Garrulous geezerhood lends itself most readily to peevishness—so, here are a few:
When prominent folks are unmasked as fools, idiots, frauds, sex fiends or pimps, their default position is to kill the messenger.
That means the press.
Americans—potentially the best informed citizens the world has known—should see these attacks as profoundly subversive because they undermine our faith in our most important and reliable institution.
And how we hate regulation.
Americans have a lot of trouble seeing that government has a role in our lives. Maybe they’d prefer to live with poisoned water; toxic air; unsafe air traffic; suspect foods and medicines; marauders on the streets—to name only a very few.
Remember when robber barons stole the right of ways for railroads; sent men into unsafe mines; plundered the earth of minerals and liquids; and tolerated sweatshops, illiteracy, massive unemployment and other nihilisms?
Government can be masterful and intrusive. It suffers from the absence of capitalism’s merciless (but terribly efficient) rigor, and we’d be right to be skeptical, but not abolitionists.
For example, in my experience, cities don’t need more cops—usually ever; they need more efficiency, efficacy and economizing—in short, management. Government must learn to operate economically.
The enduring reluctance to debate the race issue keeps our nation divided—in every sense: economic, educational, residential and, most especially, in terms of the levels of violence.
Many years ago Gunnar Myrdal, a sociologist, said America’s greatest problem was “the Negro” question [“An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy,” 1944]. Guess what? It still is. And the Obama presidency does as much to underscore it (in mostly unstated terms) as to refute it.
Forgotten in all this is that oppression does a lot (not as much, perhaps) to twist and monsterize the oppressor as it damages the oppressed. What is indisputable is that it’s bad for everyone—even as it makes the twisted fascists happy.
Ferguson, Mo., is not an aberration—a white minority running a mostly black town. Blacks must ask themselves why seniors have so much power. They vote!
We ain’t ever gonna realize this great nation’s potential until we confront the race issue in its myriad manifestations.
Our real greatness depends on our facing this dilemma. We must debate.
So, what’s to be done? To be done?
Faced with a similar conundrum, President Lyndon Johnson, in 1966, set up a Commission on Law Enforcement and Justice. Its big contribution was to suggest 911.
President Barack Obama should set up a President’s Commission on Crime, Justice and Race.
Editor’s note: When Tony Bouza writes “It still is.”, halfway through the article, he doesn’t fully explain that the ongoing dilemma is not that black people are the problem, as could be implied in Myrdal’s “the Negro question” but that white racism persists.