Black Lives and the Death of a Culture

From Alvin Ailey's ballet Revelations

From Alvin Ailey's ballet Revelations

“Black lives matter!” say the angry T-shirts and the sloppy signs.

My first reaction to that statement is, “Okay. Sure.” And then they start chanting about killing cops and my brow furrows. What?!  And then comes the “hundreds of blacks are killed by cops every year!” and I wonder who’s feeding these angry folks this kind of nonsense. But I’ve been putting some things together lately and I’m finding a glimmer of understanding.

This isn’t about cops. It isn’t even just about race – though our administration would like it to be. The media would like that too, as would the leftist college professors. They would like for it to be all about the nastiness of white America, conservative America. But it’s not about that. It’s about policy that has decimated an entire culture, made it rot from the inside out. It is about policy that was birthed in the Democrat party, in the hearts of those who value power above all else. It is no wonder that these young people are angry.

I remember a time when I saw our black population as a strong, long-suffering, admirable people who seemed able to carry both their towering dignity and their poverty with the same graceful walk. They wove African rhythms in and out of the Psalms, they turned those same rhythms into jazz, and the blues, and rock and roll. They infused our sports arenas with a skill and strength previously unimagined. Their pastors gave rousing, encouraging, commiserating sermons while those indomitable black women murmured “Amen, brother,” and flipped their paper fans in the air. Those same women often kept house and cooked for white women and then for their own families as well. They peopled our literature –Calpurnia and Tom Robinson, Alibeline, and Virgil Tibbs, and Jim on that raft on the Mississippi. They danced – Lester Horton and Alvin Ailey – two of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century gave us movement of unbelievable beauty and power. Black American culture had been forged in terrible suffering and had become something to be proud of, to be in awe of.  

Where is that culture today? Jazz has sunk into the angry, obscenities of hiphop. Those indomitable women, overwhelmed now by the humiliation of official, bureaucratic poverty, are now often junkies. Too many of the pastors scream anti-American, Marxist blather instead of teaching the encouragement of the Word. Black inner city fathers barely exist – just males who serve as studs for their stable of baby mammas. Black babies are aborted more often than any other group (blacks are 12% of the population, but 78% of aborted babies are black)– is black life in 21st century America that hopeless? It must be. Let’s look at what has happened in the last 50 years:

On the plus side – the Civil Rights Movement jerked parts of the south up into the 20th century and put a stop to a lot of the Democrat-led segregation and discrimination. But that’s where it ends.

Forced bussing, which was to equalize education, had little effect on the quality of schooling offered to black children. It mostly disrupted communities, put those black children at risk, and watered down everyone’s schooling – schools became hubs of social experimentation and ceased their role as centers of learning. This left our inner-city kids – mostly black and Hispanic – without a solid rung up. Education is the only door out of the ghettos and anti-charter school, anti-school voucher groups, and teachers’ unions have locked those doors tight. Now California is going to “solve” the problem by just giving failed kids their diplomas, never mind the fact that they can’t pass the 8thgrade level exit exams.

Johnson’s War on Poverty, which sounded like a noble thing to wage war on, became a war on impoverished families, on the basic building blocks of inner city civilization. It offered aide primarily to mothers with dependent children. If a father was in the home, no benefits were provided. This policy made it profitable for the father not to be part of the home. So black mothers were left to raise their children alone – without even a decent school to send them to.

So here are black mothers being paid to bear more illegitimate children, unable to get of the dole once the babies arrived, unable to control their male children, who could see no place for themselves in their communities. These young men have no education, no skills, no vision for what they might become, so they sell dope, join gangs to fill the fatherless hole in their souls, and treat their women with the same disdain they feel for their own feckless selves. Even if they could function in a good job, there aren’t any in their neighborhoods. Union corruption and liberal policies have destroyed the cities where their ancestors once made good money. Inner city unemployment numbers for young black men hover around 50%. They have nothing to do but hang around on street corners and pretend to be manly. They arm themselves with nine-millimeter pistols and have no idea how to deal with the male authority the police officers represent.

Add to that the legalization and government support of abortion. Planned Parenthood, under the guise of helping poor black women get control over the number of children they brought into their poverty, worked against the only means these women had of earning a living – bearing children. It targeted black women as part of the eugenics goal of ridding the world of people of color, and it appears to be working; more blacks abort their babies than any other ethnic group – over 60% of black pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. We’re looking at self-inflicted genocide, at a culture that is self-destructing.

Do black lives matter? You wouldn’t know it by looking at the governmental policies that have been in place since the Civil Rights Movement. No policy since then has done anything but make black lives worse. Affirmative Action, Aid to Dependent Children, food stamps, welfare. OK. These programs have allowed for the accumulation of TV’s and cars and microwaves and AC. But those things don’t give a person purpose or a sense of self-worth, a hope for the future.

Are these young people angry because white cops are mowing them down willy-nilly? No – because that isn’t happening. Are they starving? No – EBT cards allow them the same diet the rest of have and they don’t even have to work.

But there’s the rub. Work provides much more than a living – at least it used to. Work can provide a goal, a hope, a possibility. You can feed a body with food, but a soul requires a more esoteric diet. It requires actual achievement, actual struggle to arrive at that success. It requires self-understanding and respect. It requires reason – things have to make sense. And it requires truth.

These angry young people have had none of that. The only thing they’ve learned in their schools is what sad, unfortunate, mistreated people they are. No one expects anything from them, which sends the message that they are incapable of anything, and, on top of that, they know little about how to cope with a teacher’s authority.  How can they possibly find their future? They don’t have one.

These kids are out of line, burning their own neighborhoods, killing each other and the police who try to protect them, but their behavior is almost inevitable – not forgivable, just inevitable. Liberal policy has backed them into a corner where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Yes, they are thugs. Yes, they are venial enough to take George Soros’ money to torch their own neighborhoods. Yes, they are angry with the cops for all the wrong reasons.

But. Black lives do matter -- and it not only matters that they stay alive, but that they be able to reach the potential God gave them.  These stifled, wasted black lives are proof that what we’ve been doing has ruined their chance for fulfillment. Liberal policy has left them so profoundly angry, so emotionally, morally, and mentally damaged that their rage may destroy what little social order still exists.

If we just recoil in anger and fail to face what we – all of us, blacks included – have done, this will never get better.



Reality for Dummies

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Much in this world is a mystery – the evidence abounds. We know about gravity, for instance, but we have no real idea what it is – we all have moments of clumsiness that leave us cursing that force that yanks us to the ground, but we haven’t a clue how it works. No one has an inkling what goes on inside a chrysalis. We don’t know how the fly that was just annoying us is different from the fly lying dead at our feet; it still appears to be 100% fly.

But some things we do know and we need to stop pretending that we don’t.

Most importantly we need to acknowledge that God and the laws He created control almost every facet of existence, yet still allow for man to enjoy free will. The breathtakingly elegance of this universe, rich with mind-boggling, intricate detail underscores that fact. Everything operates on a pattern, a pretty tight pattern. If something gets even a little out of whack all hell breaks loose.

We all recognize natural law (with the possible exception of the Darwin Award winners). We know better than to jump off a cliff sans parachute, we know that when we pull a trigger that there will be a speeding bullet and an “equal and opposite reaction.” It even registers with some of us that the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies quite neatly to human organizations as well as to heavenly bodies – what begins as organized and energetic eventually runs down. We can count on entropy.

But other areas of life on this planet are also subject to laws that appear to be just as dependable as the laws of physics. Economic law is one such area. In reality there aren’t differing theories about economic activity; there is law and if we play against that law, we’ll get hurt – evidently a tough concept to grasp.

For instance, the minimum wage flap – most people have at least heard of the law of supply and demand: whatever is both rare and desired will bring a higher price. Those who boast the talent, education, temperament, and experience to run a giant enterprise are rare; those whose sole talent and training is in flipping hamburgers are not rare, are, in fact, a dime a dozen. Therefore, the CEO (whose talents are necessary in order for there to be burgers to flip) is going to be able to demand a huge compensation. He’s in demand and rare, hence a multi-million dollar contract. This is one of those indelible laws; no legislation forcing a price/wage/worth higher or lower than the actual value will fail, has always failed. No tightly controlled economy has ever been prosperous. That’s as sure as the fact that no building has ever floated away. Natural law.

This is not to say that human beings don’t have an intrinsic value; they do. But what each person can bring to the market varies. We can pass all the laws in the world raising the minimum wage, but one of two things will happen, must happen, has always happened: 1. Prices for everything produced using minimum wage workers will go up and fewer people will buy the product, so fewer people will have jobs frying those burgers. 2. Companies will automate; if your skills are so limited that a machine can manage them, the machines will be in demand, but you won’t.

Nor is this about fairness and equality; it’s about an absolute rule. Gold is expensive and valuable because it is beautiful, useful and rare. I’ve always wondered how a medieval philosopher thought he was going to get rich turning lead into gold – once that had been accomplished, then gold would lose its value and no one will care about it.

Another natural law, even more demonstrable than supply and demand, is the law of family. No society on earth exists without family structure.

Look at what has happened to our black urban communities since the father was made irrelevant by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society policies. Here we are now, nearly a half century later and the ghettos are worse than ever, over 70% of black mothers are single moms, in New York City 69% of black pregnancies end in abortion. High school graduation for blacks is only 69%. Unemployment especially amongst young black males peaked in 2009 at 49%, drug use and incarceration rates are off the charts. Obviously, a society cannot function without strong families headed by strong fathers; it takes no leap of faith to reach that conclusion.

Yet people still contend that family is merely a human construct and can be redefined willy-nilly. I often hear the mantra that “anyone you love is family.” No. I have friends who feel like family, but they aren’t. We graft on new stock when we marry, and new children with slightly different DNA arrive and shake things up, but the continuity, the responsibility, the basic governance of society happens at that molecular level – not in some government office or court room. If human behavior is not kept under control at the personal, familial level, it cannot be controlled, no matter what the laws.

Which brings me to the final law I want to discuss: the law of freedom. Freedom is no more a human construct than family is. Freedom to “become what [we] can become” – to quote Vonnegut’s famous line – is the essential point of our existence. The free will to choose to love God (or not) is our greatest privilege, our most long-lasting decision and we must be free for it to function. It is our piece of the sovereignty of God.

We are here for a purpose; we come to this world equipped to contribute, to earn a living, to think and learn and choose. Anyone who gets in the way of our doing so, especially anyone in government, is standing in the way of the will of God. If political correctness stands in the way of children getting to at least hear God mentioned from time to time, then those children are being robbed of a chance to include Him in their thinking. If we do not allow mental health treatments for homosexuals, we leave them no choice but to remain in a dangerous, unhealthy lifestyle. If we are more concerned about the prosperity of a small fish than we are of the freedom of families to maintain the family farms, we are taking from them the freedom to choose to honor the work of their ancestors and robbing them of the option of earning a living in an honest and productive way.

Freedom is not a commodity that can be bartered for a mess of pottage. It is not a figment of man’s imagination; it is real and it is as necessary as air. The less free a people, the less prosperous are those people, and the more misery they must endure. People cannot live well outside of the divine mandate for freedom.

And it will out, even though it is most unpopular in far away, cosmic circles – unpopular because God designed and instituted it. And it is unpopular with those who want more than their share of the power; if I have the power of my own freedom then that’s power the tyrant doesn’t have – intolerable for him. So we’ll fight on because the need for liberty is paramount, the family is indispensable, and the economy is autonomous and will function according to its laws. These things we can count on, despite the clouded mysteries that murk up the rest of our existence.



Back to School -- Must We?


It’s that time again -- back-to-school ads fill the TV screen. Football teams sweat through summer practice. Teachers return to their classrooms, hoping against hope to get totally prepared for the year to come. And yet we all know that something is rotten in America’s schools.

America was once a well-educated country – de Tocqueville mentioned that on his tour of the fledgling nation in the early 19th century. He was astounded at how well informed the average man-on-the-street was. He would be horrified today.

The man-on-the-street videos are not only embarrassing and scary, but test scores and graduation rates back up the videos with dismal scores, and many of those who do graduate can’t read or write, can’t compute, can’t speak without using the F-word. Competent, inspiring teachers are vacating the profession at an alarming rate – one can only take the frustration and disrespect for so long.

And it’s not going to get any better if we keep doing what we’ve been doing: dusting off the same old band-aide programs, dressing them up with new names, and hoping against all rationality that this time it will work. It won’t. There are some fundamental reasons for this dead end.

Mainly, education is caught up in a landslide caused by the weakness of its very foundations and hastened by the frantic efforts of a movement so off base, so deeply, fundamentally flawed that it must implode.

Education, from time immemorial has been rooted in religious belief. The most knowledgeable people in any tribe were the priests, the shamans. From the scribes of Israel, the Wise Men of the Gospels, the monks of the Middle Ages, the scientists of the Renaissance, the Ivy League schools at their inception, education and religion were joined at the hip. Up until John Dewey and his “progressive” anti-religion attitudes, educators recognized that connection and nurtured it.

Why does this learning-believing pairing work? Why is it so hard to teach without it? The short answer is that learning is hard work and requires a substantive motivation to accomplish. When human beings acknowledge their Creator, curiosity ensues – Who is this God who made me? Why did He make me? What is my purpose? What is the purpose of the universe? What are the properties of this universe? What is the nature of man and how can we connect with God? What will happen in the future? The important questions, the wondering questions all start with God.

Secular humanism, the main philosophy behind public education since Dewey, teaches that we are each the master of our own fate and that everything is about us, for us, through us. It teaches moral neutrality, so nothing is shocking, nothing is reprehensible, nothing is important, and nothing is interesting. Our school librarian – a lovely lady – used to say that most things weren’t worth learning since everything was going to change anyway. The librarian! It teaches that science knows everything, and only those with the power of science can know anything. And yet, science is always changing its collective mind, and often at the whim of a grant bribe. God, on the other hand, doesn’t change. What we learn about Him will never be useless.

Progressivism, however, promotes the idea that the state is the supreme being; its priests are the bureaucrats and politicians, its disciples the men in white coats.  None of this promotes curiosity; none of it provides purpose or direction. And it relegates education to nothing but job training.

For decades after Dewey the schools limped along still able to pull their students into at least a semblance of learning. The family still stood behind the schools and the family taught its children about God. Those kids could find purpose and interest in that divine knowledge.

But much has changed. The family is crumbling like a stepped-on potato chip. And much of that can be laid at the feet of the leftist, progressive ideology and the government policies that resulted. Prior to Johnson’s Great Society only 7% of black families were missing their fathers; now, 73% of African American families are fatherless. A single mother is hard-pressed to feed her children let alone take them to church and watch over their schooling. The family, as a bulwark against ignorance, feels, especially to teachers, like a lost cause.

So we have a gigantic, expensive, paradoxical institution hanging around the necks of our children. It teaches them that nothing is true, that we mustn’t make any moral judgments, that respecting authority is an antique idea, and that their own self-esteem should be their greatest concern and then we expect the kids to learn. When they don’t, the government, which is now synonymous with the schools, gives them harder tests, which undermine self-esteem and do nothing at all to ramp up curiosity.

The secularist attitude has ruined our schools. But, but, but, sputters the progressive, but we have to have separation of church and state! We have to keep our schools neutral! Really? If you send a kid through 16 years of schooling in which God is never mentioned, except in a derogatory way, you end up with a person who doesn’t see any evidence for, or information about, or guidance from the Creator of us all. That’s not neutral.

But, but, but, says the humanist, we’re a secular society. Really? And how’s that working for you? Any teacher will tell you that the best students, the successful students are, more often than not, from religious families. The troublesome students, either the arrogant pseudo-intellectual kids, or the dropout wannabes, usually are not.

By forcing our schools into this anti-God stance we have destroyed them. If the government (and the bigger the government the worse this is) runs the schools, God (according to 21st century attitudes) must be excluded. If we exclude God from education, we also exclude the impetus for that education, and we remove
much of the philosophical, moral, virtuous, character-building material goes with Him – literature, music, art, history, science – all these disciplines must be heavily censored, rewritten, dumbed down. If we do this, then we are training robots, not enlightening human beings.

If God is excluded from schools then so is any authority to demand good behavior. If several generations receive their education from Godless schools, then fewer and fewer of the population know anything at all about Him or about absolute values, like truth. If couples who don’t know God raise children, they won’t know God, and the family will be unlikely to develop consistent values, let alone values that lead to confident, well-behaved, motivated students.

So, how do we break this chain when the separation-of-church-and-state meme seems carved in stone? We educate our children in the way they should be educated; at home. We set up vouchers to be use at the school of the parents’ choice. We support specialized charter schools and open up school registration so that parents can choose where their kids go to school. If parents can send their kids to a school that teaches what they believe, then the church/state hammer no longer has any weight and some schools will go back to allowing for the reality of God.

Many options are sitting there in the classroom, enthusiastically waving their hands, just waiting to be called on. Enough data already exists to prove that these options work. So, as the kids and their new backpacks march off to school this fall, let’s keep our eyes open, do some research and make a move. It’s up to each of us to fix this.