Untimely Observations

Putting Whitey in His Place


Just as I was forgetting how much I loathe the GOP, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell brought me back to my senses. Although McDonnell had previously declared April to be "Confederate History Month," he apologized in a revised proclamation for having failed to mention the enormous evil of slavery. His mea culpa contains this characteristic PC statement:

Whereas it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhuman practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history.

McDonnell seems to have been driven to public contrition after the NAACP and former Democratic governor Tim Kaine complained that he had slighted Democratic voters -- also known as American blacks. Apparently Southern whites, whose ancestors fought and bled in the Civil War, should not be allowed to commemorate their ancestral event without having to apologize to black civil rights leaders, for not being obsessive enough about atoning for white racism. But aren't there already occasions for exhibition of white guilt? Doesn't black history month serve this purpose? Then whites are encouraged to abase themselves for their sins and for those of their ancestors against non-whites. This updated form of Lent comes in the wake of the celebration of the epiphany of MLK, which also encourages the outpouring of white guilt. Why then are McDonnell's voters not permitted a single month in which to celebrate their ancestral experiences?

It's not even the case that McDonnell was giving us good history, as Pat Buchanan explained in a syndicated column. Although slavery contributed to the War Between the States, it was not the only cause, as the revised proclamation strongly suggests. There were regional and tariff differences that led to the struggle. But clearly McDonnell was not offering self-evident historical facts but some NAACP concoction intended to make Southerners feel even guilty about their onetime institution of slavery.

McDonnell could have provided Kaine with a dignified, manly response (and then challenged him to properly organized duel!) He should have explained that the two of them had radically different constituencies. Unlike Caine's followers, his constituents were delighted to have a Confederate History Month. McDonnell had the same right to tend to his people that Kaine had to please his.

Moreover, Southern whites do not gain the respect of white liberals and neocons by doing the PC cringe. I was strongly reminded of this while reading David Brooks's harangue against the Pellagra Belt in his recent New York Times column "The Limits of Policy." There Brooks belabors us with these undocumented assertions:

The region you live in also makes a gigantic difference in how you will live. There are certain high-trust regions where highly educated people congregate, producing positive federal loops of good culture and good human capital programs. This mostly happens in northeastern states like New Jersey and Connecticut. There are other regions with low social trust, low education levels, and negative feedback loops. This mostly happens in southern states like Arkansas and West Virginia.

Although McDonnell's southern state is left unmentioned, like Arkansas, West Virginia and other regions located south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it is presumably a place for Untermenschen. Southern states in general are not the places in which Jewish Yuppies like Brooks and his likeminded or ethnically related buds would want to spend time. And presumably the Confederate Museum in Richmond is not the kind of spot that radiates "good culture" and "human capital programs." Such a site would not have the morally redemptive value of, say, a brand new conservative synagogue in West Hartford equipped with photos of Joe Lieberman or a Starbucks' in West Orange, New Jersey. Although I've spent summer vacations in the mountains of West Virginia and met scads of Washingtonians in nearby Canaan Valley, it seems that we were sojourning among "untrustworthy" people. I'm happy that Brooks has set us straight on this. From now on I'll spend my summers walking the streets of Newark, Camden, and Waterbury, CT among "good human capital."

Besides reflecting his Jewish liberal parochialism, Brooks's comments skirt some very important issues in the matter of "regional differences." The critical factor for understanding violence in particular parts of the country, as Steve Sailer and others have explained until the cows come home, is the level of concentration of minority and particularly black populations. Noting this reality is not to be unfairly judgmental. It merely points out what creates an environment of distrust.

The crime rate in West Virginia is on par with that of Connecticut. In fact the violent crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants in West Virginia is slightly lower than that of my native state (279.7 as against 280.8), but then so are the proportions of blacks and Hispanics relative to whites in the two states. Further: New Jersey's crime rate (351.6) is higher than that of Connecticut or West Virginia but considerably lower than that of Arkansas (551.6), one of our poorest states and also one that contains a very large black population. Brooks and his fellow-geeks seem to hang out in the northwestern section of the District. They might however know that the rate of violent crime of all sorts in DC (1,508 per 100,000) is considerably higher than that of any state. States with particularly high rates of violent crime, such as Maryland, Tennessee and South Carolina, also have high percentages of blacks in both rural and urban areas. The border state in which Brooks's home is found is one of our leaders in murders, rapes, and armed robberies. Needless to say, Maryland's black population is considerably higher than that of West Virginia or Connecticut. And gun control in Maryland and the District is far more intrusive than in the very low-crime state of West Virginia, where having access to weapons may be creating safety, if not Brooksian "trustworthiness."

There is nothing original about these findings and presumably Brooks and even McDonnell know the data as well as I do. In his monograph Why Race Matters (1997) and in an essay "Recent Fallacies in Discussions of Race" published in The Real American Dilemma (1998), Michael Levin provides an illuminating, mathematically documented case for how black crime has spiraled in a changed cultural political environment. Since the 1960s, black crimes has become a national problem, in proportion to the emergence and establishment of lenient attitudes toward criminals and particularly toward black criminals as "victims of racism."

Levin does not argue that black malefactors in the American South in the 1920s were treated kindly. They most certainly were not. But the knowledge that blacks who stepped out of line would be punished anywhere in the U.S. (and not only in the Deep South) until the 1960s had an impact on lessening black crime. It is not changed genetic differences but environmental variables that account for changed rates of black crime, and among these factors Levin stresses the changed attitude toward blacks, who were once viewed as an unruly minority and now as WASP victims, in causing black crime to soar in the 1960s and 1970s.   

If changed white attitudes -- that is the rise of PC -- has a positive relation to black crime, then perhaps McDonnell should reconsider his reaching out to the NAACP. He should explain to its bigwigs that they didn't vote for him and that he owes nothing to them as preferred constituents. Moreover, beating his breast over slavery and spitting in the faces of the proud descendants of Confederate veterans will do nothing to make the Old Dominion State more tranquil or more prosperous. It will simply reinforce the unproductive impression that whitey is back on his knees again kowtowing to the NAACP, a group that has done nothing to contribute to racial harmony or low crime rates.