Return to Burn Baby Burn Or Not?

Baltimore’s Freddie Gray joins Walter Scott and a host of other black young men who have met their deaths at the hands of police.In Ferguson Oklahoma a suit for $75,000 has been filed against the city by the family of Michael Brown.(Not much for a young man of 19 with  lifetime earnings ahead of him!) In Baltimore protests blended into rioting and looting with the National Guard being mobilized.Six police persons(of diverse racial and gender origin) have been charged with unwarranted arrest and various degrees of misconduct endangering life.There are voices on the right charging a rush to judgment by a black attorney general backed by a black mayor(both women).In Los Angeles the police chief(LAPD) called for dual patrolling in the face of a risk of spread of rioting and civil disorder.The chief of the county sheriff’s department saw no need for special arrangements inasmuch as there was no indication that there would be a spread to Los Angeles county.In addition there appears to have been another shooting in the back of a young black man in Baltimore by a policeman on duty.There are indications that 85% of Americans white, black and Latino expect a long hot summer.If this were to be case it would indicate that we have made little progress since the end of the 60s and since the early 90s.I BELIEVE THAT THE PROGRESS THAT WE,AS A NATION, HAVE MADE IS BOTH REAL AND SUBSTANTIVE.A black President is not just window dressing,nor is a black first male and then( belatedly)female attorney general.The voices of the far left insist that we have advanced only those who could walk the walk and talk the talk ,essentially sell outs to the establishment.The far right mobilizes their constituency of old (mostly white) men and callous persons who see Robin Hood behind every corner and in any differently hued face.What appears to be true of both extremes is that they fear and resent change that occurs as a result of an orderly, constitutional  and thus necessarily slow process.For them change is the enemy.Much depends on a politicized supreme court.

To our growing list of pariahs we add Tsarnaev, the Symbionese Liberation Front and James Holmes.The SLF denied us the test of the death penalty that the remaining two proffer.The guilt of all is without question but the finality of a death penalty(found so often to be mistaken)even in the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who succeeded in stealing nothing but apparently had the intent to sell atomic secrets. What the heck,we might as well add them to the list of Pariahs



  1. It seems strange the degree to which race is seen to be a pivotal factor regarding judgments about what is important. The values that have filled my life almost never have anything to do with race. It is obviously important to some and that makes it an interesting subject for anyone interested in the nature of being human – the good and the bad – but mostly the why. Many are saying today that our government needs to avoid causing subversion and revolt. Is it truly the actions of government or is it magnified fantasies of the “group” that are mostly to blame for today’s headlines of revolt? Fantasies and exaggerations that serve religious-like moral or political agendas have a way of bloating into mob scenes as well as garnering votes. In a land where its government was originally structured to maximize individual freedom, what forces cause many to feel that they are downtrodden? Nature experiments constantly with random genetic variations, thus there will always be many who will be on the edges of survival. Nature does not distribute equally the aptitudes that allow some to do better than others. Even in the land where success is most possible there will be many individuals who fail to varying degrees. Given sufficient levels of wealth, there are ways that the successful can try to help individuals who suffer nature’s inequities. It is when we make comparisons not among individuals, but among groups or tribes that the truly significant dysfunctions evolve. Those whose self-image is predominantly that of a member of a tribe rather than that of an individual belonging first to the human race will find their judgments magnified, defended, and promoted when shared by the group. An injustice or feelings of superiority (imagined or real) will be felt by all members. Individuals in conflict may fight. Groups in conflict often war. A hundred years of psychometric studies show us that the intellectual skills that allow the greatest successes are not evenly distributed among the races. The Pacific Rim Asians seem to have the edge, with some groups associated with the Jewish religion standing out above all. Evolutionary history appears to explain how some populations, in order to survive, needed intellectually sophisticated planning skills in order to survive harsh climates and even difficult social structures. The less able tended to die having produced fewer or no children. Average levels of abilities as measured among groups thus evolved differently. There are brilliant individuals in every race. There are many who are dim in every race. As a group, the one identified as black tends to have a larger percentage scoring IQs in the 60, 70 to 80 range. Even so, there are similar numbers of whites in the U.S. who score in those lower ranges. Forget race and we can more easily deal with those individuals who truly need help. Instead of “No child left behind” wouldn’t it be better rephrased, “No IQ point left behind”. When one’s “group” is measurably less successful, it is easy to imagine that others are against you, that it is your group that is being victimized by other groups. Political points are made by manipulators who foster such feelings. Assigning to government the power to make amends for the vicissitudes of nature (forced redistributions) is going to thrust us into energy-sapping, conflict-making, and often impossible endeavors. We can understand that there are great rewards, psychologically and often physically, that flow from an identity with groups of various sorts (nations, religions, races, even football teams). It can create (sometimes appropriately) a heady brew of emotionally-heightened meanings. No matter the advantages, it behooves us to recognize the dangers and downsides as well. Our founders created a template which if understood and practiced by a sufficient number could allow us to move beyond history-old conflicts.
    Don Spencer

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