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Reaction to the recent Milwaukee riot has followed a predictable script and for liberals this requires insisting that that blacks themselves are largely blameless for the “uprising.” But, even if liberals admit that some Milwaukee residents were guilty, they will nevertheless claim that these miscreants, typically unemployed school dropouts, are only a minuscule element in an otherwise law-abiding, peaceful population. In other words, we should not smear an entire community by the actions of a tiny untypical handful.
This “only a few bad apples” view is factually incorrect—the pathologies are far more extensive than a few attention-getting rioters. To be sure, thousands of Milwaukee inner-city residents did not take to the streets and a few residents did denounce the mayhem. Nevertheless, the penchant for disorderly behavior, and this includes criminality, is more deeply ingrained in these black neighborhoods than the liberal-dominated mainstream media admits.
This unflattering assessment rests on a dog that does not bark: if the overwhelming majority of ordinary ghetto residents—as liberals usually claim– are so opposed to the thuggery punctuated by occasional rioting, where are the ambitious local politicians anxious to capitalize on this supposed thirsting for law and order? After all, it is rare office-seeker who will shun any type of pandering almost guaranteeing electoral victory.
Indeed, if, as many liberals allege, the trouble-makers are exclusively poorly educated youngsters who almost never vote, why would black office-seekers pay them any attention? Why should elected black officials traffic in responsibility escaping justification—white racism, oppression, rotten schools, years of financial neglect, bigoted cops—when, supposedly, thousands of law-abiding residents dread neighborhood predators? How many votes can Black Lives Matter deliver? If economic self-interest motivated voters, the Hobbesian inner-city should be the ideal place for a black Rudi Giuliani. It would not take much for this black Rudy to woo ghetto residents with the benefits of tough policing: more tax-paying businesses, more convenient shopping, more jobs, safer public parks and, most of all, enhanced personal freedom. Why don’t all those African American preachers who organize anti-violence rallies run for office? If the bad guys are just a small minority, surely these Reverends would win in a landslide.
Why the absence of black law and order Giulianis? Let me hypothesize two probably over-lapping possibilities, both of which, if true, bode poorly for future efforts at reducing criminality and rioting. First, and most obviously, is the ghetto culture that permeates black neighborhoods in cities like Milwaukee. This culture rejects anything “white” and nothing is more quintessentially “white” than law and order. In fact, the very phrase “law and order” and “crime” have now widely viewed by self-designated community spokesmen as the code word for racism.
This aversion even applies to the small stuff like eliminating graffiti or cracking down on public drinking. In an electoral contest between a fire-breathing black nationalist (a good “race man” to use an older terminology) who denounces white privilege as the root of black misery and a mild- mannered rival who modestly calls for making parks drug-free, the firebrand will almost always win. Hard to even imagine a black Rudy Giuliani campaigning in the Hood. Recall the long successful career of Washington DC’s Marion Berry, a dissolute crackhead whose popularity among blacks totally baffled law-and-order whites.
A second explanation is more rational: even many upright inner-city blacks personally have more to lose than to gain by electing a black Giuliani. Though it is impossible to admit in public, many inner-city blacks at least occasionally engage in petty drug dealing, prostitution, public intoxication, shoplifting, misusing EBT cards, fencing stolen goods (including guns), small-time gambling, and similar unsavory behaviors. Strict law and order will thus invariably restore mass incarceration which in practice means imprisoning family members (especially teenage children), boyfriends/girlfriends and neighbors, a situation that many whites find unimaginable given their minimal contact with criminals. Put another way, a “broken windows” campaign is perhaps the most disparate policy imaginable and a costly one, too, given fines and lawyer fees. In a sense, the damage done by the corner drug dealers or burning down the local CVS pharmacy (as occurred in the Baltimore riot) is a tolerable alternative to locking up these miscreants, all of whom are blood relatives of other community residents. Again, this trade-off is unthinkable to middle class whites watching the mayhem on TV.
Taken together, this bodes poorly for government-based efforts to ameliorate black slums of Milwaukee, East St. Louis, Detroit and Camden, NJ and elsewhere. It is delusional to believe that millions of black inner-city residents are silently waiting to be rescued by a black Giuliani who refuses to be intimidates by Black Lives Matter and street gangs. After all, these cities have been festering for decades, more than sufficient time for a black law and order Messiah to arrive.
This dismal prognosis is especially true for the free-market nostrums favored by Republicans who insist that thousands of these residents would benefit from capitalism. Reality is, however, quite different—capitalism will be DOA. It is highly unlikely that businesses will be enticed by tax breaks to set up shop in crime infested neighborhoods where nearly every new hire arrives with a criminal record. And what business wants to invest in training workers notable for their terrible behavior in school? Remember the now almost forgotten empowerment zones of the 1990s that failed to revitalize places like Detroit and Atlanta despite generous tax incentives. In fact, force-feeding capitalism into these areas may only exacerbate the criminality–working in a newly built nearby factory may be a great opportunity to peddle drugs or pilfer’
If these troubled localities filled with underclass blacks are to be “rescued,” the impetus must be external pressure—running City Hall from the State House. The relevant model is one of a colonial power imposing its will, not enticing the locals to reform themselves by altering the mix of economic incentives or Great Society nostrums. And a “colonial” approach will never be popular regardless of the benefits. Just ask Rudy Giuliani’s about how New York City’s black activists hated him despite his success in making black neighborhoods safer and prosperous. This dismal conclusion is especially bad news for Donald Trump and his current outreach to African American voters—for millions of blacks, Trump’s embrace of law and order candidate will only certify him as racist and in today’s political landscape, there is no greater sin than racism.