Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Squeeze

No, this won't be about SternoTM or associated practices.

I've attracted a fair amount of controversy over the years for maintaining a simple, non-controversial position: that there are perceptible, measurable differences between the recognized races as statistical aggregates. The sturm und drang started with my essay Pieties, which first appeared at the old Palace of Reason, and which I reposted below.

That was only the beginning. The appearance of these pieces:

...the first of which appeared at Eternity Road in 2007, merely heightened the clamor. Then, of course, we had this piece, prompted by the courageous John Derbyshire's candid fictional "talk" to his children, to provide icing for the cake.

Kinda nails it to the wall, doesn't it? By the criteria of the Left, which forbid any criticism whatsoever of Barack Hussein Obama, Fran Porretto is that foulest of non-criminal offenders, that blot on the escutcheon of a civilized society, that never-to-be-adequately-damned opponent of all that's right and good: a racist.

Am I? If so, I'd bet heavily that you are, too. And I shall tell you why.

Racism is a species of generalization. It aggregates individuals who share certain perceptible racial characteristics into a monolithic group, and then uses those shared characteristics as a rationale for treating the group badly. All else is mere detail.

The evaluation of racism as "good" or "bad" -- we'll get to the variable meanings of those words shortly -- depends heavily upon the criteria of the evaluator. To some persons, racism is inherently bad; in such a man's eyes, there is never an adequate justification for discriminating among people according to race. The irony here, of course, is that the great majority of such persons do discriminate according to race when it is politically profitable.

The key to this seeming paradox is that the words "good" and "bad" can be used in either the moral or the utilitarian sense. In the moral sense, we would call a proposition or an action "bad" when it offends our convictions about justice; in the utilitarian sense, we would call it "good" if it proves useful toward some practical end. Thus, the same person could conceivably call a conviction about racial groups both "good," in that it assists him in some practical effort, and "bad," in that it's inherently morally objectionable.

Exactly that apparent contradiction operates in the sphere of politics.

Since the Fifties at least, the Democrat Party has operated on a simple racial premise: that American blacks can and must be collectivized, exploited politically, and made into a reliable Democrat voting bloc. That effort superficially contradicted the Democrats' actual attitudes toward the Negro race, which have always been contemptuous and exploitative. (Remember that the Democrats were the party of George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and Bull Connor; the party that supported the continuation of legal slavery; the party that dominated the South during its Jim Crow period; and the party less inclined to support the 1964 Civil Rights Act.)

The collectivization of American blacks for political purposes was a component of the post-World War II alteration of the Democrats' grand national strategy. Prior to that war, the party's emphasis was on "the little guy vs. the moneyed interests;" afterward, it shifted to the identification, seduction, and propitiation of identifiable special-interest voting blocs. Where such blocs were already perceptible, it approached and entreated them with promises of special legal treatment; where they existed only in potential, it labored to create them.

Though the special-interest dynamic has its own vulnerabilities, for a time the Democrats' use of it in the racial context completely flummoxed the Republicans. Only recently has the Right begun to summon enough courage to deal with and reply to the racist slanders of the Left.

In any competitive undertaking, an institution that wants to remain "in contention" must preserve its versatility. This is in part an implication of the Law of Requisite Variety, and in part a consequence of the dynamic of competition itself:

    “A penny for your thoughts?” Conway said.
    “Hm? Oh, sorry, Kevin. I was woolgathering there for a moment.” She scowled. “My mentor liked to say that success breeds failure. You tend to repeat your old, successful moves because they worked, while your enemy is developing a new one to clobber you with. I guess he had a point. Got any suggestions?”

The imperative of versatility has begun to show its face in contemporary American politics. With regard to racism, I have two categories in mind:

  • Accusations and imputations of racism have been profligately employed to mute critics of the Obama Administration;
  • Black racialist mouthpiece groups have deployed the accusation of racism with equal profligacy to prevent any great departure from their ranks or from the Democrat Party's plantation.

In both those cases, the general public has grown calluses against the accusations, and as a result has been steadily moving away from the organizations making them. Their effectiveness, despite their frequency and the venom behind them, is at an all time low.

There are, and will always be, individuals who can be cowed and silenced by being called racists. Mankind's variety guarantees it. But such persons are unlikely to be politically important in any sense. Now that the accusations are losing force, it's possible to make flatly irrefutable statements about statistical racial differences that confound the victimists. For example, in 2009:

  1. American blacks were five times as likely to commit homicide as non-blacks;
  2. American blacks were nearly four times as likely to commit rape as non-blacks;
  3. American blacks were five times as likely to commit a robbery or an aggravated assault as non-blacks;
  4. American blacks were more than three times as likely to commit a property crime as non-blacks;
  5. American blacks were more than four times as likely to receive welfare payments as non-blacks;
  6. A black child born in America had a 71% chance of being born into a single-parent / female-headed family;
  7. The statistical mean IQ of American blacks was approximately 16 points (1.1 standard deviations) below that of whites.

These are not suppositions. Items 1 through 6 are derived by simple arithmetic from data in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2012-2013, tables 6, 325, and 542. Item 7 comes from this paper, and has been multiply confirmed by diverse alternate studies.

The Left and the black racialist mouthpiece groups condemn any mention of any of those statistics as racist, along with many other things. You'd almost think they're opposed to arithmetic itself. But that's not it?

Because racism-shouting in America has risen to so high a volume, reaction has set in, and figures such as the above are making their way into the public consciousness. This has had both good (in the utilitarian sense) and bad (in the moral sense) consequences. The good consequence has been a political setback for those forces that promote preferential treatment by race, a destructive practice which exacerbates tensions by creating more and less privileged classes of Americans, particularly with regard to education and employment. The bad consequence has been a resurgence of racial collectivism:

  • An increasing propensity among whites to prejudge all blacks as inferior and dangerous;
  • An increasing propensity among blacks to regard all whites as their enemies.

As legally mandated preferential treatment by race is inherently racist, that there should be a rising, vocal opposition to the practice, with some prospects for putting an end to it once and for all, is a pure gain for the Republic. The unfortunate part is the emergence of new currents of interracial animosity, which could cost American blacks everything they hold dear.

The phenomenon that makes it difficult to escape from our current patterns is one I call The Squeeze.

Legal segregation is a thing of the past. Nevertheless, people do segregate: by religion, by heritage, by income, and by race. There are few locales in America where the racial proportions among the residents come near to those that pertain to the population as a whole. Once a particular sort of racial predominance develops in a neighborhood, it's likely to "go to climax:" a state approximating racial exclusivity. Potential new residents will tend to avoid a neighborhood dominated by a race other than their own, especially if other differentiating factors, such as an "incompatibility" in religion or income, should also be present. Moreover and most poignant, this need not have anything to do with racial animosity; it's normal to want one's neighbors to be like oneself.

That's the demographic component of The Squeeze. In isolation, it need not have seriously deleterious effects on anyone. Unfortunately, it synergizes with pernicious political factors:

  • Crime statistics and the fear of rising crime;
  • Racially correlated differences in family practices;
  • Preferential treatment in education and employment;
  • Social programs of disproportionate importance to black families;
  • Lifestyle differences: in consumption, language, entertainment, and other matters.

In combination, these influences move us to "squeeze tightly together" with "our own." It's partly about safety, of course -- one will always feel safest among persons of one's own race, even when the facts say otherwise -- but it's equally the usually unarticulated sense of commonality Rudyard Kipling captured in his poem "The Stranger:"

The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk--
I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock,
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wanted to,
They are used to the lies I tell;
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy or sell.

The Stranger within my gates,
He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control--
What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.

The men of my own stock,
Bitter bad they may be,
But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
And see the things I see;
And whatever I think of them and their likes
They think of the likes of me.

This was my father's belief
And this is also mine:
Let the corn be all one sheaf--
And the grapes be all one vine,
Ere our children's teeth are set on edge
By bitter bread and wine.

Is it not clear that when we are squeezed in this fashion, the prospects for attaining a better degree of amity with those of other races are sharply diminished?

This pathetic development in a predominantly black district of Portland, Oregon was the impetus for today's tirade. The Squeeze is obviously in full and destructive operation there; the appearance of a popular store such as Trader Joe's in that locale would have brought considerable economic benefit to the residents. But the sentiments expressed against "white incursion" clearly prevailed over the economic gains to be had.

Racism among American blacks is far more pronounced than among whites. Most whites try, from the promptings of conscience, to fight The Squeeze. We have a sense for the misfortunes that accompany it and have made many good-faith efforts -- not all of them wise, but nevertheless all well-meant -- to combat it. It's not that way among blacks, who've been told, stridently and for several decades, that they're owed -- that their troubles are "whitey's fault" -- that they can expect nothing better than their current lot until "The Man" removes his boot from their neck.

There is no Last Graf. There is no stock solution for bringing peace or brotherhood to populations divided by racial suspicions and resentments. For the foreseeable future, The Squeeze will have its way. Our best hope is neither to be crushed in its grip nor, when we manage to escape it, to be set upon by its victims of other races as representatives of the hated Other.


Anonymous said...

The Trader Joe's story is not all that surprising. How can the "black community" continue to complain about being "oppressed", when their neighborhood might show signs of revitalization, albeit introduced by people and organizations from outside their "community"?

So they lose potential jobs, and potential tax revenue, and potential sources of fresh produce which is "oh so hard to obtain" in their neighborhood. Their young enterprising men can continue to host their open-air drug markets (which are largely patronized by whites who drive in and drive out) and the shootings, stabbings, and beatings can continue. They can then go on asking for free hand-outs, because they're "oppressed". And while there might not be a shiny new building from which to obtain carrots for junior, there's still a ratty, bug-infested storefront where one can have some Afro-sheen applied.

It reminds me of the joke about the guy sitting on his roof when the flood waters are up to his gutters and rising, turning the helicopter away, because he's waiting for God to come and save him. Good luck with that, poor oppressed victims. Your decades-old "oppressed" banner is getting a little tattered. Maybe it's time to put a wall up around your part of town, so you can go on pulling yourself out of oppression without any outside interference.

cracker runes said...

interesting to note this and spike lee's tirade about gentrification: that it changes the complexity of a neighborhood. immigration on the other hand does not.

leftward singularity, ho!