The Hood Comes to Duncan, Oklahoma

Was it a thrill kill or part of a gang initiation? That would be the bushwhacking of Chris Lane, an Aussie college kid and baseball star. Lane was gunned down running along a country road near Duncan, Oklahoma, the other day. You know the story by now.

Does it matter what motivated Allen Luna and James Francis Edwards, Jr., Chris Lane's accused killers, and Michael Dewayne Jones, an accessory, to off a young man with a promising future who was just going about the routine of his life on a summer's day?

In one sense it doesn't matter. Whether those three gangsta-infatuated creeps were thrill killing or murdering an innocent to be "made" (as the mob is fond of saying) as Crips just points to the rot -- the nihilism -- that has debauched subsets of American society. Terming this nihilism a cancer is cliché. Cancer isn't communicable, as best I know.

What the nation suffers is leprosy -- a scary cultural and societal decay that is only more advanced in many black and Hispanic urban communities. It's present, too, in a growing number of white underclass communities (here and in Europe). For too long, that leprosy has been spreading to the broader culture with all its attendant sickness.

We have the progressives to thank for the contagion. In fact, let's thank the left for Luna, Edwards, and Jones right now. Over the decades, the left's compassionate government policies have done to the black underclass what earlier Americans did to the Indians: made them dependents on Uncle Sam. Indians were welfare-ized and quarantined on reservations.

The nation's hoods and increasingly, barrios are modern-day reservations, where independence, initiative, self-worth, and self-respect have been stripped from residents. Where family, community, and church have been debased in favor of the government handout machine... and minority leaders who pimp their own people for gain. And... a white liberal political establishment that profits handsomely from subjugated minorities.

But human nature being what it is -- possessing deep needs for independence, self-sufficiency, and self-value -- means underclass blacks and Hispanics seek out perverse ways of expressing those needs. Gangs are replacements for families; they lend identity, security, and worth. They're enterprises where the ambitious, with talent and moxy, seek to better themselves -- albeit through violence and crime.

There's also the anti-traditionalism, anti-establishmentism, and permissiveness that grew out of the left and the left's spawn, the 60s youth movement. This ethos of break the rules and do as you feel hasn't liberated the nation's underclasses; it's robbed them of anchoring principles and certitudes. In smashing compasses, progressives have served only to cut adrift millions of Americans, launching them on a sea where everything's made up as one goes and right and wrong are matters of perception and opinion.

The 60s ethos hasn't done much for the middle and upper classes, either -- at least, among those segments that subscribe to it. Relativism and juvenile self-obsession and indulgence only hastens rot.

Gangs and violence in underclass communities have been around long before
Ellis Island, you say? True, indeed. But the Irish, Italians, and Jews, for example, didn't stay in the shanties and tenements. There was something called "upward mobility," which these ethnic groups aspired to. Poor immigrants and their families cycled through the nation's Hell's Kitchens and into the mainstream, adapting happily to the norms, values, and virtues that comprised traditional America.

Today, blacks and other underclass Americans are victims of generational poverty and welfare dependency. They're trapped not by lack of potential, but lack of social structures that instill virtues and channel their energies into constructive pursuits. Even government schools are nearly useless. The important social structures are family, neighborhood, and church; all were once the sinews binding poor communities together and giving poor kids the chance for better lives.

Does any sensible American really like rap or gangsta rap? Music full of anger, hate for authority -- the police, in particular -- and denigration of women. Full of talk of lawbreaking and killing. Full of idiotic preening and braggadocio about being unschooled and unmotivated toward conventional success. Does anyone think that wearing pants down around one's arse, tattooing one's body, and piercing one's nose, ears, tongue, nipples, and whatever else is indicative of anything other than the atavistic? Affectations that have seeped into the middle and upper classes.

Other than being a name on street signs and a day off in January, does Martin Luther King, Jr., matter much to urban black kids anymore? King who dressed in suits and spoke impeccable English? Who led a nonviolent civil rights movement and preached integration and unity among the races, not hate and division? Who wanted mainstreaming and conventional success for blacks?

Or Jackie Robinson, the subject of a recent movie, 42. One might dare say that Jackie Robinson is a stronger role model for nonblack kids than he is for poor black kids nowadays (if they even know who Robinson was and what he achieved).

The murder of Chris Lane makes apparent the advance of violent black urban culture into the hinterlands. Apparent -- not recent, and it's been further facilitated by the internet and social media.

The accused murderers and their accomplice were "wannabe" Crips, according to James Johnson, a black man, who reported that the three teens were hiding out in a car at -- of all places -- Duncan's Immanuel Baptist Church. Johnson says that the trio had threatened his teenage son on Facebook and feared his boy was next to be shot. Johnson says that Luna, Edwards, and Lane had attempted to recruit his son, but Johnson had shielded him from the teens. The trio, if Johnson is correct, had a "join or die" ultimatum for his son.

Said Johnson in a Melbourne (Australia) Herald Sun report:

"I've been living here all my life and we never had this, but in the past few years gangs from Lawton have been coming here," Johnson said of the Crips.

Again per the Herald Sun, Johnson furnished this background about the accused killers:

Johnson's son also attends Duncan High School, where suspect Luna and Edwards Jr. were students. He said he knew both boys, and described them as "troublemakers" and "bullies" who had "no parental supervision."

Given the social media depicting the trio making ganglike gestures and one handling a rifle, these teens were infatuated by gang culture and gang violence. But Luna, Edwards, and Jones could have been more than taken with the Crips; they might have been initiating themselves into the gang.

The Crips and other street gangs often require an act of violence -- up to and including murder -- to initiate as a gangsta, or as the Crips say, become a "cuzz."

Robert Walker, a retired state and federal law enforcement officer and gang expert, runs the website "Gangs or Us," a gang identification resource.

Of the Crips and Bloods, Walker writes:

In the early 1980's, members of both gangs surfaced outside Los Angeles and the rest of California, primarily to sell cocaine. Investigative reports in 1991 placed Crips or Bloods in 32 States and 113 cities. However, these migrations are not orchestrated by any sort of national leadership. Instead, criminal acts often are committed or directed by individual leaders (who change frequently), rather than as the result of some hierarchical or collective decision making process.

The Crips is a loose association of some 200 gangs, many of which are at war with one another, and none of whom recognizes or exerts any kind of central authority. Individual gangs are equally marginal in their organization. Most are loosely knit coalitions of small, autonomous cliques. [Italics added.]

The Crips seem like Al Qaida precursors, with an emphasis on autonomy and independent action. The Crips, Bloods, and other gangs are opportunists, whose members have sought out communities (markets, if you will) where they can startup or dominate the drug trade.

That the Crips and gang culture enticed three Duncan juveniles and inspired them to commit a random act of murder is notable only because of the place and the victim. For Duncan citizens, Chris Lane's murder was novel and shocking. In inner-cities -- hoods -- across the land, senseless gang murders and mayhem are sorry ways of life.