Nightmare in D.C. public schools
first-person narrative published in City Journal
tells of a young, idealistic Yale grad named Joshua Kaplowitz who went to teach in a Washington, D.C. public school and ended up in a nightmare of student misbehavior, administrative barbarism, and parental anti-white racism. While most of his fifth grade and second grade pupils wanted to learn, a significant minority were wildly disruptive, even violent; worse, the black principal sided with the disruptive children against Kaplowitz (for example, refusing to allow him to remove the worst children from his class, and accusing him of using physical force on pupils when he merely separated children who were hitting each other), and thus made any classroom discipline and learning impossible. The saga culminated when Kaplowitz was falsely charged with assaulting a student. He was subsequently thrown in jail, subjected to a six day trial, and sued by the boy’s parents for $20 million.
Kaplowitz’s nightmarish story provides ample supporting evidence for what I said in my recent article on race differences—that even though most blacks do not themselves engage in bad behavior, the black community as a whole do not seem to possess the moral will and energy to control the bad apples among them and thus to maintain a civilized order. An outside influence is needed, namely whites, who do possess the moral will and the organizing intelligence to create a decent functioning structure for the blacks. However, we need to recognize that such salutary reforms will remain impossible so long as we continue to embrace the liberal myth of substantive racial equality—a myth that inexorably leads us to blame whites for the actual existing inequalities and thus excuse blacks for their own misbehaviors and failures.
I’m not saying, of course, that blacks have not created decent functioning structures by themselves anywhere in the world. We are speaking here in the context of blacks functioning within the norms and standards of Western society. In the pre-Sixties period there certainly were decent black communities, but this was in an America where the rules and expectations were set by the white bourgeois Christian majority. Wherever the former white cultural leadership and standards have been withdrawn or thrown off, such as in cities and communities that are now run by blacks, as well as in American society as a whole, there has been a precipitous drop in the markers of civilization among blacks. As is well known, the Sixties Revolution, while it deeply harmed white America, had a much more devastating impact on black America.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 14, 2003 01:13 AM | Send
Good article from City Journal. I especially liked the requirement to teach all the children all the time in the least restrictive environment — Leave No Child Behind, as they say. The requirement is a natural consequence of the basic welfare state principle that the well-being of each individual, especially each weak and disadvantaged individual, is a state responsibility.
One feature the article had in common with the article I posted on domestic violence in Colorado is the literal-minded adoption of the presumption that the stronger person is the oppressor and the authorities on the scene can’t be trusted, which leads to no-exceptions rules like “when there’s a DV complaint there always has to be an arrest” and “teachers can never under any circumstances put their hands on students.” I suppose there’s also the prejudice against any use of physical force that can’t be fully subjected to supervision and rule. In both cases that means that the person on the spot can’t have any discretion whether or not to use force.
Similar conditions exist in my Australian junior high school, except that there is not the same racial problem and it is less common for parents to sue schools and teachers.
One factor the writer didn’t emphasise is the role played by family breakdown. Most kids, even those from good homes, have the potential to play up. But the really hardcore disruptive group nearly always have a grossly dysfunctional family background.
A woman who was on a mailing list to which I sent this article wrote back to me:
“I also concluded that there is significant racism among blacks against whites but I read your words and know that there is still significant racism among whites. ‘The black community as a whole does not seem to possess the moral will to control the bad apples among them… . An outside influence is needed, namely whites, who do possess the moral will and the organizing intelligence to create a decent functioning structure for the blacks.’ I am happy for black students and teachers that you are not their principal as you are a raging racist.”
My critic, who as I remember is an advocate of immigration reform though also a liberal, calls me a “raging racist” over this article, though in one sense I’m calling for the same kind of thing that liberals are always demanding. That is, I’m suggesting that it may be necessary for society (which basically means the white majority) to take concerted action to help improve the condition of blacks, since a very significant part of the black population seem unable to do it for themselves. But because I’m framing the issue in non-liberal terms, I become a racist.
The liberal says (or at least believes) that blacks are basically unable to make themselves functionally equal to whites, and that this is because of bad things that whites have done to blacks in the past, and therefore it’s whites’ responsibility to intevene to lift up blacks’ performance even as the whites keep making THEMSELVES guilty for the black deficiencies that the whites are obligated to fix (a guilt that obviously hamstrings the whites and makes any effective action by them in this area impossible). Like the liberal, the racial realist also says that a large part of the black population are unable to make themselves functionally equal to whites, but, unlike the liberal, he says that this is due to (1) the blacks’ own civilizational deficiencies, which in turn have been greatly exacerbated by (2) white liberalism. His recognition of these two factors determines the nature of the help that the racial realist thinks ought to be given. Insofar as the blacks’ problems are due to a deficiency in civilizational abilities, the realist believes the white-majority society ought to provide guidance and standards for the blacks that they are unable to provide for themselves; insofar as the blacks’ difficulties have been vastly worsened by white liberalism, the realist believes that this guidance needs to be provided not on the basis of liberal notions of white guilt (which only increases blacks’ problems by destroying whites’ moral authority and encouraging blacks to play the racism card to everyone’s detriment), but on the basis of the civilizational competency and moral leadership of the white majority culture itself.
Both the good liberal, i.e. my critic, and the “raging racist,” i.e. myself, would like to improve the condition of blacks, but their reasons for doing so and the way they would go about doing it are radically different.
All of this is theoretical, of course. A morally renewed white majority culture capable of real leadership does not seem to be a near-term likelihood. But neither do any of the other things that traditionalists believe in. I offer this approach as a possible future alternative to the present racial dilemma produced by liberalism.
I think that the black community has had more than enough patronizing white liberalism. Forgive me, as I understand the thrust of your commentary and I agree with it, but I think the biggest problem faced by the black community is that white liberals and the self-appointed (and media-supported) leaders of the black community perpetuate the myth that racism is pervasive and prevents black children from succeeding. To accomplish this white people must treat black people exactly the same as white people. To treat black people differently, even with the best of intentions, will only reinforce separtism and, at best, establish you as the ‘exception that proves the rule.’
To state that black people as a whole do not have the moral or intellectual capability to organize society in a non-chaotic way assumes that there is something biological in moral and intellectual will, as race by definition is biological, hence if you tie moral and intellectual will to race you eliminate free will and morality, as, for examply, one cannot behave but in a corrupt manner if one is a black person who is in a public leadership position due to the biological fact of race, hence God could not punish nor reward a black person in that position as they would be simply acting within their biological limitations, in this case the biological limitations would be will and intelligence.
This is obviously absurd, as it destroys the foundation for justice in the Universe, namely man’s ability to act morally (will) and reflectively (intelligence).
Second, one must assume that traditional African society was somehow inherently corrupt, which I dare say unless one is God, they can in know way rise above their own time and place to view another with such objectivity. It may appear corrupt to one who does not understand it, but that does not necessarily make it so. Besides the Islamic caliphates in black Africa were civilized by most Western definitions, which, assuming the absoluteness of Western definitions, also discredits the hypothesis that black people cannot organize themselves in a just manner.
Besides, what about those Africans who are half Arab (Sudan), or quite often 5-50% white (America)? Does their organizational morality increase accordingly (again due to biology, the reductionism of which often insults our intelligence, intuition, and religion).
RD apparently assumes (subject to clarification of course) that in order to have validity, intellect and will must be possessed in equal measure by every man.
The notion that every human being has an equal moral or intellectual capacity doesn’t hold up to the experience of working with, for example, Downs kids. That they HAVE moral and intellectual capacity, and as human beings have unmeasurable and inviolable worth, is indisputable. Unmeasurable and inviolable are not the same thing as equal, though. The notion that everyone has to be EQUAL in some capacity in order for that capacity and its ends to have any validity is nonsense. Read the parable of the three servants and the Talents with which they were entrusted.
The error of arbitrarily assuming the moral necessity of equality, even under the hood as in RD’s comment, reduces to an embrace of death; since it is only in death that we are all equals.
I saved the more esoteric bit of my comment for last, since it is entirely possible that when I get to this next sort of observation I am mostly talking to myself and clarifying my own thoughts. The basic error is in confusing category and degree, which itself rests on the error of nominalism. Just because all humans are human that does not mean that there is an intelligibly measureable “humanness” of which we all have equal measure. That is why I will sometimes raise objections (even though I haven’t found a great way to communicate why) when someone says, for example, that “all desires are equally desires”. In that phrase there are two usages of the noun “desire”: the first usage is as a formal category, and the second, since it is preceded by the modifier “equal,” is a measure of some substantive degree. The sentence is equivocal: it uses the word “desire” twice as if it meant the same thing in both usages, when it in fact does not. So the sentence contains within it an intellectual equivocation that propogates as errors in the conclusions that are drawn from it.
RD is offering a powerful critique. The different races are all part of the same species, man. By definition, all members of that species have the potential capacity to live an ordered life before God. Therefore, even if we acknowledge that there are significant racial differences in terms of abilities, tendencies, and so on, we also must assume that the differences cannot be too large, otherwise we would be forced to conclude that some sub-groups of the human species do not fit the definition of man.
However, I don’t think the latter result is implied in what I’ve said here. When it is said that blacks, as a race, do not at present exhibit the ability on their own to maintain the sort of civilization that would be acceptable by the standards of white people, that does not mean that blacks are not moral beings potentially ordered toward the good and God. It means, rather, that there may be a different form of organization that would be more suited to their talents and genius.
I think something like this is suggested in Jefferson’s writings properly understood. Jefferson said all men are created equal in the sense of possessing certain basic rights including the right to have their own political community oriented toward the Aristotelian good, happiness. Notwithstanding what some critics say of Jefferson, I think it is clear that he did believe that blacks as well as whites have those rights. That was why he wrote that “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free;” Yet at the same time, because of historical and racial differences between the two groups, he did not think that the blacks could safely exercise those rights in the same society as the whites: “nor is it less certain [he continued after a semicolon] that the two races, equally free, cannot live under the same government.” In other words, blacks should not be permanently subordinated to the whites, nor could they live among whites as their equals. The implication is unavoidable that they ought to have their own country and their own government. Now such a government and its ideas of the good would differ in many particulars from those of the whites (as is true of diverse cultures generally), but in their own society the blacks could still exercise that pursuit of the Aristotelian good according to their best lights.
Perhaps, as the less advanced people, they would need some help in doing this. Albert Schweitzer, who devoted half his long life to serving the physical and spiritual needs of Africans, often spoke of blacks as “our younger brothers.” One obviously is not denying the humanity of one’s younger brother even if one believes that he is less capable than oneself in some ways and needs a helping hand.
So, while there are many serious problems created by the great diversity of the human species requiring enormous wisdom to resolve in a workable and human fashion (a degree of wisdom that we plainly have not yet demonstrated), I don’t see that diversity as an ultimate dilemma that contradicts the idea of all men as beings under God.
Mr. Auster, I would point out that whereas you started out arguing one thing, you ended up arguing something else. You began in the original post by asserting that:
“…the black community as a whole do not seem to possess the moral will and energy to control the bad apples among them and thus to maintain a civilized order.”
That is, that black Americans, considered as a group, don’t *want* to do what’s necessary to maintain a civilized order. But then, under assault from your liberal friend, you subtly shifted the ground (no doubt innocently):
“That is, I’m suggesting that it may be necessary for [whites in] society…to help improve the condition of blacks, since a very significant part of the black population seem unable to do it for themselves.”
Here you are claiming that blacks are *unable* to maintain a civilized order. These are two very different things, as I’m sure you recognize.
I am fully in agreement with your first claim, that many or most American blacks seem not to *want* to maintain civilized (i.e., in this case, American) society. However, I am fully in *disagreement* with your second claim, that many or most American blacks are incapable of it. Insofar as American blacks may be said to be incapable of it, it is, in my opinion, simply because they have not cared enough to prepare themselves for the responsibility. That is to say, blacks are not incapable of responsible, mature self-government by nature, but only due to a choice they’ve made which prevents them from developing the habits and virtues necessary for it.
Now it’s very true that this inattention to such important matters seems to be culture-wide among blacks—it is (or has been, anyway) urged by most prominent black leaders and seems to be encouraged by most black parents as well. But the significant point remains that it’s *culture*-wide, not *race*-wide, which is a huge distinction. Blacks fail at American self-government not because they are incapable of it qua Negro, but simply because they have refused to assimilate politically into our culture. It’s no more complicated than that.
“Not able” and “not willing” can be hard to disentangle. I know highly intelligent white people who engage in flagrantly illogical statements. Is this due only to a lack of desire to be logical, or is their personality geared in such a way that in some sense it makes them less desirous of being logical? Or is it a combination of the two? I’ve also known people who, while quite witty and personable, simply do not have very strong logical faculties. Could they be more logical if they really WANTED to be? I suppose so. But to what degree? Generally people are most desirous of doing those types of things that they are most capable at.
This relates to Mr. Newland’s assertion that the black behavioral deficiencies are solely a matter of culture, and not of race at all. Isn’t it likely that if an entire race of people exhibits logical behavior which is, say, one standard deviation below that of other groups on average, or acting-out behavior that on average is one standard deviation higher than that of other groups, that there are inborn tendencies that make those cultural patterns more likely? The same analysis applies to positive group traits as well as negative. This is not to argue for determinism in the sense of denying responsibility. But it would seem obtuse to deny that the genetically inborn talents and tendencies of a people play a strongly influential and formative (though not a determinative) role in their culture.
If we were to follow Mr. Newland’s reasoning consistently, we would end up saying along with the feminists that typically male and female behaviors are solely a matter of cultural training.
“I know highly intelligent white people who engage in flagrantly illogical statements. Is this due only to a lack of desire to be logical” — Lawrence Auster
I’m afraid I don’t follow you at all. What does this have to do with anything? By “highly intelligent white people” I assume you mean people who don’t normally make logical errors. So how does their committing an error from time to time bear on the subject?
I have a feeling you don’t mean illogical as in “illogical,” but illogical as in “wrong”—i.e. they proceed from different principles than you do and consequently wind up with different conclusions, and you can’t see how *their* conclusions follow from *your* premises, so you say they’re “illogical.”
If that’s what you mean, then the real question is why do such people adopt false principles. The answer to that is threefold: they adopt them either out of ignorance, error, or ill will.
“I’ve also known people who, while quite witty and personable, simply do not have very strong logical faculties. Could they be more logical if they really WANTED to be?” — Lawrence Auster
What are you claiming? That the reason black people can’t maintain American democracy is that they’re illogical? Or are you just using logic as an example?
“Isn’t it likely that if an entire race of people exhibits logical behavior which is, say, one standard deviation below that of other groups on average, or acting-out behavior that on average is one standard deviation higher than that of other groups, that there are inborn tendencies that make those cultural patterns more likely?” — Lawrence Auster
It depends. If Negroes, for instance, have a lower mean score in, say, reading comprehension worldwide, this can be easily accounted for, it seems to me, by the fact that the vast majority of Negroes a) don’t have access to decent education, and/or b) aren’t encouraged in it, typically for historical reasons (slavery and its fallout in the West and the need to hunt and forage in the East).
“If we were to follow Mr. Newland’s reasoning consistently, we would end up saying along with the feminists that typically male and female behaviors are solely a matter of cultural training.” — Lawrence Auster
There are obvious anatomical differences between men and women that determine their natural roles. Can you show me a corresponding difference between, say, white men and black men that would account for black men being somehow incapable of practicing American democracy?
Jim Newland wrote: “If Negroes, for instance, have a lower mean score in, say, reading comprehension worldwide, this can be easily accounted for, it seems to me, by the fact that the vast majority of Negroes a) don’t have access to decent education, and/or b) aren’t encouraged in it, typically for historical reasons (slavery and its fallout in the West and the need to hunt and forage in the East).”
Mr. Newland shows a lack of basic information on the subject of race and intelligence. The short answer to his question is that blacks do not just perform low on reading comprehension worldwide, but on IQ, determined by tests that in a highly sophisticated manner separate out cultural and socioeconomic factors and determine g or general intelligence. However, this is not the time or place to provide an entire beginner’s course on IQ. He needs to do some reading in this area before the discussion can go further. He could start with The Bell Curve by Murray and Hernnstein, or Race, Evolution and Behavior by Rushton, or peruse some back issues of American Renaissance. Here’s a good place to start: the lengthy review of The Bell Curve that appeared in American Renaissance in February 1995. It’s available online.
Mr. Auster qoutes Albert Schweitzer as describing black people as our “younger brothers.” This seems to assume an evolutionary perspective on race, which seems to me as highly questionable.
There is an inevitable materialism in assuming that white people are more advanced than say black people, mainly due to the fact that the proposed advance is primarily evident in the material realm, (technology, industrial infrastructure and its consequent human organization) or in white people’s ability to manipulate and utilize the material realm, (science, logic, etc.).
If one assumes this material-focused perspective then it appears that yes, white people on average are more advanced (IQ tests, assuming that their sophistication is to the level where large, accurate generalities can be made from them, can also be included here, as they certainly do not measure man’s transcendent capacities). However, if one were to assume a spiritual perspective, which by nature is above the material (while also subsuming it), then black people may very well be seen as embodying a primordiality, that is ‘above’ the fall into materiality and quantity so evidenced by white civilization and its clear abilities in the material realm. Material evolution may be occuring concurrent with spiritual devolution.
Isn’t the first requirement for “civilized order”, a capacity to recognize an will the moral precepts? And have not whites also proven themselves, for what ever reason in the US, incapable of recognizing and willing the moral precepts.
Just as Mr. Newland’s example of false first principles in science will lead to further error. So will false moral precepts lead to an un”civilized order.
Logic plays a role in the creation of civilized order, but once again, bad first principles will lead to error. For instance, Kant or Marx to a lesser degree may be logical, but bad first principles doom their works to error. So I wonder if sufficient logic is not the problem, but the incapacity to use it because of bad first principles.
Since all men are obligated to live in the human community, which is most properly civilized order; and since all men are by nature social, it would be strange if entire classes of men had a privation of nature which made them incapable of sufficient logic and thus incapable of fullfilling their obligations.
Futher musing about this incapacity for civilized order, which appears more likely to be a corruption and not a privation; it may be asked, is this corruption each individual’s choice or not. If by choice, then each individual is culpable for choosing vice. Or, if the corruption occurs during formation, each individual is not culpable in so far as the corruption is prior to the individual’s being able to properly choose.
If it occurs during formation, then each individual is very much like Matt’s example of Downs syndrom which is not natural and a privation which prevents an individual from being properly disposed to the moral precepts and thus not culpable.
It seems to me (again and as always subject to clarification) that RD is assuming that any acknowledgement of the importance of the material is the same thing as materialism. If that is what he means it is clearly wrong: materialism asserts the irrelevance or nonexistence of the spiritual, not merely the importance of the material. I do think the notion that the material is irrelevant is common among Eastern religions, but the Incarnation seems to be a problem for the “spirituality-only” perspective. It is true it seems to me that a Eucharistically centered community is less likely to be subject to this particular error.
F. Salzer said:
“…then each individual is very much like Matt’s example of Downs syndrom which is not natural and a privation which prevents an individual from being properly disposed to the moral precepts and thus not culpable.”
I think it is true of course that someone with an utter incapacity for thought cannot be morally culpable. I think that there are at least some e.g. Downs kids who know enough not to steal, have a basic understanding of right and wrong, etc, and are capable of (and thus culpable for) moral transgression. The notion that there is a bright line separating the capable/culpable from the incapable/not culpable is again related to the failure to distinguish between capacity and degree. Part of the reason only God can judge is becuase only God can know capacity/culpability for people other than Himself.
Sorry, “the failure to distinguish between capacity and degree” should read “the failure to distinguish between category and degree”.
I’ve added a third paragraph to the original article, qualifying the excessively categorical-sounding statements in the second paragraph.
Dear Matt, Thanks for pointing out and correcting a lack of clarity in my post.
Mr. Auster writes: “We are speaking here in the context of blacks functioning within the norms and standards of Western society.”
Would you please explain what you mean by “norms and standards of Western society”.
My choice, for instance, would be the norms and standards of the Western Church, versus the Eastern. Both fully true and Catholic, but different.