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America at the Crossroads of Crisis

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

His very name has become a dog whistle for expressing White outrage against growing minority influence in America. Trump! Trump! Trump!
His mantra, “Make America Great Again,” resonates with so many White people because they hear, “Make America White Again.”

As a country founded by immigrants and supported through slavery and exploitative labor practices for much of its formative years, the growth of a powerful, comfortable middle class in the last half of the last Century seemed like a coming of age. The rise of the middle class after World War II was vindication that our founding principles were virtuous and the diversity of our pluralistic society was our strength. We were now a world power and an exceptional example of a place where merit, innovation and hard work paid off. We were proof that immigrants can do well here. Of course the payoff was always more difficult for minority groups to achieve, especially African-Americans and South American migrants.

But now there has been some fundamental shifts in the fabric of America. The political and economic power of the middle class has been on a long, slow decline for decades. At the same time the population of minority groups and the flow of immigrants from our Southern borders have grown. Minority groups, taken together, make up nearly half of our citizens. Globalization of business has increased competition for good jobs and higher wages while domestic pressure has increased to give minority groups greater equality of opportunity. A bloody clash of cultures has arisen on the world stage adding anxiety for those of us who worry that America is losing its cultural identity. (A growing worry in Europe as well). And all the while, the American majority, made up of mostly White Protestants of Western European distraction, is being stretched and fractured by growing wealth inequality. The wages and ownership interests of most White Americans is declining while wealthy White elites are growing ever richer.

It is understandable that the timing of middle class economic decline and the growth of minority interests would seem like a causal  correlation. It is also understandable how powerful interests might exploit this apparent cause-and-effect for their own benefit, but the truth is far more nuanced, and cloaked in deceit. In an ironic juxtaposition, the New York Times published two excellent articles on the same day that highlight both our sad cultural polarization and the sinister impact of inequality on our public institutions.

In his July 13, 2016, article titled, “For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance,” Nicholas Confessore writes:

“In countless collisions of color and creed, Donald J. Trump’s name evokes an easily understood message of racial hostility. Defying modern conventions of political civility and language, Mr. Trump has breached the boundaries that have long constrained Americans’ public discussion of race.”

What follows is an excellent expose on the cultural landscape in America. Then in an article titled, “How Private Equity Found Power and Profit in State Capitols,” the journalist detail how private equity firms are manipulating state and federal governments to pass legislation even more favorable to their financial interests.

The slow but steady economic decline of the middle class has taken most of us decades to recognize. That it was a planned assassination of the middle class perpetrated by corporate capitalists in the 1970’s has yet to sink in. And efforts by the elite perpetrators to distract us from their deeds by blaming the poor and pitting us, one against the other, rages on.

It may be indirectly true that minorities are somehow responsible for the economic decline that White Americans are experiencing, but certainly not in the direct ways as portrayed in the press or on the internet. It isn’t really true, for example, that undocumented immigrants are taking away jobs from White Americans.  It is true that immigration has created a growing pool of cheap, non-union labor that puts downward pressure on wages. It is also true that the pool of cheap labor has grown exponentially through the corporate globalization of commerce. But the bigger truth is that wealthy corporate capitalists have put us all in an economic vise. Almost all of us find ourselves in that proverbially overcrowded lifeboat that is about to capsize.

We seem to be at a crossroad. We can choose the Trump path to social dissolution and toss as many “others” overboard as we can, or ignore that we in the lifeboat because of the wealthy corporate capitalists (until we sink) or we can link arms to forge a new path that restores democracy and a civil economy for everyone. The only real option is to come together and face down the true source of America’s decline, the corporate global capitalists who are hoarding the fruits of our labors.


No Bias in Police Shootings? NYTimes gets it wrong.

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Recently, a single researcher found no racial disparity in the “extreme use of force-officer involved shootings” in Huston, Texas, based on that police departments self-reporting of incidents in which officials believe a police shooting was justified.  Roland G. Fryer, Jr., the researcher, admits his data set is not “ideal”.

Incredibly, police in the United States are not required to file any uniform reports when their actions result in civilian fatalities. The FBI compiles voluntary reports of “justifiable police homicides” but the most agencies don’t participate.  With no uniform reporting a detailed analysis of a single department has limited value. You can’t conclude much from this study and you certainly can’t generalize the findings nationally.  But that is exactly what the New York Times did.

In an article published today, July 11, 2016, the Times headline reads, “Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings.” The article goes on to say the findings, “contradicts the mental image of police shooting that many Americans hold…”

The more robust and pertinent question is whether there is a pattern of racial disparity in all civilian deaths that result from police actions. When  reports of civilian deaths are compiled from local news accounts the answer is yes. The bias is stricking nearly everywhere.

I was among the first to analyse these local news reports data last April. In a region-by-region and state-by-state analysis there was clear evidence of a racial disparity in police involved civilian deaths. (See http://aseyeseesit.blogspot.com/2015/04/new-data-exposes-racial-bias-in-fatal.html)

The grossly over-generalized reporting on the Fryer study by the New York Times isn’t worthy of their reputation.