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Sunday, July 10, 2016

That Was Fast

No sooner do I post about the disaster of turning people into victims and the damage that it does to American society than I come across a column in the Toronto Globe and Mail blaming the recent unrest on a racist criminal justice system that deals more harshly with blacks than others.  It's worth considering that argument because the "expert" who wrote about it is not alone in pushing this point of view.  Basically, the argument boils down to two parts:  1) Long ago, there was slavery and then major racism in America; 2) Blacks are in prison in disproportionate numbers to the population size.

Let's look at these two items.  First, it is true that there was slavery in the USA until the Civil War.  There was blatant racism after that as well that reached its height when Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I.  Since the 1960s, however, blacks have been protected by the Voting Rights Act, the various civil rights acts, affirmative action, and the force of public opinion.  Things are not perfect, but they are amazingly better.  For what it is worth, there was also slavery in Europe, Asia, Africa and elsewhere during the years that it existed in the USA.  Right now, there are slaves in Iraq and Syria who are being held by ISIS.  They are not the only slaves in the world, however.  America was one of the early places to get rid of slavery not a holdout to keep it.  Most important, however, is that the vast majority of the population of the USA grew up in an America of the post civil rights era. 

Second, we have the percentage of black prisoners being higher than the percentage of blacks in the population as a whole.  Somehow, that is cited to argue that the criminal justice system is racist.  More likely, however, it is proof of the behavior of various segments of society.  Think about it.  If the system was biased, then there would be higher numbers for all non-whites.  Among whites, there should be no disparities though.  After all, if the police are racist and stop non-whites more as a result, there should be higher numbers of Hispanics in prison as well as blacks.  There also ought to be large numbers of Asians in prison.  The numbers don't come out that way, though.  Hispanics are roughly the same percentage of the population and the prison population.  Asians are a much smaller prison presence than their share of the population.  Among whites, certain ethnic and religious groups are much more or much less represented than their share of the population. 

So why do the numbers come out this way?  Our "expert" columnist says that blacks are "arrested" more often.  He doesn't claim that the arrests are flawed or that these are phony charges.  In other words, he says that blacks who break the law are arrested.  But he also never claims that others who break the law are not arrested.  (To be fair, we have the example of Hillary Clinton who never gets arrested if she breaks the law.)  The problem is that black individuals break the law and get caught.  That is criminal justice; it is not racism.  Think of it this way.  Is it racist that in the NBA, the overwhelming bulk of the players are black?  Is professional basketball actually some sort of racist fantasy sport where people can go to see black men run up and down the court?  Or, is the success in the NBA of so many blacks the result of years and years of effort on the basketball court?  In other words, is the success of blacks in the NBA and individual accomplishment of the players or is the lack of white and Asian players the result of the racism of the NBA?  It's the same argument that our "expert" columnist is making.

The truth is that most people are NOT victims.  They are the masters of their own fate to the extent that any man can say that.  Their lives are the result of hundreds of individual choices that they have made over the years.  Remember, people do not go to confession to confess the sins that others have done against them but to confess their own sins.

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