Aug 14 2011

AP is slow to make the connection, but agrees with me

Category: media,race,racism,societyharmonicminer @ 12:20 pm

Two days ago, I posted a piece on the similarity in views and style between Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Bill Cosby.  Maybe the AP has reporters who read my blog, since they’ve now finally gotten around to reporting that Philly mayor chides black parents over teen mobs


The painful images and graphic stories of repeated violent assaults and vandalism by mobs of black teenagers had gotten to be too much for Mayor Michael Nutter.

As an elected official and a “proud black man” in the nation’s fifth-largest city, Nutter felt he had to go a step beyond ordering a law enforcement crackdown.

So he channeled the spirit of another straight-talking Philadelphian: Bill Cosby. Nutter took to the pulpit at his church last weekend and gave an impassioned, old-fashioned talking-to directed at the swarms of teens who have been using social networks to arrange violent sprees downtown, injuring victims and damaging property. Moreover, he called out parents for not doing a better job raising their children.

Exit question:  would a white mayor who said the things reported here and on my blog be called a racist?

Aug 14 2011

Britain R.I.P.? Part six

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 9:22 am

The previous post in this series is here.

A Telegraph editorial makes the case that the causes of Britain’s current unrest are very much related to the USA’s own problems, in that they spring from common roots, in A palpable change in the national mood

More than 20 years ago, the American sociologist Charles Murray wrote a series of articles about the emerging British underclass. He identified in some of our towns and cities the same trend that had been seen in America: a rapid rise in the number of children born into homes with no resident father and where the principal source of income was welfare benefit.

Murray predicted that this growing phenomenon would be concentrated in certain inner-city communities, creating a value structure largely divorced from mainstream society. Several consequences would follow: the children brought up in these circumstances would be poorly educated and lack the desire and wherewithal to work; and the communities themselves would be prey to high levels of crime.

What Murray foresaw has come about. Indeed, Britain did not change this week when the rioters took the streets to burn and plunder, it changed a long time ago. Despite the varied social backgrounds of many of those now before the courts, most of the youths who were at the heart of the appalling scenes of lawlessness will have come from the communities that Murray described. They are not the product of bankers’ rapacity or high-level political venality, although the moral context for bad behaviour is, as Peter Oborne observed in these pages yesterday, a matter for the wealthy and powerful to consider as well as the poor.

This crisis has been building for years. It is the result of a major cultural shift that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and the long-term decline of the conservative values and institutions that had underpinned British society since the late 19th century. This process was marked by a collapse in the belief in marriage, a retreat of the police from the streets, a move away from tough penalties for property crime, the rise of moral relativism and rampant consumerism, the diminution of stigma as a restraint on bad behaviour and the entrenchment of welfare dependency. It was not about poverty, but a collapse in values. Today, the benefits system sustains the underclass and poor state schooling is unable to compensate for the harm caused by broken homes and absent fathers. Inadequate policing cannot suppress the symptoms of crime and disorder. These communities are trapped in a vicious circle, where violence, crime, intimidation and hopelessness are quotidian. It is a world from which most of us are insulated until it spills into the wider community, as it did so nightmarishly this week.

So what is to be done? It is not true that politicians have been unaware of or indifferent to what is going on. The last government’s “respect” agenda tried to tackle the anti-social behaviour that blights so many inner-city areas; but Labour woefully failed to get to grips with welfare dependency or take up a consistent moral position on the fecklessness of many in receipt of benefit. As was evident during the emergency session of Parliament on Thursday, the party still fails to grasp the extent of its own failure in this regard or understand how public opinion has hardened against the failed nostrums of the past four decades.

Here, then, is an opportunity for David Cameron to seize a rare moment in recent British history when the cacophony of liberal voices has been silenced by a palpable change in the national mood. Since he broke off his Italian holiday to take control of the response, the Prime Minister has shown an ability to articulate a sense of outrage, even if the harsh penalties he promised are unlikely to be visited upon many of the culprits. He has been more surefooted than most, including Boris Johnson, who after his tardy return to the capital needs to show that his political strengths are not limited to the good times.

Others have also been found wanting this week. Nick Clegg appeared unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation when he was temporarily in charge of the Government on Monday; police chiefs, such as Sir Hugh Orde, continued to defend tactics that patently failed to stop the unrest spreading, notwithstanding the bravery of the front-line officers, and firefighters, themselves; Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was spoken of only a few weeks ago as a rising star, but has seemed somewhat uncertain; and a host of Labour politicians from Ed Miliband downwards still think that yet more public spending is the answer. In fact, the one thing that has been tried, to no avail, is throwing money at the problem.

What Mr Cameron must now do is unambiguously pursue the remedies that have been available for years, but which successive governments have been too frightened to adopt for fear of offending a vocal progressive minority which no longer has any credibility. These include a tough policy on welfare, whereby recipients accept a job or lose their benefits; police reforms to ensure proper democratic accountability and the imposition of the order that communities need to see on their streets if anything is to improve; and an overhaul of schools to offer an opportunity denied to so many children in the sink estates. None of these ideas will be sufficient on its own, but taken together they might at least begin to undo the damage of the past 40 years.

Will Britain take the hard steps necessary to reclaim the shards of its national heritage that still remain salvagable?  Honestly, I really, really doubt it.  So does that perceptive pundit, Mark Steyn, whose new book has some comments exactly on point (actually, pretty much a whole chapter, it seems).  The problem, when the majority line up at the public trough for three squares, lodging, and entertainment, is that even politicians who are very determined to change things must stand for the next election.  Can Britain summon up a generation’s worth of electoral will to turn things around?  It doesn’t seem likely to me.  The dominant media are too left, and it’s just too easy to demonize politicians who cut spending and introduce reforms that actually require people to make better decisions, reforms that don’t essentially subsidize bad behavior.

It is not clear to me that the USA will fare better in this regard, in the long term, painful as it is to acknowledge.