Monday, July 21, 2008

Civil Society

Powerline has done a follow up on the Star Tribune’s follow up of this incident. I’m not from Minneapolis, so don’t read the paper regularly, but if their hectoring, supercilious, and self-parodying response is any indication of the quality of their work, I doubt very many read it.

Aside from their offhand "Obama can save us" endorsement, they offer this laser-like insight:

We share the anger and outrage caused by bands of young thugs. No family should have to endure the loss or injury of a loved one in this way. Yet in the search for solutions care must be taken to properly punish offenders and address the root causes of violence -- without giving in to fear, ignorance and racism.

Let us for a moment pretend that the root causes they speak of are not simply progressive code speak for white people not paying enough taxes and cutting enough slack for the social pathology of others.

What were the root causes which made these stellar citizens decide to gang up and sexually assault a twelve year old girl then dance on top of her father’s skull when he tried to stop them?

Poverty? There doesn't seem to be a mention of robbery, and if robbery was the intent, wouldn’t they attack before the family went into the park, rather than when they were leaving, after having spent their money?

Racism? The paper doesn’t give the race of the victims, but if they also were black, calling the attack a response to racism would make no sense. And if they were white, is the Star Tribune suggesting these sort of attacks should be viewed as a spontaneous overflow of rage at the injustice of society?

The latter, at least has some logical consistency, but ignores the inevitable conclusion: If I must consider every black person I meet as a potential time bomb ready to explode into random violence, I am going to stay away from them as much as possible – that’s not racism; it’s just common sense.

Since promoting “racism equals root causes” leads to a dead end, perhaps we can consider other root causes: Nihilism for example – to a stunted imagination, empathy is an unknowable concept, and “it seemed like a good idea at the time” is all the justification needed for any act. Based on the available evidence, this particular root cause seem more likely than many others.

The good news is that barbarous nihilism is a cause which can be addressed – it is difficult, and uncomfortable to point out and oppose those things which cause a culture to degenerate, but it can be done by someone with good faith and desire to shed their preconceptions. The bad news is that description does not apply to the editors of the Star Tribune.

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