A legacy of excuses

What is the point of permitting blacks to govern themselves if whites are going to be held responsible for them anyhow?

IN the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent unrest in Ferguson, Mo., commentators noted the absence of black representatives among Ferguson’s elected officials and its police leadership. A Department of Justice report highlighted how Ferguson’s mostly white City Council and its courts spurred on explicitly racist policing, in part to harvest fines from black residents.

Then came Baltimore. The death of Freddie Gray, like those of Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Rekia Boyd and so many other unarmed African-Americans, at first seemed to fit the all-too-familiar template — white cops, black suspect, black corpse.

But unlike New York, Chicago and other cities with white leaders, Baltimore has a black mayor, a black police commissioner and a majority-black City Council. Yet the city still has one of the most stained records of police brutality in recent years…. The problem is not black culture. It is policy and politics, the very things that bind together the history of Ferguson and Baltimore and, for that matter, the rest of America.

Specifically, the problem rests on the continued profitability of racism. Freddie Gray’s exposure to lead paint as a child, his suspected participation in the drug trade, and the relative confinement of black unrest to black communities during this week’s riot are all features of a city and a country that still segregate people along racial lines, to the financial enrichment of landlords, corner store merchants and other vendors selling second-rate goods. The problem originates in a political culture that has long bound black bodies to questions of property. Yes, I’m referring to slavery.

So exposure to lead paint is why Baltimore’s residents burned down their own neighborhoods? That’s dancing dangerously near reality for the New York Times. But there is a kernel of truth to the claim that black culture is not to blame, in that black culture is a consequence, not a cause. Baltimore is merely the most recent result of decades of US policy flying in the face of reality. It should not come as a surprise to anyone that a population that is disproportionately aggressive and possesses shorter time preferences on average will tend to behave in a manner that is different than, for example, a predominantly Chinese population.

The more stubbornly Western public policy refuses to accept the historically observed and scientifically established fact that not all human population sub-groups are entirely equal in every way, the more those policies are guaranteed to catastrophically fail. And the longer people insist on pretending that red herrings like “the legacy of racism” or “the daily violence of poverty” are to blame, the longer those problems will persist and the more serious they will become.

The game of let’s pretend doesn’t help anyone, least of all those whose tender feelings it is designed to spare. Look at the sheer absurdity of the columnist’s recommendations:

By avoiding the language of individual failings and degenerate culture, political leaders, black and otherwise, can help us all see the daily violence of poverty. More, they can better use the power they have to do something about it. By calling a nationwide “state of emergency” on the problem of residential segregation, by devising a fairer tax structure, by investing in public space, community policing, tenants’ rights and a government jobs program, our leaders can find a way forward.

More racial Kabuki and government spending is not going to solve anything. After 50 years of “civil rights” and “war on poverty”, that should be abundantly clear by now.