlier in the piece. Is it possible that he means "life is hard" or "life isn't fair"? This part of the piece comes off like a very bad undergraduate paper for some sort of social science class. It's a retreat into jargon rather than an illumination of his point. And it doesn't get a lot better.

More people are now opening their eyes to the totality of this image, realizing with supreme frustration that one can’t simply earn one’s way up out of oppression, that oppression must be dismantled from the top down.

" can't simply earn one's way up out of oppression"? Can't you get up out of oppression by refusing to be oppressed? By living by a code of right actions, by taking responsibility for wrong actions? I believe human behavior can change over time but it is an ocean liner going full speed ahead and it takes a while to turn one way or another. On the other hand, it's been over 50 years since we ended the Democrats' structural oppression through Jim Crow laws. Blaming that for the problem of crime in the inner city neighborhoods now is getting to be a lot like blaming slavery for those problems. I don't think he's blaming the new Democrat tactic for the black community's problems. I doubt he even sees it. Working toward the big finish.

More people are realizing that in a moment of greatest distress and danger, nothing else you have ever done will matter if all the person who poses the threat sees is a body not to be valued. When he pulls a gun, you can’t pull a résumé.

So if you try to be good and do good works but you can be a victim of crime, why bother to be good? That's a patently specious argument. And if the person who poses the threat to the black person, who only sees a body not to be valued, is nearly 95% of the time black as well, as it is, then how does this thought even fit into the blame shifting argument he has been incoherently crafting for the whole of the piece? I can't be safe no matter what I do, so I'll victimize others of my community to make up for it?

The structure itself is robbing a people of what I would call “trickle down optimism,” the ability of people who do all the right things and make all the right choices to say: “See, this works. This is the path to safety and happiness and freedom.”  
Instead, they are developing a rage at the realization that no amount of acting right and doing right can completely protect them.
More life isn't fair complaints. You can indeed do all the right things and still die in a traffic accident not your fault and not avoidable. Safety and happiness and freedom and complete protection are difficult to come by for any human. But even though the piece started off looking at binders and binders of black murder victims in New Orleans, he's ignoring the fact that year after year more black people are killed by black people than white people are killed by white people and the murder statistic where a white is killed by a black completely dwarfs the statistic regarding a black killed by a white. Yet he's talking about rage in the black community because they are not completely safe. Well certainly not completely safe from being victimized by a fellow black criminal. So the rage of not being safe is causing members of the black community to do things that make the community less safe. Is this really what he's saying?

His big finish is so lame as to not merit comment.

The really troubling part is that I think a lot of African Americans do rationalize the horrible crime statistics in this way. It's not us; it's the system. Is this the O'Neil vital lie blacks need to continue to excuse what everyone would call bad behavior?


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?