Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Did Megatron Wash Her Hands?

The more cynical among us might think it was another excuse for racial abuse from the commentariat, enabled by Ms. McA. Check the comments for the usual "It's un-PC but.."

On the other hand, "culture matters" doesn't get you very far as a poverty eradication program[.]
Well, culture may matter, as far as the original question, "Why so much crime?" But not just the sub-culture in (unspoken) question, it's all of American culture. Megan, being solutions-oriented, pretty much ignores any causes & goes right to how to fix it, not that she has any actual idea. ("I'm not sure what I mumbled, but I changed the topic pretty quickly.") I think culture does matter. American society is quite violent, especially when compared to other, equally prosperous societies. Some of the commenters believe this is because we aren't a racially/ethnically homogeneous nation. I'd have to say it's not a question of different groups, but how those groups are treated by the majority group. (Or by the group in power: Apartheid South Africa & Sunni-dominated pre-invasion/occupation Iraq come to mind.)

But the frontier/manifest destiny mentality that is our birthright leads to crime. A nation that took an entire continent from its original inhabitants by violence (& the unfortunate susceptibility of those inhabitants to imported disease) really shouldn't complain about people taking what they want by force. Especially when that same nation indulged itself in kidnapping & chattel slavery against several million more people on the basis of their skin tone. (We should note here that by "crime" McArdle & most of her commentariat mean, essentially, armed robbery, burglary, domestic violence & murder, gang activity & the like. Especially crime committed by, you know, black people. Good thing Megan's questioner asked specifically about Washington. That way plenty of shots can be taken at black people. Crazed white serial killers, cannibals, etc., not so much. And the non-violent crimes committed by white collar types against investors & so forth are apparently viewed as a not illogical extension of the free market, caveat emptor, ha ha ha, sucker.) African-American culture having Southern American roots, we might look at this condemnation of crackers by the estimable HTML Mencken.

He refers to the exaggerated sense of honor of the Southerner. Substitute the desire for "respect" seen in some parts of African-American culture. Pretty much the same thing.

Of course the Vietnamese woman who asked Megan in the first place may have meant, "Why are there so many war criminals in D. C.?" A good question as well, & applicable to the discussion. Note this from the above referenced HTML Mencken:
Punching someone instead of arguing with them — the instinct to use violence as the first, best answer to a threat not just against one’s person, but against one’s position or “honor”, is something very old, enduring, and ingrained in Southern culture.
It's hardly limited to Southern culture, & w/ the so-called "rise of the South" (There's an entire book about it, possibly titled The South Rises Again. You could look it up.) the attitude (note current adventure in Iraq) is really nation-wide. Throw in the belief (not irrational) that criminal activity is the best, if not only, way out of poverty or wage-slavery, & we may have an answer or two.

Here ends my anti-American, blame-the-victim, reverse-racist screed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some of the commenters believe this is because we aren't a racially/ethnically homogeneous nation.

When people talk about the 'ethnic homogeneity' of a nation, this seems to be code for 'skin colour homogeneity'.

A couple of decades ago, I remember Cavalli-Sforza showing that most human genetic diversity is within sub-Saharan Africa. If someone feels obliged to parcel up that diversity into races or ethnicities, then basically there is one race spread out across the other continents, plus 3 or 4 or 5 races within Africa (depending on your clustering algorithm). DrDick has been saying the same thing on a LGM thread (using more recent citations, I hope).

So there are any number of African countries -- including happy peaceful low-violence ones -- with less ethnic homogeneity than the USA. But if that heterogeneity does not show up in skin colour, it doesn't seem to count.