A Very Tall Moron

I always had a soft spot for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Maybe it is is freakish physique or his weird demeanor. I don’t know. He’s just a weird dude in so many ways I can’t help but like him. John Derbyshire talks about old weird America from time to time and Kareem is part of old weird America. He’s one part black guy, one part California weirdo, one part famous athlete and one part crazy philosopher. Lately Time Magazine has been letting him express his crazy side.

Will the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?
Hungry Heroes: 25 Percent of Military Families Seek Food Aid NBC News’We Have Had Enough’: Ferguson Rally Remembers Michael Brown NBC NewsMore Charges Planned Against Amish Girls Kidnap Suspects NBC NewsHeidi Klum Wears Dress Made Of Tiny Strings, Spins Around A Lot At The Creative Arts Emmys Huffington PostPhoto Emerges Of Darren Wilson, Cop Who Fatally Shot Teen Michael Brown Huffington Post

The answer can be found in May of 1970.

You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment.

You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.

On May 14th, 10 days after Kent State ignited the nation, at the predominantly black Jackson State University in Mississippi, police killed two black students (one a high school senior, the other the father of an 18-month-old baby) with shotguns and wounded twelve others.

There was no national outcry. The nation was not mobilized to do anything. That heartless leviathan we call History swallowed that event whole, erasing it from the national memory.

That’s not true at all. There was a big showy commission that addressed both Jackson State and Kent State. The Jackson State incident was due to the students trying to burn down the university and the cops being put into a situation for which they were unprepared. They basically threw a bunch of cops into the middle of a riot and they panicked. But hey, who has time for details?

And, unless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.

By focusing on just the racial aspect, the discussion becomes about whether Michael Brown’s death—or that of the other three unarmed black men who were killed by police in the U.S. within that month—is about discrimination or about police justification. Then we’ll argue about whether there isn’t just as much black-against-white racism in the U.S. as there is white-against-black. (Yes, there is. But, in general, white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact.)

Then we’ll start debating whether or not the police in America are themselves an endangered minority who are also discriminated against based on their color—blue. (Yes, they are. There are many factors to consider before condemning police, including political pressures, inadequate training, and arcane policies.) Then we’ll question whether blacks are more often shot because they more often commit crimes. (In fact, studies show that blacks are targeted more often in some cities, like New York City. It’s difficult to get a bigger national picture because studies are woefully inadequate. The Department of Justice study shows that in the U.S. between 2003 and 2009, among arrest-related deaths there’s very little difference among blacks, whites, or Latinos. However, the study doesn’t tell us how many were unarmed.)

This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.

And that’s how the status quo wants it.

Poverty is simply not an issue in modern America. I see a lot of poor people. Way more than Kareem does out their in Malibu. Most of the poor are fat. Most of them have plenty of drugs and booze. It’s not a life I want to live, but it beats starving or shivering in the cold. The poor have it better than any poor people on the planet.

The rest of it is more of the same nonsense he picked up from TV. Like I said at the start, I’ve always had a soft spot for Kareem. I wish him no harm. He would be better off just enjoying is remaining years and feeling good about having lived a better life than all but a handful of humans in the history of man. Kareem had a great life.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
9 years ago

America has been engaged in a War on Poverty (TM) for decades. If things have only gotten worse during that time, then the war policies may be the PROBLEM not the SOLUTION. Instead of doubling down on what the country has been doing, perhaps it would be more effective if it stopped doing what it has been doing and rethought the entire problem. IMO it’s hardly worth taking people like Kareem seriously until the football stadiums and basketball arenas are empty. As long as the seats are full of fans who pay good money to watch grown men play games,… Read more »

Rob De Witt
Rob De Witt
9 years ago

He got it more right than he intended to when he says it’s always been “class warfare.” That’s true, and “class warfare” has always, all ways, been riots in the streets fought by poor people who were egged on by their “betters.” Ever since the French Revolution when the likes of Diderot, Voltaire and Rousseau sat safely in warm rooms of the academy writing screeds to inspire others to take their chances for them, it’s been about “class warfare.” There would be no “class warfare” without Communism, and there would be no Communism without “class warfare.” Watch the institutional left… Read more »