Urban Warming and Racial Climate Change
Published on: August 11, 2011
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  • Random Dudette

    As always, great stuff. But, one relevent aspect is absent here, although brought up in WRM’s other postings: what of the impact of immigration into the mix, especially immigrants who carry no sense of guilt and obligation to American Blacks, and who also often arrive with and harbor their own “home grown” disdain for people with Sub-Saharan origins?

    Anti-Black racism is “multi-cultural” phenom, manifesting an ugly diversity readily apparent throughout the world. The ongoing wave of immigration will surely continue to have its own impact, most certainly inimical for Black Americans

  • Peter

    Very good piece Prof. Meade. I would suggest that the most likely time that large scale urban riots would/will occur in this country will be IF Pres. Obama is defeated in November 2012. The euphoria expressed about Pres. Obama’s election by people who don’t normally pay attention to politics, but did so in 2008 because of Pres. Obama’s skin color, will turn to anger and disillusionment. I hope that I am wrong and I would like to believe that urban leaders would take some precautions against this.

  • Toni

    How bad do Blacks really have it?

    Though never enslaved, Hispanics have otherwise suffered every form of discrimination and deprivation of rights that Blacks have. Census Bureau data show that Hispanics’ income per family and per capita is even lower than Blacks’. See

    The statistics also show what the sensible already know. Income is enhanced by education and diminishes with single parenthood (for both genders).

    Why, then, is the plight of Blacks of special interest? Blacks and Hispanics can succeed in America as the Jews, Irish, and other once-belittled groups have: by pursuing education and leading a thrifty, prudent life. If people of any race or complexion fail to take advantage of opportunities open to all, whose fault is that?

    On one hand, to excuse Black flash mobs and other Black violence as “political” and understandable is condescending to Blacks — as if history had rendered them bereft of good sense and good character. On the other, to treat Blacks as a special hobbled class that can’t succeed without special programs perpetuates racism because it *is* racism.

    Let’s judge everyone by the content of their character, and that alone, as Martin Luther King Jr. once dreamt.

  • jh79

    “Though never enslaved, Hispanics have otherwise suffered every form of discrimination and deprivation of rights that Blacks have.”

    And though never hung, I have suffered every pain of the hanged man. Though never burned, I have suffered every indignity of the burnt man. That “never enslaved” bit is a fairly vital distinguishing component in determining why “the plight of Blacks” is “of special interest”, ya know. And while Hispanics have suffered a variety of forms of discrimination, they have never faced anything as sustained or all-encompassing as Jim Crow, nor have they been the main targets of a murderous terrorist organization like the KKK, which in the Twenties claimed millions of members. And Hispanics – or, let us be clear, MEXICANS – have low incomes in no small part because many have just swum the river, or are children of the same. It’s an apples to oranges comparison when we’re comparing them to another ethnic group whose members has been here for two hundred years at least. And prejudice against Hispanics has always been primarily a cultural and class phenomenon – if and when we take control of our borders, any prejudice against Hispanics will disappear in a single generation, just as it did for the wops and micks when we shut off European immigration after WWI. Black “immigration” *cough*cough* has been over since the early nineteenth century, yet prejudice against Blacks remains widespread, because discrimination against Blacks is, unlike discrimination against the Irish or the Italians or Mexicans, RACIAL in origin. A mesoamerican can clean up and learn proper English and get a good education and a white collar job, and very few Anglos will ill-regard him; a black person can do the same, and still be held at arm’s length by a non-trivial portion of the white population.

    Though your larger point about Black self-responsibility is important, let’s not pretend we can belittle Black history out of the discussion. Blacks may be the authors of much of their own misery, but we persuade precisely no one if we tell Blacks to just get […] over it.

  • Toni

    EDITED A personal perspective:

    Cripples were once so stigmatized — stereotyped as incompetent and unstable — that there exist only two photos of FDR in a wheelchair. Though he spent virtually all his time as president wheelchair-bound, his Washington monument was designed with no such depiction. A disability group had to commission and purchase a statue of FDR in a wheelchair and raise a stink before it was added to the memorial 10 years ago.

    Jim Crow was horrendous, but where it didn’t reign, Blacks could vote. One stair was enough to keep a paraplegic out of the voting booth. Not till 1990 did a law pass requiring public and other buildings to be wheelchair-accessible.

    Need I say that, unlike for Blacks, and despite historic discrimination and exclusion, no voting districts are drawn to ensure that a disabled person is elected?

    Cripples in America have arguably been as victimized and marginalized as Blacks. But cripples don’t riot or attack the able-bodied because they’re economically oppressed. To succeed, to climb the economic ladder, they must get educated and face down prejudice on their own. Once I had to take to a wheelchair, I had to make myself outgoing with strangers so they would understand that despite disability, I’m “normal.”

    So answer me this. Why are violent Blacks the object of such sympathy and solicitude? Life isn’t fair. It can’t be made fair. People in wheelchairs are expected to cope. Why aren’t Blacks?

  • abc’s

    They aren’t made to cope because of the slavery issue. While other racial groups have suffered such as Hispanics and Asian groups (think of the Chinese railroad workers or the Japanese work camps), it is because they never held the title “SLAVE” that they do not receive such attention and sympathy.

    I have noticed in my generation of white 20-somethings a feeling of aggravation. Often the attitude toward the race issue seems to be “why should I give you special treatment because your great great great grandfather was a slave?” There is a great social disconnect between young white America and young black America. My generation was taught about the black struggle, but the education cut off rather abruptly with MLK Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement as if everything was OK after the 1970s. Hopefully this next phase in the race conversation will help bridge that gap.

  • Mrs. Davis

    While they all suffered discrimination and indignities, the great difference between every other ethnic group and the Blacks is that the others came voluntarily in search of the American Dream, if not for themselves, then for their children. Blacks came involuntarily without the dream. That is why Blacks gets capitalized; because it is a euphemism for former slaves. And that is why Obama is not truly Black, because he is a black Kenyan, not a former slave. Until we get over that the “race” problem will remain. Because as Obama and Powell and so many others demonstrate, the problem is not race per se, but as a marker for a former class and ideological status that is otherwise unknown in America.

    Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

  • Jeff77450

    Dr. Meade, another great post and as usual I mostly agree with you. I’m afraid that I can’t have much sympathy for blacks for a number of reasons:

    1. My parents grew up in truly horrific poverty during the Great Depression, poverty that was far worse than what so-called poor-people experience today. But they didn’t riot, become criminals or have a multi-generational pity-party.

    2. Growing up we would’ve been described as working-class. There was no affirmative-action for me (of which I’m glad). I put myself through college by first spending three years in the army, in the infantry, and earning the education-benefits and by working during summer- and Christmas-break. I received no grants, no scholarships, took out no student-loans, refused all offers of assistance from my parents and when I graduated I was debt-free. Today, at the age of 52, my wife & I are debt-free except for the mortgage.

    3. My father served in WWII and I served in Desert Storm. What more does our small slice of white-America have to do to earn just a level playing-field? (Notice how the words earn and earning keep popping up).

    4. Generations X, Y and Z were born and came-of-age after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They grew up with white-America bending over backwards to accommodate them. If their parents (who gave not one moment’s thought as whether they should even be having children) and “leaders” propagandized them from birth that they were eternally oppressed and could do nothing to help themselves then that is *not* the fault of white-America.

    5. “Before you can drain a swamp you first have to build a dam.” Some years ago a British think-tank came to America to study poverty here. They concluded that an individual’s chances of escaping poverty were virtually guaranteed if they’d do three things: complete high school; have no children out-of-wedlock; not fall into the welfare-trap, work at *something* no matter how little it paid in the beginning.

    6. My mother, my son and I have been on the receiving-end of at least nine acts of black-on-white crime: six thefts; two assaults; one attempted break-in by kicking in our front door. (God love them). It’s likely that there have been other thefts. While in the army I both observed & experienced a lot of thuggish behavior on the part of black soldiers (and some white & Hispanic).

  • Basil

    The American people have never accepted the legitimacy of affirmative action. It was explicitly rejected in the debates of the 1960s over civil rights legislation.

  • Frank

    It seems strange to place the term “Great Society” in 1976 and make no mention whatever of the 1960s. I found this piece glib, overly long, and swirling around on stuff.

  • Garrettc

    The core of racism, as you well know, lies within and is integral to, the cultural life of inner city blacks. There is nothing that the rest of the population can do until they decide to take responsibility for their lives. I am wiling to help those who will help themselves, but not willing to continue a failed theory out of an imposed sense of guilt. You do no favors to inner city blacks with these apologetics.

  • Steve

    Interesting perspective – I think the “Compromise of 1976” bought us some time for real integration, which we have not used very well.

    So little progress has been made in fully integrating the black community into the broader american mainstream – low rates of intermarriage are the most obvious example of this.

    The economic changes since the “compromise” also undercut much of the potential for progress – such as deindustrialization in the Northern cities and now the retreat of public sector employment.

    Perhaps affirmative action has been counterproductive, in that it built a class of black professionals who have lost the ability or interest to serve as leaders of the community as a whole. It is interesting how the voices of much of the black professional class have so little of value to say about the problems of the urban and rural black poor. Their attention is dedicated to preserving their own privelages, such as college admissions and hiring set asides.

  • Gordon

    “once responsibility for any inner city riots can be laid at the Tea Party’s door, the subject can safely be discussed. Indeed, it must be discussed.”

    Let them blame the Tea Party for the riots. While they are at it, the Left should also be made welcome to blame the Tea Party for the debt ceiling impasse, the S&P downgrade, high unemployment, the sluggish economy, inflation, global warming and whatever else they can think of.

    Because if the Tea Party has accomplished all those things once, they can do it again at will – and there’s nothing the Left can do to stop them. Maybe then the Left will finally learn to shut up and listen – or not.

  • Steve

    “…that can help the United States move closer to the common national dream of a truly equal society.”

    Equal opportunity or equal outcomes? Which “equal” are you referring to?

    As long as equal outcomes are the objective — and make no mistake, despite all the “opportunity” rhetoric of the left, that is their position — your “national dream” will never be achieved.

    Having closely followed this debate for 3 decades, I have finally come to an immutable conclusion: “Diversity” is just an alternate spelling of “Quotas”.

    Please keep up the fine work, Dr. Mead.

  • Ellen

    I lost all sympathy for the Black plight when a group of my friends – about three of them – had a group of the local Blacks – about ten of them – descend upon them shouting “Get Whitey!” and did bodily harm. Five minutes earlier or later, and I would have been there too.

    Strangely, I don’t react that way to Blacks who are not scowling.

  • Agoraphobic Plumber

    Proposed US race policy: none. Zero. Zilch. Complete and utter race-blindness. Ditch all “hate crime” laws and simply prosecute all crimes as otherwise prescribed.

    You simply can’t effectively legislate bigotry away and it’s useless to try. Nor would I WANT government legislating the thoughts in my head, come to that.

    Plus, bigots simply shoot themselves in the foot anyway, if they deny a qualified black or hispanic person a job or entry into a university or whatever. Their loss…the company or university who takes advantage and admits them will blow the bigoted one away over the course of time.

    Besides…bigots are people and citizens, and as distasteful as it might be, they should be allowed their right to free association…or lack thereof.

    I’m a white man who adopted a black daughter, and I like my bigots out where I can see them and know who they are so I can exercise MY right not to associate with them. Having an official government policy on race is not going to help things and will definitely delay the day when nobody gives a fig about what color you are or where your ancestors came from. I’m already there…but only because my parents taught me not to have a “policy” based on skin color.

  • There is an unexamined assumption that plagues an honest examination and discussion of these issues. It is the assumption that living in a slum is the natural state for black people and that cannot help but remain there. This is false.

    Living in a crime infested slum with no economic opportunities is a choice. The only thing that one need do to escape the social, economic, and moral poverty of a slum is to leave the slum itself.

    People who want their kids to grow up in a sane society must take the steps to place their family within one. Staying in the hood is not how you do that. You do that by packing your bags and moving somewhere else.

  • 1: Wasn’t Philadelphia where the New Black Panthers thugs set up in front of voting booths during the 2008 election, were caught on film, were all set to be found guilty, then the Obama / Holder “Justice” Department threw out the case, because in their opinion it’s only a civil rights violation when it’s whites harming blacks?

    I wonder what effect that decision had.

    2: I came of age in the 1980s – 1990s. The only government racism I’ve ever seen has been called “affirmative action”. So I have zero support for it, and zero sympathy for people who think they can’t get ahead unless government racism is working in their favor.

    3: I have supported school vouchers all my political life, in large part because I don’t approve of what the inner city schools are doing to their victims, I mean students.

    However, those same people constantly vote for Democrats, despite the fact that the Democrats are four square against the reforms that might bring decent educations to at least some of the inner city kids.

    I am a big fan of helping people help themselves. But I have no concern at all for people who refuse to help themselves. So my sympathy for inner city blacks with no hope, who turn to violence and crime, is somewhere between slim and none. The Teachers’ Union is their enemy. The Democrat Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NEA. So long as they tie themselves to the Democrats, they’re guaranteed to get screwed, and so far as I can tell, they deserve it.

    To coin a phrase, it looks to me like their chickens are coming home to roost. No, I’m not happy about that. But I’m not particularly bothered by that bit of justice, either.

  • Ralph Gizzip

    If fiscal austerity promotes rioting then liberal applications of lead and cordite are quite capable of deterring it.

    Peaceful protesting is one thing. Wanton violence and destruction of property is another.

  • joe

    Thoughtful article, Professor Mead, thanks. This “wilding” or “flash mob” extra-curricular pursuit has been around for decades, it is only now receiving a name from the media ’cause you can’t argue with mobile phone videos. What is new is blatantness and scope of the ‘one punch’ game, as was exhibited in Philly and at the fair in the Midwest, during the rush.

    This subsection of the Black community seems ruderless, uncertain of who is in the boat with them and where they are going. Obama has no emotional connection to their plight (his urban patois delivery is Hillaryesque). The Rangels, Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the last two generations have been inefffectual and mostly criminal. President Clinton was the last president to acknowledge and at least publically attempt to better the working and living conditions of the Black lower middle class and underclass.

    A lack of political value and social presitige has affected this segment of the Black community and their recent violent explosions are in consequence of that devaluation. The success of African immigrants and their assimilation into American culture undermines one of the basic planks of white liberal and Black demogogic politics; namely, that the wounds inflicted by slavery and Jim Crow have so infected our society and traumitized generations of Blacks that the Compromise of 1977 is economically necessary and morally urgent. The Black community leaders of D.C. fought tooth and nail against the Somaliis on U street not b/c gentrification was ruining an historic Black community, but that Somaliis selling to whites and moving to the ‘burbs laid waste to the thought that Black failure was exclusively due to White Amerikkka’s interference and restraint.

    Last, I think social attitudes have changed. The sacred tones used to discuss race in polite circles have changed from 70s and 80s. Older generations remember MLK and the cathartic experience of watching ‘Roots’ on tv. I remember ‘Hymie town’ Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition trying to shake down shoe companies for money. The NAACP has become similar to La Raza and a bottom feeder in American political life. Hell, who even runs it? Is it still Dr. Julian Bond? Do you remember Pelosi’s “March on Montgomery” to sign the AHCA with the BCC though a sea of protesters, who according to Pelosi et al., were threatening to lynch the Black Congressmen and spat on them? The race card has devolved to such exhibitions of mummery and farce. America noticed. It felt insulted and more social and political capital was lost that could have been used to help the advancement of the American Black underclass.

  • dawnfire

    I get pretty damned tired of hearing ‘slavery’ as an excuse for black communities’ problems or as a justification for everyone else holding out ‘helping hands.’ Slavery was abolished *seven* generations ago. Even Biblical punishments don’t go beyond that. Entirely new ethnic communities in the US who otherwise started from zero, like Arabs, Somalis, Sudanese, and Koreans, have managed to establish themselves and begin to thrive.

    And the Somalis and Sudanese, despite being *gasp* black!

    19th century slavery has become a tired excuse, rather than a reason, for blacks’ sociological problems. The actual reasons, like a sub-culture that glorifies crime and violence, the disintegration of the family unit, and entitlement lifestyles, are rarely discussed. While I feel bad for individuals born into bad conditions, modern blacks, as a group, bring their problems on themselves by perpetuating these behaviors.

    An example: when I was in Army basic training, I noticed that there was a disproportionately high number of black drill sergeants. ‘Why?’ I wondered. I soon found out. Many black recruits simply refused to obey ‘cracker’ drills. There had to be a black drill nearby to put them into their place as Army recruits. Some of these malfeasors even went so far as to attack white NCOs; I saw one in particular my platoon get smacked down for this at Fort Huachuca (who was promptly court martialed, because he couldn’t control his hatred of whitey).

    To go back a little further, I remember asking my parents when I was 6 years old what “honkey” meant, because the black kids were calling us that. 6 year old black children were using racial slurs; tell me, where do you think they learned that? My rural, poor, uneducated parents sure as hell never told me how to call anyone ‘nigger,’ but apparently that bit of racial courtesy is a one way street.

    The tools for success are there. I used them. I was born into a (as I mentioned) poor and uneducated rural family, and through talent, work, and good behavior (and military service) became the first person in my family to graduate from college, much less a graduate school. And this despite being turned away for jobs, scholarships, and other opportunities for not being a ‘minority’ (I lost two jobs this way).

    My sympathy is extinguished. It is not the government’s responsibility to advance the station of blacks. It is not my responsibility, nor my sons’. It is their own. These decades of condescending sympathy and special treatment have only served to infantilize black communities and perverted their mores to the point where blacks who do what I did are ridiculed for ‘acting white.’

    Think about that: working hard and earning one’s place in the world is *ridiculed* because it’s associated with another race. No amount of government programs is going to change that. That’s an internal condition and, I argue, problem.

    I can’t stand President Obama, but I do hope that his success will demonstrate to American blacks that playing by the rules of society, rather than scorning them, can advance one to the greatest heights despite the supposed crippling handicap of skin color. Their problems lie within, not without. And until that reality is admitted, accepted, and changed, black communities will continue to be riven with crime and failure.

  • 2nd Amendment

    While I agree with the WRM’s continuing discussion of the breakdown in the inner city and the exhaustion of the blue social model, I do not believe the rioting in London and isolated incidents in the US mentioned in this essay and prior writings are either directly connected to the breakdown in the blue social model or indicative of a threat to the existing social fabric.

    Significant distinctions which have been minimized in the discussions of the London flash mob violence include the equipping of American law enforcement with both non-lethal and lethal weapons, and the 2nd amendment right of American citizens to carry lethal weapons. Even the most brazen hooligan is likely to think twice about assaulting an individual or business if there is a risk that the hooligan will be shot and killed by law enforcement, or shot and killed by a citizen with a handgun and conceal carry permit acting in self-defense. This threat, that a rioter could be killed, is simply not part of the dynamic in England or at a State Fair in the USA (with the likely exception of Texas).

    Speaking of Texas, the Texas Rangers (not the baseball team), are often identified by the phrase “One Riot, One Ranger”. In 1896 an illegal fight was scheduled to break out in Dallas. The Texas Rangers sent one man, Captain Bill McDonald to prevent the riot. When Captain McDonald stepped off the train, the Mayor asked him where the other Rangers were. In response, Captain McDonald said, “Hell ain’t I enough? There’s only one riot isn’t there?” Both on that occasion and several others, one Ranger was enough.

    Mob psychology has not changed. As opposed to the dissidents seeking freedom in Syria and Libya, the rioters in London are not going to sacrifice their lives to grab a pair of shoes or an iphone. The tools necessary to prevent London style riots here and the will to use those tools are part of U.S. Law Enforcement, are protected by the American Legal System, and are enshrined in American culture.

    The London analogy also applies to the threat of potential racial violence. WRM notes “The Black middle class is in trouble, and that trouble is likely to get worse.” However, the “trouble”, as WRM appears to acknowledge, is not yet at levels where there are angry mobs in the streets. As with hooligans in London torching cars and stealing shoes, the perception of injustice in the US is not currently sending into the street individuals en masse in disregard to their own personal safety. In other words, a sense of dissatisfaction, boredom, or nihilism is not enough in our society to see much more than isolated incidents as described in this essay and past writings.

    All that being said, the growing anger and frustration during these economic times is something like the unrestricted growth of underbrush in a forest. The fuel for a confligaration is building up. Clearing that fuel out is appropriate, but the growth of the underbrush goes beyond individual racial groups. As WRM points out, while Blacks are used as an example, the anger and frustration are not defined by racial groups. This suggests that a racial dialogue will not be enough.

    We may see the build up of anger and frustration defused through our next election cycle. We may also see the problems addressed by economic growth and the creation of new jobs. External actions may completely shift our focus.

    While continuing our Nation’s dialogue on race is important, I would suggest that current events are a slender reed for promoting that discussion.

  • R.C.

    The back-and-forth between Toni and abc’s has interested me.

    Can someone please help me make sense of this:

    In what particular way(s) is a 25-year-old black man in America worse off than a 25-year-old Hispanic man when their economic and educational situations are identical?

    jh79 commented, in effect, that there is no valid comparison because the black man had a great-great-grandfather who was a slave, and a grandfather who suffered indignities during segregation.

    I accept this as a fact, but how does that historical reality affect the 25-year-old black man differently than its absence affects the Hispanic man with identical economic and educational circumstances?

    Is the difference nothing more than the mistrust inculcated in him because of their own rough experiences? Had he been raised as the adopted son of whites, would there be no difference at all?

    And, one other thing…

    Is it not entirely true that, whether a man is Hispanic or Black, the “Henry Higgins” sociological observations from “My Fair Lady” hold true? That, if a man or woman speaks in a certain fashion, it governs how everyone treats them? That every person whose speech is identical in cadence to Peter Jennings will avoid most or all racial discrimination, no matter how sub-Saharan or Mestizo his features?

  • Wembly

    Sadly, the problem you describe is likely intractable. Absent a galvanizing event that transcends race and calls us to recognize, respect and act on our shared humanity the matter will inevitably be “settled” by violence and repression. To the extent this behavior currently exists it is happening in a citizen versus the police model with whites playing the role of victim. The cataclysm being invited by the feral behavior of a small group of young Blacks occurs when whites lose confidence in the ability of the police to protect and of the civil government to prosecute and punish. Add in the expected lack of seriousness of the MSM and vigilantism or worse comes next. Young Blacks inviting this result should be made aware of American demography. Your city, your state and your nation don’t look like your neighborhood.

  • Yahzooman

    Two sides of the coin … in black and white:

    Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 2007 decision throwing out school integration plans in Seattle and the Louisville area that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

    Attorney General Eric Holder described America as “essentially a nation of cowards” and saying people “simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”

    Whites are exhausted by all the talk and the implied guilt due to the actions of our ancestors.

    Blacks are obsessed by (real or imagined) racism and want to talk about it all the time.

    It’s like the scene from “Annie Hall” where Woody Allen (Alvy) and Diane Keaton (Annie) see their respective doctors …

    [Alvy and Annie are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen]
    Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
    Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?
    Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
    Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

    Alvy and Annie decided to split … a relationship is a like a shark. “It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

    Tell you the truth. I think we have a racial dead shark.

    Obama killed it. He’s the answer for whites that, see, if a Black man can become president then racism is dead.

    He’s also the answer for Blacks showing that society is, in Dr. Mead’s description, comprised of good Blacks and bad Blacks, an unfair society divided between those who are nurtured and allowed to succeed and bad Blacks who go to jail. The symbol of Obama in the “White House” give whites a free pass concerning the vast majority of poor Blacks who are (according to Sharpton and Jesse Jackson) the victims of white racism and the legacy of slavery.

    Are we headed for 1960s-style riots in the inner cities? If both sides continue to speak past one another and hold different interpretations of modern race relations, then yes, today’s London riots will become tomorrow’s fires in Detroit, Washington and Philadelphia.

    Thanks again Dr. Mead for another thoughtful essay.

  • Todd

    Hispanics were never imported into the U.S. involuntarily, and the law never allowed them to be owned. They chose to come, knowing our flaws.

    So however similar their current and future situations may be to those of Blacks, they can’t fully claim the place of Blacks in the history and ‘conversation’ which Dr. Mead lays out.

    Reopening the conversation would be as painful as it has always been, which is why we would all rather just kick the can down the road a little longer. Serious conversation about what was right and what was wrong about the “Compromise of 1976,” which I would call the Compromise of 1965, is really difficult.

    The terms of that compromise did many good things, which we now take for granted, but they also led to the disastrous destruction of the two-parent Black family among poor Blacks. Any new compromise has to deal with that problem, and I don’t even know how to talk about it with the “other side.” It is a very discouraging situation.

  • Kathie O’Keefe

    It seems to me that ever since the Sixties ten or twenty percent of the 18 year old African-Americans graduate from high school, go on to do well and escape from the past. In the Sixties I thought that if the segregation laws changed that number would be more like eighty percent going on to do well right away. I do not know why it didn’t happen like that. Sometimes I have this image of the segregated past lying like the Great Barrier Reef of Australia under what looks like clear blue water for good sailing and wrecking small ships on sudden rocks.

    Perhaps segregation meant that we never came to know each other and now we just don’t know why things happen as they do. We don’t know each others’ expectations – at school, on the job, in line etc. Unintended offence is constantly being given on both sides, the same thing over and over and over. Then when the time comes that one race or the other needs some understanding or needs to understand something, suppressed irritation and anger surface instead on both sides. Perhaps we are the bitter generations bumping down a long dark narrow passage together and if only we persevere our children or grandchildren will emerge to see each other as they are.

  • Larry J

    “once responsibility for any inner city riots can be laid at the Tea Party’s door, the subject can safely be discussed. Indeed, it must be discussed”

    The Left is telling lies about the Tea Party, calling us racists and terrorists. I’m going to tell the truth about the Left: they’re economic pedophiles. They’re screwing our children’s futures with runaway deficit spending for their own political benefit today.

    We’re coming to the point – if we’re not already past it – where we can no longer afford to pay for generations of people who do no work. At a time when over 40 cents of every dollar in the federal budget is borrowed, we’re going to have to make some harsh choices. There simply isn’t enough rich people to tax our way out of the budget mess. Indeed, trying to do so will only make the economy worse. So, spending must be cut substancially. And when that happens, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see rioting like what has happened in Europe, not just by Blacks but by a lot of people who make their living by riding the government gravy train. It’s not going to be pretty.

  • Illinois

    Here in the midwest we are developing something akin to bantustans. There is no “inner city” in E. St. Louis, it is a Federal Reservation occupied by African Americans who vote for the Democrat machine. Ditto Cairo, Illinois, Gary, Indiana, the Mississippi Delta, and on and on.

    Though the essay was thought provoking I find the lack of insight into the bizarre arrangements that have developed in the African American settlements disappointing.

  • J. Knight

    As one of the pop music singers says, “blah..blah..blah”. I expect more from you, Mr. Mead. We have black racists attacking white people, and the explanation is, “its whitey’s fault”. Well, partly. It’s the fault of the leftists, who tell blacks how mistreated they are. It’s the fault of the race hustlers like Al Sharpton, when he is rewarded by even being listened to when he is guilty of racist crimes himself. It is the fault of US Education, when blacks are constantly being taught how badly they were, are, and forevermore will be mistreated.

    And you wonder why the new cry of the black underclass is, “Kill Whitey”, or “Beat Whitey Night” at the Iowa State Fair. How about this advice to blacks, “It’s your fault. You’ve had the same opportunity as whites for years now. Quit your whining, and get to work. And if you decide to take the law into your own hands, then be ready to take the consequences. If we do anything else, then we invite the barbarism now playing out in Europe.

  • Foobarista

    Some random comments:

    1. Both the “white” and “Black” communities have fragmented, due to immigration. There are numerous immigrant whites and Blacks, which has made politics in these communities more complicated. Immigrants from Russia, Armenia, or Iran (and yes, they’re “white”), aren’t moved by appeals to “white guilt”. Immigrants from Jamaica or Nigeria often have quite harsh opinions about American “Black culture”.

    2. Whites and Blacks aren’t the only people at the “racial table”. Hispanics are growing quickly in population, and already outnumber Blacks. Asians have less population, but are concentrated in big cities and for various reasons get screwed by AA programs (East and South Asians are often effectively considered “white” for university admissions, for example) and generally oppose them.

    3. Many recent race tensions in the US haven’t been Black vs white, but more typically Black vs Hispanic (gang wars in Compton) and occasionally Black vs Asian (often, the stores that get looted or burned in riots are run by Asians).

    4. A few Black intellectuals argue that Asians (in particular, as they have higher HH income and more education than either whites or Black) and to some extent Hispanics succeeded at Black expense due to the “compromise of 1976” improvements.

  • G.R. Mead

    No relation, I swear. The political problem will be this: After Obama’s policies get done torching the economy, and the national fisc, and inner city youth (mostly black, some Hispanic) who actually have been victimized by the destruction of the social order that made the obligate clients of the now bankrupt state, will join in many places to begin torching some urban areas as we now see in Britain.

    They will not be without some measure of sympathy in the root cause their anger — for those that truly understand it — if not for their immediate expression of it in spontaneous mob acts of violence and destruction that result. It will not be as bad as Britain because shootings in our armed society will quickly quell the worst of it — sadly, but necessarily, mitigating the full force that would otherwise be felt.

    But for those who do not actually see the root cause, whether within or without the system of obligate dependency that has been created, the result will be one of anger, resentment, and righteous indignation that this is how thirty-plus years of welfare, affirmative action, and race-baiting social programs and enforcement schemes capped by election of a black president come to a sorry end. At the end of the day, all we get is the Watts riots all over again — now writ large…

    What, indeed, will have been the point of it all?

    The seed of racial animosity will have sprouted yet again, and in fresh earth of recent memory, watered with violence, and with mutually opposed resentments, on both sides, and in terms nearly inconceivable by the other …

  • TexEd

    I believe you’ve missed several key, underlying issues. First, blacks in our country have always been owned by democrats; to 1865 as slaves, since, as serfs beholden to dem politicians. This is especially true since LBJ. Today, black racism is rewarded by dem s who know that, no matter what, blacks will vote for dems. Next is abortion. Dems demand abortion because it permits the continued slaughter of black babies (remember, “no matter what”). Then, comes illegal immigration. Jobs that belong to blacks are given to illegal aliens, folks who will add to the dem voter rolls.
    So, the dems use our money to bribe blacks to sponge off society while voting for dems, killing each other, allowing their children to be slaughtered, permitting illegal aliens to take the dignity of work and eventual prosperity, and posturing that black racism is an alternative to blacks doing something constructive.

  • Andrea

    Discussions about racism usually frustrate me. They talk around the real reason for what masquerades as racism — fear of crime. This article almost gets there, but doesn’t nail it. Crime creates a backlash of fear against the perpetrators. But that’s different from true racism.

    The generation of whites that thought less of blacks merely because of skin color — true racism — is dying off. In contrast, the Boomer generation, who came of age in the Civil Rights Era, grew up enjoying black music & musicians, black actors, cheering black athletes, listening to black news anchor, weather reporters, worked with black colleagues, etc. Civil Rights being the major movement of our time, the Boomers have, at least, a rational understanding of the necessity for racial equality, and, at most, much sympathy for and a desire to act on behalf of that cause.

    The younger generations have a more natural acceptance of racial equality. They have gone to school with sons & daughters of the black middle class, were on the same sports teams, went to each others birthday parties, lived & played in the same suburbs, took each other to proms. Integration allowed them to discover that they had enough in common to mix rather well. Judgements are made on personality instead of skin color. I base these observations experiences of my children and their colleagues.

    Nobody under the age of 60 gives a fig about skin color. But crime is something that frightens & angers everyone, including the black middle class. I, a white mom, have had conversations with black parents and have heard their desires to keep their children away from the negative influences of the black underclass. Would you call that racism? Isn’t it just the same fear of crime & social dysfunctions that white people fear, that *anybody* regardless of skin color fears? If we could magically remove crime from the black lower class, “racism” against blacks would disappear.

    Tangential to the “racism” issue, if the media would stop screaming racism at fear of crime in the black underclass for just a little bit, they would notice there’s much fear of & scorn towards white underclass meth heads that are destroying small town America too.

  • Jerry

    A fascinating and well put together read. Thank you so much for the effort. It is reads like this that shines a light on one’s own short knowledge on a subject and it is without the sneering attitudes towards segments of society that editorial journalism has pasted into its mindset.

    It is an observation of the winds of change that has formed our various populations of the African American. It shows the benefits and costs of affirmative action. He is not justifying or condemning it.

    The coming clash of cultures that have sprung up as a result of the failure of society to integrate will be in everyone’s mind soon enough. If the take on these things is exemplified by the comments to such a neutral article as this I can only imagine the population of the US will be completely raging when the riots start.

    The collapse of the fiat currencies coupled with the fruiting of the progressive social directives may bring society to its knees and then what emerges will be anyone’s guess. Pessimism seems the general consensus.

    It is a fascinating ride good sir. Not fair of course, not equal when talent is rewarded and not equitable because of that. It is what it is.

  • Tim

    Interesting as always, WRM. I am curious, though, about your dating of the current compromise to 1976. Why that date in particular?

  • Done Gone Galt

    Those racist, terrorist, Tea Partiers are trying to destroy the poor and save the rich. They opposed TARP, because they wanted our benevolent banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies to fail taking away much needed tax revenues and campaign contributions. They opposed TALF, and ZIRP so the poor and downtrodden would never be able to borrow money from the FED to buy Treasuries. They opposed QE1, and QE2, so minorities wouldn’t have time to deleverage and get debt free in case of Global Economy collapse. It is clear from their position on taxes and spending that they are in the back pocket of Evil Big Business, and not the Good Uber Businesses like those that help us invest our state and local pensions, provide cdo’s, credit swaps and other derivatives, run political campaigns, need help making green products in China , or provide union jobs making electric cars you can’t use to make a decent length trip. No it is the likes of those ungrateful plumbers and those evil repair shops that keep clunkers on the road at prices people can afford, polluting our atmosphere, and warming our planet. They don’t care about the elderly getting an increase in their Social Security checks. No, they would just as soon have deflation. They don’t even want to fund Cowboy Poetry or Performance Art.

    We can defeat them. The FED can print, lend at zero to our ‘friends’ who will buy even more of our Treasuries and we can still spend our way to prosperity. We can keep the chosen Uber Businesses alive and healthy to be taxed at some future date when their lobbyists say it is ok (or they refuse to give enough to the right campaigns). Believe, believe, believe, and soon with a few more rounds of Cash for Clunkers and QE3 we can make those pollution pumping tea partiers almost as scarce as a St Gaudens Gold Double Eagle.

    We can do it! YES WE CAN. Win The Future. WTF.

  • ken

    I taught middle and high school History and Geography until three years ago. None of my students had ever seen segregated restrooms, restaurants, water fountains, lunch counters, schools, colleges, hospitals, jails, professional sports, police, military, hotels, or other official anti-black discrimination. What they had seen was a black assistant principal who suspended white kids but let black kids off for the same offense—sometimes for the same event; bus drivers who ignored the misbehavior of black kids but wrote up white kids; black teachers who favored black students over white students; black students and parents who got away with disrespecting white teachers, the annual celebration of Black History month even though the modern curriculum already includes the accomplishments of blacks throughout the year; favoritism toward blacks for college admissions and athletic scholarships; and the overall cultural guilt trip on whites who because of their age have not actual guilt.

    What racial attitude do you think white people who grow up under this regime will have?

  • Andrew

    My greatest fear a long this line is ‘what if BO does lose the 2012 election?’ I think the riots (just think how ACORN, the unions, the anarchists who are normally at the G-? meetings, among others,will stoke the violence)could possibly lead to some constitutional crisis and ultimately martial law, extending his reign indefinitely.

  • Mike K.

    It is sadly amusing that every public official in America involved in these incidences has gone out of their way to avoid classifing these acts as “Hate” crimes. This I assume is to avoid having to procecute under those laws and risk invoking the more Draconian punishments. Once again we find the real world not conforming to the progressive world view.

  • In the UK there is a conventional wisdom aformed that dismisses benefits cuts as the cause of the riots. While I understand the political/philosophical foundation, and agree with it, there are two separate issues. No, the cuts are not the moral or root cause of the riots, rather the existence and administration of the welfare state is, but the cuts ARE the proximate cause, ie, if they hadn’t had the cuts they wouldn’t have had the riots. Of course refraining from cutting is also not enough, a continual expansion beyond inflation and pop growth is presumed; a pretty obvious fiscal impossibility that must, without fail, cause the collapse of the programs or the currency or, most likely, all things. So the programs are destined to end but the interests who butter their bread from them will resist any managed decline, defaulting by ignorance (or sometimes by design) for cataclysm. Our global civil situation now is much like clinging to a rope from a rising balloon. The balloon is only going up. You can drop and sprain your ankle now, or think about it and drop to a broken leg or a broken neck OR you can hold on tight and acquaint yourself with the environment at the balloon’s maximum altitude.

  • ThomasD

    Yglesias, Salam, Lane, Milloy…

    A veritable Journolister’s on Parade.

  • Richard

    We keep hearing about a great conversation on race but most discussions of race degenerate into finger pointing and blame mongering. Part of the problem is white liberals pretend that they are a disinterested party qualified by their noble intentions to manage the conflict and speak on behalf of the others. Nobody but them sees it that way. Blacks don’t want white liberals speaking for them because, well, they are white people. Whites don’t want white liberals speaking for them because they are “the first to change the rules, and then the first to move away.”

  • Jason Hoffman

    This is both demagogic and intellectual “gangsterism…Kind of like a NYT reporter walking into Brooklyn deli and saying”this is a nice little establishment you got here,be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”

  • John

    What is wrong in these sentences? Do you see a common descriptor?
    “…southern farmers in maintaining the old sharecropping system that bound Blacks to the land; meanwhile, … Racism was generally losing its hold on the American mind; fewer and fewer whites were comfortable with the hatred and contempt permeating traditional attitudes towards Blacks.”

    That’s right, when referring to the people of color, “Black” is capitalized…twice while “white” is lower case, aparently indicating that Black is considered a title by the author and deserving of uppercase but white is just another cracker. I see this in so many articles that it makes my blood boil. People have to tap dance around the word “black”. You can’t even say a car is black without someone perking up and gawking at you like you just said the “N” word. And “N” word…gimme a frickin’ break.

  • John the Revelator

    We’ve had one civil war. There is nothing that says it can’t or won’t happen again. Just how the lines are divided will be the question.

  • John

    “But that many whites are thinking about how to “sunset” affirmative action while many Blacks are worried about losing their hold on middle class living is not good.”

    In the same damned sentence even!!! white/Black

  • Mark

    I missed the answer to the problem.

    Andrea’s comment is more eloquent than any I would write. She’s a bit more generous than I would be toward the earlier boomers, but over time racism in word or deed has become unacceptable to decent people.

    I’ll argue that what we need is an improving economy with more opportunities for all Americans. Otherwise, we’re trapped in a less than zero sum game fighting over a shrinking pie.

  • Fen

    “If the take on these things is exemplified by the comments to such a neutral article as this I can only imagine the population of the US will be completely raging when the riots start.”

    I’m an American Mutt, mostly Native American. And I have been radicalized by black racism. When you’re done caterwauling about slavery, try to recognize that every race has been victimized. If we all mishandled it the way blacks do, we would be like tribes in the Middle East – each seeking revenge for the offenses of your grandfather’s grandfather.

    The phenomena of black wilding in America is the result of the Nanny State creating generations of uncivilized apes. You don’t coddle a rabid dog, you put it down.

    Again, I have been radicalized by their actions. I’m a former Marine who served proudly alongside blacks. In Marine Corps society, skin color is as relevant hair color. They were my brothers. I would have eagerly stepped in front a bullet for them. It wasn’t until I became a civilian and was exposed to the ghetto thugs that I began to regard them as uncivilized animals.

    Stop making excuses for them. Thats part of the problem.

  • Kenny

    Basil correctly states, “The American people have never accepted the legitimacy of affirmative action.”

    Exactly right.

    Affirmative action was forced on the middle class by an elite who themselves or their children would never be affected by its explicit discrimination.

    The elite were able to pull that off ONLY because of the tremendous prosperity generated by the private sector, as prosperity can cover much foolishness.

    But that prosperity has ended, and so the free ride for blacks will end.

  • CatoRenasci

    The article is correct that an increase in (primarily) black-on-white violence may be imminent as America is forced, because Obama and the Democrats ramped up the federal deficit so quickly that we have little ability to continue to borrow and because so much of the black middle class holds that status only by virtue of substantial over-representation in the ranks of the federal, state and local bureaucracies that need to be eliminated, to remove the props of direct and indirect subsidies to blacks which constitute the “Compromise of 1976” as Mead puts it.

    However, I think the article utterly fails to understand what the reaction to racial violence would be. Whatever the reaction of the political class, the reaction of the ordinary white (and probably Hispanic – most of whom would prefer to identify with whites than blacks when push comes to shove) citizens will not be the sense of guilt over mistreatment of blacks that accompanied the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s and early ’70s and a sense that their rioting was understandable, if deplorable.

    This time, I think the reaction will be: we tried affirmative action, we tried the welfare state, and “they”‘re still not happy. Nobody (virtually) is starving, living on the street, or deprived of the opportunity to get an education or better him- or herself. What this is about is stuff. It is a demand that mostly poor, uneducated and unskilled blacks get more “stuff” at the expense of the hardworking citizens of America, essential blackmail: gimmie or I’ll steal it and burn things down.

    Americans don’t cotton much to being blackmailed by threats of violence.

    I think one response will be for voters to elect representatives who will pledge to, and actually will, more thoroughly dismantle the welfare state than might otherwise have been the case.

    Another response will be to demand the police become far more aggressive and less restrained in the use of force against those who perpetuate racial violence, and a vastly increased willingness on the part of ordinary citizens to employ deadly force whenever threatened.

    I thought that the Obama administration would set race relations back at least 50 years when he was elected, now I realize I was seriously mistaken. If blacks commit racial violence, or riot on a broad scale, race relations in this country will be set back a hundred years or more, at least with regard to blacks who do not evidence the obvious behavior attributes of middle class white culture.

    As one who was active in the Civil Rights movement in the ’60s, I find this very, very sad. But, given the left’s emphasis on equality of result rather than equality of opportunity — which by the way is what the leaders of the Civil Rights movement, both black and white, were promoting — I fear the result may be inevitable.

  • Timstigator

    I live in an affluent white village. I think 99% of us would welcome an affluent black family into the community. We have several ethnic families here; just no AAs. It’s not about color, it’s about education and culture. The inner city black culture is a powerful thing on its own. To go outside that culture invites harsh rhetoric to those wanting to escape it.

  • Patrick

    I graduated from high school in the mid 70’s, and watched as blacks with lower scores got into elite colleges and then elite professional schools. I personally knew blacks that were retained in professionals schools depsite earning grades that when earned by whites resulted in their dismissal from the schools. I have sat in recruiting meetings in which every possible effort was made to hire a black while the white candidates had to meet much higher standards. I have watched the government set aside awards for black companies and watched companies set aside contracts for black firms. I have watched my children achieve scores and grades that if they were black would have admitted them to Harvard, but as whites were not sufficient. So after almost two generations of being discriminated against and watching my children be discriminated against, my sympathy has expired. It’s time for a colorblind society.

  • Laika’s Last Woof

    Steve said:
    “It is interesting how the voices of much of the black professional class have so little of value to say about the problems of the urban and rural black poor.”

    And why should they? By “problems” I presume you mean crack, gangs, and hate-crimes. That the law-abiding black middle class doesn’t identify themselves with those criminals is PROGRESS.

    I don’t identify myself with meth-addicted white trash who raid junkyards to steal copper.

    Those aren’t “my people” and I don’t care what happens to them so long as they are stopped, although I would be pleased if they went to jail or were shot by angry junkyard owners and even more pleased if they sobered up and got jobs.

    Not only do I not identify with meth-addicted copper thieves just because they’re white, I actively identify with the black middle class who would scoff at the idea they have anything in common with crack-smoking fairground-terrorizing gangs of black hate criminals.

    Criminals need to be treated like criminals. Political excuses are like Danegeld, tribute paid to criminals which only make them worse. Black, white, Asian, a criminal is a criminal and needs to be treated like a criminal.

    This would also solve the other problem of the “urban poor”, law-abiding citizens being terrorized by their criminal neighbors. How can you get ahead in the ghetto when it’s not even safe to go outside?

  • Anthony

    WRM, in reference to young black males of urban vintage, Devah Pager and Bruce Western (2009) did study on “Discrimination in A Low-Wage Labor Market.” Some research in study occurred in Milwauke – research in a Milwaulee field experiment compared racial and criminal stigma among matched pairs of job seekers. Fielding a pair of black and a pair of white job applicants (in which one member of each pair was randomly assigned a criminal record) Pager found that a black applicant with “no criminal ” background experiences job prospects similar to those of a white felon. “That blackness confers the same disavantage as a felony conviction helps calibrate the deeply skeptical view of young black men in the eyes of Milwaukee employers.” In line with Urban Warming and Racial Climate Change, the study cites the effects of discrimination, relative to human and social capital, should be defined broadly – how the effects of discrimination unfold over the life cycle and across social space and that discrimination may produce broad cultural effects….

    The strength and intensity of contemporary racial attitudes reveal themselves in many responses to themes posited in your essays. That is, as Gunnar Myrdal stated (1942) “there is a Negro (black) Problem in the United States and most Americans are aware of it, although it assumes varying forms and intensity in different regions of the country and among diverse groups of the American people. Americans have to react to it, politically as citizens and, where there are Negroes (blacks) present in the community, privately as neighbors.” Therein, our various settlements (1820, 1850, 1976) intimated by WRM.

    “To the great majority of white Americans the Negro (black) problem has distinctly negative connotations. It suggests something difficlt to settle and equally difficult to leave alone. It is embarrassing. It makes for moral uneasiness. The very presence of the Negro (black) in America; his fate in this country through Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction; his recent career and his present status; his accomodation; his protest and his aspiration; in fact his entire biological, historical and social existence as a participant Ametica represent to the ordinary white man…an anomaly in the very structure of American society.” American definitive reconciliation with above remains our challenge as well as our trouble.

    In 1776 we proclaimed to the world that all men are created equal.235 years later the black/white conundrum yet revolves around human basics – economics, status, justice, equality, and valuations – is it possible for whites and blacks to live together in America without hatred and buffers? in America does black equality come without conditions and without caste connotations impressed clearly to new arrivals to our shores?

    WRM is correct “a new national conversation on race now, divorced from partisan politics and addressing the questions holistically (plans, aims, purpose) and in the large context of the crucial role race has so frequently played in American life” is warranted given accerlerating social change. This conversation comes as Americans within a shared heritage (white and black) facing external pressures exacerbating our internal divisions (America remains as strong as her most weakest citizen and culturally we must examine our heterogenity vis-a-vis American Ideals to guard the nature of our social peace).

  • Walter,

    Funny, I just wrote a bit about this very question:


    An excerpt to give you the flavor:

    Prohibition regimes always engender a spirit of lawlessness among the populations they are imposed on. It seeps into the wider culture. See Prohibition, Alcohol, 1920 to 1933.

    Had enough yet?

  • Toni


    In post #3, I pointed out that Hispanics have suffered most of the prejudice and injustice that Blacks have suffered, and Hispanics are now even worse off economically than Blacks. Some people have responded that (1) Hispanics were never imported to be slaves, and (2) Hispanics’ plight isn’t comparable because they’ve streamed over the border illegally.

    (1) Hispanics didn’t have to be imported. Hispanic refers to descendants of Spaniards, and Spaniards settled the Americas at about the same time that other Europeans did. Over the centuries, ancestors of today’s Hispanics were subject to the prejudice, economic oppression, and mistreatment as Blacks, including being murdered with impunity and deprived by Jim Crow laws of the right to vote.

    (2) Illegal Hispanic immigrants do lower Hispanic income statistics. But that says nothing about the plight of legal immigrants and native-born Hispanics. Does anyone imagine that if only legal and native-born incomes were considered, Hispanics would suddenly look prosperous?

    My point remains. Hispanics also have it bad economically, perhaps worse than Blacks. They don’t riot or form violent flash mobs. Ergo, special solicitude and programs for Blacks are unjustified.

  • Bonfire of the Idiocies

    As Mark suggests, a rising economic tide lifts all boats. Government in many states, like California, seems hell-bent to inhibit new businesses from forming and drive old ones out. A large part of this is the rampant environmental fanatacism there. In the age of sending money for energy to enemies like Iran and Venezuela and quasi-friends like the Saudis, tapping the abundant resources here in gas and shale oil would be a BOON to the economy as well as giving millions of jobless hope again. We simply can’t keep listening to environ-fanatics and AGW cultists like Al Gore. We all want clean air and water but there is a point of diminishing returns, a point where the environment doesn’t get any cleaner and other sections of government and society begin to break down from financial starvation. We are at that point now. It’s time to change directions. Unfortunately, this will not happen with the current delusional president in office. Let’s hope things can hold together until he is replaced.

  • Benjamin

    I do not understand is why the federal government, if it wants to improve black Americans’ lives, adheres to racial policies that are ineffectual (and possibly unconstitutional in their racial discrimination), but hasn’t even considered attempting something that it is explicitly charged with doing, and which would be infinitely more effective in assisting black Americans in achieving better economic outcomes — restoring the rule of law.

    It’s pretty clear that any enduring economic success for black Americans will have to come from people gaining, and keeping, employment, and working their way into better jobs — rather than from Section 8 vouchers or food stamps.

    And yet, failure to enforce to even the slightest degree immigration laws against menial Central American workers (they’re enforced plenty against foreign college grads and professional workers, as I know from deep experience), makes it exponentially harder for young black Americans to get the jobs they need as young adults to enter the workforce and move their way up as they age.

    Effectively, the federal government not only deters black Americans from working by offering expensive handouts, but its failure/refusal to enforce the laws of the land makes getting a job for anyone who wants to advance his station in life dramatically more difficult.

    So instead of respecting the rule of law (the cornerstone of liberal democracy and the greatest responsibility of our government) and allowing young black adults to get a foothold in the job market, the government is allowing a flood of illegal foreign nationals to take those jobs at 1/4 the wages (and none of the ability to sue their employer, file a complaint for excessive hours worked, etc.) and “addressing” the problems of black America by creating complicated, discriminatory and expensive disincentives to work.

    Meanwhile, amid hand-wringing about declining incomes and education levels and increasing inequality, the government’s animosity toward the rule of law is resulting in a massive new underclass that will themselves be in need of remedial services and “equalization” in the years to come. Until we restore the rule of law and recognize that a welfare state (or even just a nation-state) has to have borders or go belly-up, the future won’t looking so bright for black Americans … or any other Americans.

  • teapartydoc

    If you want less of something stop subsidizing it.

  • Anthony

    Correction, last sentence in last paragraph @55 should read: This conversation comes as Americans, within a shared heritage (black and white), face external pressures exacerbating our internal divisions….

  • The Bell Curve guys were worried about this several decades ago.

    The cognitive elite will race ahead and all others will be somewhat stagnant to declining based on where they were located on the curve.

  • maximus


    no american black alive was ever a slave that excuse is getting a bit old.

  • boqueronman

    There is much to gain from reading WRM. But the liberal-left assumptions he continues to bring to the table become all the more annoying, given actual current events.

    1. Good grief, how long to we have to put up with the continued – and still unsubstantiated – equating of Islamic political terror and “Christian extremists?” No, Breveik was not a Christian. But the left-liberal side of WRM still gives us “Aryan nazi nutjob murders” (I assume he does not mean the murder of neo-nazis by others) and “deranged [para-Christian] religious nuts.” Evidence, please, that there has been or will be murders committed by these phantom groups. Otherwise, it sounds like PC/multi-culti fever dreams… again.

    2. “…tension between America’s traditional racial attitudes and the teachings of Scripture.” What? Where is unequal racial division advocated in the Christian Bible? “Anti-semitism is a sin” (Romans 11), and “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:27-29 (NIV). Racists posing as Christians do not make them so any more than social control freaks posing as “environmentalists” makes them so.

    3. “Youths with serious economic and social grievances…” Are you referring to actual grievances or imagined grievances? There is a big difference when it comes to public policy responses. The data is clear that there is an identifiable set of social pathologies – unwanted births, education, addictions and family structures – which are more prevalent in the black community. Ipso facto, this community suffers the negative social and economic consequences of these choices. As an example of how the British riots are NOT about “grievances” the upper class arrestees include one Chelsea Ives, a 2012 Olympics “ambassador” who threw bricks at the police and a 19 year old (white) university student who was caught with $7,000 of looted store merchandise. Grievance? Give me a break!

  • “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against . . . We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

    Ayn Rand

  • Charles

    I think this analysis is WAY too complicated. Moreover, the opinions should be supported by data.

    Anyhow, it seems to me that the late Senator Moynihan had it right. Federal, state, and local policies as well as a shifting cultural stance which rewarded the disintegration of the black two parent family are principally to blame. Utterly dysfunctional and ineffective public school systems in many urban areas contributed to the problem.

    Essentially, liberal policies lead to the utter erosion of any sense of individual responsibilities AT ANY LEVEL, including government, institutions, teachers, parents, etc., etc.

    So we know what to do.

  • bubber

    One day in the early 70’s, I got my […] whipped by Dad for [….] mimicking President Johnson’s pronounciation of “negro”.

    Now, decades later, my 4-year-old son comes home from government-funded pre-K, where half the kids are from binge-drinkin’ unemployed families. He says to me “at school, all the kids call me ‘cracker'”.

    That day, I signed him up for private school!

  • Martyy

    Until about 4 years ago my (white) wife taught at a predominantly black, big-city community college with an extremely liberal, racially polarizing culture. Her students often had great big chips on their shoulders, as they had been trained to have since childhood. She would ask them, what racial prejudice had they ever suffered? Not their parents or their grandparents, or some historical figures, but themselves. It was extremely rare any of them had even one example.

    And don’t give me that they were scared of her; any of them could have filed a discrimination complaint against her and destroyed her career regardless of any facts, whereas if she gave any of them less than a “C” she was taking a risk. And they all knew it.

  • Toni

    Dr. Mead, you’ve gotten a lot of pushback against your thesis that “something must be done” to palliate or propitiate young Blacks who commit allegedly “political” violence for lack of economic opportunities.

    Many have put forward good reasons why the white-Black relationship of 150 years ago or 50 years ago or 35 years ago is irrelevant to the vastly different social and legal conditions of 2011. When does white America no longer owe violent Black America special forgiveness and treatment and outreach? When are violence-prone Blacks expected to step up and succeed through education and prudence the same way other races (and the handicapped) are expected to?

    Clearly, many here think those tipping points are already past. Doesn’t this suggest insufficient desire and political will to agonize over urban Blacks, and still less to “do something” about any propensity toward violence? Perhaps your sense of urgency stems more from your own idiosyncratic convictions — a hypersensitivity in your heart — than to any empirically demonstrable crisis.

    Me, I’m 55 and couldn’t be more sick of being lectured (my whole life) about racism and what we whites “owe” to poor urban Blacks. Many of us reached compassion fatigue quite some time ago. Enough is enough.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Toni: What I find interesting is that so many people simply assume I’m advocating yet another round of white racial abasement and guilt-driven giveaways.

  • There is one thing the black population needs to do to improve their situation, and that’s to follow the lead of the Jews.

    If any group understands what it’s like to be oppressed and downtrodden, it’s the Jew. Jews have seen oppression for millenia, and yet, with a few exceptions, Jews do well by themselves. Any group would do well to learn from the Jews and to follow how Jews handle the bigotry and bias they face.

    Go to the Jew and learn wisdom, it will improve your life where government action hass failed.

  • Dick Pickett

    Well, it’s never going to be an issue that goes away as long as there are people who don’t want it to go away. So as long as there’s a group of folks that profit from it or believe to gain power and popularity from it or damage other people by calling them a racist, it’s never going to go away. We can have people say this is a racist nation, but we have a black president – the most powerful person. The richest person on television, Oprah, is a black woman, the second most powerful star on television or in the media is probably Will Smith, and he is a black man. The richest athlete on the planet, at least pre-divorce, is a black man – Tiger Woods. And the highest paid singer is Beyonce. At what point do we get to stop calling ourselves a racist nation? If we are [racist] we aren’t doing a very good job at it. –Adam Carolla

  • Pete Dellas

    A case can be made that expansive government entitlements and the so-called “war of poverty” is the cause of inner city riots. The poor have been taken advantage of for political purposes for many years. The result is multiple generations who have lost their ability to live fully as humans, with basic human aspirations and a belief in the possibility of achieving their dreams. They have instead been treated like pets: food, housing, medical (veterinary). It robs them of any dignity and even of their humanity.

    People need to feel like they can earn and provide for their basic needs in order to maintain dignity. The Salvation Army charges a nominal amount for things because they have discovered that when things are given away for free, they are less appreciated.

    One more point: Liberalism has been waging a class warfare for generations. When you are being fed the line that the “rich aren’t contributing their fair share” and all such related propaganda, it isn’t hard to understand why businesses in those cities are the targets during riots. Looting is just another form of “spreading the wealth around” and “social justice.”

  • Rama

    Some months back I bought your God and Gold after happening upon your discourse on it on TV and I find your thoughts fascinating and would go so far as to say that I have not have a read like your book since I finished Magister Ludi aboout ten years ago! All this about black, hispanic and what not defenses could be puzzling if juxtaposed with the incomprehensible awe that the people of India still have for the British. Perhaps these feelings will be assuaged if America cultivates a sort of pleasantly disdainful and condescending quasi xenophobia with which the colonial Brits seduced the Middle and Far East and robbed them of their wealth…

  • Yahzooman

    Three disturbing columns in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

    (An Inquirer intern likens the mobs to freedom fighters in Tunisia and Egypt.)


    (A Black preacher says tackle the reasons why youngsters are in the flash mobs.)

    He likes this quote:
    Observing the unrest of his day, Malcolm X said, “We are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.”

    (A Black columnist says the mayor went too far in condemning the kids.)

  • Geren Teed

    What a fascinating discussion! It shows once again that we all view this issue through the tunnel vision of our own experiences. As one who has lived in parts of Oklahoma, there is no question that racial discrimination is alive and well. An example is testimonies from black families who have tried to rent homes in our small (predominantly white) community, because they were wanting to escape the poor schools in the neglected parts of town. Yet they are denied housing for no apparent reason, other than their skin color. So “move somewhere else that is better” can be easier said than done.

  • There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs….There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public. – Booker T. Washington

    Here is a black guy who was victimized by the race hustlers.

    “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” – Jesse Jackson

  • Marxfreesociety

    Obama is acting like Col Nathan Jessup in the movie A Few Good Men. His class warfare drivil, uttered over and over is his clarion call for a “Code Red” on the white devil. Create a crisis with the useful idiots via the “Big Lie” and bring in the military to calm the situation. Dr. Meade, you are a brilliant mind!

  • SenofSvend

    “Youths with serious economic and social grievances,”

    I work with the poor everyday both white and black. I think the more obvious statement at least in the inner city and trailer parks from first hand observation would be more like..

    “Youths who drop out of school at the earliest possible moment or just quit going, have children early and often and who generally do not know how, nor desire, to find an entry level job or any other job and who resort to violence and crime as they know nothing else and all too many of them obviously intelligent enough to do otherwise in a culture that does not respect the benefits and attributes of education or intelligence except as used on the street.” There that’s better.

    Note: In our little West Michigan city coming of age for a poor black 15 year old male is to join up with three to four of his associates and find someone old, white, crippled, etc. and beat the hell out of them. I know of too many of the victims to mention.

    So this will make me a racist and a bigot, but I will maintain that I have the same issues with ignorant animals whether white, black or whatever.

    Indeed I see the problem identifiers of racism everyday and everywhere. I can’t recall running into a problem solver other than those asking if they can borrow my bank account for a few decades. Having already tried that for 40 years at the cost of $16 trillion dollars and arriving at the exact same poverty rate of 10% to 12% consistently for 40 years doesn’t inspire me to take them up on the offer anymore.

    Money isn’t the issue, culture is. No, I don’t know how to change white/black poverty culture if those cultures have no desire to change themselves. I see that desire occasionally in the eyes, but not very often in the action.

    What a shame.

  • Nearsighted

    “A new national conversation on race now, divorced from partisan politics and addressing the questions holistically…”

    Sorry, Doc. “Non-partisan” is a non-sequitur.

    Eventually a band-aid will be applied by politicians operating in a messy, hyper-partisan environment.

    The wound will find new ways to fester, which will require another band-aid… eventually.

  • PerryM

    If folks want to riot and burn down their neighborhood I say put it on cable TV and sell tickets!

    We are witnessing the death of Marxism and I would gladly pay money to watch live burning neighborhoods where the Marxist decide to burn and loot while the police and fire department stay a safe distance away.

    This is good news – the death of Marxism will be violent and it would be a hoot to see Marxists burning their homes to the ground and stealing from stores stupid enough to locate in a Marxist area.

    So let me know when and were the tickets go on sale…………

  • I feel badly for blacks who are hard-working, honest, and responsible. They don’t have a voice in today’s politics: it is the disruptive black forces in the entertainment industries championed by the leftist/liberal media that have hi-jacked the discussion and are, unfortunately, the most visible role models for young people. Evidently, it is much easier to join a gang and blame the world than roll up your sleeves and become what they ridicule—a productive and proud member of society.

  • Briton

    Why not just separate the races? Blacks can have their land and whites can have their land. The Jews have an explicitly ethnic state of their own. To become a “national” of Israel you must be an ethnic Jew. It doesn’t even matter if you are an atheist as long as you have a Jewish mother. Why not use their laws (or even the Japanese immigration laws) as an example for separating all these hateful groups being smashed together in America by the Elite PC-Multicult Weirdos. This Evil Experiment in unnatural diversity is going to end in horror.

  • And the liberals are still playing that big old violin of victimhood for their favorite race of people who they just love perpetually rescuing from all those horrible external evils that surely must be to blame for the messed up lives of so many African Americans.

    Just how many more decades, how many more generations, will America be subjected to this ‘poor oppressed blacks’ propaganda?

    As new waves of down-and-out immigrants hit our shores, and through hard work and diligence, move on up the economic ladder, it’s getting down right embarrassing for dysfunctional African Americans and their white liberal apologists to continue the ‘it ain’t us, it’s them’ rant.

    Mayor Nutter’s approach in Philly is right on target: put the blame where it belongs and hold those people accountable for their actions including charging the punks with hate crimes.

    I find it sad but insightful that 50% of black youth are unemployed at a time when so many businesses are using illegal immigrants because they can’t find legal labor. Apparently, America’s Black youth deem themselves too good to cut grass, bus tables, move stock, etc. Why work when you can just rampage through America’s streets grabbing what you want while smashing white faces for the fun of it. And then be told that you are the REAL victims.

  • Al

    Excellent piece Prof. Mead. One topic that could have been discussed in this context are the effects of the gradual breakdown of the black nuclear family. As a high school teacher, I have observed for years the connection between student success and intact families; even students from divorced parents are likely to do well if both parents remain committed to their children. Too many black and latino children suffer the severe disadvantage of having absentee fathers, a culture that accepts or even promotes this, and all the socio economic problems that result. This may not have been intended by the “Compromise of 1976” but the situation is ignored, sometimes defended, by the PC of most of our so called elites. The next and hopefully last racial settlement should include serious efforts to eliminate the trends of children having children, and of uncommitted parenting. In addition I would love to see us replace our emphasis on divisive multicultural group identity with one of individualism and American melting pot unity.

  • justin55

    This Grand Compromise of 1976 that Mead speaks so approvingly of was never agreed to by the middle and lower class whites. The elites liked it because it required no payment from their purse. These federal, state, and local government jobs including the Post Offices might have been throw-away jobs to the elites, but they were important to these same middle and lower class whites. It was the same with the college admissions. The elites felt no sting from this social ‘compromise’.
    Altruism is an expensive luxury that is best paid by others. An agreement that is forced is no compromise and is inevitably doomed to fail. It brought temporary social peace at the expense making things worse in the long term. The fundamental issues were simply obscured, not addressed. They are not addressed in this essay either.

  • ignatzk

    It is in the interest of the Left to perpetuate social division and guilt – they are oil to the engine of ‘struggle’.

  • Tim

    “…once responsibility for any inner city riots can be laid at the Tea Party’s door, the subject can safely be discussed. Indeed, it must be discussed.”

    Not sure how I’m supposed to interpret that point, so here are a few of my own:

    1) It seems to me that WRM is drifting into standard “bluethink”, i.e., “if we cut welfare then the poor (meaning blacks) will riot!” In other words, pay more tribute (bribe), or you’ll be attacked. This is the choice ancient Rome faced with the barbarians towards the end of its empire. History shows us what that got ancient Rome.
    2) None of the cities mentioned in this essay are hotbeds of Tea Party activism. All are deep blue cities in deep blue states. These city governments are run by the liberal machine, dominated by blacks; the school systems are lavishly funded and run by blacks. The governments and school systems are hopelessly corrupt and failing by any measure. Most white people see this and wonder:
    a) “How have I caused any of this?”
    b) “I’m worried about my own kids, their schooling, and how I’m going to pay for college.” (Because I’m white and my kids won’t qualify for any aid or tuition discounts)
    c) “My taxes are too high and what do I get for that?”
    d) “My house is worth 25% less than what is was a few years ago, my 401(k) is tanking, and my job might get shipped to China.”
    Most readers can add more here…

    3)The bluethink reply is point #1 above, blame it on the Tea Party, and call for a national dialogue on race.

    There isn’t going to be a national dialogue on race. In today’s PC environment, a “national dialogue” means “lecture white people for their wrong-doings”. Look at what AG Holder tried last year with his “dialogue”- it wasn’t a dialogue, it was a diatribe.

    Look at the responses to this article. White people are fed up with being blamed for the black community’s problems, being called racists, etc. I wish I could end this post with some proposed solution. The only obvious point to me is that the welfare state is unsustainable.

  • EJM

    It is an interesting literary device to call the election of Rutherford B. Hayes the Compromise of 1877, or the affirmative action programs of the 70’s the Compromise of 1976, but this device is not really faithful to the facts. The newly freed African-American sharecropper was no participant to the Compromise of 1877. If his freedom was compromised by others, what was it he gained?

    Likewise there was no Compromise of 1976, implying a grand bargain in which everyone gained something. Liberals simply tried to buy blacks off by promising them preferential treatment and governmental largesse. Some certainly benefitted from these policies and entered the middle class, but most blacks remain today where they were 40 years ago, trapped in drug and crime ridden neighborhoods with no jobs, broken families and poor schools. Any complaint by whites or anyone else that these policies were neither fair nor effective was met by charges of racism. In other words, the Compromise was again forced at the higher levels of government without participation or buy-in from those most directly affected. As long as blacks stopped rioting and keep voting 90%+ for democrats, while rich white America kept paying, the policy elites (most of them democrats) declared their policies were a success.

    They were not.

    You cannot assuage your confused feelings of guilt or buy people off with ransom money, creating a dependency class with no prospects and no responsibility. It is no Compromise to elevate a Tiger Woods or Oprah Winfrey to superstardom or vote for Barack Obama for President, while millions have no future. We are seeing the result of this in London’s neigborhoods. Prof. Mead is quite right that as the economy remains flat and disappointment in Barack Obama grows, the London riots may be a foretaste of what we will see in our cities and neighborhoods in the near future.

    The debate we need to have is not about race, but about physical and economic development. The proper role of government is to make development possible, by law and providing basic services and encouraging small businesses. Everything which promotes development and responsibility–school choice, lower taxes on businesses, improving infrastructure, holding deadbeat dads accountable for their children, should be supported. Everything which impedes development and increases dependency on government such as endless checks without work requirements, and all racial preferences should end.

    This will not be easy but economic growth–businesses and the jobs they create–are the only way to lift people whatever their color out of poverty and hopelessness. Government programs no matter how well-designed or well-meaning are like drugs, a temporary high that only breeds addiction and dependency.

  • RonRonBBon

    I’m not going to attempt to comment on the issues raised – the article and the responses have given me much to digest. I’m thinking it over.

    I read a lot of opinion pieces, and often begin to read the comments following – I rarely read very far. The descent into name-calling and unthinking parroting of talking points is, usually, almost immediate.

    In this case, I read the entire thread of comments here. With few exceptions, people here actually stay on point and debate the issues. They apparently understand that a retort is not a rebuttal.

    Though I read a lot, I rarely try to discuss political or sociological issues with anyone – even friends. It’s been my experience that very few people want to actually discuss – most just want to hear agreement with, and reinforcement of, the opinions they already hold.

    I congratulate you, Dr. Mead, on the quality of the readers and commenters you attract.

  • john werneken

    Good job Prof. Mead. We are going to need to bring all the strength we can find in our vsouls to deal with this. Hopefully as our vision of the Good Lord would have us do, but in some kind of way, regardless.

  • Alice Bennie

    I watched Herman Cain’s speech yesterday
    in Ames,Iowa. I became aware of him thanks
    to a C-span interview several months ago.
    I like what I saw and challenge the liberal press to give his campaign some coverage.
    He is a conservative and a “real” black.

  • Gern

    I think there’s less of a need to talk about racism in the US than there is about how over dependence on the state results in poverty for all. The state of black America is far more a result of ongoing conversations about race, which tend to reenforce their view that their particular race is being oppressed, when it is more the case that when economic times are bad, those most dependent on government will suffer the most. Statistic can tell you which race is less well off than another, a situation that will always be the case because someone is always better of than someone else. What statistics cannot tell you is why that group is less well off. Is it because of lack of real opportunity, or a lack of desire or knowledge as to how to take advantage of that opportunity. Is it because the dominant culture of the youth makes fun of those who try to achieve, or is it because of a determined message by a party who stands to gain power by creating fear, anger and perpetual state of dependence? Unless the tone of the conversation about race takes a radical past from prior discussion, all that such a discussion will bring is another change for those people with a message of fear, anger and dependence a bigger megaphone to create dissent.

  • Evangeline Brabant

    After reading all this, my basic question remains: why are African Americans given the means and the public ear to endlessly claim victim status and the right to compensation, for decades, more than any other group?

    Other impoverished, beaten, barely surviving people come here, take the jobs, and get going. Their conditions may be different than African Americans, but they are people who have suffered grievous wrongs, sometimes for generations.

    People I know in academia who actually are from Africa, think African Americans are insane.

    Our GNP began declined as the decades of Affirmative Action racked up, and the system evolved from one where the employer should give the job to the equally qualified minority (Black) over the white, to one where the lesser qualified African American gets the job.

    Firefighters had to alter their admissions qualifications to allow blacks to qualify at lower scores, and in other jobs where lives are at stake, such as air traffic control, color mattered more back then, than experienced and ability. I am a pilot, and I remember this very well.

    Pardon me for cutting through all the lofty rhetoric about race, but every single group in history has faced slaughter, destruction, brutality. And if you want to mention hanging of blacks, contemplate gassing of 5.7 million Jews in ovens. Yet all those groups keep moving forward. Mostly, without the constant whining, bitterness, and expressions of their entitlements.

    One hundred fifty years after the Civil War, the sense of entitlement still goes on with segments of the black population. No group, ever, has had more largess, more help, more effort made in their behalf, than African Americans. They make up the largest ethnic group in our prisons. When does it end?

    Apparently, not any time soon. Those African Americans who have worked hard, made it up and out must be an uncomfortable reminder to those who will remain forever, constantly telling us it is anyone’s fault but their own.

    We do them no favors, they need to be forced to work, and forced to leave that culture behind, otherwise, and most probably, this is never going to change.

  • L Miller

    How do different specific urban centers or regional cultures handle race differently? I’d have a hard time imagining the riots occurring in Philly and Milwaukee happening in Houston today. Don’t get me wrong, racial problems exist everywhere and there have been specific racial incidents in Houston that make me cringe, but Houston seems largely devoid of the kind of racial tensions that exist in Chicago, Milwaukee and Philly. Why?

  • Lola-at-Large

    I’m with the commenters who are worried that the eruption of black rage in America–fed consistently for the last 40 years on the stoking of black cultural paranoia–could happen in 2012 if Obama is not elected. Sadly, Obama’s performance has been so bad that even that fear will not deter many whites on the left from staying home and voting via withholding.

    The article is interesting, but the comments on this thread are far more interesting. I’ve seen things said that just five years ago would be considered racist, but now are becoming part of moderate white’s thinking. That’s not to say the things are in and of themselves racist–they often aren’t–but the paranoia that is ramping up in black America is failing to penetrate moderate white thought, and for good reasons. Despite all of America’s great hope and attempts to change the scenario, black populations in America are not as well off comparatively than the programs put in place promised. And that seems to be a product of that black cultural paranoia I mentioned, perpetrated by race-baiters like Al Sharpton, Rev. Wright, etc. I mean, what good are education initiatives and all the collegiate affirmative action in the world, if so many black youths think getting good grades is “acting white?”

  • CatoRenasci

    As I reread the comments to this thread, I am reminded how drastically affirmative action has negatively (and usually accurately) affected white perceptions of blacks in upper middle class positions. Where in the bad old days, if one met a black with an education from a top notch university, especially a professional, one could be very sure that black was at least as qualified as the median white graduate of the same institution, and, very likely, he was more competent than most. If only because he’d had to overcome discrimination, overt and covert, to get there and to graduate.

    Since affirmative action, one assumes the black graduate of a top notch university was not admitted on academic merit, did not pursue a rigorous course of study, and is probably at least a full standard deviation less intelligent than the average graduate of the institution.

    This is really, really sad. And, the people who are hurt most by it are the blacks who are at the upper end of the intelligence distribution and who are highly competent.

    It will take at least a generation without affirmative action before the average white graduate of a great university, in his or her privy thoughts, takes black peers seriously without a whole of direct evidence of ability.

  • rhcrest

    This whole notion of blacks that are alive today still suffering because of slavery that happened long before they were born is preposterous. Affirmative action needs to be ended asap. Welfare needs to be abolished. People need to pull themselves up and be responsible for their own lives instead of constantly screaming that they have been victimized. Actually the new modern day slaves are the wage earners whose hard earned wages are stolen from them to give to those who would prefer not to work. We are the new slaves and the welfare recipients along with the gov’t are our masters. Where is the compassion for us?

  • Average Joe

    Has the author ever considered that slavery and segregation arose because of the way Blacks behave?

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Average Joe. No. Nor will he. Unless you want to claim that Africans somehow sailed the slave ships over here and forced us to take them at gunpoint, it’s hard to blame American slavery on anybody but the slave owners.

  • don

    So, which is it? What’s it gonna be? Does or does not “poverty” or “austerity” cause crime? I would venture a guess that every ethnic group in America, regardless of class and status, could find something to gripe about regarding some perceived historical wrong in want of reparations to make it right. Hell, the two sexes still fight over status inequalities. Free condoms and abortions now! As I recall, the proximate causes of the Watts riots of 65 and the Rodney King riots in 91 were drunk driving arrests “gone bad.” In those two cases, the California Highway Patrol were the instigating agency of change, with an LAPD assist. Maybe riots are caused by mind altering substances? Or, if your the middle class left, is it Herbert Marcuse and ilk, but if you’re poor, and black, its Mickey’s big mouth stout malt brew as the independent variable? I suspect if and when the long hot summers begin it will be caused, not by the poor, but by the relatively well off “agitators,” the community organizers suffering from status anxiety over employment downgrades, and probably facilitated by the popping education bubble.

  • Toni

    “What I find interesting is that so many people simply assume I’m advocating yet another round of white racial abasement and guilt-driven giveaways.”

    Perhaps because readers aren’t clear what you *do* advocate. Nor why, in the vastly changed social and legal landscape of 2011. Do you really believe young Blacks can’t get ahead if they try the traditional route of education, hard work, and thrift?

    Below are excerpts from Monday’s WSJ Opinion section re the UK riots. I think they hold lessons for this side of the pond about tolerance and, in some ways, indulgence of bad behavior. The UK is Bluer, but otherwise causes and effects are similar.

    “You can travel up and down the country and you can be sure that all the decent hotels and restaurants will be manned overwhelmingly by young foreigners; not a young Briton in sight…

    “The reason for this is clear: The young unemployed Britons not only have the wrong attitude to work…but they are also dramatically badly educated. Within six months of arrival in the country, the average young Pole speaks better, more cultivated English than they do. …[T]hus we have the paradox of high youth unemployment at the very same time that we suck in young workers from abroad.

    “The culture in which the young unemployed have immersed themselves is not one that is likely to promote virtues such as self-discipline, honesty and diligence.”

    “Over the past week we have witnessed the culmination of the liberal experiment. The experiment attested that two parents don’t matter; that welfare, rather than work, cures poverty; … you allow children to leave school without worthwhile skills; you say there’s no difference between right and wrong. Well now we’ve seen the results.”

  • Sparky222

    We need a national philosophy, man needs a philosophy to live by.

    I highly recommend that philosophy that clearly deals with reality, Objectivism, developed by Ayn Rand. This philosophy should be taught to K-12 and to all adults.

  • gawken

    The present economy has hurt the middle class, both black and white.

    Overall, the black middle class HAS done well. The problem is that the black “underclass” ( the “bad blacks”) has grown at an exponentialrate by comparison.

    When a teen age black girl..a HS drop-out, no skill, has 3-4 children, often by different “sperm donors” ( hat tip to Mayor Nutter) we have already sacrified another generation.

    It’s been my experience ( admittedly, totally anecdotally) that middle class blacks tend to have even LESS children than their white contemporaries.

    It’s almost as though they are determined to make sure they have enough time and resources to raise raise ONE child successfully.

  • “No level of government has the money to keep expanding services and employment in the inner city or anywhere else. The underclass never got all that much from the compromise. . .”

    I can’t agree with this. The underclass got tremendous publicly transferred wealth, guaranteed living standards along with “freedom” from work, and a largely unacknowledged consolidation of municipal and federal political power from every compromise of the last forty years.

    I think here and elsewhere you’re confusing cause and effect: if they were not granted responsibility-free sustenance, would they be able to continue destroying other people’s resources in various direct and indirect ways?

    Most people don’t realize the sheer quantity and reach of the “services” that already exist. Conversations about expanding these services, as if it’s a need and would solve problems, strike me as surreal: the programs support the behaviors that create the need for the programs. The complaint about lack of resources is a lie, and only exposing it as a lie (along with other lies regarding criminal justice and racism and police) will possibly alter future outcomes.

    I recently returned to my old neighborhood in Atlanta. Nothing is new except two posh-looking public health clinics within blocks of each other. The private businesses on this stretch of road, including a grocery, a clothing store, a carwash, and a fast-food restaurant, are now all shuttered and/or burned out.

    In my old neighborhood, the talk is all about installing increasingly ornate and expensive alarm systems, as if technology will outpace the criminal energies of the young, aimless children from broken homes. While living there, I repeatedly heard the lament that what was needed was more “programs” and “resources” for the “deprived” kids. I never met anyone who could answer the question “more than what?”

    None of these well-intentioned folks knew what the underclass was already receiving, through scores and scores of programs, each of which provided political patronage jobs that guaranteed the perpetuation of more programs.

    Not one person, on hearing a necessarily partial list of services and interventions already being offered, changed their minds that what was still needed was “more.” I left them to it, and they spend their spare hours screwing cameras and alarms to every surface of their homes, hoping to stay one step ahead of the criminal gangs.

  • Luke Lea

    We have our share of infantile leftists, whose ignorant, petulant narcissism leads them to identify with important world historical revolutionary figures and movements like their fatuous predecessors did in the 1960s. And there are the handfuls of deranged religious nuts whose personal vision of the apocalypse (whether some para-Christian or para-Islamic weird cult or some even weirder more idiosyncratic flavor à la Manson) lures them into mass murder.

    Well said, Professor.

  • Avery Matthews

    The only thing that society owes these thugs in London, whether they’re black or white, is prosecution.

  • Luke Lea

    Just read through all the comments. A ton of interesting ones, both passionate and dispassionate, but all delivered with a kind of serious regard. Looks like the times they are a changin’ . . . and a hard rain is gonna fall.

  • john

    Here’s an idea! No one cares!!! No one really gives [anything] about Gay Rights or ethnic groups crying about racial tensions and playing the race card every time something doesn’t go there way. Blacks help Blacks they don’t care about anyone else it’s the way it is. I there was a white NAACP it would be a racisit group. I hope all Americans do good and generally people around the world but let’s start calling it like we see it. Watch the news African Americans (not all) but enough have no respect for the law or fellow citizens. (flash mobs/shootings/robberies) no wonder police have a bias when the are forced to approach them or any other person for that matter. I’m white and was pulled over alot in my early twenties because my [bad] car and long hair that was profiling but no one says anything about socio-economic profiling. But I worked and put myself through school and eventually broke free of that [yet another mildly vulgarism deleted]. I’m not saying all the police aggresiveness is justified but come on be real I don’t fault them for being cautious and those experiencing it should take some accountability!!! What did you do to put yourself in that situation. If you want something work for it! If you try adn take it then don’t cry when the hammer falls!!!

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