Twitter and Facebook aside, groups of young blacks who violently harass whites and Asians (“flash mobs”) are hardly new. In the 1960s this was called “wilding,” and for over a decade New York City subways (and probably much public transportation elsewhere) became almost unusable thanks to black teenagers who moved from car to car terrorizing hapless white riders.
Nevertheless, today’s flash mobs (for a listing of attacks, see http://violentflashmobs.com/) are disturbing beyond the immediate violence. In the context of contemporary race relations, this growing epidemic of anti-white mayhem was not supposed to happen. Blacks attacking whites because they are white represents an abrogation of a decades-long treaty between whites and blacks. Not a treaty in the formal sense, but an “understanding” that might as well be a legal contract. Let me explain.
The 1960s saw widespread black violence, much of it explicitly anti-white. This ranged from week-long urban riots to individual blacks killing or raping whites opportunistically. Many victims were chosen only because of race. The government’s response was both enhanced policing and, of the utmost relevance, today’s racial spoils system: affirmative action, set asides, massive anti-poverty spending, Justice Department decrees to help blacks get elected, dumbed down civil service standards, easy home mortgages and sundry other “help blacks” programs. You can also add race-driven political correctness: banning “offensive” words (e.g., colored), exaggerating the role of blacks in American history, glowing media portrayals, downplaying black-on-white violent crime, and everything else designed to massage black egos. And for good measure, add hate crime laws, speech codes, and draconian punishment for those who spoke the truth on race. This is the price white America now pays for public safety.
The Treaty’s aim was to stop the underclass from running wild by creating a black middle class who would, it was assumed, keep a lid on things out of economic self-interest. A newly appointed affirmative-action $125,000-a-year black school principal might not boost test scores but he would not encourage pupils to seek economic justice “by any means necessary.” Better to have potential rabble-rousers toiling as corporate vice-presidents for diversity than stirring up the brothers.
Endless failed policies have not undermined the Treaty. In education, for example, Head Start and school meals funding is still growing despite disappointing outcomes. Armies of support staff now fill largely black schools even though academic performance remains unchanged. Clearly, this lavishness can be understood only as a pay-off to sustain racial peace.
The Treaty is sacrosanct across the ideological spectrum, and even admitting its existence is verboten. Nobody dare ask, for example, if all the affirmative action hires or government set-a-sides that guarantee domestic tranquility actually yield economic benefits. No struggling black university student worries that flunking out will endanger affirmative action; a dreadful drop-out rate will only bring more government largess.
Since the 1960s, with scant exceptions, this pay-off has been amazingly successful. Once common “race war” rhetoric (burn baby burn, the fire next time etc.) has virtually vanished. Urban riots have gone from once a week to once a decade. Black militancy has largely reverted to its pre-1960s form of litigation and legislative demands. White mayors no longer walk the streets to keep the peace during the “long hot summer” or plead for Washington money so they can hire community-activist firebrands. Yes, black crime persists, black-run cities like Newark and Detroit sink into Third-World depravity, and whites are sometimes the victims of black crime, but 1960s style anti-white mayhem (and revolutionary oratory) has, at least until very recently, almost vanished.
The key question is whether these flash mobs are the first inklings of a soon-to-be broken Treaty (recall how the “Arab Spring” began with a single, seemingly innocuous incident). It is not inconceivable that America could return to 1960s-style racial upheaval. It is this possibility, not the criminality per se, that makes proliferating flash mobs especially frightening. Aggressive policing in response could prompt a vintage urban riot, and rioting is often contagious. Fiscal cutbacks might end millions of government “make work” jobs for blacks, and many of the slots blacks used to fill are now taken by Hispanic immigrants. Our former $125,000-a-year principal will no longer have an incentive to keep the peace.
Keep in mind that no black under the age of 40 remembers the pre-Treaty days, a world without the lucrative spoils system and ego-enhancing PC. For them, all the keep-the-peace benefits bestowed by a white-dominated government are normal, a justly deserved arrangement with no expiration date.
Can anything be done if matters begin reverting to pre-Treaty days? Probably not much beyond more aggressive policing, a risky tactic that might exacerbate violence. The Treaty cannot be amended to provide even more benefits for blacks. Pressuring American firms to hire more unqualified African Americans or upping the penalties for alleged racial discrimination will just push businesses to North Dakota or Asia. It is hard to imagine America becoming even more PC on race. Admitting more unqualified blacks to colleges would just boost the drop-out rate. And forget about more generous welfare at a time when cities and states already have budget shortfalls. If anything, the tide seems to be turning to renegotiate the Treaty to cut benefits for blacks. State bans on racial preferences–never legislated by elected representatives but forced on them by voters–are a good example of how ordinary people are thinking.
In short, the Treaty may be expiring but the spoils system–even if the benefits are a little leaner–is probably forever.
Mr. Kay is a retired academic finally free to speak his mind.