Thursday, August 21, 2014

Goldman on "The Beam in Our Eye"

via PJM, Goldman repeats one of his Asia Times, Spengler columns from 2008.  It deals, ostensibly, with the nostalgia of the Southern Lost Cause in relation to the current crime problem rampant in the American black community. 

Southern sympathizers have long held that the Slave States did not form the Confederacy primarily to maintain slavery.  This is despite the fact that slavery is part of the Confederate constitution.  Slavery was central to the Southern casus belli.

My people came from Lafayette, Indiana to settle in the southwest part of Missouri in the late 1800s.  Republicans -- that is, Union sympathizers, formed the majority in this part of the state.  When I was a child, the only Democrats I knew were people whose families had owned slaves.  My father's older sister married such a man.  My uncle named his youngest son after Franklin D. Roosevelt.  His good Baptist children and grandchildren -- my cousins -- voted for the corrupt, baby-killing, adulterous liar Bill Clinton because he had a (D) after his name.  I'm sure they suffered great cognitive dissonance over Barack Obama.  Perhaps they voted for Obama's white half. 

Slavery of any kind is naturally abhorrent to me, as it is, I am sure, to most thinking people in this day and time.  Racism in the South arose from slavery.  Christianity cannot condone enslaving our brothers and sisters, but Christians might be able to reconcile their faith with slavery if the slaves were not quite as advanced as the white "race" -- not quite fully human, so to speak.  In the aftermath of the crushing of the Confederacy and Emancipation, former slaves were used by the Radical Republicans as pawns to further humiliate and punish southern whites during Reconstruction.  When white Democrats began to regain control of their states after Reconstruction, they passed the Jim Crow discrimination laws that were ended only within my lifetime.

What I regret most about the Civil War is the consolidation of central government power and the demise of state sovereignty.  The preservation of the Union required an acceptance on the part of a majority of Americans of the supremacy of the federal government.  What was never written into the Constitution became the foundation of the progressive interpretation that there were essentially no limits to federal power, and that state governments were merely extensions and agents of the Giant Beltway Cephalopod.  It is to this beast that we have lost much of liberty and genuine diversity as citizens of the united States.

Those commenting on Goldman's essay include many so-called Southern apologists.  I suspect some of those apologists are thinking along the lines I have stated in the preceding paragraph.  The centralization of power and the growth of the federal leviathan is so offensive to some of us that we consider it better to face our tyrants at the state level where exercising the option of relocating does not require a passport.  We would like to see a restoration of the Tenth Amendment. 

Because of the passions stirred by Goldman's deriding of the "Cause", his greater point is being ignored.  He is trying to draw a parallel between the romanticizing of the Rebellion for the sake of slavery, and today's glamorizing of the black ghetto gangster lifestyle of crime, sex, drugs, violence, and death.  The North won because of Sherman's belief in the efficacy of an all-out war of attrition to reduce the South's manpower and ability to continue its resistance.  Goldman suggests that, even though we are incarcerating a relatively large and extremely disproportionate number of young, urban, non-white males, we are not incarcerating enough. 

Sherman said 300,000 Southrons had to die for the war to end.  Goldman says millions of young black Americans need to be charged and harshly prosecuted for their criminal behavior to end the celebration of gangs and the "get rich or die trying" lifestyle by rappers and filmmakers. 

Sherman's March to the Sea worked because it cut a wide swath of destruction through the heart of the South's most productive and protected region as well as exacting a bloody toll on the South's fighting men. 

In my opinion, the equivalent is not incarceration.  Prison is crime college.  If we ever let these youthful offenders back out on the street, they come equipped with new knowledge and new connections to a network of like-minded criminals.  Prisons are expensive.  These losers are housed and fed on the taxpayers' tab. 

The first step is to stop subsidizing out-of-wedlock births and stop penalizing couples that choose to marry and form a nuclear family.  Welfare should not be a multi-generational lifestyle, and it should be time-limited and transitional.  Next, we should consider no longer prosecuting drug crimes and the legalization of most drugs.  This eliminates the "bootlegging" profits possible from trafficking in illegal substances.  Not imprisoning drug offenders also frees up prison space to enable more severe sentences for those who commit property and violent crimes. 

For those who are incarcerated, prison should not be summer camp or a vacation from the street.  Prisoners should be forced to work at productive tasks such as growing and processing their own food, making their own clothing, and maintaining their institutions.  When possible, prisoners should be taught skills such as plumbing, welding, and carpentry, and apprenticed in those trades.  If we had all these non-productive young men off welfare, out of the gangs, and involved in constructive trades, there would be no place for the illegals flooding across our borders. 

I think prison should be harsh and a relatively unpleasant and negative experience.  But I also think that when a person has served his time fully and completely, he should be considered to have paid his debt and have his full rights restored.  If a man cannot be trusted on the street, he has no business on the street.  Keep him locked up.  Such a system is not perfect.  Sometimes we will have repeat offenders.  If you don't learn your lesson the first time, you don't get a second chance to get out.

Take out the fun and the glory, and you will still have losers and those who through psychopathy or extreme willfulness insist on fighting the system.  Nothing will solve one hundred percent of our conflicts and problems.  But the fact is that America is seen as a hyper-violent nation largely because of the mindset held by young, non-white males.  While I disagree with Goldman's remedy, I do mostly agree with his analysis of the problem.  We are, in essence, two distinct nations -- one of which is at war with the other.  The rest of us are largely unwilling to look at the end of what Burrough's called "the long newspaper spoon".  Today, it's the long television or internet spoon.  Now we have live video, but we remain largely insulated, finding it conveniently unnecessary to look at the hand holding the end of that spoon. 

If we are not willing to face the reality of the situation our urban centers and address the root of the problem then, eventually, we may find ourselves once again making a long march to the sea. 

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