Before he insinuated that Burnett is a racist, Stokes waxed eloquent about how these kids have been marginalized, etc. Translation: The punks setting cars on fire and looting stores are the real victims.
First of all, it’s not only plausible, but obviously true, that many of these punks had rough starts in life. Unlike the largely bogus claim that poverty and powerlessness is what creates terrorists, the root-causes argument has explanatory power for street criminals. No serious conservative disputes that poverty, joblessness, crime, family breakdown, crappy schools, etc. help explain why young men make bad choices. But explanations aren’t excuses, even if they overlap at the margins from time to time. Bad choices are still choices, and if we don’t judge people by their choices we can’t judge people at all.
If a sane man rapes and kills a little girl but, when caught, explains how terrible his own childhood was, the civilized response of the criminal justice system must be “we don’t care.” Some crimes are moral gray areas — the man who steals bread to feed his starving family, etc. But, other crimes aren’t. Nonetheless, a society that refuses to distinguish between people who behave criminally and people who don’t won’t be a society for very long.
And by the way, how exactly it helps the black community to say that th*gs cannot be singled out from the rest of the black community completely mystifies me. I thought the antidote to racism was judging people individually, based upon their behavior. I don’t discriminate against people because of the color of their skin, but I will freely admit I discriminate against people who burn down senior centers. But that’s just me.
Let us assume for the sake of argument that cops routinely use racial profiling (consciously or unconsciously) and stop more black people than white people. Does that in any way excuse black people for breaking the law?
Of course not.
We can debate the wisdom of the War on Drugs, but the consensus is that the recreational use of drugs is bad so some drugs are illegal and the others controlled by prescription. Powdered cocaine is illegal. So is crack cocaine. But the penalties for possessing equal amounts of crack and powdered cocaine are different. Some people call this racism because black people are more likely than white people to use crack cocaine.
Here is a simple remedy: If you don’t want to go to prison for possessing/transporting/selling crack then don’t possess/transport/sell crack!
Let’s say you live in a bad neighborhood and go to an inferior school. Should you:
1. Refuse to get an education?
2. Get the best education you can get at an inferior school?
Let’s say you live in an area with high unemployment and very few good jobs. Should you:
1. Sit on your ass and complain about being poor and demand that government create a high paying job for you?
2. Move somewhere else where there are jobs available and work hard to develop the skills and experience necessary for a good job?
Let’s say you are a member of a minority that faces prejudice in finding employment. Should you:
1. Dress and talk differently during job interviews to demonstrate pride in your culture?
2. Dress in standard work attire and speak proper English in job interviews?
Let’s say you have been stopped by the police for “driving while black.” Should you:
1. Jump out of your vehicle to angrily confront the racist pig who stopped you for no reason?
2. Control your anger and endure the unfair treatment calmly with the knowledge that you have nothing to worry about because you were not breaking the law?
If you are an Arab-American man some people will look at you suspiciously or be unfriendly to you because you resemble the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center. Yes, it is terribly unfair, but getting angry and resentful won’t make it any better and will likely makes things worse.
Nobody ever said that life was gonna be fair. Each of us has to play the hand we are dealt, even though some people are dealt better hands than others. But if you break the law, that’s on you. If you don’t try to succeed, you are trying to fail.