An article from yesterday’s New York Times about the relative calm in Baltimore stumbled by accident onto something like the real reason why blacks were rioting. Near the famous burned-out CVS–the city had begged the company to “invest” in a dodgy neighborhood–the Times reporter found someone it identified as “Robert Wilson, a college student who went to high school in Baltimore.” The article concludes with Mr. Wilson’s explanation of why blacks rioted. He said nothing about Freddie Gray or police brutality. Instead, he said this:
We’re just angry at the surroundings–like this is all that is given to us?–and we’re tired of this, like nobody wants to wake up and see broken-down buildings. They take away the community centers, they take away our fathers, and now we have traffic lights that don’t work, we have houses that are crumbling, falling down.
This quote almost perfectly captures the black mentality that leads to rioting. Blacks live in neighborhoods that they, themselves, have wrecked, and then ask, “This is all that is given to us?”
Hard-working white people built the “broken-down” buildings Mr. Wilson is complaining about. Many had parquet floors, high ceilings, and fine moldings found today only in the most expensive new construction.
After the riots in Baltimore in 1968, whites panicked and sold their property at desperation prices. Now, these houses are “broken down” because blacks didn’t maintain them. This pattern of white flight and “broken down” houses was repeated in Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Washington, St. Louis, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Jacksonville, and countless other American cities. Some of the best city housing in the world was handed over to blacks who wrecked it. Neighborhoods filled with irreplaceable architecture are now wastelands.
Mr. Wilson complains that “we have houses that are crumbling, falling down.” The remedy for crumbling houses is for the people who live in them to fix them, but instead, Mr. Wilson asks, “Is this all that is given to us?”
Like so many blacks, Mr. Wilson doesn’t realize how perverse it is even to think in terms of pleasant houses and neighborhoods being “given” to anyone. Does he imagine the white authorities “giving” nice neighborhoods to whites and cruelly handing out slums to blacks? They didn’t start out as slums. Whites saved and worked hard to build those neighborhoods. They maintained them, repaired them, and loved them.
But in today’s world of welfare, food stamps, government housing, and white guilt, Mr. Wilson doesn’t know any better than to ask for handouts. Jesse Jackson is just as self-absorbed. At the funeral for Freddie Gray he wanted to know, “Why can’t the [black] West Side get the same things downtown gets?” Jesse Jackson is asking the same question: “Is this all that is given to us?”
And who, exactly, is not giving enough? Baltimore elected its first black mayor in 1987. Today, the mayor, the police chief, the fire chief, and half the police force are black. Two thirds of the population and most of the city council are black. But when Mr. Wilson and Jesse Jackson complain about stinginess, they are not blaming Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; they are blaming white people.
Mr. Wilson says Baltimore’s blacks rioted because they are “angry at the surroundings.” Blacks make their surroundings ugly and miserable, and then make them even more ugly and miserable by burning them down. And then they ask, “Is this all that is given us?”
Mr. Wilson has more complaints: “They take away the community centers, they take away our fathers.” Mayor Rawlings-Blake cut funding for 20 of 55 city-run community centers in 2013, but private foundations and neighborhood organizations kept most of them going. Rioters burned one down on Monday.
And fathers? In 1983, Baltimore had the highest black illegitimacy rate in the country: 76 percent, at a time when the national rate for blacks was about 55 percent. Now that the national black rate is 72 percent, what is the figure likely to be for Baltimore? Ninety percent? Ninety-five percent? Whoever “they” are didn’t have to work very hard to “take away our fathers.” Black fathers were never there to begin with.
It’s no surprise that Mr. Wilson thinks blacks haven’t been “given” what they deserve, and that “they” took away his father. He’s a college student–probably on scholarship–and that’s what blacks are taught from grade school.
The New York Times invariably blames “racism” and white privilege for the plight of blacks. It assumes that if only whites could curb their bigotry, blacks would bloom and flourish. It is remarkable that it concluded this article with a quotation that so brutally undercuts its own assumptions. People who think “they” have taken away their fathers, who blame others for their “broken down buildings,” who look at misery of their own making and ask “Is this all that is given to us?”–such people will not bloom and flourish no matter what white people do. Nor do they deserve to.