Politics & Policy

Social Degeneration

Somebody had to say it.

Someone at long last has had the courage to tell the plain, honest truth about race.

After mobs of young blacks rampaged through Philadelphia committing violence — as similar mobs have rampaged through Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and other places — Philadelphia’s black mayor, Michael A. Nutter, ordered a police crackdown and lashed out at the whole lifestyle of those who perpetrate these crimes.

#ad#“Pull up your pants and buy a belt, ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt,” he said. “If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said. He added: “You have damaged your own race.”

While this might seem like common sense, what Mayor Nutter said undermines a whole vision of the world that has brought fame, fortune, and power to race hustlers in politics, the media, and academia. Any racial disparities in hiring can be due only to racism and discrimination, according to the prevailing vision, which reaches from street-corner demagogues to the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Just to identify the rioters and looters as black is a radical departure, when mayors, police chiefs, and the media in other cities report on these outbreaks of violence without mentioning the race of those who are doing these things. The Chicago Tribune even made excuses for failing to mention race when reporting on violent attacks by blacks on whites in Chicago.

Such excuses might make sense if the same politicians and media talking heads were not constantly mentioning race when denouncing the fact that a disproportionate number of young black men are being sent to prison.

The prevailing social dogma is that disparities in outcomes between races can be due only to disparities in how these races are treated. In other words, there cannot possibly be any differences in behavior.

But if black and white Americans had exactly the same behavior patterns, they would be the only two groups on this planet that are the same.

The Chinese minority in Malaysia has long been more successful and more prosperous than the Malay majority, just as the Indians in Fiji have long been more successful and more prosperous than the indigenous Fijians. At various places and times throughout history, the same could be said of the Armenians in Turkey, the Lebanese in Sierra Leone, the Parsees in India, the Japanese in Brazil, and numerous others.

There are similar disparities within particular racial or ethnic groups. Even this late in history, I have had northern Italians explain to me why they are not like southern Italians. In Australia, Jewish leaders in both Sydney and Melbourne went to great lengths to tell me why and how the Jews are different in these two cities.

In the United States, despite the higher poverty level among blacks, the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994. The disparities within the black community are huge — both in behavior and in outcomes.

Nevertheless, the dogma persists that differences between groups can be due either to the way others treat them or to differences in the way others perceive them through “stereotypes.”

All around the country, people in politics and the media have been tip-toeing around the fact that violent attacks by blacks on whites in public places are racially motivated, even when the attackers themselves use anti-white invectives and mock the victims they leave lying on the streets bleeding.

This is not something to ignore or excuse. It is something to be stopped. Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia seems to be the first to openly recognize this.

This needs to be done for the sake of both black and white Americans — and even for the sake of the hoodlums. They have set out on a path that leads only downward for themselves.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Thomas Sowell — Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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