A Followup to Steven’s Post on Crime and Race

Now that I’ve had time to read and digest Steven Den Beste’s essay I have just a couple of comments. Overall, I agree with his points, but I have a some issues with his argument. First, I’d like to point out that the object of my post was directly in conjunction with the abuse of firearms in crime, and the overwhelming (6:1) ratio of young black men to all other young men who are both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime. Steven writes:

[I]t leaves open the question of why it is that inner city blacks are so much more at risk, and whether anything can be done to help them. There have been many attempts to do so, and they’re something of a cause célèbre in certain circles. Their apparent failure is used by many as evidence that there are still lingering effects of slavery and discrimination, even after all this time.

Is it true? Certainly there are still such effects; things are vastly better now than they were when I was a kid, but we haven’t yet reached the point of having a race-blind culture. But there’s also the fact that a lot of blacks live in the suburbs, hold professional positions (some with great responsibility), make a good living, and don’t seem to be any more prone to crime than anyone else. And recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean who are also Negroes don’t seem to have the same troubles. Whatever is going on is more complicated than skin color.

I did not intend to imply that “whatever is going on” is due to “skin color.” It just so happens that skin color is one of the recognizable traits. You also have to add youth and sex, urbanization and culture. Steven also wrote:

But I’m not sure we can conclude that the correlation of high crime to race is actually significant.

I would certainly say that you can’t conclude causation, but correlation? Even Jesse Jackson has concluded differently.

Steven asks:

Are we rather seeing the result of a residue of natural filtration, whose tendencies to crime are then reinforced through local concentration?

If you remove the words “to crime,” isn’t that another description of culture? Steven concludes with this question:

Before we can solve a problem, we have to understand what the problem is. And we have to begin by asking whether there even is a problem. Are we just seeing a physical concentration of the low end of the curve?

Um, Steven, there is a problem. That problem is defined by the fact that young, black, urban males perpetrate and are the victims of violent crime at six times the rate of the rest of their age and sex demographic. The reason is cultural, and it is the same reason that young black urban males do poorly in school. It is not socially acceptable in their peer groups to be academically proficient, and it is socially acceptable to be violent. Recent immigrants from Africa and the Carribean, while sharing the same skin color, age group, sex and urbanization, do not share the culture. This is illustrated well by a May 19 Washington Times Weekly Edition article (no longer available online without subscription) entitled “African immigrants balk at views of U.S. black leaders.” Money quotes:

Many immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean do not wish to be classified as black, because black leaders here have failed to reach out to the immigrants and identify their concerns, said members of the panel, which was composed primarily of representatives from the liberal black establishment.”

Studies have also found that African-born residents in the U.S. are better-educated and have among the highest per-capita incomes of any immigrant group….

The Economist reported in 1996 that ¾ of African immigrants have some college experience and that one if four has an advanced degree….

Many immigrants are not even aware of the “color line” that prevents minorities here from excelling, other panelists said in amazement.

Perhaps because the “color line” is completely overblown, but a fixture in the culture that African and Carribean immigrants reject?

The whole point of my (unfortunately butchered) piece is that violent crime in America is excessively concentrated in a very small, identifiable group. The volume of violent crime in that very small group is large enough to significantly elevate the national statistics. The general response to this has not been to attempt to address this specific problem, it has been (in large part) an effort to implement wholesale “gun control.” That effort affects overwhelmingly the people who are NOT perpetrators of violent crime, but affects not at all those who are. It’s the definition of insanity – repeating the same behavior over and over while expecting a different result.

As Steven has illustrated in great detail, the U.S. government is currently investing billions of dollars and hundreds of lives in an attempt to change a culture – on the other side of the world. That culture is directly responsible for taking the lives of several thousand Americans over the past few decades. Here in this country we have a culture responsible for taking thousands of American lives every year, and we are not attempting to change that culture at all. We must be supporting it, because otherwise the loss of one in every thousand young black men between the ages of 15 and 30 every year to violence ought to be enough of an incentive all by itself to produce a paradigm shift in that culture.

Instead, we argue about “gun control.”

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