Something changed in America in the summer of 2014. A criminal, as low a lowlife as a man can be, knocked down a store proprietor and robbed his shop for drug supplies, sauntered down the middle of the street, attacked a policeman, and died in the struggle… exactly as it often goes, when a violent thug attacks a policeman (that’s one of the main reasons that, traditionally, criminals don’t attack policemen!).
… And instead of America uniting in sudden recognition of the dangerous job of the modern big city policemen, America was divided, as an incomprehensible movement developed around the theme that the concept of “law and order” is evil, that having a functioning criminal justice system is evil, that criminals should be allowed free rein over America’s cities, and that any desire to defend civilization from barbarism is somehow a reactionary and racist goal!
The movement has taken the name “Black Lives Matter” – and its culture of unrelenting violence has the Democratic Party cowering in its shadow.
But is it really black lives that matter to them at all, or is it something else? ... such as, perhaps, a fear that the Democratic Party's most fundamental voting base may finally be realizing that they are not being well served by their monolithic party identity?
Featured among the headlines are unemployment statistics. Forty percent, fifty percent, and more, in certain demographics. What’s likely the very worst? Black youth unemployment (age 16 to 25) is around 90% in our cities.
Since most black youths live in our cities today, we could simplify that to say that the vast majority of black young people are unemployed.
And since so many black youths, particularly males, are killed at a young age in gang warfare and related criminality in our cities, the result is that most young black men in this country do not have jobs, their friends and peers do not have jobs, and they never will have jobs. Their community is rendered ever further apart from the world of work, security and prosperity that people in the suburbs (of all races) enjoy.
We don’t mention this to make an excuse for criminality – there is no excuse for criminality – but to ask further questions.
- Are the people who decry punishment for young criminals doing anything to help their communities while they’re alive, or do they only take an interest after they die in the commission of crimes?
- Is the Black Lives Matter crowd interested in why there are ever-fewer job opportunities in their neighborhoods? Do they realize that it’s their very actions and attitudes that encourage existing employers to flee, and discourage potential future employers from starting up there?
- And we hate to put it this way, but we must: Does the Black Lives Matter crowd care at all about young blacks who don’t commit crimes, or only about those who do?
The War Against Incarceration
The Black Power movement dates back to the 1960s, and is something of a bastard stepchild of the noble Civil Rights movement. In the 1950s and 1960s, an ever-broader national coalition agreed to undo the century-and-a-half old Democratic Party war on American blacks – finally trying to bring an end to the Democratic Party’s historical efforts, first to keep them enslaved, and then to "keep them in their place" by creating a Ku Klux Klan and a series of repulsive laws, generally known as Jim Crow.
But diverse interests – communists, criminals, Democratic Party hacks and pure retributionists, seething with unthinking rage – joined together to build a new movement to bring war to our cities.
And how best to bring about such a war? Well, they knew, you can’t have a war without warriors…
So they capitalized on such (usually) well-intentioned Supreme Court mistakes as Gideon, Miranda, Chimel, and others, to enable clearly guilty criminals to be acquitted on technicalities, or to be convicted for lesser charges, or to be released with minimal jail time.
And at a time when Chuck Colson and other such honorable leaders of prison ministry movements were striving to bring religion and attitudinal reform to the hearts of prison populations, the Black Power movement built a concurrent opposition effort, built on prisoner voter registration, prisoner recruitment into the Black Muslim movement, and a euphemistically named Innocence Project, dedicated to springing everyone on death row, whether guilty or not.
What has been the result of this half-century long war against incarceration? Our jails have become a revolving door, spending huge resources to capture and prosecute criminals, then releasing them to terrorize their communities again.
And who lives in those communities? Thanks to the welfare state, and thanks in particular to the effort of the 1950s and 1960s to convince southern rural blacks to move to northern cities, the neighborhoods these criminals terrorize are, more and more every day, completely or almost-completely neighborhoods of fellow blacks.
For the most part, the voters who elect the Democrats who have done all this never meant for it to happen. They had, and have, the best of intentions, hoping to offer charity to the poor, a second chance to the contrite, opportunities to those willing to work. They watched an industrial revolution creating massive employment opportunities in the northern cities, and thought that poor black southern farmers of the south would have far better opportunities if they moved north to this world of opportunity.
But then the Democrats killed employment in our cities. They passed tax increases and regulatory environments that make it harder and harder for a business to start, to grow, to succeed, even to survive. So the businesses started to move away; the opportunities started to flee the crime and taxation of the cities even as the willing workers were arriving.
And then, amidst all those poor, contrite, and willing people, there have been unleashed a poisonous infection of criminality, to terrorize those neighborhoods and crush even the few opportunities that remain.
Most of the people who vote for this result are innocent of any crime other than gullibility and thoughtlessness. But there are ringleaders. There are the leaders of the movements, the political officeholders, spokesmen, and agitators, who know exactly what they are doing, and have known all along.
Shouldn’t our fury be directed at them?
Location, Location, Location
As we have seen, the statistics and the facts do not quite meld as the conventional wisdom presents it.
The American Left trumpets such statistics as “90% of young blacks are unemployed” and presents it as a crime committed by the white establishment, as if it’s the whites, and somehow the Republicans (who are sometimes a part of the establishment), who are responsible for it all.
But the truth is more complicated. Young blacks raised in young black suburban families don’t have these ghastly statistics; the ten percent of black youths with jobs, with educations, pursuing a career track and staying on the right side of the law, are – for the most part – those whose parents insulated them from the dangers of the city… by wisely living apart from it.
In large part, America’s problem with “young blacks” – essentially young black males in trouble with the law – is not a racial issue at all, except by tragic coincidence.
In the world of real estate, they have a saying: three things matter: location, location, location.
And so it is here. If you are raised in an urban welfare state environment, surrounded by violent crime, devoid of role models or opportunities, you are almost certainly doomed, if not to a life (and death) of crime, at least to a likelihood of inescapable poverty. If you are raised in a suburban environment, surrounded by opportunities and role models, you have more than a chance, but even a likelihood, of bettering your situation, of living safely and securely where you can raise your children in peace, giving each generation a chance at further improvement.
We should be furious about what is happening. We should be livid that whole neighborhoods, whole communities, whole cities, are condemned to lives of deprivation and violence. But screaming about it isn’t enough. Government programs aren’t enough… in fact, screaming at the wrong people, and creating more government programs, are part of the cause, not the solution.
We should be furious that children who are born with all the talents, all the native opportunities of other children, are denied those opportunities just because they are born to black families locked in the welfare state of Chicago, Cleveland and Milwaukee, rather than to families living just a few miles away in the suburbs. We should be angry, but the solution is not to ruin the suburbs too, as modern Democrat policy advocates, but to solve the problems of the cities. And who are the mayors and city councils of these cities?
The Democrat attack on the poor, and particularly on urban blacks, has taken many forms, from the domination of a slavemaster to the domination of a Klansman, from the visible oppression of Jim Crow to the faux-charitable oppression of the welfare state. The intention may not always have its roots in antiblack bigotry, but their policies have the same result, good intentions or bad.
It is clear who bears the blame for the crises in our cities, and it is all rooted in the people who run them – the people who develop and manage the welfare state, the people who intentionally set criminals free to terrorize the community, the people who continue to profit off the hells that our cities have become.
There’s a name for these politicians. They’re called Democrats. And every year or two, people have the opportunity to wake up and throw them out.
But will they?
Copyright 2015 John F. Di Leo