Monday, July 9, 2007

To Rehabilitate the Culture, pt. 4 - A day or so ago, I received an invitation via e-mail to attend a meeting of fellow alumni from the USMA, that is fellow African American alumni. The meeting, which is to take place in the balmy confines of Orlando's DisneyLand (or DisneyWorld, I can never keep the two straight), is being called to discuss the state of black enrollment at West Point; I am led to assume that there are too few blacks entering the Academy presently, although I confess to not having the faintest notion about West Point enrollments, African American or otherwise.

I have not yet screwed up the courage to personally tell the conveners that I do not plan to attend, but I surely will not. While increasing minority matriculation to the Academy is doubtless a worthy goal, I am convinced that it is perhaps the least best use of the combined intellectual horsepower or moral authority of those who will gather in Florida next month, especially given present trends in the larger black community. Simply put, any student, black or white, who applies to West Point and gets even a quarter of the way through the highly involved admissions process is doing better than about 50 percent of all high school students. In the grand scheme of things vis-a-vis the black community, so what if the kid has to go to his second or third choice of schools. (Circumstances being what they are, he or she is more likely to graduate from a less academically rigorous setting anyway, and is thus more likely to meaningfully contribute to the community as a whole.)

Despite various attempts at intervention from without and within, the news from the African American community continues to disappoint. Surely the most urgent situation vexing blacks is not whether our children can get into elite colleges and universities; affirmative action will take care of at least the entry into such schools (certainly to the satisfaction of the whites who administer the programs, if not to that of all concerned.) A more pressing responsibility is making sure that black students get to the finish line of high school graduation being able to read their diplomas. As discussed elsewhere, the American education system is - to use a sometimes unfortunate turn of phrase - "in its last throes," and this is no truer than for students in majority-black school districts.

But even considering the spectacular failure of the Left to provide their most loyal constituents the final civil right of a quality education, the primary situation bedeviling blacks is one of culture. Even as educational attainment has increased for blacks since the 1960s, so have African American out-of-wedlock birth rates, as well as rates of incarceration and levels of black-on-black violence. (According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2004, offending rates for blacks were seven times higher than for whites, with approximately 94 percent of black homicide victims having been killed by blacks.) To be sure, the nightmare scenario for blacks today is one of culture rather than education, employment or access to capital.

But rather than simply rely on a dry recitation of statistics, let me attempt to make the point by way of induction. As discussed here and here, there is enough anecdotal evidence to conclude that the black race is doing the "Pop, Lock and Drop" on a powder keg of cultural dynamite. Reportage of three events has come to our attention, and the circumstances surrounding each of these situations further reinforces the notion that African Americans labor under a deficit of civilization. There is video of the story of LaShonda Calloway, a black woman from Wichita, Kansas who was stabbed in a convenience store and left to bleed to death, while bystanders stepped over her body to continue shopping; one fine citizen took a picture of Ms. Calloway with a cellphone camera. There is also video (in parts one and two) of several female students from Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas having their way with a male substitute teacher.

As if the foregoing were insufficient, we are treated to an Associated Press video that informs us of a recent gang rape of a mother by at least two teen boys, with the horrifying twist of the attackers forcing the victim's young son to participate in the assault. Each of these situations is tragic enough in and of themselves; in aggregate, they speak to an undeniably distressful circumstance, particularly among the black underclass. And while the temptation is to suggest that this is a problem more causally associated with a lack of means, one can cite stories involving wealthy blacks plumbing similar depths of depravity (as discussed elsewhere.)

To the surprise of no one, we can expect that as the NAACP Annual Convention begins in Detroit this week, NAACP Chair Julian Bond and others will drone on to the point of incoherence about the supposed excesses of the Bush administration, the high rates of poverty among blacks, "denials" of voting rights, disparities in earnings and a lack of health care, among other things. We can also rest assured that there will be no mention whatever implicating African American culture in any of those situations. Similarly, when opportunities (read T.V. cameras) present themselves, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et al. will continue to strut and fret in like fashion, all while uttering not one syllable about the need for cultural reform.

For the principals of the latter-day civil rights struggle, there are two obvious benefits of a strategy of leadership by complaint. First, as long as blacks are portrayed as victims, there will never be any requirement for any sort of introspection, no need for reflection or self-examination on the part of African Americans, particularly on the part of the leadership; guilt can always be externalized by way of endless indignation. In that vein, the secondary benefit for the civil rights crowd is that by focusing on the symptoms as opposed to the disease, liberal elites amongst the civil rights leadership can cover up their own complicity in getting the black community where it is today. Indeed, as described elsewhere, white liberals and their black enablers did in one generation what slave masters, klansmen and Bull Connor could not do in ten; namely, to create a race of happy supplicants who are all too ready to live their lives in repose.

So if we ought not concern ourselves with the number of blacks being selcted to attend our nation's most selective colleges, what is a concerned American to do about the crisis of culture in the black community? One could do worse than to consider LaShawn Barber's commentary on Conservative Cowardice on the matter of race. (Ms. Barber also references an excellent article by John Derbyshire entitled "Race and Conservatism", which he wrote for the New English Review.) To be sure, conservative leadership in engaging conversation on both race and culture is an excellent first step.

But just as important, whites could begin to administer what I will call "Oxygen Deprivation Therapy" to the leaders of the civil rights cults. (Here is at least one area where the white community must play catch-up, as African Americans have largely been ignoring civil rights leaders for decades.) Simply put, when these men and women speak, the proper course is to ignore them entirely - that is to deprive them of the oxygen of attention that they so desperately covet. When they appear on your T.V., turn it off. When they are quoted in print, use the paper to line the bottom of your office trashcan. (But in the interest of animal rights, don't force a caged bird to defecate on the excreta produced by this bunch.) Whatever they propose, you are better off to do the direct opposite. Only by starving this new slaveholding class - and their white Leftist counterparts - of the sustenance of legitimacy can we hope to move American culture forward.

No comments: