Summary: Here are two shocking perspectives on the front lines of America’s class wars, conflicts growing worse as inequality increases in our slow growth era. We close our eyes to these things at our peril; clear vision is the first step to reform.
“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
— Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Family and nation: the Godkin lectures, Harvard University, 1985
- The murder of Tamir Rice
- Confessions of a Public Defender
- Some good news
- For More Information
(1) The murder of Tamir Rice by police
Here we see how “law enforcement” has become an occupation force, regarding the people it should protect as cattle. It’s a more powerful example than the shooting of Michael Brown after he robbed a store. Here are details about the murder of Tamir Rice from articles in the New York Times and LA Times.
Tamir Rice is playing in the a gazebo outside a recreation center, with nobody near him. He had a black airsoft-type pistol (firing plastic pellets) tucked in his belt. He was 5 feet 7, weighed 195 pounds, and 12 years old.
A police cruiser arrived and skidded to a stop next to the boy. Almost immediately a Cleveland officer, Timothy Loehmann, shoots Tamir. The officers stood by, letting Tamir bleed out on the ground.
About 90 seconds later, Tamir’s 14-year old sister (name not released) ran toward her brother. The second officer, Frank Garmback, immediately pushed her to the ground back-first, tumbling on top of her. Garmback and another officer handcuff the struggling teen and placed her in the back seat of their patrol car. Her brother is bleeding right outside it.
Four minutes after the shooting another man provided the first medical assistance, an F.B.I. agent who was in the neighborhood. Paramedics arrived eight minutes after the shooting; Tamir was taken away on a stretcher five minutes later. Doctors at a Cleveland hospital pronounced Tamir dead nine hours later. An autopsy by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner found that Tamir died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
This is brutal, cold blooded murder. We’ll learn something about America by what happens next.
The NYT falsely describes Officer Loehmann (age 26) who fired the fatal shot, as a “rookie.” He had quit a suburban police force after his supervisors determined two years ago that he had had a “dangerous loss of composure” during firearms training and was emotionally unprepared to cope with stresses of the job. The Cleveland police acknowledged that they had never reviewed the previous police personnel file of Officer Loehmann. It’s common for police not to do background checks on the previous employment of police — or disregard their findings (e.g., the LAPD). This makes it easy for even discharged officers to get new jobs at other police departments.
(2) Confessions of a Public Defender
There are 2 sides to every problem. As the media plays the police brutality narrative, they ignore the rest of the story. For good reason, as it requires mentioning things of extreme political incorrectness. To see what its like to work on the front lines of the see the “Confessions of a Public Defender“, Michael Smith (“pseudonym”), American Renaissance (it’s not a reliable or reputable source; see their Wikipedia entry), 9 May 2014.
I will not even attempt a summary. Read it in full. It’s not shocking to anyone with experience in law enforcement, social services, or anyone on the streets of our inner cities. It’s almost unimaginable news to anyone without such experience. In such thinking we see the origins of shootings like that of Tamir Rice.
Update: The author talks of race (in America it’s always about race) but in fact describes the effect of class and poverty. See the discussion about this article in the comments. Also see the FBI Uniform Crime Reports data.
(3) Good news
We have made progress since the civil rights era began in the decades after WWII. More recently crime rates have come down (for mysterious reasons, perhaps in part because of less exposure to lead).
The good news continues (and can continue, if we try): “The End of Gangs“, Sam Quinones, Pacific Standard (the science of society”), 29 December 2014. Summary:
Los Angeles gave America the modern street gang. Groups like the Crips and MS-13 have spread from coast to coast, and even abroad. But on Southern California’s streets they have been vanishing. Has L.A. figured out how to stop the epidemic it set loose on the world?
For More Information
(a) How we got here. Centuries of slavery for Blacks in America, the century of oppression, then the stormy civil rights era, and then more bad decisions.
- The path not taken: “The Negro Family: The Case For National Action“, Office of Policy Planning and Research, Department of Labor, March 1965 — Largely written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. So insightful it remains controversial to this day.
- A look back at the path we did take: “The Best of Intentions, the Worst of Results“, Irving Kristol, The Atlantic Monthly, August 1971.
- Daniel Quayle’s “Murphy Brown” speech in May 1992 about the effects of so many children being raised by single mothers, condemned by the Left but later proven prescient.
- Adapting to the bad choices we’ve made: “Defining Deviancy Down: How We’ve Become Accustomed to Alarming Levels of Crime and Destructive Behavior”, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, American Scholar, Winter 1993.
- A look at how we’ve justified the path we took: “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies“, Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal, Summer 2005.
- A dark path we have taken: “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America“, Radley Balko, Cato Institute, 17 July 2006.
- The horrific results: “The U.S. has more jails than colleges“, Washington Post, 6 January 2015 — “our national incarceration rate of 707 adults per every 100,000 residents is the highest in the world, by a huge margin.”
- Looking ahead: “Can Our Shameful Prisons Be Reformed?“, David Cole, New York Review of Books, 19 November 2009 — Being a third world nation is a state of mind. Here’s a first step.
(b) About police, law enforcement, and the security services:
- How to Fund an American Police State (aka Weaponizing the Body Politic), 5 March 2012 — Militarizing the police.
- We are alone in the defense of the Republic, 5 July 2012.
- Do not talk to the police (important advice in New America), 4 August 2013.
- Look at the protests in Wisconsin to see how America has changed, 31 August 2013.
- Murder by police. If these incidents do not anger us, then what will?, 19 January 2014.
- Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests, 16 August 2014.
- Police grow more powerful; the Republic slides another step into darkness. Can cellphone cameras save us?, 28 August 2014.
- The shame of Alaska: vast wealth, but little spent to protect its people, 15 September 2014.
- Shootings by police show their evolution into “security services”, bad news for the Republic, 1 December 2014.
(c) About justice in America:
- Sparks of justice still live in America – cherish them and perhaps they’ll spread, 11 September 2009.
- An opportunity to look in the mirror, to more clearly see America, 10 November 2009 — About our prisons.
- Being a third world nation is a state of mind, as we will learn (about prison rape), 19 March 2011.
- Our prisons are a mirror showing the soul of America. It’s not a pretty picture., 28 March 2011.
- The Collapse of American Criminal Justice System — Excerpts from The Collapse of American Criminal Justice by William J. Stuntz.
- More about the collapse of the American Criminal Justice System, 20 September 2011.
- Final thoughts about America’s Criminal Justice System, 21 September 2011.
- Richard Castle shows us the dark reality of justice in 21st C America, 28 May 2014.
(d) Some other posts about race (see all posts about it here):
- The pilgrimage of Martin Luther King: an antidote to our amnesia about America’s history, 14 September 2013.
- A harsh clear look at the history of the Republican Party, 22 September 2013.
- Congress did a great thing 50 years ago, but rot from that day has spread and taken root, 26 June 2014.
- Eco-activists benefit from white privilege. Black protesters get gas & tasers., 11 September 2014 — Hundreds of such stories appear in the news.
21 thoughts on “News about police, crime & social decay in America”
I’m very unclear why you’d link to such a racist rant on your site. I understand that you are trying to help identify the mixture of problems that result in police murders, but really? American Renaissance? To quote from the article: “Most blacks are unable to speak English well. They cannot conjugate verbs.” Really? If there’s something worth noting from this article, I think you would be well suited to summarize it because there is a lot of “blacks do this” and “a black feels that” and that’s just racist.
I expect a lot more from this site and the authors so I am very surprised by this link.
Take it for what it is, a report from the front lines — a specific time and place, looking at the casualties of America’s past. Considering the horrors of our past treatment, I find it incredible that we’d expect to escape without a high human toll. One that is, as usual of corse, imposed on the victims.
Closing our eyes to this will not make it go away.
As usual from battlefield reports, it is not a big picture view. It is quite obviously not an accurate assessment of racial classes. The inherent differences between the races are too small, and the achievements of sub-Saharan Africans too great in the past (despite operating in unfavorable ecological and climate conditions).
The author wrote:
“However, my experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”
This is the opposite of a front line reporting piece, imo. Unless you know the author, it reads very much like the racist rant of someone who’s only encounters with black Americans is in 5 second chunks at the DMV or some other such thing. You don’t know me, but I do have experiences in this area and it rings incredibly hollow, take it for what it’s worth.
There are plenty of articles out there about the really bad state of inner city America, about how black neighborhoods and individuals are failing themselves and by the system. This seems like a really poor choice especially given that you link without giving context.
No, that is exactly what first person reporting from the front lines looks like. You can see for yourself. Read the threads at the Small Wars Council (or any of the other vet websites) from soldiers back from our wars. They spend a year in a firebase in Helmund or patrolling Fallujah (usually having little contact with the locals), and talk confidently (but often ignorantly) about Islam.
Or visit the various websites with discussions among cops. You will see similar views to those of Michael Smith, but often far more extreme and strongly expressed. Or visit a cop bar for a night, and listen.
First person testimony provides valuable data but usually little insight, lacking a broad context in the dimensions of time and space. Which is why “I was there and know what we should do” is often followed by nonsense. But their experience provides the raw material for analysts, who have broader knowledge and understanding of theory that gives meaning to the data.
On the other hand, we usually get nonsense from analysts working without data from the front lines — or who valorize their theories over evidence.
Both errors are common in America today. We have libertarians who construct theories that defy history, based on novels. We have generals who resurrect failed theories from the past, to vainly (an insanely) try them again. Conversely we have front line veterans giving equally false advice. Meaning the majority of Americans lack both experience and theory, refusing to see the former or learn the later.
Michael Smith’s testimony provides an antidote to the former. We have ample work from social scientists as an antidote to the latter. We need only use the.
It is also worth noting that public defenders who show an excessive interest in, you know, actually defending their clients – are threatened and bullied, or even fired. Do that for a few decades, then all you have left are people like Mike Smith – drones who drink the cool aid and don’t question the system.
That’s a powerful observation, going to the root of our broken criminal justice system (well named, for the justice it provides is criminal). The people who run it — police, prosecutors, judges, public defenders, etc — are mostly those comfortable with it. Hence the frequent shootings of unarmed Blacks, such as shown on the video. That video shows the system in operation, in pure form.
The forensic labs are another and similar example of corruption — overworked and underfunded operations run by undertrained people working in the service of the prosecutors. They’re often an organized system to deceive juries and judges.
As the posts cited in the For More Information section show, the system is horrific. But it runs mostly out of sight of the middle and upper classes, so that’s just fine for them.
I’ve seen this public defender article before – it’s been circulating the right wing blogo-sphere. It reads like a 1950 propaganda pamphlet – or even 1850. I’m not even going to attempt to dissect this baffling, racist rant.
All I can say from reading this is that this public defender is cut from the same cloth as the prosecution, and the police who made the arrest. Notice to his glowing approval of the white defendants with “bowed heads” meekly going through the courthouse. Despite all the banter conservatives spew about freedom and independence – the single greatest virtue a good white person has is obedience and submission to the will of the state.
I agree on all points. But that does not mean the observations are invalid. Data is not knowledge, knowledge is not insight. We close our minds to messages to unpleasant data at our peril.
Joe and P F Khan,
It’s a difference in perspective unbridgeable except by experience. I worked as a social worker, a front line job different from Michael Smith’s public defender gig, but dealing with similar people. Like most such joining that community, I (like Smith) was a good liberal. In fact I was a doctrinaire Leftist, working to help and organize the proletariat and pave the way for the Revolution.
I too dealt with people speaking poor English, of sub-normal intelligence, lacking empathy — very often for their parents and “mates”, sometimes (often for men) for their own children. Strangers were either marks or foes. The future meant nothing; now was everything.
After six months I wondered if all my “clients” should be sterilized, the children placed in foster homes or orphanages. These people were nothing but a blight to be eradicated.
All were of the same race. Which was white, for this was Appalachia. Brutal poverty, inbreeding (“My bride was a virgin, so I came right home.” “That right, son — if she’s not good enough for kin she’s not good enough for you.”), fetal alcohol syndrome, early age malnutrition, eating paint chips, lack of social stimulation in the early years (e.g., left in the crib to cry) — these things and many others forges a lost and hopeless people.
Calling Michael Smith’s observations “racist” shields you from these harsh truths, which are the results of the organization of American society. They let you sleep at night, but do nothing for those who have to deal with the realities you deny.
As a former ridge runner (not from Appalachia) I often wondered why I had certain beliefs in my early years that are so different than now. Early on I called it peasant mentality. An acceptance of what we are. And how we fit into the world.
IMO fundamentalist religion plays a large part. For me and some I knew, striving was less than useless, remember “the rich man caint get into heaven, no how.” And for the child left crying in the crib, don’t spoil it. Also spare the rod and spoil the child. And this spoiling part becomes something more than a crying child. I think it confounds the application of common sense to every day decisions. And affects larger political decisions throughout life, not allowing ourselves or others to “get used to an easy life” or be spoilt(or spoiled).
I liked your suggestion about going to a bar to get the real feelings of police. When you wanted to get a feel for how the public was translating government policy, you have to spend time setting in a white neighborhood bar, listening to what I call “retail politics”. For example, if you brought up “war on crime” in the 70’s it would take two minutes to here the phrase “those people”.
Anyway, always interesting.
Great point about fundamentalist religion in poor areas! In these areas live hard-core believers side by side with hard core believers in nothing. SPekaing as an observer — no academic or professional qualifications, never lived there — it seems that neither did much better than the other. IN fact, that might be the distinguishing characteristic of failed societies: nothing works.
It was an alien world to me. People could have an emergency twice per year to get welfare aid. So they did People would save their cast and food stamps, pool them for massive parties. Roman-scale parties in areas where police didn’t go except in groups.
Thank you for updating your post, I think your point is made much more clearly by doing so, although, frankly speaking I’m not sure I see the full need for such exposition.
Where are the Americans who don’t know that black America is in dire straits? I think it’s somewhat par for the course for Americans to know the racist canards about black Americans being involved in more violent crime and the like. It’s on the news almost every night. From a purely informational perspective, the link seems to give greater evidence of how badly our system is set up (if the public defender is likely to expect his clients to fit racist molds, in what world will the judge or jury do differently?), but if that’s your point in linking it then I think you should mention that up front to avoid the confusion.
I understand the need to present both sides to this, but I think that your personal story about the part of America that is degenerate and miserable would have done just as good a job of presenting that.
Thanks for the prompt responses. Keep up the good work.
“Where are the Americans who don’t know that black America is in dire straits?”
Americans “know” lots of things that don’t affect their actions. Point to anything on the Left pointing to the African-American communit’ys need to reform itself? I haven’t seen anything like that in years. There has been discussions in their community about its problems since the 1960s, but with no visible effect.
It’s quite relevant when asking the police to change their behavior. Whatever you or I think about it, they’re the ones on the streets. It’s logical that want to see the community make some changes to accompany their reforms.
“the link seems to give greater evidence of how badly our system is set up… but if that’s your point in linking it then I think you should mention that up front to avoid the confusion.”
While true, I doubt slapping the label “racist” on this thinking accomplishes anything at all. As I say in today’s post, these labels have become STOP buttons on the American mind. Discussions in America tend to be like talking with a very elderly, very crotchety grandmother, who believes that the matter is settled when she’s given you a piece of her mind.
Well written FM. Good to read your past and your response to that experience. The last paragraph esepcially …let you sleep at night …and do nothing for those who must deal with the realities you deny.
Many of us are willfully sheltered from much of what that Article describes. Very complex issues raised and many times, I am at a loss to formulate even a rudimentary set of actions or partial solutions.
The murder of that young man and the bleed out……my God.
I’m not convinced he is speaking from knowledge or experience, I am not even sure he is a real public defender (as opposed to a troll on the internet).
He proves his lack of expertise right at the beginning of his article:
“I have no explanation for why this is, but crime has racial patterns. Hispanics usually commit two kinds of crime: sexual assault on children and driving under the influence. Blacks commit many violent crimes but very few sex crimes. The handful of whites I see commit all kinds of crimes. In my many years as a public defender I have represented only three Asians, and one was half black.”
I don’t know what rock Smith lives under, but Hispanic criminals commit their share of violent crimes (MS-13 anyone?). And black criminals commit their share of sex crimes. Notice how he doesn’t extend his bizarre blanket statements on whites criminals. He didn’t find a pattern in white crime because he wasn’t looking for one like he was with non-whites.
Smith states he is a liberal twice – but his viewpoints seem to be an exact carbon copy of the far-right. He even rants about social safety nets for several paragraphs (Because God forbid impoverished blacks take away any money from more important projects, like the F-35 or bombs for Israel).
It is also damning that in his entire rant, Smith doesn’t even mention the War on Drugs. This is very interesting, and highlights his prejudice. The vast majority of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations in the United States are from victimless drug offenses. Police imprison hundreds of thousands of people every year, and steal billions of dollars in private property – none of this was worth mentioning? Oh right, Smith was too busy wailing about “the blacks” stealing our precious bodily fluids.
His claims of racial patterns are too oddly specific. He’s never had a black sex offender as a client? he’s never had a Hispanic shooter?
And in all this, it never occurred to him that a person of low education and poor English skills would have a hard time proving his innocence? Does he know for a fact that the guy accused of robbing those two women was in fact guilty? Or did he just happen to be the nearest black guy who “fit the description” (AKA – was walking while black)
This sounds like a guy who just does his job and colors inside the lines. He doesn’t question authority, he doesn’t question the system, he just assumes the guilt of his clients and hands out plea deals like he’s told to. “I don’t make the laws, I’m just following orders” as a cop would say.
This is exactly what this kind of testimony looks like, which is why it cannot be relied upon with extensive analysis. It’s witness testimony, which decades of research have shown to be HIGHLY fallible. We evolved to chase animals on the Serengeti Plains. Our minds do not provide statistically accurate assessments of our experience.
For that we can turn to the FBI’s collection of the Uniform Crime Reports by race. It shows that we have a problem. Note that it does not show “Hispanic” as a category, but very roughly confirms the picture in Michael Smith’s (or “Michael Smith’s”) article.
Labels help people put things into a context we can understand. On one hand I understand why readers would think the article by the Public Defender smacks of racism, and yet I also recognize that the truth about racial and cultural differences may be far different from what we think it is – or want it to be. Having said that, in the mid-2000’s I met with a MN Legislator (DFL) who had been a criminal defense attorney prior to serving in the legislature. My issue was a lack of accountability for corrupt law enforcement and county attorneys. She named a county attorney who she knew falsified evidence against several of her clients and said corruption in “justice” in this particular county in MN was well known among lawyers. No one did anything about it because it might impact their legal career or have adverse consequences for others they represented. This is how cancer starts: one cell (a dirty cop) passes a corrupt file on and spreads the infection to another cell (the county attorney), who, in some instances MUST get buy in from a judge to proceed with a case. Once the cancer is established it absolutely WILL spread because perpetrators of any type of crime are empowered when they are allowed to get away with wrong-going. So, while there is no doubt in my mind that the disintegration of the African-American family unit (if it ever existed) is a significant factor in criminality, I believe violence against our “justice” system is escalating and will continue to escalate because the infection has spread.
The other minority that could be considered in trying to determine causality would be Native Americans. We subjugated Native people to our will and put them in sustainable communities so they could be fully assimilated. Blacks, though they have a historically different track in terms of interaction with whites, were also put in positions where they were subjugated to our will. Two groups, both with less than satisfactory outcomes.
Complex issues with historic narratives that have ramifications today. Are they indicative of racism or are there other, more diverse and complicated issues at hand?
No doubt that Confessions are accurate descriptions of those people within his experience but such group is only in his experience as a public defender. His mistake is writing in a way that his group is representative of the whole group of a race. He writes “blacks are” instead of “blacks i encounter as a public deffendant are” and so on.
Mike even hints at the causes of such racial generalizing which is environment. Their childhood environment is without authority figure – father. But he neglegts to give causes to why their environment is without fathers. Obvious cause is the environment fathers live in which is the rational reaction to white/black interaction that survived since slavery time. It is the feedback that had no chance to change due to bad treatment which feeds itself.
Mike also gives another possible causation; lack of ability to plan into the future, but also avoids mentioning the causes of that. I had an experience that made me avoid planing far ahead and that is near death experience on multiple occasions. I am sure that many members of gheto have such experience.
Solving these problems requiers long term planing and huge resources, not punishing only. Punishing and judgmental mentality will only enlarge the problems. Reagan did change activity of problem solving with his “Welfare queens in cadillacs” abandoning the change of the environment that produces such generalizations and clients for a public defender. Reagan’s ideology returned to market based solutions to change the environment hoping that punishment and award will chnage it for the better. All this is the outcome of market based solutions against inteligent, reactive human that can see mostly punishment. Not that there is no rewards but they can not see it.
If Mike grew and lived in such environment i am sure he will live by the same rules as his clients.
“His mistake is writing in a way that his group is representative of the whole group of a race.”
Exactly so. People almost always over-generalize their personal experiences. Smith’s article, whether true or not, shows the origins of the Tamir Rice shootings. Until we understand these phenomena, we’ll be unable to reform.
As for causes, see my post above. The effects of poverty — especially when accompanied by a breakdown of community and family structures.
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