Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

With Friends Like These (Black youth stereotyped by progressive columnist Bob Herbert)
FAIR ^ | February 2004 | Mike Males

Posted on 09/05/2004 1:15:32 AM PDT by John Lenin

With Friends Like These

Black youth stereotyped by progressive columnist Bob Herbert

By Mike Males

Black Americans are "insane," "predators," "running wild," "killing each other," perpetrating "self-destructive sexual behavior and drug use," and in need of "thundering" condemnations from leaders to halt their culture-driven recklessness.

A vicious attack by far-right, race-baiting commentators like Michael Savage or Ann Coulter? No, these are routine disparagements by the New York Times' well-respected, progressive African-American columnist Bob Herbert, selectively criticizing "young black men and women."

For example, Herbert (6/12/03) blamed Los Angeles' recent murder epidemic on "kids who are running wild and frequently killing one another". He declared (10/17/03) that the "Ghettopoly" game, a Monopoly parody widely deplored as a demeaning caricature of inner-city blacks, actually arises from the "real-life . . . outlandishly self-destructive behavior" of "insane young men" incited by rap music and a "Lord of the Flies street culture that is seducing one generation after another of black children."

Likewise, Herbert (6/4/01) blamed AIDS in the black community on "thousands upon thousands of young blacks succumbing to the ravages of self-destructive sexual behavior" and "drug use . . . that have inflicted gruesome damage on one generation after another of young black Americans." Black leaders must issue "thundering" condemnations of bad attitudes and behaviors among "youngsters, who think they are invulnerable," he wrote (1/11/01), later adding (6/4/01), "One of the biggest obstacles to controlling the spread of the AIDS virus among young blacks is denial."

Rush Limbaugh couldn't have said it better--or more misleadingly. The real denial is that of older commentators--black and white--who evade the harsh fact that today's most destructive behaviors are found not among the young of any race, but in their own respective middle-aged groups. Like many progressive commentators, Herbert's reliance on self-serving, secondhand sources obscures the fact that younger blacks show astonishingly positive trends while older blacks and whites display rising troubles.

Questionable claims

Violence? Contrary to Herbert's claims about L.A.'s youth, LAPD and state crime reports show only a tiny fraction of the city's 653 homicides in 2002 involved "kids . . . killing one another." In fact, homicide by L.A. youths of all races fell to record lows in 2002, while murderers were much older than in past decades (California Criminal Justice Profiles, Los Angeles, 2002). Three-fourths of the assailants arrested for murdering teenagers were adults averaging nearly 30 years old (L.A. Times, 12/15/02).

One of L.A.'s, and California's, most remarkable trends is the massive decline in crime by young black men. The murder rate by California's black youths in the last three years (2000-02) stands at half the level found among Herbert's own generation of young black men back in the 1960s.

Similarly, felony rates were 60 percent lower, and violent crime arrest rates 40 percent lower, among California black male youths in 2002 than 30 years ago (Crime in California, 1970-2002). The imprisonment rate of young black Californians ages 18-29 dropped by 30 percent over the last decade and is now lower than among older blacks ages 30-49, whose imprisonment rates rose by 20 percent (California Department of Corrections, Data Analysis Unit, 2001).

Drug abuse? Death rates from illegal drugs among black teens and young adults fell by an astonishing 95 percent (from 103 in 1970 to just 5 in 2001) while drug death rates skyrocketed among black middle-agers (59 in 1970, 229 in 2001). Among blacks today, 30- to 59-year-olds are a shocking 20 times more likely to die from abusing cocaine (including crack), heroin, methamphetamine and other street drugs than those ages 15-29 (California Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Public Use File, 1968-2001). In reality, the worst drug danger to younger African-Americans is not their own use, but domestic violence and street gunplay among drug dealing networks supplying the massive demand for hard drugs generated by middle-age black and white addicts.

AIDS? Same picture. The newest Centers for Disease Control tabulations show dramatic declines in new HIV and AIDS cases among younger blacks combined with large increases among older blacks. A decade ago, Herbert's dire warnings about young people would have been apt: Two-thirds of black HIV infectees were under age 35 (indicating infection in teen or 20-age years). Since then--despite incessant alarms of new epidemics among young blacks--HIV's victims have become much older. Today, well over half of newly infected blacks are over 35 (CDC, HIV/AIDS Surveillance, 1987-2001). Young people, far from acting as if "they are invulnerable," have reduced their HIV rates, while older adults of all races perpetuate the epidemic in rising numbers.

Self-destructive? Similar misinformation depicts young black men as suffering a rising suicide scourge. In fact, black male and female teens today are less than half as likely to die from self-destructive behaviors such as suicide and self-inflicted gunshots, drug overdoses and similar causes than black teens were 30 to 40 years ago. In California, black teen suicide rates have dropped 40 percent over the last three decades.

While Herbert charges that "we've got insane young men who take their heavy armament into the street and shoot up the neighborhood, and then go back inside to listen to music that celebrates the act of shooting up the neighborhood" (10/17/03), the fact is that as sales of rap music soared 50 percent over the last dozen years (Recording Industry Association, 2003), violent crime arrests of black youths dropped by 50 percent and murder arrests plummeted an astounding 80 percent (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 1990-2001).

Self-defeating strategy

These more complex, positive facts about black teenagers, from standard crime and health references, are the opposite of what the news media and authorities tell the public. The mainstream media's unconscionable fanning of fear of youth, particularly youth of color, has been well documented (see Extra!, 1-2/99).

Unfortunately, Herbert is hardly alone; careless anti-youth bias also infects the progressive media, typically cloaked in tones of empathy. In November 2002, the left-leaning Pacific News Service's Youth Communications Team issued an inflammatory public statement blaming Oakland's homicide increase on "rising Bay Area youth violence." Not true; readily available police figures showed only two Oakland youths were arrested for murder in 2002; as in L.A., the murder surge was caused by older offenders (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/27/02).

Like the mainstream media, the progressive AlterNet news service routinely runs misleading articles on youth that, among other things, blame California's homicide increase on young people (5/15/03), claim AIDS is skyrocketing among black youth (4/28/03) and perpetuate the myth of a teenage drug abuse "epidemic" (11/29/03).

Herbert's advocacy for improved schools and services frequently frames them as necessary to curb young black people from perpetrating "increased rates of crime, drug use and gang membership" (10/20/03) and thwart their natural instincts to "make trouble" (2/6/03). This fear-producing strategy, adopted by progressive commentators and media, is as futile as it is unfair. If today's voters and policy makers believe young blacks are as violently out of control, culturally depraved and wantonly self-destructive as progressives depict them, they are more likely to impose policing and prison than liberal social reforms. (See Noam Chomsky, The Sun, 10/03.)

Despite rampant poverty, declining employment and education opportunity, and wholesale abandonment by an increasingly conservative country, younger African-Americans as a generation display remarkably positive trends. Like white youth, black youth deserve a more balanced depiction by media commentators--especially progressive ones--that goes beyond commentators' pre-set fears and agendas.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: africanamerican; liberalplantation
Another New York Times soft-bigot.
1 posted on 09/05/2004 1:15:33 AM PDT by John Lenin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

In reality, the worst drug danger to younger African-Americans is not their own use, but domestic violence and street gunplay among drug dealing networks supplying the massive demand for hard drugs generated by middle-age black and white addicts.
2 posted on 09/05/2004 1:31:40 AM PDT by John Lenin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin

Bump! Pretty intresting. I hope his stats are right, and that young people in general are turning away from destructive behaviour. I think this is true, from what I've seen with my kid and her friends.

It is the baby boomers who are the scourge. But we've known that for a long time.

3 posted on 09/05/2004 1:43:37 AM PDT by jocon307 (Ann Coulter was right)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mhking


4 posted on 09/05/2004 3:04:23 AM PDT by Susannah (Kerry has a flexible message--it changes with each campaign stop and audience.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin
. . .wholesale abandonment by an increasingly conservative country . . .

It is not this increasingly conservative country that has abandoned certain segments of the black community; they have abandoned a country that offers them every opportunity for advancement. In fact, this country is increasily conservative in part because there is a dawning realization that it is the policies of liberal administrations, local, state, and federal, that have ruined lives. Society as a whole and black society in particular will do better as they embrace those despised conservative values.

5 posted on 09/05/2004 6:25:39 AM PDT by Capriole (DO NOT WRITE IN THIS SPACE. FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin
Actually, there's plenty of bigotry in the FAIR article itself. For example, it is rife with hateful stereotypes such as "far-right, race-baiting commentators like Michael Savage or Ann Coulter", or "Rush Limbaugh couldn't have said it better--or more misleadingly".

The article's author expects to get away with that ugliness, as well as with writing tripe such as "well-respected, progressive African-American columnist Bob Herbert", because he knows that he is writing for an audience that considers the appelation "progressive" a compliment and "right-wing" an epithet.

FAIR is a self-styled watchman, but then, who will watch the watchman? "Fairness and accuracy in reporting"? Bzzzzzt! Wrong answer. If 'truth in advertising' were observed, FAIR could not have gotten away with choosing such a laughingly-wrong and inappropriate name for their organization.

6 posted on 09/05/2004 6:26:24 AM PDT by The Electrician
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin


7 posted on 09/05/2004 8:01:52 AM PDT by TASMANIANRED (Kerry/Edwards. Between the two of them, I'd be safer with a slimy spitball.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rdb3; Khepera; elwoodp; MAKnight; condolinda; mafree; Trueblackman; FRlurker; Teacher317; ...
Or to translate, FAIR doesn't like the idea of blacks taking the rose-colored glasses off in order to leave the plantation, either...

Black conservative ping

If you want on (or off) of my black conservative ping list, please let me know via FREEPmail. (And no, you don't have to be black to be on the list!)

Extra warning: this is a high-volume ping list.

8 posted on 09/05/2004 8:43:36 AM PDT by mhking
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mhking

Copyright by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.

*** Run don't walk from groups touting 'fairness' and 'accuracy'. They're anything but!

9 posted on 09/05/2004 8:50:48 AM PDT by cyborg (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin

Actually Mike Males sounds like he's been smoking the weed of happiness. The view from the ghetto is not as rosy as he wants to make it appear.

10 posted on 09/05/2004 8:58:23 AM PDT by thathamiltonwoman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: thathamiltonwoman

The ghetto is the ghetto but overall blacks are moving up and making progress. The ghetto is plagued by one parent households, when that changes so will their fortunes.

11 posted on 09/05/2004 12:04:47 PM PDT by John Lenin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin

This article is so biased that it's hard to know where to start on it. It doesn't mention that nearly 50% of Black boys drop out of school. What do we think they're going to do? Get jobs as rocket scientists?

Also, the article shows how we can redefine the word "children" to suit political purposes. Anti-gun screeds talk about "children" as being anyone under 21 (so the gang violence can count as child deaths). This article groups everyone from 15-30. The 25-30 age group has a much higher percentage of college graduates and gainfully employed.

This just shows that if you are willing to be selective about facts, you can prove anything you want.

12 posted on 09/05/2004 3:41:40 PM PDT by speekinout
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson