Friday, August 17, 2007

To Rehabilitate the Culture, pt. 5 - Being an black conservative is hardly for those of weak constitution or faint heart, as there are days when it seems like the hardest job in the world. Conservatism for the African American represents something of a permutation of W.E.B. DuBois' "sense of looking at oneself through the eyes of others." While I proudly embrace both my ethnicity and my conservatism, there have been more than a few times when I sensed within myself a conflict between loyalty to the former and allegiance to the latter.

To be sure, the conservative critique of American society often abrades hardest against African American culture as it manifests presently. My only solace is the sure knowledge that love of self and kind is not measured or defined by a willingness to abet or overlook dysfunctional and destructive behavior, but by forthrightness in confronting such behavior; I have done as much, and most prodigiously, as evidenced elsewhere.

But there are moments when the full gravity and complexion of the cultural deficits that exist in America become clear as water, moments when the scope of behaviors in need of remediation can be seen to extend beyond that which singularly affects blacks. The execution-style murder of three Newark teenagers represents such a moment. As has been widely reported, 19 year-old Natasha Aeriel and her 18 year-old brother Terrance, along with 20 year-olds Dashon Harvey and Iofemi Hightower were shot nearly two weeks ago.

A 28 year-old Peruvian illegal alien, Jose Lachira Carranza, along with two 15 year-olds are in custody as suspects in the killings. Two other suspects remain at large, to include 24 year-old Rudolfo "Gomez" Godinez. And as this story has unfolded, an indignant community is asking how it is that Carranza - the suspected ringleader in these slayings - was not already in custody, as he was awaiting trial for assault and sexual assault on a child.

Although the Wall Street Journal recently hailed him as Newark's guiding light, Mayor Corey Booker now finds himself under siege, with critics calling for his resignation (as reported in both the New York Times and the Amsterdam News.) The Amsterdam News accounts have been particularly informative.

"These murders are going to continue to happen until the community addresses the social and emotional conditions – the mind-state of the people," said Ato Baraka, an East Orange teacher and former Newark resident. "More cops on the street is not the answer and Cory Booker needs to resign. He represents the corporate power structure and their interests."
By my lights, Mr. Booker should resign, but not for any reasons of malfeasance. Rather, he is entirely too accomplished - with degrees from Stanford, Yale Law and Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar - to cast his abundant gifts before the swine who ceaselessly critique him. His was a quixotic task anyway; he presides over a corrupt and debased city whose socio-economic backbone was broken long ago by former mayor Sharpe James and his predecessors.

So too - as we have seen elsewhere - Newark and communities like it have had their cultural fiber frayed by the effects of big-city liberalism. In order to consolidate their power bases, Democratic mayors of many of our larger cities (and the liberal elites who enabled them) worked harder to create "communities" based on race, economic class, ethnicity, religion and
sexual orientation as opposed to building a unifying culture that could transcend these differences. And each of these subcultures could be counted on to exchange their votes for political validation by the powers that be. All the while, the machinery that would have allowed for proper acculturation of both immigrant newcomers and successive generations of natives ground to a halt.

So it does not surprise that Booker's harshest critics are African Americans who accuse him of not being "black enough" (read too assimilated.) Similarly, while horrific crimes like the one that took place in Newark may shock, it should not surprise that unassimilated aliens find little incentive to conform with standards of behavior that are minimally promulgated and enforced by the culture. We face a situation now where, as Peggy Noonan described it in a piece for the Wall Street Journal, we seldom act as if America is a special place. As she observes, "if you don't have a well-grounded respect for yourself, you won't long sustain a well-grounded respect for others."

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