. . . "Is justice system in U.S. truly colorblind?" (No extra points for guessing her answer.)
Today's column, not yet available at chron.com, is a PR job for a speaker at the local "Progressive Forum" -- Ohio State University law professor Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010).
Ms. Alexander has made the usual rounds for heroines and deep thinkers of the left -- New York Times interview (check), National Public Radio (check), PBS (check), , the Open Society Foundations (more commonly known as George Soros), and the Nation (check).
Now, at last, she finds her way to Houston's very own leftist outpost, the Chronicle.
Her book is pegged to a genuine crisis, the huge numbers of young black men in our prisons. The existence of this crisis is not in doubt. What needs to be discussed is why it is so.
Here is Ms. Alexander's explanation, lifted here from her Wikipedia entry:
[She] argues that mass incarceration in America functions as a system of racial control in a similar way to how Jim Crow once operated. [She] draws attention to the racial disparity that exists in the criminal justice system. . . . "Race pays a major role -- indeed a defining role -- in the current system, but not because of what is commonly understood as old-fashioned, hostile bigotry. This system of control depends far more on racial indifference (defined as a lack of compassion and caring about race and racial groups) than racial hostility -- a feature is shares with its predecessors."
Ms. Falkenberg buys Ms. Alexander's thesis, right down to the sinker. The column also affords her another opportunity to do what she loves most in this whole wide world, which is to bash Texas.
It's a hard message to hear, especially in Texas, which Alexander calls "the birth place [read birthplace] of mass incarceration." . . .
"I have some hope that despite the fact that Texas got us into this mess," Alexander told me, "that people of conscience in Texas who are committed to racial and social justice will help us blaze a path that will lead toward the dismantling of racial incarceration nationwide."
("People of conscience" means, of course, Ms. Falkenberg and her comrades at the Progressive Forum. You and I and other conservatives and traditionalists are not "people of conscience.")
So America has a problem and a proposed explanation. The problem is too many black young men in prison. The proposed explanation: systemic racial discrimination.
How about this explanation? There are too many young black men in prison today because young black men commit too many crimes, meaning that they commit more than their proportionate share of crimes, measured against population.
Ms. Falkenberg says Ms. Alexander provides "staggering statistics and cast-iron analysis," so we may assume the author deals with this possibility in some fashion. Whatever Ms. Alexander says, however, it certainly satisfies Ms. Falkenberg, who declares without further explanation that this "system of racial control can't be explained away by crime rates."
Of murder victims in 2010, the FBI says 49.8 percent were black, most young, most male. Of murder offenders whose race was known, 53 percent were black, most young, most male.
That's from a black population of 14.1 percent, which means that the black murder rate is about 3.5 times as high as the overall murder rate, and most victims and offenders are . . . young . . . black . . . men.
If Ms. Falkenberg would bother to stop lecturing and start listening to cops on the street and prosecutors in the courts, she would learn that this pattern repeats itself in all categories of crime. It's not a conspiracy. It's not hidden racism. It's a fact.
There is no conspiracy and there is no mistake. Young black men are in trouble in America today, and the incarceration rate is evidence of the problem, not the cause of the problem.
Consider this recent bit of Pulitzer-quality journalism, with slightly different statistics than those mentioned above:
Bureau of Justice statistics show that from 1975 to 2005, white victims were killed by white defendants 86% of the time and black victims were killed by blacks 94% of the time.
. . . .
Overall, more than half of the nation's homicide victims are African Americans, though blacks make up only 13% of the population. Of those black murder victims, 85% were men, mostly young men.
Despite the declining U.S. murder rate, killings remain stubbonly high in poor pockets of cities large and small. In some cases, the rate is rising sharply. That increase is draining resources from police, prosecutors, social workers and hospitals.
. . . .
Because black-on-black violence tends to stay concentrated within poorer, inner-city areas, there is a lack of wider awareness of the depth of the problem, said Jack Levin . . . .
Why are young black men in trouble? Ms. Alexander and her PR lady, Ms. Falkenberg, happily indict America, with a special emphasis on Texas.
I would suggest that progressives look in a mirror. Their decades-long war on tradition, family, marriage, religion, and the market economy has hurt no one so much as the intended beneficiaries of their good intentions -- poor black Americans.
More than 70 percent of black children are born to unmarried mothers. In neighborhoods within eyesight of Houston's skyscrapers, the rate approaches 100 percent.
Millions of black children are being reared without a permanent male presence in the home. The only male role models for many black boys are gangsta rappers and dealers down on the corner.
Deviancy has been defined down to the point that these behaviors cannot be criticized or even mentioned.
Deviancy has been defined down to the point that academic and journalistic careers are made by distracting attention from the real problem and its true causes.
Today's column by Ms. Falkenberg is a perfect illustration of my arguments yesterday about the miserable state of local opinion writing in the Houston Chronicle.
By the way, Ms. Alexander is not all we in Houston have to look forward to from our local Progressive Forum.
Upcoming, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. -- double divorcee, convicted heroin user, convicted drunk driver, convicted trespasser on U.S. military facility, conspiracy theorist on vaccinations (autism) and politics (the GOP stole the 2004 presidential election), dodgy businessman (Oh, wait; that's his cousin Joseph P. Kennedy, II), advocate for political civility (Sen. Inhofe is a "prostitute for Big Oil"), bosom buddy of Hugo Chavez . . . and public speaker who likes this tagline: "I'll see you on the barricades."
That Robert F. Kenney, Jr.
Recent speakers include a sampling of limousine liberals (Bill Moyers), god-haters (Richard Dawkins) and debunkers of traditional religion (Karen Armstrong), and global-warming radicals (James Hansen).
This is the progressive pack with which Ms. Falkenberg and the Houston Chronicle run.
These are the "people of conscience" she wishes us to become.