Friday, February 16, 2007

Essay 1711

From The New York Daily News…


Poverty is a poor excuse for violence

By Stanley Crouch

Before the victories of the civil rights movement, the murders of black people during the most intense redneck reigns throughout the South were committed by those once called “poor white trash.” These were the people who became homicidally enraged at the idea of a black man acting as if he was a free person.

What is now so appalling is that while the street gangs that presently terrorize black communities across the nation do so with astonishing levels of murder and mayhem, they are so often defined by supposedly empathetic liberals as victims of race and class.

No such glib hogwash was spewed when the murderers were white and the resultant corpses were black. No one ever explained that the lower-class rednecks who were presenting themselves under peaked sheets while burning crosses, setting homes afire, bombing homes, offices and churches or murdering and mutilating their black victims, did so because they were feeling inferior to the white upper class of the South.

When the killers were white, the issues were justice and injustice, not social status or income. If there were actual justice, as we often heard during those violent Southern years of the civil rights movement, the killers would be punished for their crimes and black people would be able to walk the streets with the safety that should be the right of every citizen of this country.

But when the street gangs emerged with unprecedented fury 30 years ago in Los Angeles, we began to see something quite unusual. The opinions of those who had been so ice cold when it came to Southern racists either became quiet or looked for ways of explaining away the corpse after corpse after corpse left perforated by shotgun blasts and automatic weapons. Some were gang bangers, some were innocent bystanders, some were children caught in the crossfire.

In my travels to many cities during the past 30 years, I have noticed a distinct difference between the perception of these knuckleheads by those within striking distance of their anarchist wrath and those who live far from the mean streets on which so much violence takes place. Those oppressed by crime do not have the kind of inordinate sympathy for these killers that the bleeding hearts do. They want them controlled, incarcerated or removed from the world.

Is that because lower-class black people do not understand the nuances of racism and cannot comprehend the overwhelming power of the self-hatred that drives these young men who only want comradeship and the feeling of importance? Even if they must get that feeling of importance by terrorizing their communities?

But that is not the problem. Lower-class black people may not know statistics, but they do know that the overwhelming majority of black people who are not economically fortunate do not murder, rape and brutalize other people.

The monsters among us are always a decided minority, even within a minority, somewhere just above 1%. That is the hardest and most enduring fact, but the one that those who put all blame at the feet of “the system” never want to hear. They prefer to think of black people and Hispanics as wind-up toys who can make no decisions of their own.

That is part of the burden and the tragedy of our time.

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