Michael Moore recently held a Q & A session on Twitter in response to CurrentTV’s showings of his 2002 documentary, Bowling for Columbine, which was about mass shootings and gun violence in America. This movie contained the infamous scene where Moore ambushed then NRA president Charlton Heston about the issue of violent crime in America compared to the other English-speaking and developed nations in the world.
Before I go too much further, I suppose I should stick in a disclaimer, in case any of Moore’s fans find this posting and happen to read it: I am not some raving White Christian conservative. In fact, I am an atheist, liberal – even socialist, Black man (though how Black I am depends on the context; in Jamaica I’m a bit Whiter). And I am actually pretty fond of Michael Moore’s movies, because they do make some good points if you take them for what they’re worth.
In Bowling for Columbine, we learn that our neighbor to the north, Canada, has a comparable number of guns per capita as does the United States, yet has a murder rate that is orders of magnitude lower. Indeed, to demonstrate that, Moore contrasts the city of Detroit, MI with its sister city across the river and across the border, Windsor, Ontario. On Twitter, fans have been asking Moore this question:
@MMFlint proud to live in Windsor, ON Canada. Why such difference in crime rates when I can throw stone & hit Detroit?
To which Moore responded:
Because in Windsor u lack our unique mix of fear, racism, extreme poverty, and an ongoing history of solving our problems w/ violence.
In response to this, I asked:
@MMFlint What is different about the ethnic composition of Windsor, ON vs Detroit, MI?
So on that question, what makes Detroit and Windsor different? Why do we have this in one city:
And this in the other:
I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which…
Might the differences have something to do with this:
Detroit demographics (Wikipedia):
In 2010, the city had 713,777 residents … The census reported that the city had 82.7% African American, 10.6% White (7.8% non-Hispanic white), 1.1% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.0% other races, 2.2% two or more races. In addition, 6.8% of the population self-identified as Hispanic or Latino, of any race, with ancestry mainly from Mexico and Puerto Rico … After World War II many people from Appalachia settled in Detroit. Appalachians formed communities and their children acquired southern accents.
Windsor, ON demographics (adapted from Wikipedia):
|Canada 2006 Census||Population||% of Total Population|
|Visible minority group||South Asian||8,765||4.1%|
|Other visible minority||930||0.4%|
|Mixed visible minority||845||0.4%|
|Total visible minority population||45,060||21%|
|Aboriginal group Source:||First Nations||2,420||1.1%|
|Total Aboriginal population||3,965||1.9%|
I’m all for trying to find solutions to problems and hence understand the direction Moore is coming from (though there may be no solution to this particular problem – more on that in an upcoming post). But it does no good to avoid focusing on the real causes behind what we see. That only leads us down blind alleys that offer no real solutions to the problem. That doesn’t do anyone any good.