A week late but I just showered and shaved (so hot here if you want to cool the water down you have to turn it over to “hot” b/c the water coming out of the pipes heated by the sun is so hot) and am ready to tackle this. I printed out 130 pages, depleting my ink cartridge (usually I cut and paste to save paper but with this conglomeration of posts and notes to myself, that would have been a real time-waster). I scanned them, pulling out those that seemed to reflect the essence of the issues and then perused those.
Why all this work? First was your desire, James, to understand the world views of others. Then I heard former Gov. Beasley of South Carolina speaking about bringing people together: “I realized then that we’ll resolve the flag issue not by bitterness and hatred and division but by love and mercy and compassion.”
My dilemma is: how much of the gulf that separates me from you, Jim, is a matter of perspective and how much of it is a matter of fact? So what to do? My background, to some extent, is profiled, interestingly enough, in a new book, Our Kids, by Robert Putnam. He went back to his small Ohio town, Port Clinton, and wrote about it. I remember him from school where we were in the same grade (class of â€˜59). He describes the town in the 1950s in his first chapter. So you don’t have to take my word about the small town I was raised in. A Harvard professor has described it; what more could you want? Oh, that’s right Bill Buckley said he’d rather be governed by the first 100 names in the phone book than by the Harvard faculty. What do we do with that? What institution meets the needs of conservatives?
For instance, Jim, you describe the mass incarceration of Blacks in the U.S. as not necessarily a result of unequal application of the laws. Just Saturday, Melissa Harris-Perry had on a woman who has studied the criminalizing of young (13-18) women. White ones get put into counseling programs b/c they are seen as victims but the Black ones are seen as wanton and deserving of the criminal label. Does that really happen or is the researcher a “race hustler” just looking for grant money to investigate a problem that doesn’t exist?
OK now what do we do with all this?
You find it antagonizing when those on the Left declare “Black Lives Matter”, citing All Lives Matter as better, even though it is not disproportionate numbers of Whites or Asians that the police are shooting to death even when they are unarmed. It’s hard to know how you balance these things out other than outright denial of facts. And believe me, I don’t want to get into fact-citing, but I’m citing these as examples of how unbridgeable the gap is, despite Governor Beasley’s optimism. It is not just which news and commentary outlets we watch, it’s what books we read, what universities we attend, and, most of all, the way we were raised. Over and over you cite some sort of determination or true grit or proper values, entirely likely to have flourished in a boy raised in Iowa in a nice religious family. Most of us are dealing with people/students who have had any sense of that kicked out of them. Your emphasis on the goodness of America, which is surely there, disallows the really bad things that have been done to people who then turn around and do bad things to each other and themselves. When we point out these things in order to eradicate them, you take it as denigrating America the way Fox News relentlessly denies the imbalances in justice, education, medicine, etc. because to show what happens would make their viewers uncomfortable. So it becomes impossible to bridge the gap b/c when those of us who see disparities and injustices point them out, we are labeled Hate America Firsters; when Al Sharpton pushes for justice through peaceful protest, he’s labeled a race hustler by people who never raised a finger when my wife was denied employment opportunities and who would assure their viewers that the lady in Bed Bath & Beyond who recently snatched a return item from my wife’s hands and said, “You can’t take that in there” only to turn to another, non-Black, lady and nicely ask her if she could take her return and hold it for her……….was surely an outlier or even that my wife misinterpreted her actions or even that my wife was making it up. This is why we can’t bridge the gap.
And your wife’s students? They saw no problems they wanted to tell the nice White lady? I have no idea whether they were trouble-free Blacks living in paradise or were just oblivious or just leery about offending the White lady your wife wouldn’t be the first White person to find himself in that position. But I will offer one anecdote to show how complex issues of discrimination are and then we can close this with the hope we maintain good will and good effort to bring about a just and prosperous society filled with people who find a transcendent purpose in life. This started out as a discussion of poverty and education but even Bill O’Reilly admits racial gaps occur, for whatever reason. So we wound up with race as an essential issue we disagree heavily on. What I meant earlier about finding out how large numbers of Americans will function in poverty is the hollowing out of the middle class, another phantom of the Left, I suppose, and that will be race neutral.
My wife’s friend, another Black lady, had been the only Black teacher working in a school for 30 years. She felt alienated but couldn’t figure out why; all her colleagues treated her with respect and racial incidents occurred only with the odd parent here and there. So my wife asked her to do 2 things: stop eating her lunch in her room and drop into the teachers’ lounge and see if she got invited to lunch AND get to a faculty meeting early for once and sit down where the chairs around her were empty. She did both. She sat in the lounge as teacher after teacher was invited by her colleagues to go to lunch and she sat alone in the faculty meeting until the only seat left was the one next to her. She was crestfallen but grateful to have a concrete reason for her malaise no one wanted her. Many Blacks feel that but can’t put their finger on it; but people like me or my wife who suggest something to put their finger on racism are accused of being negative, blaming Whites, hating America, and so on. How you might interpret that, I don’t know and it’s just an anecdote but sometimes they are more powerful than studies and statistics that are ignored or discounted.
Pat Barrett and I was offensive even though I tried not to be b/c I am very bitter about what is happening, though hopeful, too, and appreciative of your desire to understand and of the participation of Dave, Dick, and Brian.