American Culture

Zimmerman verdict: Fox News is absolutely right for a change

Fox News has started beating the drum and asking why everyone is so upset over Zimmerman when there are so many blacks killed by blacks every day?

And they’re absolutely right, although of course they’re right for the wrong reasons. They’re trying to distract the discussion from the sordid facts that white men routinely kill black kids and get away with it and always have, and that non-coastal Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and the rest of the old South think that’s the way it should be.

Still, a broken clock is right twice a day, and this is Fox’s nanosecond of correctness. It is heinous that we liberals can get so up in arms over Trayvon Martin and not over the 1500 other young black boys between the ages of 15 and 19 that die every year from guns. (For more nauseating stats, follow the link. You get the idea.)

Wait, liberals say, we do get outraged over it. Look at all the programs we’ve started and the efforts we’ve made.

No, we don’t. We get saddened by it. We were outraged over Zimmerman. There’s a difference and there are reasons for it.

First, of course, is that the issue with the  Zimmerman trial isn’t really about Trayvon Martin. Not really. The issue that has us outraged is that a white man murdering a black kid isn’t considered a crime in the Old South and that half the white people in this country are OK with that.

Second, of course, is the truth that Trayvon was a young black male. Many people fear young males, particularly black males. For many there’s a little nagging feeling somewhere in the back of the mind that black teenagers that get killed are probably gang-bangers, and well, what can you say? Zimmerman’s defense certainly used the “he-was-black-and-wore-a-hoodie-so-he-deserved-it” defense.

But three dozen of the black kids killed by guns each year are under the age of 9. Unless you’re a full blown psychopath, it’s impossible to believe, no matter how racist and paranoid you might be, that a five year-old “deserves” it. Many of the teens have nothing to do with guns or gangs either, like 15 year-old Hadiya Pendleton, an honor student killed in Chicago last year. And while I can’t find stats, I suspect very, very few of those kids were killed by “white hispanic” guys. Most, like Hadiya, were killed by young black males.

We liberals squirm when we say that. We use the passive voice, “children are killed by bullets,” as if bullets simply materialize out of the air, and children fall onto the sidewalk with the tops of their heads blown off. We try to deflect the conversation.

We blame guns. Well, guns are clearly part of the problem. But that horse has left the barn. We’re simply not going to get guns off the streets. There are 300 million of them out there and gun laws have had about as much effect as sweeping back the tide.

We blame environmental factors–poverty, lack of opportunity, drugs, lead in the air, lack of appropriate after-school activities, etc. Probably all of these play a part and probably we’re not doing enough to address them.

However, it’s young black males that are pulling the triggers, and we don’t really like to say that. Just as those in the Pew poll somehow have convinced themselves that the Zimmerman trial was not about race and are thus disingenuous about the real problem, we are equally so in the other direction.

I’ve written before about the need for fat people to stop making excuses and take responsibility. I think it’s time we liberals did the same thing here. Yes it’s guns and environmental factors, but the ones pulling the triggers are young black males. At some point, they and the communities they live in have to find a way to stop the carnage, just like all the underclasses that have come before them in America have done.

Today, Ted Nugent used the black-on-black violence argument and the now standard right wing meme of trashing the memory of Trayvon Martin. It’s hard for anyone with decency or intelligence to listen to this and get past the base motives to listen to the argument, but this is one case where we should.

There are 1500 George Zimmermans out there, and not all of them are “hispanic whites.”

83 replies »

  1. Agreed on most, if not all, points.

    First and foremost, I see gun violence as a public health issue. The problem I have with the typical public health approach, however, is the apparent desire to address the matter, at least in part, through a product safety approach. That may work well for automobiles and medications, but where guns are concerned, there’s that whole 2nd Amendment thing. Whatever one thinks about it, one thing on which I think we can agree is that, due to its wording and its value as a political lever, the pols in DC will use it for political advantage and will torture the language however they see fit to gain that advantage. As long as “bearing arms” remains a right enshrined in the Constitution, any attempts at product safety requirements and requirements for responsible ownership are going to be jeered down as infringements.

    To your point, then…what needs to be done to get those involved in the shooting half of the black on black murder equation to take responsibility?

    • I don’t know.

      The opportunities just aren’t there. Historically, underclasses were able to move up by taking on unpleasant jobs that others didn’t want, e.g., factory jobs, municipal jobs, etc. Now, however, those jobs are so unpleasant and the former underclasses, e.g., the Irish in Chicago, are deeply entrenched there. Efforts to create faux opportunities, e.g., training people to be TV technicians, just haven’t worked.

      Now, if the opportunities were there I’m still not sure they’d be available to blacks. I’ve always been struck by the fact that blacks got factory jobs in the north and California during the years when European immigration was closed, then when immigration reopened, the jobs were taken from blacks and given to whites.

      Maybe there’s no solution and the blacks will be the perpetual underclass and their neighborhoods will become the equivalent of S.A. townships, violent law-free zones where the poor are encouraged to kill each other off.

      • Another factor here is that upward mobility is hindered by the dismantling of Labor. Once upon a time you could take a scut job but you could work your way up into the middle class. The “Right to Work” certainly has laid the boots to that in many places.

        • Yeah, I mentioned that factor in a comment. I can’t even list everything that’s going on.

          I suspect the entertainment industry is also to blame by promulgating bad role models. I don’t blame them for doing so, but it’s insane when Sam Hurd (a player for the Chicago Bears) aspires to be a big time drug dealer and Aaron Hernandez (no, he’s not black) is a part time gangsta.

    • Frank, I think that we actually can take a lesson from automobiles and apply to guns.

      When I was a kid, driving drunk wasn’t seen as an exacerbating factor in causing a traffic accident/death, but an excuse. “Aww, he was drunk” was, if not quite a get-out-of-jail free card, it was at least a means of avoiding social opprobrium, bizarre as that seems now.

      The fact is, we don’t tolerate negligence with motor vehicles any longer. Make a mistake and hurt or kill someone with a car, and you are in deep trouble. Drive drunk and you are in deeper trouble. Make a mistake while speeding or otherwise breaking traffic laws, and voluntary manslaughter and a huge lawsuit are your wages for inattention or negligence.

      I see no reason why the same sorts of laws shouldn’t apply to guns, which are a product line that requires extreme care — even more extreme, in my opinion, than the use of two-ton objects hurtling through space at 60 miles per hour or more. Increase both criminal and civil penalties for screwing up with a firearm and you will see many more people either being way more careful with the guns they own, or deciding that the risk of having firearms outweighs any benefits.

      This won’t stop deliberate gun violence, of course, but it is likely to severely curtail gun accidents and/or armed vigilantes deciding that a mere suspicion justifies a killing. As for gun violence, I would suggest a minimum of 30 years in prison for committing a crime with a gun. People will still get shot and killed, but those who are caught will be put in a place where they can no longer hurt other people until they are in their late 40s or early 50s, when they may, again, be somewhat safe to be around.

  2. Young, unattached males without reasonably bright futures (that they can see) have always been reckless and violent, as a statistical group. In this country, non-white people (and many white people, like the Irish and Italians) have traditionally found reasonably bright futures a difficult thing to obtain at various times,and no group has found them harder to obtain, for a longer period of time, than African-Americans. So when we speak of “black-on-black crime,” we’re speaking of the way impoverished, unattached young males treat each other. In a different era, we would have been speaking of “Irish-on-irish” crime, “Italian-on-Italian” crime, or “Jewish-on-Jewish” crime, depending on location and circumstance. Oh, and as I’m sure you know, people then (including newspapers) referred to the “Irish race,” “Italian race,” and “Jewish race.”

    Remove other factors, and race doesn’t exist. It’s simply not a useful concept. The Romans and Greeks had no word for race because it wasn’t useful to them. They knew exceedingly violent barbarians of all skin colors and relatively civilized persons of all skin colors. Only European expansion brought about by technically advanced sailing vessels and gunpowder weapons brought us the concept of race, because it seemed, to the Europeans of the time, to explain why they were so militarily, technically advanced and other areas of the globe were not. (Of course, they never asked, and still don’t, why Europe was such a backwater for much of known history).

    The reason there is so much black-on-black crime is that, over the years, African-Americans were forced into living next to each other, and still live largely in those places. Put young, unattached men without prospects into an area where they rub elbows, and the result is absolutely predictable.

    Do “liberals” care? I don’t know. I’ve never done a survey, nor do I even know if I am a liberal, but I assure you that I do care. The issue is, “What to do about it?” As long as there are impoverished, unattached young men in the world, there will be violence. As long as they are herded together, they will be violent against each other. So, in order to solve the problem, there have to be opportunities for these young men to brighten their futures, and frankly, those opportunities are getting scarcer and scarcer, even for young men from advantaged homes who have college degrees or better.

    Care? Sure. I’m trying to help, in my own small way, some rural, Southern communities improve STEM-H education so that their public school graduates can actually have decent, economic futures. That’s a small start on a very big problem, I readily admit, and if you can point me to some way I can make a larger impact on the problem, then I will attempt to do so, resources permitting. Barring that, I’m just going to keep plugging away and hope others are plugging, too, because the problem is WAY too big and hairy, and way too embedded in economic and social realities, for just one ordinary guy.

  3. Off the top of my head, inspired in part by good ol’ Matt 25:35-36, I wonder if non-profit supported extracurricular activities that might carry some kind of credit toward graduation might help. Note: this need not be faith-based, naturally, but I see little to no harm in cynically applying some of the best of that faith toward good social ends. Persons of faith could hardly have grounds to complain about such a set of programs.

    a) Training in nutrition, menu design, food prep and hygiene, etc. in support of soup kitchens and “meals on wheels” programs for the elderly/shut-ins.

    b) Training in public administration/parks & recreation/plumbing to install and maintain public drinking fountains.

    c) Training in running clothing drives, operating/servicing machines in an industrial laundry setting, and distribution to those in need.

    d) Volunteer opportunities at hospitals and clinics, visitation at hospitals, nursing homes and convalescent care facilities.

    e) Visitation at juvenile detention facilities (if not full-blown prisons).

    Part of what I see missing, as indicated in comments, are opportunity and a direct view of that opportunity. I think what I’m going for is a way to create a fast-track into social services. Not only would it be an educational opportunity that’s otherwise lacking, and not only would it perhaps bolster an otherwise beleaguered field rife with burnout, but maybe it would also help to strengthen a sense of community.

  4. “Many people fear young males, particularly black males.”
    “Most, like Hadiya, were killed by young black males.”
    “However, it’s young black males that are pulling the triggers”
    “… but the ones pulling the triggers are young black males.”
    “the communities they live in have to find a way to stop the carnage,”

    Perhaps Zimmerman wasn’t so wrong to fear Martin? Perhaps people like Zimmerman who actively take part in monitoring their neighborhood are what prevent “carnage” in the first place?

    • No. You completely misunderstood the post. Your logic is nonsensical. This is why we liberals rarely admit it on those rare occasions when the right has a valid point, because you’re too fucking stupid to understand what you got correct and what you got wrong.

      1. If he was scared, he should have stayed in his car. The cops were on their way.
      2. Trayvon didn’t have a gun. How exactly was he going to create carnage?
      3. There are 4000000 young black males in the U.S. Using the 1500 number, that means there was a 2,666 to 1 chance that Trayvon was just a kid walking home. The only people who would ignore that math would be a psychopathic racist who was profiling and walking around with a gun. Wait a minute! Why that’s Zimmerman. Or perhaps you think it’s a good idea to kill 2667 young males just to get one that might one day commit a crime?

    • Ty, I’m going to be a bit more polite than Otherwise. If you think of prejudice as “prejudging,” then we are all guilty of it, because that is the way we human beings are built. I am prejudiced against the idea of jumping off of very tall buildings without a net, because I have experience, even if only from a distance, that tells me that this leads to death. Since I’m not suicidal, I am prejudiced against the idea of doing something that seems quite likely to kill me.

      So, there is an important survival mechanism in our strong tendency toward prejudice, but there is also much evil in it. For instance, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, American citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and interned in concentration camps because, after all, since some Japanese — the citizens of an entirely different nation — were perfidious, then all Japanese must be, and we must round them up, imprison them, and cause them to lose their property because of their simple ethnicity.

      It’s the same with the reasoning you put forth: Since some African-American males commit violent crimes,then we should fear all African-American males. But, some Caucasian males commit violent crimes, too. In fact, there are more violent crimes committed by Caucasians than African-Americans (though the percentage is higher in the AA population). So, shouldn’t we fear, and perhaps kill, Caucasian males just in case?

      Near Jackson, Mississippi, a bit over a year ago as I recall, a young, Caucasian male saw a 40-something African-American male in a parking lot and just decided to run over him with his truck and kill him. Does this mean that African-American males should carry guns and kill any white male in a pickup truck, just in case?

      The soul, the very heart, of bigotry is the application of broad tendencies to individuals, as though they are what the stereotype says they are. If every white, Southern male were what the stereotype says he is, he would beat his wife (who is his sister), rape his children, torture and kill African-Americans just for the pure fun of it, be unable to read and write, live in a trailer, and generally be the scum of the scum of the scum of the earth. If that were true, I would be justified in pulling out my gun and shooting anyone with a license plate from an old, Confederate state on sight. But it’s not true. There are very many fine, white, Southern males, and I don’t presume that I will find the very worst sort every time I see one. That would make me a bigot, and I try very hard not to be one.

      My sense is that most people don’t try, or don’t try very hard.

  5. Charles Barkley proffered in an interview regarding the Zimmerman that “we only talk about race after a crisis and then everyone protects their tribe.” I thought that a pretty keen observation and see this post as an effort to continue the conversation after the heat of the verdict – The Ty diversion notwithstanding.

    “However, it’s young black males that are pulling the triggers, and we don’t really like to say that. Just as those in the Pew poll somehow have convinced themselves that the Zimmerman trial was not about race and are thus disingenuous about the real problem, we are equally so in the other direction.”

    But as you point out, the Zimmerman verdict is qualitatively different from black on black homicide. The Zimmerman case is about whether or not it is okay for a white man to kill a black man (or child, as the case may be). So maybe part of it is that the black on black homicide issue can be put into a different category – a more complex category. Far more complex. But I would like to peek under a corner of that rug to look at a small part of it.
    Barkley also said, “I think sometimes when people talk about race, they act like only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist.”
    I’m for everyone looking into their hearts at their own contribution to racism. I am often dismayed by people’s lack of awareness of their own biases and prejudices and egocentricity. Not just white people.

    During the first Obama campaign a number of apparently isolated incidents converged on me:

    1. Jeremiah Wright burst onto the scene
    2. Robin Roberts mentioned she thought reverend Wright’s comments were mild compared to some sermons she had heard in churches she had attended.
    3. On two separate flights I sat next to two young black women (one just graduated from Purdue one returning for her senior year at Spelman) who confirmed Robin Roberts observation.
    4. Michelle Obama mentioned that, growing up, she was accused of “acting white” when she studied hard and tried to do well in school.
    5. A 30 year old African American I.T. Tech was telling me about how, at his high school it was in the black culture at that school that doing well and graduating from high school was considered selling out (he didn’t use the phrase, acting white).

    Certainly not a Gallup Poll but those five anecdotes dot the Central and Eastern Time Zones and were pretty random in nature. And while prejudice and racism are significant factors I have to wonder, how helpful those apparent “cultural attitudes” are. How much do they contribute to the myriad problems listed in this string. I think they should be added to the “list of things going on.”

    • Frank:

      As Socrates would say, “Define your terms.” “Racism” is a very slippery term, indeed, since it is defined by many as being institutionalized, only; that is, racism cannot exist unless it is backed up by institutionalized oppression. I don’t care for that definition very much, but I understand the felt need to define it that way, since without that definition, it becomes all too easy to do as you have done: present black bigotry against whites as morally equivalent to white bigotry against blacks. I’m not suggesting that you did this on purpose, but I do suggest that you did this as part of a verbal omission, and that since abstract thinking is always symbolic, and words are symbols, how we use those symbols is inseparable from how we form our attitudes and opinions.

      So, let me define the way I will us the term, here: “Prejudice” is prejudging a thing before one has experience with that specific thing. “Bigotry” is a subset of prejudice, and groups things together into categories to which it applies a set of pejorative traits, applying those traits to individual things within those categories. “Racism” is a subset of bigotry, in that it defines the category as being “race.”

      By my definition, then, you would be correct. Racism exists very widely, and there are very many African-Americans who are racists because of the pejorative qualities they assign to all whites. I know this from experience, having worked shoulder-to-shoulder in the fields as the only white boy there among African-American workers. I heard their talk (though it was rarely if ever aimed at me), and I know that some of them were angry and bitter about white people, and that, strictly speaking, that talk was racist.

      The reason so many people want to limit the definition of racism to that which is institutionalized, though, is because there was very little any of those African-Americans I worked with could do to hurt me. I suppose one of them could have become personally violent and hurt me that way, but that is true of almost all racists, and in this case, had one of them hurt me, he would have ended up in prison for a very long time. Had I hurt one of them, I almost certainly would have gotten off because I was “defending myself.” They knew this. I knew this.

      On a broader level, they were not going to grow up to become employers and deny me employment because they were acting on their racism. They were not going to be my children’s teachers, and give them lower grades for the same work as black kids and discipline them more often than black kids evincing the same behaviors. In other words, they were very nearly powerless to actually act upon their racism as it regarded me or any other white person — and this is why “racism,” as I define it (and it seems you do, too) is not morally equivalent. One sort of racism is backed by very real, very coercive power. The other is not, and this is why I don’t equate the two.

      There’s also the issue of justification. I don’t believe that racism is ever justified, nor is bigotry, its meta-brother. On the other hand, if one sees justification in shades instead of in pure black and white, then it’s clear to me that some forms of bigotry are more justified than others. As an extreme example, had I been alive at the time and met a Jew in pre-war Germany who had barely escaped the Nazis, but had to leave behind all he owned and still had family there, and had that Jew expressed hatred toward all Germans, I would not have been able to agree that all Germans are as he described them, because that is bigotry. But I would understand why he felt that way. He had been done very real, very awful wrongs by a subset of Germans, and had visited negative feelings upon all Germans. What would be far more difficult to understand was the bigotry that so many non-Jewish Germans had towards Jews in the first place. And as far as power goes, our hypothetical Jewish man would have had no power to hurt Germans, but the Germans had infinite power to hurt and kill Jews.

      Now, let’s visit some of your five points, above. The Reverend Wright is obviously a racist, as are others of his brethren who live in pulpits, no doubt, but he doesn’t concern me in the slightest because he has no power to speak of to act upon his feelings. And, I see a shade of gray there that says that, if he is this way, white people have worked very hard to make him so. He should have resisted, but I still see a shade of gray, there.

      I’ve heard the term “acting white” in the fields, and I’ve heard AA boys say to others, “Why are you working so hard for some white man?” I get that. I’m also very aware of the pressure not to do well in school, because I am white, a rural Southerner by upbringing, and I can tell you that you will hear the same in any white-dominated school where I grew up, and in much of the rest of the South (as I’ve heard). Perhaps things are the same in the rural Midwest and elsewhere. I wouldn’t know. But I can assure you that pressure not to succeed in school is alive and well in many parts of America, and it is not in the least confined to African-American society.

      All societies, however they are defined, apply sanctions for departure from social norms. I was one of those Southern boys who got good grades — even spectacular grades. I survived by being decent at sports (though hardly a star) and making a big point of never, ever, ever taking a book home to study. That made getting good grades kind of cool, since I just couldn’t help it. But I know many other boys who badly underperformed their potentials, in school and in life, because of that white culture.

      I believe you can find any and all of the unhelpful behaviors that are seemingly encouraged by so-called African-American culture in white culture, if you look for the places that are impoverished and have had a history of poverty. I know a West Virginian who wouldn’t speak to a very nice teacher in her school who happened to have attended William and Mary in Virginia’s Tidewater. The West Virginian’s perception was that all Virginians are high and mighty jerks who are bigoted against West Virginia (I didn’t tell her I’m a 13th generation Virginian, myself).

      The world over, it would seem, poverty, and especially long-term poverty with no seeming way out, leads to violent and self-defeating behavior. The issue is racial only in the fact that African-Americans have not been allowed to succeed with anything like the same probability as European-Americans.

      • JSO:

        I more or less agree with everything you say … anticipating a “but” aren’t you?

        Your definition(s) of race are fine with me. I never bought the concept of “reverse racism” for exactly the reasons you cite. The power differential between white men and any other group is so vast the argument seems silly to me. Even when I have been the subject of “reverse racism” it seems mildly amusing except for the fact that there are so many people that have to live with that as a reality there is always an under-current of sadness to my amusement.

        The thing about Jeremiah Wright and his ilk concerns me because, for me, it popped up in four different parts of the country (I’m taking a bit of license here to make my point — at least three of them are probably traceable back to the old South.) and I have to wonder just how widespread that is? And I don’t doubt there are valid reasons for blacks to be angry with whites but I also understand that Wright took his congregation from a couple dozen to something like thousands in a few years spewing that hatred. That is not catharsis, that is marketing. And I am concerned that “leaders” in the black community are spewing that all over the country — certainly I could be wrong about that but the four anecdotes strike me as a bit scary. Look what happened to Bill Cosby when he tried to put forth a postive agenda for black males.

        In part I will have to take your word for the white culture to underperform in school. I know several staff at S&R talk about coming from the South and, if I remember correctly, being poor or relatively so to boot. I came from an upper-middle class community in the North and graduated from one of the top 100 public high schools in the country. There was lip service to anti performance but the fact is 123 of 125 in my graduating class when to college including Yale, Stanford and the Air Force academy. And I do not know whether or not you include yourself in Otherwise’s definition of redneck but he made the case in one post that redneck is racist. Without going to far down this road I have to wonder (I do not have the data) if the percentage of blacks touting anti-performance in the black community is far greater than the percentage of whites in the white community (there is a caveat to this but this comment is already going to be far longer than I would like).

        “The world over, it would seem, poverty, and especially long-term poverty with no seeming way out, leads to violent and self-defeating behavior. The issue is racial only in the fact that African-Americans have not been allowed to succeed with anything like the same probability as European-Americans.”

        I absolutely agree!!! And I believe poverty is the root cause of all the symptms Jim lists as causes. For a long time I have believed the most dangerous cohort is young males (15-25+) with nothing to do. The no way out aspect is a powerful catalyst. And this is without regard to any racial or ethnic division.

        “The issue is racial only in the fact that African-Americans have not been allowed to succeed with anything like the same probability as European-Americans.”

        And this is absolutely true. African-Americans have been — I don’t even know the word to put here – brutalized comes to mind — more than any other “race” in history. I assume you have been to the African-American Holocaust website.

        The question is what to do about it. I am hoping the Trayvon Martin incident (ref: The Oxbow Incident) will be a catalyst to expanding the conversation. But as Barkley pointed out, after a crisis most people defend the tribe. Otherwise provided a mea culpa for liberal white males which I saw as a good effort in getting past the tribalism. But he talks about the unwillingness of liberals to talk about it. I believe part of that is due to the strong reaction one gets if indicating any responsibility on the part of African-Americans. I just wanted to take the conversation in that direction. Contributions to the problem come from all quarters.

        As a nation, we cannot afford to have 15% of the population disenfranchised even if they only believe they are disenfranchised. But we have to be able to talk about it openly. If my casual observations and anecdotes prove to be wrong I’ll look elsewhere — I am a data kind of guy — but I also believe the responsibility is universal and we have to be able to have the conversation.

        • well done fnay. i’m getting ready to shut this thread down, mainly because i cant actually understand what jim is saying. i think he’s saying that blacks need to clean up their own house and thinks I said the same, when most of my post was about the faux sanctimony of liberals over trayvon’s death. at any rate, nice and cogent arguments like this give me hope that this thread has some real life left.

        • Otherwise:

          I can see your confusion. I have been talking about my original comment, which actually had little to do about your post.

          Regarding your post, I would say that I applaud your position… more or less. It is out of character for liberals to hold a protected class responsible for their choices. For some reason it is seen as insensitive and mean. Now, if you can further break the liberal mold, try to see a solution that is absent of some kind of control. You on the left love your control, after all. Big government and programs without end… not the answer here. We’d be doing far better to leave the blacks to make their own way in this country, and stop propagating the idea that they are victims that need our help. At the end of the day, they will be far more prosperous and happy. I know, a thousand things are flying through that little liberal mind of yours… but I urge you to fight the programming that you have received and see the bigger picture. You have already taken a baby step in the right direction, are you willing to come just a little bit further?

  6. Zimmerman is no more a white man then Obama is. More accurately both are half white. So why is Zimmerman seen as a “white man”, and Obama is considered a minority? Because the black victim party is loosing traction, and now had to invent reasons to be pissed.

    Anyway, whatever your opinion is on the matter, I think that if blacks were really interested in justice they would abandon chasing phantoms and concentrate on getting their house in order. High instances of unwed pregnancy, high levels of criminal activity, rappers that make the race look like a bunch of thugs, high reliance on the government for most things cradle to grave, and if course black on black homicide are things that keep them down.

    • JIm, I have a very large, extended family in Northern Florida (my father’s side), including 22 first cousins and more second and third cousins than I can count. They are all white. Almost all of them grew up agriculture-class and poor. I don’t know how many illegitimate children my female first cousins have had. I lost track. Just off the top of my head, I can think of nine of them, and I know there are more. Most of those children were raised by their grandparents who are, of course, the same people who raised their parents. I have four male cousins who have gone to prison for violent crimes. One cousin faked an injury to sue his employer (successfully) for disability damages. He got a $1.2 million settlement and proceeded to piss it all away, almost instantly, on trucks, boats, a triple-wide, a new wife and her three, fatherless children, and other toys. He currently lives in a shack and hunts wild hogs with dogs and a knife. Oh, and he’s the same one who once married a 13-year-old girl (he was 19) because he got her pregnant.

      When, oh when, is the white community going to get their house in order?

      • You missed the point, my long winded friend. I wasn’t trying to say that whites are without fault, but rather those who are attempting to create gold from shit would be better served focusing on what it important.

        • Oh, I don’t know, Jim. He may not have responded to what you’d like, but I think he very succinctly got at the essence of what was wrong with your comment.

        • Responded to what I’d like? You must be confused. My statement was fact, and is what it is. I never implied that whites are without fault, and to answer my comment as if I had is just silly.

        • See JSO? You thought I was too direct when I called the commenter Ty “fucking stupid.” Now do you see? With guys like Ty and Jim, reasoned explanations are just a waste of good electrons. Having said that, I think your comments on this thread are brilliant, even if Jim can’t follow them.

        • Jim,

          I’ve found that the ad hominem attack, “long-winded,” is common among those who don’t read or write very easily or very well (which demonstrates that I’m capable of ad hominem attacks of my own, doesn’t it?). Those of us who do read well generally appreciate background and careful argument that can be accomplished, in almost all cases, only with more than 140 characters.

          I didn’t miss your point in the slightest. It’s not original. Your point has been made over and over again by many, many people, and it always has the same, central flaw: The idea that “blacks” are somehow a homogeneous group, and are responsible for all other blacks (“I think that if blacks were really interested in justice they would abandon … “. I merely pointed out, with very little subtlety, that white people aren’t responsible for the self-defeating and reprehensible behavior of other white people, nor, it would seem, does anyone expect them to be.

          Self-defeating and criminal African-Americans are a subset of all African-Americans, as self-defeating and criminal white Americans are a subset of all white Americans. On a national basis, it would be fair to say that this subset, as a percentage of all African-Americans, is higher than for white Americans, but it’s a statistic that’s hardly useful. If I were to narrow the entire two sets down to blacks and whites in the county where most of my North Florida relatives live, one would find the opposite pattern. The central issue is poverty. Discard those sets of black and white, nationally, and turn them into sets of poverty and non-poverty, with the added modifier of the perception of future opportunity, and black and white disappear.

          No African-American doctor, attorney, pipe fitter, electrician, plumber, or business executive is responsible for African-American gang-bangers, as I am not responsible for the reprehensible behavior of my close family. Nor are they responsible for doing anything about it, even if they could. And they can’t, except in a very small way, as I work to do so in a very small way.

        • “Your point has been made over and over again by many, many people, and it always has the same, central flaw: The idea that “blacks” are somehow a homogeneous group, and are responsible for all other blacks (“I think that if blacks were really interested in justice they would abandon … “.”

          I wasn’t referring to all blacks as a whole, but rather the group(s) rallying for what they perceive as justice in the the Martin case.

          “I merely pointed out, with very little subtlety, that white people aren’t responsible for the self-defeating and reprehensible behavior of other white people, nor, it would seem, does anyone expect them to be.”

          Why point this out? I never said that the groups are responsible for the self destructive behavior, but rather their efforts would be more fruitful if they focused on solutions to those problems.

      • I think you, as most liberals I have encountered, have a hard time when people don’t see things your way. Interesting, though, neither you nor JSO has really addressed any of the comments here that make sense….. other then to redirect the flow in a more palatable direction.

        • It has nothing to do with seeing it anyone’s particular way. We frequently don’t agree with each other on things, and that whole “most liberals” thing is the sort of labeling problem that I for one find really frustrating.

          You make an argument that pretends to be something it isn’t. What it does is rely on easy, tried-and-true stereotypes about a particular group and “puts the responsibility” on them. The problem is that when you do this, if that group is no more guilty of X than another group is, we’re seeing prejudice.

          That group X is no different from any number of other groups tells us something important about you.

    • The precise type of tribalism I was trying to avoid. But I will comment to say that the things you list as keeping them down I will argue are symptoms. Oh, and I will yield to you any color you want Zimmerman to be; the questions are, if Taryvon was white is he dead with Zimmerman going free? I know you will say yes … and I say no.

      • I agree on the symptoms part, however we would most likely disagree on the cause of the symptoms. And actually, I do agree that Martin’s race played some part in it. Blacks had been doing crime in the neighborhood, so Im sure that Zimmerman keyed in on him because he was black. Beyond that, I think the most likely scenario is that Zimmerman attempted to stop Martin, and Martin attacked…. not realizing that Zimmerman had an equalizer. As for the specific details, well, we can all only guess.

  7. jstephenobrienj: That is, quite simply, one of the very best explanations I have encountered anywhere. I would love to see that comment as a post in hopes that it would generate some real and significant discussion outside the confines of the Zimmerman trial.

    • I’m afraid that can’t happen on this forum, Frank. I’m allowed to comment, but my guess is that my posts would not be welcome because of very unfortunate, personal issues.

    • Really? Taking 100’s of words to say that it’s ok for blacks to be racial and prejudice because they don’t have the same power as whites sounds pretty foolish and simplistic to me. The main flaw is that it removes ownership, and therefore responsibility, for choices. Interesting though, it is an offshoot of the old liberal belief that whites can never understand, and therefore debate, what blacks go through because they are not black. That logic is usually used to shut down any meaningful conversation regarding race retaliations, if those talks depart from the theme that blacks are victims.

      • Jim, you are simply gong about proving that your reading comprehension skills are, at best, modest. The term I used was “morally equivalent.” There is nothing in the issue, since William James first coined the term, that suggests “OK.” It simply suggests non-binary thinking, and I took pains to point out that bigotry is, in fact, NOT OK. You have erected a straw man argument, which goes very well with your ad hominem attack. Add that to your black or white thinking, and that makes three logical fallacies, though I could infer two or three more without too much difficulty. You also built a nice straw man around these words: “it is an offshoot of the old liberal belief that whites can never understand, and therefore debate, what blacks go through because they are not black.”

        Can you point to anything anyone has said anywhere on this (sort of) thread that says this? I can’t, but I freely admit that I might be missing something.

        • “…In other words, they were very nearly powerless to actually act upon their racism as it regarded me or any other white person — and this is why “racism,” as I define it (and it seems you do, too) is not morally equivalent. One sort of racism is backed by very real, very coercive power. The other is not, and this is why I don’t equate the two.”

          You went on to double back on yourself, as you have a tendency to do (to make sure that you express all possible points simultaneously?), but basically the gist is there. I think your biggest failing is to remove responsibility for choice from the equation. Sadly, you are so hopelessly wound up in finding reasons why something is, you miss (ignore?) the solution…. even when it is so simple. You are a fairly good writer, and certainly know the language well, unfortunately I do not see much wisdom in what you write. You can never make up quality with quantity…. but it sure does make you appear to be smarter.

        • Yes, Jim, exactly. I don’t believe that black and white racism, in this country, are morally equivalent. I also don’t believe that Jewish bigotry against Germans in the mid-to-late 1930s was morally equivalent to German bigotry against German Jews. I’ve explained this and I stand by it. If you believe that they are morally equivalent, then support your position.

  8. Jim, you said: “I wasn’t referring to all blacks as a whole, but rather the group(s) rallying for what they perceive as justice in the the Martin case.”

    But here is the original (what you really, actually said): “I think that if blacks were really interested in justice they would abandon chasing phantoms and concentrate on getting their house in order.”

    So, if “blacks” (your term, not mine, and without qualification, it means “all blacks”) were really interested in justice (meaning, I suppose, justice in a court of law?), “they” (all of them would be what “they” means without qualification), the would … concentrate on getting “their” (once again, all of them) house in order.

    This is the soul of bigotry. If an African-American wants justice for himself, he must not only be innocent, I suppose, but he must improve that subset of those who happen to have a similar skin color and behave badly.

    If you have a problem with my interpretation of what you said, then please present it, but I urge you to explain how Korzybski was wrong about semantics and word meaning, because otherwise, none of your protestations are likely to be successful.

    Here’s the thing, Jim, (and I could have said this is 140 characters): There is what people pretend to be and what they really are. They reveal what the really are in their words.

    • “Jim, you said: “I wasn’t referring to all blacks as a whole, but rather the group(s) rallying for what they perceive as justice in the the Martin case.”

      But here is the original (what you really, actually said): “I think that if blacks were really interested in justice they would abandon chasing phantoms and concentrate on getting their house in order.””

      Yes, I understand your confusion. That is why I explained what I meant.

      As for “justice”, Im not speaking in the legal sense, but of just treatment by others. Weather they do or don’t deserve just treatment is another conversation, so please don’t go there.

      Unfortunately, the things I listed in my OP as being problems for blacks, create a picture of how they will be looked upon by some individuals. Much like whites are commonly seen as racist by minorities, even though most whites are not racist, based on the acts of the few. Right or wrong, that is the reality that we all have to deal with. So from my perspective, if these groups are really after justice (just treatment) then they should focus on changing those things, rather then try to make Zimmerman a white guy who went on a hunt to kill a black.

  9. Why would you have to “explain” what you meant? Why not write it correctly in the first place? Really, I take your original words to be the real you and the way the real you thinks. After all, haven’t you claimed to be the guy who can write Hobbe’s Leviathan in 140 characters or less? Yes, that’s a straw man, but at least I recognize it for what it is.

    What do you mean, “Whether “they” (whoever “they” might be) deserve just treatment is another conversation? Are you suggesting that there are people in this world who, by virtue of their birth into one group or another that you define, don’t deserve just treatment? Why would this be? Because they’re not of your ethnic group? Jim, the more you write, the more it becomes clear who and what you are.

    • Now Stephen, did I detect an ad hominem AND a straw man there in your last post? Tisk Tisk, I really thought that you were beyond that.

      I gave you credit for understanding some basic principles, however it appears that I was wrong. Since you are proving more obtuse then I could have imagined, I guess that I will have to spell it out for you. I dont usually have to leave long posts, but like I said, your inability to focus on and/or divine the point forces me to.

      You see, we can all blather on about what could have been, should have been, might have been, etc. but that is really of little value. What’s important is what is, and how to solve the problem at hand. In my experience, we are all dealt a hand. Some get good, some bad. All hands have their pluses and minuses. If we dwell on the fairness, or reason of the negative portions of our hand, little, if anything, is likely to be solved. However, if we look at the realities of our hand, focus on the strengths, and be honest with ourselves then there is a chance to move forward. Specifically, if they (the black groups looking for a reason to be upset) focus on Zimmerman, and the faulty logic that makes him a racist, little will be solved. They certainly will not get what they claim to be searching for. But, if they can rise above the programming that they have most certainly received from birth; that they are victims of some vast, ongoing white conspiracy; then there is a chance that they just may actually be successful. After all, the first female millionaire in america was black… there must be some opportunity for success.

      Even in the case of the Jews vs the nazi’s you mentioned. On its face, the jews look to be victims of a horrible government, and in large part they were. However, to move forward, said jews have to look at their part in the whole thing. I would wager that the smart jews saw the writing on the wall and high tailed it out of Germany to safety. The jews that really suffered, and died, were the ones who had a false belief that the government would never do the things that ended up happening. The signs were most certainly there, and they neglected to act. Again, the jews who suffered did not deserve what happened to them, but they definitely played a part in it by failing to act.

      For some reason, once a person or group is officially designated as victim, all reason goes out the window. People stop looking for an answer to the problem, and start looking for a bad guy (or group) to pin it all on. Chin scratchers and hand wringers, such as yourself, go in to action to analyze and deliver what will most certainly be the accepted position of the enlightened. The result? You get a person, or group who identify with victim status, and pass that crap on to subsequent generations. It becomes an albatross that weighs them down to the point of destruction.

      So, you say that the more I write, the more clear it becomes who I am. I certainly hope so. A part of me hopes that you see that my belief foundation starts with personal responsibility. No matter what happens to us in life, or the reasons why, we are responsible to see our part, and fix it for ourselves. Another part of me thinks that your social programming will not allow you to understand, and simply dismiss me as some foolish racist. Either way, I leave it to you.

      • Jim,

        One of the problems about guessing about history, without actually knowing anything about it, is that those who do so are often wrong. So it is with your take on the Jews and Nazi Germany. Applications by Jews to leave Germany were ubiquitous, and the Nazis (at least until around 1936 or so) had no issue with letting Jews leave (and leave their property behind in the bargain). The problem was that most other countries in the world wouldn’t take them. The US actually had a surplus of entry visas that went unclaimed, despite Jewish demand, because of Antisemitism in the US Department of State (and this is well documented: I refer you to “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Laras as just one source). So, the Jews were trapped. They had nowhere to go. They tried very hard to get out, and were thwarted.

        And that, Jim, is one of the things we have all learned about you; that you over generalize, applying soft principles to large and complex issues. In the extreme, this could lead to something like: “Because a child is born to a father who rapes her, and that is the hand she’s dealt, and because she has personal responsibility for playing the hand she’s dealt, she is partly responsible for her own rape.” (Note: This is not a strawman, as I pointed out, above, that I was *deliberately* using, but reductio ad absurdum, which is a far more useful tool.)

        One of your over-generalizations is about liberals; to whit, that they don’t believe in personal responsibility. I find this strange, since I have never in my life met anyone, liberal, conservative, or what have you who didn’t believe in personal responsibility. I suppose these people exist, but the must be very, very rare.

        What I’ve found that liberals believe in is getting the playing field as close to level as it can realistically be, recognizing that fully level is not realistic. In this sense, I agree with them, but my lean to fairness is part of my makeup. I don’t like to win unless the competition is fair. I never cheated in school, sports, or other competition because it would have brought me no pleasure to receive a high mark for something I didn’t earn. I’m just built that way, and I suspect, from conversations with them, that most liberals are much the same way.

        I recognize that not everyone is this way. Many people (and you may be one) revel in their privilege — in the strong hands they’re dealt — and wouldn’t have it any other way. They don’t want to play on a level field. They don’t want their children to play on a level field. Historically, their attitudes are almost word-for-word yours, whether it be the opinions of the British wealthy for the slum-dwellers of St. Giles, the Southern plantation owners toward their “lazy” slaves, Welington’s opinion of his always-victorious soldiers (“the scum of the earth”), or the Roman wealthy for average city-dwellers, whom they called the “head count,” because they simply didn’t matter a bit.

        In every case, those born into privilege justified that privilege by convincing themselves that they were “better” than those other people. That they had some sort of virtue, whether that be “superior breeding” or “chosen for this station in life by God himself” or “I’m more industrious and hard working.” I suppose being born into privilege tends to push people toward that sort of narcissism, but there it is. It’s always the same, regardless of the society.

        In the end, the constant resistance some conservatives put up to leveling the playing field, even a little, can only be ascribed to cowardice. What possible objection could one have to making the game a bit more fair — not completely fair, mind you, but just a bit more — except the unbridled fear that one can’t compete in a fair game; that without a birth advantage, one would be a loser?

        I don’t have that sort of fear, and I have always relished a competitive challenge for myself. My children feel exactly the same way, as does my wife. We are a family of wiling competitors, eager to compete in a fair game. Others (and what you write could indicate that you are one of them) want a game with their thumbs planted firmly on the scales.

        • Bravo Stephen. In all those words you turned taking personal responsibility into both a liberal asset (which it is not), and an excuse for exploitation by the rich… Amazing, and well done! I guess if you talk about something long enough, then it can be whatever you want it to be. As for the Jews, i was pointing out that the only real power they had was to act in their own best interests.. Which most failed to do. After all, there must have been some way out. But in traditional liberal style, you once again focus on why they couldn’t act, rather then that they didnt… At lease not effectively. Maybe in the end that is the one big thing that separates you and I. Perhaps it is too big a chasm to bridge.

          I can see why you would cling so fastly to your ideals though. Your programming is deep. You really believe that you are on some higher moral ground, looking down at the rest of us. That as long as you make an issue big and complex enough, it can become whatever you want it to be, and it does.

          Sorry to break it to you Stephen, but most problems big and small have very simple reasons for being, and likewise have simple answers. Save the “level the playing field” crap for your Sunday night sewing circle. If even the majority of people truly took responsibly for themselves and their lives, the playing field would not NEED to be leveled. But then, what would people like you do?

    • Stephen, I left a reply for your comment, but apparently the moderator is frightened by its contents, and has chosen not to post it. Its OK, not the first time liberals have censored me (in the name of the greater good?). Anyway, I wish you all the best, and thanks for the opportunity to debate the issue.

      • Simmer down and read the damned comment policy, Jim. EVERY comment, including those of staff members who have been here since the beginning, must be approved thanks to the limitations of the software we use. I don’t sit by the queue 24/7 waiting to for your comment to come in. Sometimes I sleep or walk the dog or go get breakfast.

        Jebus.

  10. What a thought provoking series of interactions! Otherwise, hat off to you sir, and J. Stephen you’re my frickin’ hero. Lack of jobs begets poverty stifles education, and encourages lawlessness. And them that has thinks they’re special and them that don’t know they’re not.

    Start early, educate, educate, educate, Quit doing drive-bys flinging wads of cash out the window and let’s stop, get out, and get our hands dirty leading by example. This really doesn’t seem that complicated but once we’ve ruined a couple generations it takes a lot of inertia to change the course of the next few.

    With the exception of a few cul de sacs, this has been a very enlightening and promising exchange.

    • I agree, Frank, that good education is the silver bullet here for many people, but I have doubts about the increasing complexity of society, the jobs it will offer Americans, and how many people will, frankly, be smart enough to learn how to do those jobs. We can certainly do a great deal better than we are now, and there is MUCH human potential going to waste, but in the long run, the world might simply have reached the stage, in developed nations, where some people simply will not have the native intelligence to thrive in it. I hope I’m wrong.

  11. J Stephen I don’t have the breadth of intellect to say a whole lot in this thread but this I know. As a simple ex-marine fuck the excuses take the hill kind of guy, I would follow you in a heartbeat.

    Perseverance always wins the day and if enough of us say, “Hey this shit isn’t working, let’s try something new” then by the power vested in we the citizens and our elected representatives,
    something new we shall try. And if that doesn’t work we’ll try something else until it does work.

    And if a few noisy blowhards too cynical to see the promise in attacking racism by reducing poverty get in the way with their negative bullshit then live frags rolled under their tent flaps is a price I bet we’re willing to pay.

    • Frank, the problem with your reasoning is that Stephen isn’t suggesting anything new. Its the same old crap that has kept people down and reliant from the beginning of recorded history. He just puts a complicated, factoid laced, sweet sounding package around it.

      • Jim, I think we’re done. We’ve identified the source of our disagreement, and it’s values driven. Underlying values are rarely subject to further discovery with argument unless both parties share some sort of values system, such as religion. I’m sure we don’t, so no further exploration of our differences will yield any profit.

        I believe in making the playing field in life as level as we can, recognizing that it can never be level. You believe in exploiting the advantages privileged birth provides. I get that. If I were a different person with different values, I wouldn’t want tougher competition, either. We’re just different that way.

        No further discussion can be fruitful. We’ve discovered our fundamental area of difference. We’re done.

        • Hahaha, nice Stephen.

          Nice debating the issue with you my friend. Im sure we will see each other again.

  12. Jim,

    This stuff doesn’t thread very well, so I’m putting my reply here.

    It doesn’t pay to argue with a narcissist. Whatever is said will always come back to the fact that the narcissist is quite sure he is right about everything because, after all, he takes “:personal responsibility.” This is why you don’t have to actually do any research to know everything there is to know about history in every aspect.

    My point stands. People who don’t want to play on fields that are as even as we can make them are cowards. I have no use for cowards.

    • Are you starting to crack, Stephen? You have said many asinine things, but this is the first post I’ve seen from you that actually makes no sense. Well, except for the insult. I mean, did you really suggest that one has to read everything there is to read about history to understand people and problems? Jesus, you should have just stuck your tongue out and said “I know you are, but what am I?” I expected your closing shot to be more creative. Oh well, what can I say… Im an optimist.

      I must admit, im not sure how you connect the line between my insistence that taking personal responsibility for oneself is the answer to many problems, and me being a narcissist, but hey, im sure that you could come up with a 10,000 word explanation that would most likely make sense to the uninitiated… Or a shorter one that would make the other libbys cheer.

      Anyway, ill part with a bit of advice that im sure will both fall on deaf ears and elicit at least a small smile from you, if not a chuckle. The best way to solve a complicated problem is to break it down to its simplest terms. The only reason to keep a problem complicated is to keep it from actually being solved.

      With that, I thank you for taking the time to debate the issue. You are very smart in your own way, although I really wish that you would have chosen to be more in life. If you ever evolve to the next level, Ill be around.

  13. Not sure you will let this through as it may not meet the “new” criterion. But I would like to see if Jim would respond to JSO’s point:

    “I believe in making the playing field in life as level as we can, recognizing that it can never be level. You believe in exploiting the advantages privileged birth provides. I get that. If I were a different person with different values, I wouldn’t want tougher competition, either. We’re just different that way.”

    • I usually don’t respond to second rate rants such as Stephens, but if you insist…

      If you read everything I have posted, you will see that I already have. If most people took responsibility for themselves, then the playing field wouldn’t need to be leveled. To expand on that a little, Stephens point of view assumes that people born in to poverty are somehow victims that need to be protected. People like him believe that the poor are somehow helpless, and just waiting to be exploited at every turn by the faceless, bodyless, and surly in his opinion soulless, group he calls the rich. They believe this because they need to. Stephan, and people of his ilk, feed off the power that it makes them feel. Somehow they are on some higher moral, or ethical ground then most. That they possess an enlightenment that few can match, and this makes them special. In reality, people like Stephan, and most liberals for that matter, could not survive if there wasnt a victim to chin scratch and hand wring about. That is why at every turn, they avoid the simple solution to the supposed problem.

      In reality, people like Stephan insult anyone born to any kind of disadvantage…. Because they insist that those people are not good enough to do it on their own.

      So I say, he doesn’t really want to level any playing field…. He actually fights for the opposite: The struggle to continue.

  14. Hollow words, smug and hateful, spread without reason by one who suggests 6 million Jews bore culpability in their own tortured murder.

    I am beginning to understand that progressives believe in both personal responsibility and the collective right of individuals to control the economic and political power of corporations. This isn’t about solving social problems with tax dollars it’s about how we stop fractions from subverting the whole.

    • “Hollow words, smug and hateful, spread without reason by one who suggests 6 million Jews bore culpability in their own tortured murder”

      Not culpable, but at least partly responsible. Smug and hateful? Really? Come on Frank, you can do better then that.

      “I am beginning to understand that progressives believe in both personal responsibility and the collective right of individuals to control the economic and political power of corporations. This isn’t about solving social problems with tax dollars it’s about how we stop fractions from subverting the whole.”

      Collective and individule are different concepts, Frank. And I would say, more accurately, its about using tax dollars to subvert individules…. Who dont fall in line with the collective.

    • Frank, that’s my take on the average progressive, as well, but as with all categories, there are exceptions. I certainly believe in personal responsibility, but I also believe in probability, and I know that if you take a group of people with various levels of talent and motivation, and that if you divide that group in half so that they are equal in average talent and motivation, the group that has the most privilege will have more success than the one with less privilege. I think someone who starts a 100-meter sprint 100-meters behind the starting line, carrying a 100-lb. weight on her back, has a personal responsibility to succeed as best her talent will allow. I just don’t believe she should be starting 100 meters back with that 100 lb. weight in the first place. I also recognize that some people start a millimeter from the finish line, fall across it, and consider themselves winners and superior to those who started way behind them. That’s the way they like it and want it, and I can’t fix them, but I can fight them in my own, very small way.

      As for corporations, I personally don’t single them out, and I had a nice, long career as a consultant to more than 80 of the Fortune 500. I don’t think corporations are evil in the slightest. I just think they are amoral; that is, they act in what they perceive as their own best interests, and usually in their own short-term best interests. This sometimes conflicts with the long-term best interests of society, as a whole. When that happens, society, as a whole, needs to reign them in. And the way that’s done in a largely democratic society is through the people’s government. But this doesn’t apply only to corporations, but to all power centers when they attempt to use that power to further their own ends at the expense of their society’s best interests. This is anti-social behavior, which in my book, also equals criminal behavior. Society has both the right and responsibility to sanction criminals.

      Almost all Americans, in my experience, seem united in the belief that being someone who is good at his/her job, and a hard worker, should be rewarded. This is at odds with reality, though. In a study of 12 developed nations by the OECD, the US ranked 10th in social mobility; that is, your parents’ income predicts your own income in the US more than for all countries in the study except Great Britain and Italy (and they were fairly close). http://www.oecd.org/eco/public-finance/chapter%205%20gfg%202010.pdf

      Naturally, those born into wealth and privilege like this state of affairs,and those not generally don’t. This is natural. Progressive, in my experience, tend to fight for a more level playing field, and their opponents fight to have it tilted in their direction. Thus, the conflict.

      • Well said. Remember when Ann Richardson described W as someone born on third base who thought he hit a triple?

        • I remember that, Otherwise, and I think Richards understated her case. George W could no more have “failed” than George Weyerhaeuser, Jr. could have. Both were guaranteed high-level, executive positions from birth, regardless of merit of any kind. So, they weren’t born on third base, but already past home plate. Of course, Bush is likely to be ranked by history as one of the worst American presidents, and Weyerhaeuser (the company) has a lower RONA than pretty much all its competitors. I’ve never met Bush, and haven’t seen George, Jr. for many years, but if they follow the normal pattern, they would be quite sure that they merited the positions they ended up with. Perhaps the two of them break that mold, though. Who knows?

        • (snip)

          ADMIN: Unfounded and unsupported Nazi accusations are not tolerated at S&R. Period. There will be no more on this thread, and any further attempts will result in the offending comment being deleted without comment.

          There are other ways to make your arguments. Use them.

      • Agreed entirely J. Stephen and let me explain my concept of corporations as including businesses, unions, charities, churches…any aggregation of individuals into a corpus for distinct purpose.

        Absolutely there is neither inherent goodness or evil in such amalgamation. Not until they start carving out protected status and special dispensation for themselves with influence and money.

        Otherwise’s original post and the remarkable clarity of your followup commentary is about an obvious defect in our society that needs attention. As you intimated, every hull needs hauling out once in awhile for scraping and refitting, and America is 50 or 60 years past her last dry docking.

        • I agree, Frank. Interestingly, I believe that having a more level playing field is in the long-term best interests of those who want the field tilted in their direction. Eventually, a too badly tilted playing field leads to all sorts of social ills that adversely affect everyone, even those who benefit, in the short-term, from a birth advantage. This was once called “enlightened self-interest,” but I haven’t heard that term used in discourse in years that I recall.

          Thanks for the good discussion.

        • “Absolutely there is neither inherent goodness or evil in such amalgamation. Not until they start carving out protected status and special dispensation for themselves with influence and money.”

          I agree. But do you agree that it is wrong for any group to do that?

  15. It is well documented that one of hitlers main propaganda points was class warfare. Not sure why you censored me.

    ADMIN: You were accusing people of behaving like Nazis.

    • Pointing out the similarities in ideology is hardly accusing someone of doing something. I was merely showing him where his point of view tends to lead.

      Beyond that, I take your point in the last admin comment. Thank you for allowing me the latitude you have so far. It is appreciated.

  16. One more note from the admins. I’ve seen the word “censor” tossed around here three or four times lately. READ THE COMMENT POLICY. We don’t censor. Commenting here is not a right. We read every submission and post some of them, but not all. It’s like a local newspaper and letters to the editor. When the paper chooses not to run your letter, you have not been censored. You simply haven’t been selected for inclusion in the forum.

    • Also, if you insist on seeing this as “censoring,” go right ahead. But inclusion in the discussion is incumbent on a set of criteria outlined in the policy. Whatever terms you prefer, adherence to the policy will enhance your chances of seeing your comments posted.

  17. Jim,

    I apoligize for taking so long to get back. I won’t contribute to blogs from work (bosses have the narrow view that is not what they are paying me for) and have been particularly tired in the evenings lately. Had trouble finding the post; didn’t think it would make it back into the banner.

    Regardless, thank you for replying. I wanted this string to continue. I think it important.

    I think JSO pretty much captured my thinking metaphoically so this will be a bit redundant in that sense.

    I’m in the lower left quandrant of the Political Compass so that would make me a liberal. On the other hand, I am pretty big on personal responsibility (I could spend some time supporting that but won’t unless you think it useful).

    And, to some degree, that is what the original post is about, African-Americans taking some responsibility for the black on black crime. And that is where I was going talking about the perceived (by me at least) cultural phenomenon of African-American leaders preaching against achievement and success.

    But the problem I have with your position is that the Constitution exists to “build a better union” and the Declaration contends that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are self-evident truths. I interpret those concepts to mean that everyone deserves a fair shot.

    Fitzgeral made the observation that “the rich are different”. They have advantages others do not: education, connections, exposure to arts and ideas, the “finer things” in life. They have advantages others do not because their parents had money or power. Be nice if everyone had those advantages but no big problem so far. They have a leg up but that doesn’t, in my opinion, make the field unlevel. But don’t get me started on W especially in the context of personal responsibility — ahhh, an indulgent digression — apologies.

    But I do have a problem when those born without those advantages work hard, play by the rules but because of the color of their skin or their gender are denied the fruits of their labors and efforts. And the thing about it is, as a country, we have fought to make the playing field level throughout our history. Women can now vote and and own property. African-Americans are no longer slaves and can vote and can own property. But it is my opinion that the playing field is still not level. I do not believe that it will ever be completely level but I do believe that it should be the vision, mission and vision of our country to make it level.

    I think that is the crux of the Trayvon Martin case. Otherwise started with a post about black on black violence. That is a tragedy that should be a major concern of all of us and, perhaps, particularly the black community. And, many valid reasons for that phenomenon have been articulated in this string. But, on a case level basis, that does not have anything to do with how level the playing field is. And several of us have indicated that personal responsibility is a significant factor in that (there is a level playing field issue here as well but I am putting that aside for now). But when Trayvon Martin was killed and Zimmerman allowed to go free there was a sense in millions of people that it is still okay to kill young black men. That the playing field is still tilted dramatically agains the black man. And there are millions of “liberals” that acknowledge that we have to stand by the jury’s verdict — even b29 for crying out loud — but still believe a horrible injustice was done, once again, to the Afirican-American community — not just Trayvon. The question still is, if Trayvon Martin had had a gun and killed Zimmerman would he have been allowed to go home and never spend a day in jail.

    I will end with a brief afterword. George Zimmerman was pulled over for speeding in Forney, Texas today. He had a gun, and a permit to have the gun. The policemen questioned him and by all reports acted reasonably. Told Zimmerman to put the gun back in the glove box and let him go with a warning. That incident is quite consistent with my experience with law enforcement. My question is, if Trayvon Martin had been the driver does he drive away with a warning ticket? Not in this man’s Texas.

    • Fnay,

      You’ve given me a lot to consider. I must admit that my comments have gotten far away from the point of the OP, what with me poking fun at Stephen and all…

      “…the Constitution exists to “build a better union” and the Declaration contends that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are self-evident truths. I interpret those concepts to mean that everyone deserves a fair shot.”

      I would agree with you on that… to a point. I guess it depends on how you define fair. If you mean that everyone should be started at close to the same place at birth, taken to the lowest common denominator as it were, then that is where we part ways philosophically. If you take fair to mean that you should not be unduly hindered from your pursuits strictly due to race, religion, age, sexual orientation, etc. then I agree completely. Although, as a side note, it has been my experience that life isn’t fair, most of the time. I cant tell you the number of times either of my daughters have complained to me that something isn’t fair… only to have me reply, much to their chagrin, that if they get fair then they are getting better then most of us. The best any of us can do is face the challenges that life brings, struggle through, and make the most of it.

      “But I do have a problem when those born without those advantages work hard, play by the rules but because of the color of their skin or their gender are denied the fruits of their labors and efforts.”

      I agree.

      “And the thing about it is, as a country, we have fought to make the playing field level throughout our history. Women can now vote and and own property. African-Americans are no longer slaves and can vote and can own property. But it is my opinion that the playing field is still not level. I do not believe that it will ever be completely level but I do believe that it should be the vision, mission and vision of our country to make it level.”

      I dont think that we have necessarily fought for a level playing field as much as we have fought against injustice. The level playing field, in the sense that I think you mean (correct me if Im wrong), being that we all get the same shot, does not exist. The reason being is that people and circumstances are all so different, as you have so aptly pointed out yourself. Its a nobel idea, but unrealistic. In my mind, to follow that road is to hurt people. The main reason being is that to “raise some up” you have to “bring some down.” Contrary to popular belief, many people at the top earned their way there, and deserve to stay. Likewise, many at the bottom earned that too. In my view, I see a curve. I think you can battle injustice, but then reach an arch where you are just enabling people to not take responsibility for their lives. They start to use the perceived lack of fairness as a reason to not try. So, I don’t agree about our mission being one to make an even playing field, as much as we should fight injustice.

      “But when Trayvon Martin was killed and Zimmerman allowed to go free there was a sense in millions of people that it is still okay to kill young black men. That the playing field is still tilted dramatically agains the black man. And there are millions of “liberals” that acknowledge that we have to stand by the jury’s verdict — even b29 for crying out loud — but still believe a horrible injustice was done, once again, to the Afirican-American community — not just Trayvon. The question still is, if Trayvon Martin had had a gun and killed Zimmerman would he have been allowed to go home and never spend a day in jail.”

      Well, millions also believe that there wasn’t evidence there to prove murder. From what Ive seen, the only place that race comes in is where Zimmerman keyed in on Martin as possible trouble in the neighborhood, at least in part because of his race. I haven’t seen anything that points to him as a racist (by that I mean someone who hates blacks). We talked about this earlier, so you know my take on it. As to the point of if the roles were reversed? Well, taking into account that a 17 year old with a gun running around the neighborhood would be trouble no matter what the race of the individual, I would say that yes… all things being equal I think Martin walks. But then I don’t live in Florida, so I could be wrong. I am certainly willing to allow that racism could be at work here… but Im not completely convinced. What makes it hard to determine is all the sensationalism, and exaggeration on the black side. Some of the things they (the groups on Martins side) claim are easily not true, so I find it hard to see things their way. It really seems to me that the groups are trying to make this case fit their agenda.

      “I will end with a brief afterword. George Zimmerman was pulled over for speeding in Forney, Texas today. He had a gun, and a permit to have the gun. The policemen questioned him and by all reports acted reasonably. Told Zimmerman to put the gun back in the glove box and let him go with a warning. That incident is quite consistent with my experience with law enforcement. My question is, if Trayvon Martin had been the driver does he drive away with a warning ticket? Not in this man’s Texas.”

      If Zimmerman had a permit for the gun, what did he get a warning for?

      Oh, and by the way, don’t get me started on W, either… On that topic we most likely have a lot in common!

  18. Hello Jim, to your question and trying to keep it within the framework of this discussion. Do I believe that it is wrong for any group to carve out protected status and special dispensation for themselves with influence and money?

    Absolutely. The NRA, Goldman Sachs, Organizing for Action, Monsanto, Teamsters, NAACP, blah blah blah, on and on ad nauseum, please you rat fink fuckers, stop buying off our representatives. It’s rude and unseemly and not at all what a representative democracy was intended to be.

    Any group that subverts the system with money for favors, no matter how technically legal it may be right now does us all harm by nicking at inclusive rights to support exclusive ones. What we really have in this time and place is a pay-to-play political patronage system.

    All Americans are feel the effect of this. If the middle class is slowly drying up, and I believe it’s been well argued above that it is, then what of the poor? What shrinks fastest first? The boundary edges and if we’re hurting they’re dying, that’s the rule of scale.

    My suggestion is to decouple private money from the political system. Instead of a $3 voluntary check box on income tax returns for the presidential election fund, make it a $100 mandatory deduction and the money is disbursed to all candidates up and down the line by the local caucuses. No they can’t use their own money or any other private citizens money. Use what you got, run what you brung and may the best candidate win without outside influence.

    Lots of holes in this I agree, but at the least elected representatives could spend their time doing what they’re supposed to be doing, working for us,instead of spending 2/3rds of their term electioneering and fund raising for the next term.

    Now, I would appreciate a thoughtful response.

    • Hi Frank,

      Sorry for the delay in my reply. I got caught up in some business that needed my attention.

      Im glad that you see the problem is definatley on both sides of the isle. I always find it interesting when liberal democrats complain about the lobbying and favors from business entities (FYI, i detest this), while they don’t seem to have a problem with it when done on their side. For some strange reason, when our tax dollars are used against out best interest, and to further a certain political group, many people dont see that as a problem.

      As for funding political candidates, that is a slippery slope, I would agree. Logic says that if candidates were not able to raise funding some how, rich candidates would prevail… And those may or may not be the best for the country. In today’s society, that is unfortunately very true. Sadly, most people do not educate themselves on the issues of the day, and rely on snippets of information passed on through biased media sources (both conservative and liberal), to make determinations and come to conclusions. That in and of itself, in my mind, is the main reason the system wont work no matter what we try. There are several other problems, but I see that as the biggest. The voter base has become corrupted, so it follows that they will vote for corrupt individules. I have a lot more to say on the subject, which reaches into the founding of the country, but Ill save it for another post, if your interested to hear.

      • Hello Jim this thread is about out of steam but I wanted you to know I had read your reply and it is thoughtful, thank you.

        I have a problem with descriptions and solutions based on “us and them”. Rather I see a systemic illness in both parties based on the corrupting influence of private money.

        Set piece battles aren’t going to solve anything. Dropping the descriptors and working together, that’s how we can fix the system. We’re getting hosed by both parties friend, don’t let the branding and logos fool you, they’re singing the same corrupted tune, just in a slightly different key.

        • “I have a problem with descriptions and solutions based on “us and them”. Rather I see a systemic illness in both parties based on the corrupting influence of private money.”

          Solutions based on us and them? Im not sure what about my reply leads you to believe that I see an “us and them” solution. Likewise, I was pretty clear that i see problems on both sides of the isle…. In fact, I see democrates and republicans as two sides of the same coin. My main point is that the population is becoming more and more corrupt, so follows the politicians elected are more and more corrupt. Private money or tax money, makes no difference… I think you are focused on the wrong thing there. Although I will say, i do not believe that tax money should go to further any political party, or politician.

          “Set piece battles aren’t going to solve anything. Dropping the descriptors and working together, that’s how we can fix the system. We’re getting hosed by both parties friend, don’t let the branding and logos fool you, they’re singing the same corrupted tune, just in a slightly different key.”

          Yes, I believe that, more or less. As for being fooled, have no fear, I am not. However, I stand by my analysis that we need to fix ourselves in order to fix the system.

        • Hi Jim, I took “us and them” from your reference to liberal democrats. I’m a newb here too but I have noticed things work better when we speak to ideas uncolored by political persuasion.

          Perhaps that’s what you mean when you say the voter base is corrupted? We’re too caught up in faux team spirit to see that neither side is addressing critical issues? If not then I don’t quite get that concept. The average American voter might be called unschooled, simple, dense, but I see corruption in the party leaders, legislators, and the PACs feeding them, not the man on the street.

  19. You’ve given me a lot to think about, Frank. Ill give you that thoughtful reply a little later. My apologies, I have some business to focus on for the next couple of hours.

  20. Thank you for the reply Jim.

    “If you mean that everyone should be started at close to the same place at birth, taken to the lowest common denominator as it were, then that is where we part ways philosophically.” Not at all; that is what the Fitzgerald paragraph was all about. The track can be level but some of those settling into the blocks have the fast twitch muscles of a Bob Hays (yes, I’m that old) rather than the slow twitch muscles of fnay. Still fair; I just need to find another way to make a living.

    “So, I don’t agree about our mission being one to make an even playing field, as much as we should fight injustice.” Could be wrong but I see this as a distinction without a difference. The standard we use to determine injustice is the level playing field.

    “Well, millions also believe that there wasn’t evidence there to prove murder.” This is a bit more troublesome. I think that is what I said. Charles Barkley said the same thing; juror b29 said the same thing. We are starting at the same point. Not enough evidence to convict. You say Trayvon walks if the roles were reversed — I say he doesn’t. No way to know. But I still have the feeling that a tremendous injustice was done. B29 says the problem was the law — not the jury, not the attorneys, not the instructions, not the press — the law. Fixable — dunno — but I believe it should be examined. The law is all we have to correct injustices.

    Many people point out that there is a significant amount of black on white violence and cite those as examples of “reverse racism” and wonder where the outrage is. But the question is, when there is a black on white violent crime, and the perpetrator is apprehended, is he convicted? I confess I have not done research on this point but my money is on yes. A black adult who shoots and kills a white, unarmed teenager walking home with Skittles and Iced Tea does not go home that night and probably never again. And, juxtoposed with the Zimerman case, that is the symptom of the uneven playing field.

    BTW — here in Austin we have a case of a white cop killing an unarmed black man because of suspicion of fraud (what we know so far) and very little information being shared. A lot of people watching this one very, very, very closely. I would rate the ugly potential as particularly high in this one.

    And I think we have a lot more in common than what we think about W; and a whole lot more than could be surmised from the first 70 comments or so in this string. That is the reason I started this conversation — to get past the anger and rhetoric and try and find out, at the core, about what it is we agree and disagree.

    • Hi Fnay,

      I apologize for the delay in my reply, some important business came up that needed my attention.

      “Could be wrong but I see this as a distinction without a difference. The standard we use to determine injustice is the level playing field.”

      For me, the difference would be: battling injustice is to ensure that all people are treated equally, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, social standing (high or low), etc. Leveling the playing field would mean: giving advantages to some at the expense of others… Regardless of how fair that may seem.

      Back to Martin, yes, there really is no way to know if Martin was white, and Zimmerman black, how it would have shaken out. I think that is one of my problems with rushing to make it a racial issue. I understand that some blacks and others “feel” it is racial, but is it really? What facts, in this case, support that feeling? It could be that the pro racism groups feelings are a symptom of a different problem.

      “Many people point out that there is a significant amount of black on white violence and cite those as examples of “reverse racism” and wonder where the outrage is. But the question is, when there is a black on white violent crime, and the perpetrator is apprehended, is he convicted? I confess I have not done research on this point but my money is on yes. A black adult who shoots and kills a white, unarmed teenager walking home with Skittles and Iced Tea does not go home that night and probably never again. And, juxtoposed with the Zimerman case, that is the symptom of the uneven playing field.”

      Well, for staters, I don’t subscribe to the reverse racism idea. In my mind, racism is racism… Period. To call it anything else is ridiculous, and minimizes the importance of one of the groups involved. I also don’t buy the morally equivalent argument that Stephen makes, either. I can expand on that if you wish, but I wont do it now. Personally, I have knowledge of cases where blacks have assaulted whites, and the blacks received either little or no punishment… Even when the evidence was there to show that there was guilt. Does that make me feel like there is some big conspiercy against whites? No. But I may feel different if I had a lifetime of programming telling me that whites are always victimized by blacks. Either way, to me, whomever is involved in racial hate, no matter what the side, is wrong and should be punished. Now, your illustration of the 17 year old boy with skittles and iced tea is interesting. However, the evidence points another way. Facts show that the 17 year old boy had an appetite for fighting, was 6’2″ tall at 175 lbs., and had an inclination to flipping off the world and smoking marajuana. Do these things mean that he deserved to die? No. But they do illustrate that he also wasnt a “helpless little guy” either. Like I said before, the most likely thing is that Zimmerman went to stop him, and he started fighting. So when you make your case, and show Martin as helpless, it becomes a problem… At least if you are trying to convince someone like me. The minute your analysis goes away from fact, i feel that you are not seeing the whole picture and your logic is flawed. Dont get me wrong, im sure your position comes from a good place, and i think we agree that prejudice against blacks is wrong, but we appear to disagree on where that prejudice is. Anyway, if this was, as you say, a case of racism against blacks, then I wouldn’t see it a case of uneven playing field, I’d see it as injustice… Based on my definition.

      “And I think we have a lot more in common than what we think about W; and a whole lot more than could be surmised from the first 70 comments or so in this string. That is the reason I started this conversation — to get past the anger and rhetoric and try and find out, at the core, about what it is we agree and disagree.”

      I cannot tell you how much respect i have for you, based on this paragraph. I am also grateful to you for reminding me that we are all people who most likely want the same things, but maybe disagree on how to get them. Thank you for that, and this continuing dialogue.