Life at the Bottom

December 01, 2011

Multiple Pages
Life at the Bottom

I’ve read few things more depressing than this GQ piece about the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas earlier this year. On March 8 The New York Times had reported on “a roundup over the last month of 18 young men and teenage boys on charges of participating in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl.…The suspects range in age from middle schoolers to a 27-year-old.” This was in Cleveland, Texas, a down-at-heel townlet (pop. 7,920) forty-five miles north of Houston.

The Times story itself became a story, with attacks from all over. Mother Jones expressed the left’s general outrage, taking umbrage at the Times‘s use of the passive voice in asserting that local residents were troubled by questions such as: “How could their young men have been drawn into such an act?” This quote from someone who knew some of the defendants likewise vexed them: “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.

In addition to excusing the perps, the Times writer was thought to be blaming the victim. “Residents in the neighborhood…said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.” Not just Mother Jones but feminists nationwide were furious at that. An online petition protested what Mother Jones called the Times‘s “rape-friendly” coverage.”

“There are now large and swelling segments of the population for whom society has no use.”

Out on the race-realist right some were wondering about missing details. Cleveland, Texas is pretty much half-white and a quarter each black and Mexican. So what race were the perps and the victim? The London Daily Mail had already reported that all the defendants were black and the victim was “Hispanic,” i.e., Mexican. As Steve Sailer has noted, you have to go to foreign media sources to find out facts like those.

Meanwhile the Times did a follow-up, trying to set itself right with its feminist critics. The follow-up only made things worse—as they say out in lefty-land, it “raises additional concerns,” revealing as it did the victim’s race but not that of the perps.

My, what knots the left ties itself in when two of its treasured conceits collide. The treasured conceits in this case were:

Treasured Conceit #1. Rape is an expression—the most heinously evil expression—of men’s desire to control women. An act of rape instantiates the patriarchal oppression that underlies our rotten, corrupt, Western so-called “civilization.” It must always and everywhere be protested and shamed. The woman raped is never anything but a helpless victim of power-crazed brutes.

Treasured Conceit #2. Black Americans’ minds are so deformed by centuries of enslavement and racism that they no longer have any power of individual will. They are the helpless pawns of malign social forces. If they commit acts which would, when committed by responsible agents, be regarded as wicked, it is because they have been, as the initial Times report expressed it, “drawn into” those acts by the aforementioned forces.

What the Times reporting revealed was that anti-racism trumps feminism as it trumps well-nigh everything else—common sense, decency, truth, etc.

My initial reaction to the story was horror at the depravity of 18 boys and men sexually violating an 11-year-old girl. When the story-about-the-story came out I was disgusted at the left’s hypocrisy and dishonesty, unsurprised at the defendants’ race, but still horrified by the event.

I had forgotten about the Cleveland rape until a friend brought that GQ piece to my attention. It’s by a writer named Kathy Dobie and is an unsparing look at the people involved. It doesn’t precisely blame the victim, but it reveals that what happened was far from an abduction-assault. It doesn’t precisely excuse the perps, though it shows how many are willing to do so:

A minister at New Bethel Baptist Church took the entire youth choir to visit Jared Cruse in jail. “And they all just cried, they loved him so,” his great-aunt Bertha says.

What it does exquisitely, depressingly well is draw a picture of the random, hopeless, disorganized, and purposeless lives down there at the bottom of society.

Juan [the victim’s father] used to work in construction, but he’s been unemployed for a year and a half because of a back injury and vague stomach problems. Since then Maria has been the sole breadwinner, making change in a game room for the customers playing the slots. Almost two years ago, Maria was diagnosed with brain tumors after collapsing at work. She has no health insurance, so she hasn’t received any treatment for the tumors, nor can she pay for her insulin prescription for her diabetes. Every few months, she lands in the hospital again, most recently for a minor stroke. She’s a tall, big-boned 44-year-old woman with long, thick hair who goes to work, comes home, lies in her bed, and then goes back to work. She is often exhausted but almost always good-humored.

It all makes a horrid mockery of the old left and its hopes of raising us all up via social engineering to be philosopher-kings, or at least useful and conscientious citizens.

Likewise with the new left and its vapid prattle about everyone going to college. What will the people in this story study at college? Molecular biology?

I can’t see much comfort for the right here, either. Which of the schemes touted on conservative websites can uplift these people? Religion might touch a few and education a few more, but most are surely destined to be net negatives for a post-industrial society.

If you raise topics like this with conservatives you mostly hear about how the spiritual energy of religious reformers such as Charles Wesley rescued the early industrial English working class from the Slough of Despond.

That’s great, but in early industrial England there was plenty of useful work for everyone to do. Any able-bodied man could get work as a laborer or factory hand; any minimally socialized woman could find a “position” as a domestic servant.

That no longer applies. There are now large and swelling segments of the population for whom society has no use. Set down in cold print like that, it looks like a dreadful thing to say. But the very preposterousness of our favored remedies—send them all to college!—betrays an underlying hopelessness.

Race is a piece of the issue, but not all of it. During my childhood in the provincial, monoracial English working class of 50 years ago, I encountered people as “bungled and botched” (as Nietzsche is supposed to have said) as those in the GQ story. Every street had a couple of them. To judge by the writings of Theodore Dalrymple, one of whose book titles I have borrowed for this piece, England’s white people have gone considerably downhill since. If you have a racial sub-population with low average capabilities, proportionally more of them will be in the random, hopeless, disorganized and purposeless zone. But bunglehood and botchdom have no race.

Most of the prescriptions for dealing with social issues like this amount to turning gang rapists into educated, responsible, middle-class types. Does anyone actually know how to do this? Does anyone have, like, a clue? I really don’t.


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