A National Conversation about the American Ghetto
The Left has long argued ad populum that disproportionately white police forces and disproportionately black prison populations prove American law enforcement institutionally racist.
That's essentially the perception behind, for example, the Left's long campaign against racial profiling as a police engagement technique.
Media sensationalism this year about two black deaths at the hands of white policemen inflamed the argument, while the president of the United States, the attorney general of the United States, the mayor of New York, and race-hustling entrepreneurs from Al Sharpton on down to any brother in the street with a bullhorn jumped on the black-while-walking bandwagon.
Here, however, is one standup law-enforcement professional, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., who begs to disagree.
Sheriff Clarke publicly condemns anti-police populism as the Left's deflection of an urban reality with which he's professionally all too familiar and for which the Left's all too politically responsible. "This deflects," says Sheriff Clarke:
against the real thing that we need to have a conversation about in this country and it's the American ghetto. And that's where most of the policing unfortunately has to be applied. The American ghetto has chronic poverty, high unemployment where people can't find meaningful work, and kids shackled to failing public schools ensuring that they won't reach their God-given potential. This creates a permanent underclass in this country and ensures that this group of people will continue to live life at the bottom. That's the kind of conversation that we need to have, as to how these failed liberal government policies have led to the creation and emergence of the welfare state. And that characterizes the American ghetto. Let's have that conversation and get off this nonsense that it's the policing profession that needs to be transformed. There's nothing wrong with the policing of, or institution of, policing in America.
The very civil rights movement with its war on poverty which was to have rectified American racism has, instead, perversely perpetuated it in the creation of a permanent underclass living life at the bottom of an urban ignorance, criminality, and violence which most requires the very policing against which its political beneficiaries now rail. That's a pretty "fundamental transformation" of at least one aspect of America. And it's a transformation of which no American should ever be anything but ashamed.
One can only admire this man's fortitude. It can't be easy for a law enforcement professional of Sheriff Clarke's stature to say what he so forthrightly says on Fox News about the real root cause of crime and violence in America's 21st-century ghettos -- and, thus, about the very real perceptions most responsible for perpetuating whatever racism continues to bedevil America.
Unfortunately, the conversation Sheriff Clarke says we need to have is one we won't be having much before something approaching civil apocalypse occurs. The only reason Sheriff Clarke can himself survive publicly suggesting what, in the mouth of a white police professional of comparable caliber, would be tantamount to racist political heresy is because Sheriff Clarke is himself black.
We don't find ourselves in this welfare-state bind because our leaders (and I use the word lightly) are blind. Instead, it's because they're invested in a false social narrative whose governing dogma precludes any corrective discourse. That's the whole purpose of political correctness: shutting down corrective discourse about false social narratives. And the more tenuous the narrative, the more ferocious the political correctness.
Virtually all of society's present power centers are existentially invested in a civil-rights myth that Sheriff Clarke's black ghetto is the direct consequence of an unmerited white privilege which only massive government coercion and redistribution can remedy.
This perverse myth germinated in academia, but has since become rooted in politics. Because all politics are cultural and academia is the laboratory of culture, the feedback loop is now virtually unassailable.
At any rate, this paradigm has become the fulcrum of national political prestige and power as well as the lifeblood of national governance. It's at least a trillion-dollar-a-year industry. It buys votes. It keeps bureaucracies busy. It tenures humanities professors. It employs liberal commentators. It keeps the teachers unions agitating and community organizers organizing. The invested forces arrayed against the conversation which Sheriff Clark wants us to have are politically impregnable and implacably willing to extirpate any discourse which threatens their prerogatives.
That the ghetto is itself this paradigm's primary victim is irrelevant. Everyone (except possibly the black underclass itself) already understands who the real victim is, but no meaningful discourse about it can be permitted apart from the voices of a few courageous black leaders in the wilderness. No established power structure in history has ever voluntarily relinquished its power, and the perverse welfare-state system which Johnsonian governance began relentlessly erecting in America midway through the 20th century is no exception.
The dirty little secret is that, if the black underclass hadn't existed, anything like the present national power centers would have had to invent it. And the unflinching political resolve to amnesty, by any means necessary, tens of millions of illegal Latin American peons is nothing more than the means of reinforcing, consolidating, and perpetuating the prerogatives of those same power centers. After all, the best way of maintaining black ghettos is depressing black wages below welfare's unearned purchasing power. And adding millions of Hispanics themselves to the ghetto stew can only pump up the welfare state even more.
Sheriff Clark is reportedly considering running for the Milwaukee mayoralty. Good luck with that, Sheriff; if there's to be any meaningful discourse at all about the real genesis of urban crime and violence, it's going to have to come from the few black leaders like yourself willing to buck the politically-correct tide because coming from anyone else of any public significance practically invites a political bullet in the brain.
With all due respect to Sheriff Clarke, however, perhaps the wider issue about which we most need to have a national conversation is whether we can continue giving the few hundred careerist politicians who comprise our duopolistic national ruling class carte blanch to expropriate $4 trillion from our economy every year and do with it whatever under the corrupted constitutional sun best maintains their own power and prestige.
But that's a conversation we won't be having anytime soon either.