For some reason, the supposedly libertarian (or is that "liberaltarian," now?) Cato Unbound website has been hosting a discussion of this truly sad & feeble essay by Brown University's Glenn Loury:
Prof. Loury is upset because so many people are incarcerated in America, today - and, especially, because so many of them are black.
A phenomenon which he blames on...
...wait for it...
...well? Are you sure that you can handle the sheer gutsiness & originality of his position? for, if you're not sure, dear reader, you must forbear to read any further...
...I mean, I wouldn't want to give anybody heart palpitations, or anything...
...OK, you've been warned, here it comes:
THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY AND RACISM IN AMERICA.
As I've already observed over in Will Wilkinson's comments, the really sad thing about Loury's piece is that there are still people who find this sort of thing "fascinating" and "hard-hitting" (check out the track-backs at Cato Unbound) when, in fact, it is simply the latest iteration of what has been the conventional liberal wisdom on African-American crime rates for at least 40 years now - conventional liberal wisdom that has dictated an endless series of policy failures.
Whereas the right's race-blind "lock'em up" approach is the only thing that actually seems to have achieved its avowed goal here, - i.e., reducing crime rates.
* * * * *
Oh, and while I'm repeating stuff that I already said over at WW's, there's also this:
Loury makes only very brief mention of his own experiences with the criminal justice system.
In case anybody's interested, here are some of the details:
"...assault charges were brought against him by a twenty-three-year-old Smith graduate, who-unbeknownst to Loury's second wife, Linda, an economic, professor at Tufts-had been living at his expense in a Boston apartment. The telephone was registered under his name; local papers called it a 'love nest.' The woman who showed up in court wearing a neck brace, accused him of dragging her down four flights of stairs, shredding her clothes, and throwing her books and papers out the window. (The charges were eventually dropped.) Then, in late November, he was arrested for possession of marijuana and cocaine. On searching his car, police found a home-made pipe. A local reporter chanced on the arrest while reading the police blotter, and within days the story had been picked up across the country. Loury was again in the news, this time with potentially career-stopping headlines. As court dates and drug buys swirled around him, Loury was emerging as exactly the kind of person he had warned black America to avoid: a violent, irresponsible, drug-using womanizer who put his own pleasure above the demands of his career and the needs of his family."
Shortly thereafter, Loury "pulled a Colson," so to speak, and got "born again":
"...religion...has become increasingly important to him since 1989, when he was 'born again.' After a life spent relishing the twin pleasures of personal hedonism and professional success, Loury says, he has found more authentic fulfillment through faith even as he has discovered a profoundly illiberal truth: 'My pursuit of personal freedom-my constant quest to be free of constraint, to be unfettered-has been the source of much of my unhappiness.' Only religion, Loury contends, provides the emphasis on work and character which is so desperately needed in America's ghettos. To synthesize the best of black nationalism and Christian morality, he has proposed a hybrid that he calls Christian Nationalism..."
The New Yorker, 5/1/1995