Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hard Truths

Thomas Sowell states some politically incorrect truths about race in America in a recent column at The Jewish World Review. After discussing how the recent riots and looting were fed by the falsehood that Michael Brown was shot in the back while fleeing from a white cop, and the fact that a black cop in Alabama was, at about the same time, cleared of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of an unarmed white teenager, an incident I'll bet most Americans who get whatever news they consume from the mainstream media were completely unaware of, Sowell goes on to talk about some fictions that surround black poverty. Chief among these fictions is the attempt to,
...automatically depict whatever social problems exist in ghetto communities as being caused by the sins or negligence of whites, whether racism in general or a "legacy of slavery" in particular. Like most emotionally powerful visions, it is seldom, if ever, subjected to the test of evidence. The "legacy of slavery" argument is not just an excuse for inexcusable behavior in the ghettos. In a larger sense, it is an evasion of responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the prevailing social vision of our times, and the political policies based on that vision, over the past half century.
He supports these claims with an inconvenient fact. Black communities were healthier in the aftermath of slavery than they've been in the aftermath of the welfare state:
Anyone who is serious about evidence need only compare black communities as they evolved in the first 100 years after slavery with black communities as they evolved in the first 50 years after the explosive growth of the welfare state, beginning in the 1960s. You would be hard-pressed to find as many ghetto riots prior to the 1960s as we have seen just in the past year, much less in the 50 years since a wave of such riots swept across the country in 1965.

We are told that such riots are a result of black poverty and white racism. But in fact — for those who still have some respect for facts — black poverty was far worse, and white racism was far worse, prior to 1960. But violent crime within black ghettos was far less.

Murder rates among black males were going down — repeat, DOWN — during the much lamented 1950s, while it went up after the much celebrated 1960s, reaching levels more than double what they had been before. Most black children were raised in two-parent families prior to the 1960s. But today the great majority of black children are raised in one-parent families.
Similar trends apply equally to poor whites in England, Sowell notes, as illustrated in Theodore Dalrymple's book Life at the Bottom. The point is not that blacks are somehow uniquely disposed to crime and dysfunction, but rather that liberal government policies destroy individuals and communities of any color by, in Sowell's words,
exempting them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain ....Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state — and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves.
As if to put the exclamation point at the end of his essay Sowell notes that "one key fact that keeps getting ignored is that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits every year since 1994." In other words, if we were really serious about ending poverty in the black community we'd be doing everything we could to strengthen the two parent family rather than doing everything we can to weaken it.