Even Heather Mac Donald Is Right Twice a Year

| Tue Jan. 6, 2009 3:38 PM EST

I have to give this one to my girl Heather Mac Donald over at City Journal. Well, partly give it to her. She's right on the problem, but wrong-ish on the solution.

There's been lots of talk lately, however muted since black dysfunction is the issue, of rising intrablack homicide and violence rates. Overall, crime is down, except for blacks. What gives?

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She's got her beady and all too analytic eye on this NYT editorial explaining exactly what she, mostly persuasively, thinks gives.

A new study of homicide among young black males prompted this latest [NYT] editorial. James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt of Northeastern University found that the number of homicides committed by black males under the age of 18 rose 43 percent between 2002 and 2007, while the number of gun homicides by this same group rose 47 percent. Homicides by white youth during that period decreased slightly. But more significant were the different homicide rates that the report calculated, which no news story dared to divulge. Whereas the report's graph for white homicides over the last 30 years plots the rate in increments of 10, the black rate is demarcated at intervals of 100. The highest homicide rate for whites over the last three decades was 32 homicides committed per 100,000 males between the ages of 18 and 24 (reached in 1991), whereas the highest homicide rate for blacks was approximately 320 homicides per 100,000 males between the ages of 18 and 24 (reached in 1993).

Even this apparent ten-to-one disparity between black and white homicide rates doesn't tell the full story. Fox and Swatt include Hispanic homicides in the white rate, though they do not disclose that they are doing so (both the inclusion and the silence about it follow FBI practice). Hispanic crime rates are between three and four times that of whites—meaning that if one excluded the Hispanic homicides from the white rate, the black-white differential would be even larger than ten to one.

I have to agree with her that numbers should not be sugar coated when they make minorities look bad; facts are facts and you're gonna run out of gas if your fuel gauge has been tinkered with to give you a false sense of (oh so brief) security). Funny, isn't it though, that when minorities want a count that proves our under-representation in the good stuff (see: the census, police stop-and-frisk numbers, employment rates) conservatives cry foul. When a count proves the opposite...... But I digress.

What's got her most incensed though is, having fudged incriminating numbers, 'liberals' go on to demand more investment in social programs, programs she deems utter failures. I'm not sure she's wrong, except in the locus in which she situates her solution: marriage.

Liberal policymakers and pundits have spilled buckets of ink over the years promoting social-service programs as the solution to crime, yet—like the Times's recent editorial—those opinion-setters cannot squeeze out one word about the most effective anticrime (and antipoverty) strategy: marriage. The marriage imperative civilizes boys. By contrast, in a world where it is unusual for a man to marry the mother of his children, boys fail to learn the most basic lesson of personal responsibility: you are responsible for your children. Freed of the social expectation that they will have to provide a stable home for their offspring, boys have little incentive to restrain their impulses and develop bourgeois habits. In 2005, the national black illegitimacy rate was 70 percent, and it approached 90 percent in many inner cities (compared with a white illegitimacy rate of 25 percent, and as low as 6 percent in some urban areas, like the District of Columbia). The disappearance of marriage from the black community is a social cataclysm.

Some highly structured, values-based youth programs, like the Boy Scouts, can provide boys a surrogate for the paternal authority that they lack at home; society is right to support these lifelines. But they cannot possibly bring crime down significantly among blacks in the absence of a cultural shift toward marriage. True, no one knows yet how to revive marriage in the black community. But given the imperative of doing so, you would think that somewhere in the flood of recommendations for more useless government social programs, a little space could be reserved for promoting the idea of a marriage movement.

Mac Donald's underlying assumption is that marriage makes men out of boys and that there's some way to entice sperm-donors to become husbands and fathers. But I beg to differ. You can't be a husband and father until you first become a man. The problem isn't the lack of marriage. Few of the kind of marriages we're talking about last, or are functional during their duration. From personal experience as a ghetto-escapee, I can't tell you the number of women I know who are 'married' to some fellow 'hood rat they've barely seen in the last decade. Top of my head, I can think of a close relative whose husband left her in 1984; they're still not divorced. He doesn't pay his taxes and her refund is garnished every year. While they were married, she behaved like a 'wife' but he behaved like a frat boy. Why? Because the black community tolerates intolerable black male behavior. She went on, five years later, to raise her common law husband's infant, conceived during the first six months of their courtship and raised by her alone after she finally had enough of the CLH's...inadequacies as a 'husband' and father. She never had any legal rights to the child. But the educational and social services community of our inner city knew exactly what time it was. Need I point out that that 'community' is largely female?

The problem is two-fold: a lack of manhood, mostly due to absent fathers in the previous generation, and a profound lack of self-esteem or hope for the future among black women. Maybe it's a chick-or-egg problem, but here we still are.

Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud: There's a war between black men and black women. Why? Who can say, except that black women are, culturally and globally, the lowest of the low: the only group black men can look down on. So they do, and black women, the mules of the world, take it.

You can't get to marriage without first looking at courtship and gendered-courtship behaviors. What do I think? I firmly believe that black women fervently want black men and have accordingly lowered their standards to a humiliating, self-abnegating level. Black men, quite predictably, take advantage of that fact.

Marriage will bloom in black America again, or illegitimacy will wane, when black women get the self-esteem to go Lysistrata on black men's asses. Black men won't love and respect black women until black women love and respect themselves. See why we're the mules of the world?

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