I like to sprinkle a little gentle humor here and there around these articles week by week, for although each attempts a serious comment on our society, it might otherwise seem too somber. Today, however, I cannot do that. I write of the utterly appalling mess that has been made of life in our cities; and there, I'm unable to find anything funny.
The word "ghetto" has been used for many centuries, and is associated with a segregation of Jews in the cities of Europe. That race has always kept itself a little apart from - and often quite superior to - the surrounding population, which all too often jealously responded with pogroms and enclosure.
The ghettos created here for Blacks differs from those created, for example, by the Nazis in places like Warsaw. There, the sealing off of the undesirables was open and deliberate; Hitler loudly campaigned as an anti-Semite and later, tragically, broke the mold by actually keeping his political promises.
Here, in contrast, they have been created over the past 60 years or more by politicians (Republican and Democrat, in every case) who either pretended to be "doing good", or even sincerely believed they were! If civilized life for most Black Americans is now in the late stages of decomposition, it has to be said that it was killed by kindness: by well-meaning but arrogant idiots. And by all those who ever voted for them.
I doubt I need dwell on the extent of the mess. We can all see glimpses of it any evening on TV. Some time ago I noticed that eleven and twelve year old boys in Newark now routinely car-jack in that city at gunpoint, making large profits for themselves and "Fagin"-like operators in the stolen car export trade. Worse: they get clean away with it, even openly taunting the police, because the government justice system has no way to deal effectively with juvenile thugs. They exhibit no trace of respect for either life or property; such has been erased from their culture. In a moment, we'll see how.
I saw too a "60 Minutes" report on "Monsta", a brutal but literate gang leader from Los Angeles who, after a young lifetime of admitted murder and mayhem, was released from prison in 1995. He described his former life as "perfectly normal" for the place and era. I suspect he's right; again, the cultural norm of respect for other people has apparently collapsed.
This is what barbarity is. Civilization, in contrast, defines a wide frame for society in which each member can vigorously pursue his or her own interests. And since EACH has that freedom, it follows that all are free to do anything at all except violate anyone else's equal freedom. And I maintain that during this century at least, Democrats and Republicans, both, have systematically broken down that cultural norm.
I carry here no brief for them, but have to note that the many "storefront" churches in the ghettos have slowed that decline, and still do. That's true for most of them, from the charismatic Pentecostals who focus the emotion on another, better world and so give hope to the hopeless, to the more staid African Methodist Episcopals exemplified by that courageous Pastor who intervened in the LA riots in 1992 to protect the lives of victims, even while himself dying of cancer. Salt of the Earth.
This raging disaster has been created by both Liberals and Conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. Both branches of our de-facto Single Party System have intervened and meddled and socially engineered, so both are to blame.
The "Liberals" (who certainly don't deserve that delightful name) have set out to confiscate money from those who have it, allegedly to give to those who don't. That is a major cause of the problem. First, it says to the world that theft (of over $500B a year, currently) is okay, so long as it has a noble purpose in view. Second, it says that certain groups favored by politicians have a right or "entitlement" to such stolen money; so destroying the long- accepted norm that in order to eat, one first must work. And third, they pay over some of those "entitlements" only if the teenage mother stays unmarried - and increase her payments only when she produces more babies. And then the idiot pols pretend concern about "the breakdown of family values."
Liberals have made matters worse yet by enclosing the urban poor with laws, supposedly to make their lives easier, which actually entrap them in squalor. They place a price cap on rents, so destroying all landlord incentive to bring decent housing to market. They take what money the poor have to fund a school monopoly, force all kids to attend it, and spend twelve years teaching them almost everything except what might be useful in earning a living; and when at long last they emerge, they find it's illegal for them to be employed unless, by some strange magic, their labor should happen to be worth $5.15 an hour.
Conservatives, meanwhile, aggravate the problem by blaming the victims. Instead of relaxing anti-gun restrictions so Blacks can directly defend themselves from violent thugs, they have called for even more police to harass them and built them another massive set of prison cells. These knee-jerk "law and order" reactionaries appear blind to the facts that most crime is the result of decades of government repression and not the cause of it; and that prohibition of drugs is the cause of 50% of real urban crime and not its result.
Likewise, they increase the terrible problem of fatherless kids, when they insist that as a matter of law abortions should be prevented. Persuasion (backed up by generous offers of easy private adoption) is one matter: the force of law, equating abortion with murder, is quite another.
What to do? - just stop voting for the two Parties responsible. Or blame only yourself, if the resulting race war spreads to rural New Hampshire.
|© Copyright Jim Davies 1999|
Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.
The above is Edition # 247
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