Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Simplifying the Complexity

A friend questioned whether I was not missing the complexity of black dysfunction in a recent post titled Blaming the Victim? Yes. He felt that the causes of the dearth of stores and businesses in predominately black communities was a complicated matter which I over-simplified by attributing it to the reluctance of businessmen to invest in high crime areas.

I guess the reason I simplified this and the larger issue of black dysfunction is that I think the cause of the latter is, at bottom, fairly simple. I explain why in my reply to my friend which went something like this slightly edited version:

At the risk of sounding simplistic I don't think the problems in the black community are all that complex. I think they stem from government policies and cultural influences that have led to the disintegration of the black family. I don't think racism has played anything more than a minor role. The black crime rate, for instance was far lower in the 1950s than it is today, but surely racism was more virulent fifty years ago than it is today. The salient difference between then and now is that back then there were far fewer blacks growing up in fatherless homes and far fewer welfare programs providing disincentives for parents to stay together.

In fact, I think the reason the media has blown the events in Ferguson into a wall-to-wall coverage event is that they (at least the liberal media) are desperate to find a case of white on black crime that confirms the narrative of ubiquitous white racism. It's actually very hard to find a significant example of white racism that's more than just someone saying something insensitive that a black overhears. The overwhelming majority of interracial crime is black-on-white and the overwhelming majority of murders in which the victim is black are perpetrated by other blacks.

Given that the facts belie the liberal narrative, cases like the Zimmerman/Martin shooting or the one in Ferguson are magnified out of all proportion to their actual significance and are portrayed, whether the evidence supports it or not, as a confirmation that America is still a virulently racist country.

And the reason this is done is to somehow excuse the failure of the mass of blacks which, having been given historically unprecedented opportunities to better themselves, still languish in poverty. If that failure can be blamed on racism then blacks can be absolved of responsibility for their predicament. If racism is not a significant factor then blacks are at fault, and this leads to the conclusion that maybe there's something wrong, either with black people themselves, or with the welfare state and its effect on the character of people who live under it.

Neither alternative is appealing to liberals so they're desperate to avoid having to face either of them. Their best option, they've apparently concluded, is to show that blacks still suffer from white hatred and oppression and that all of their problems stem from white contempt rather than any inherent flaw either in the black psyche or with the welfare state that white liberals have promoted for the last fifty years.

As long as they cling to this myth, the situation of black people in this country will continue to stagnate because we'll never adequately address the real cause of the problems in black communities.