Saturday, July 20, 2013

Jason Isbell – The Troubadour of the New South

Submitted by cullmansense on Mon, 2013-07-15 01:29
My adoration for Jason Isbell is no secret. It is rooted in his brilliantly folkloric southern sensibilities. His previous work, particularly his 400 Unit albums, listen like parables of the modern south, utilizing the iconic imagery for anyone below the Mason-Dixon but still reflective of something poignantly personal. While these elements are all present in SOUTHEASTERN, he has never produced a more intimate album. Isbell is confessional and reflective about his struggles with alcohol and cocaine, his reckless youth, and his transformative sobriety. And in typical fashion, he is both direct and allegorical depending on the song or the verse. Melancholy regret and remembrances do not dominate all tracks; there is also a celebration, as Isbell is clearly happy with who he has become- a sober man in love.
For instance, COVER ME UP and TRAVELING ALONE tell the story of someone who has crossed a personal Rubicon inviting hope and happiness into a darkened life. The shadow of that darkened life swirl around the set list as the song LIVE OAK metaphorically discusses the elements of our past that haunt us using the canvas of American outlaw mythology. This track, more than any other, draws obvious parallels with the darker side of American music legend Johnny Cash.
With the metaphor stripped away, YVETTE and SONGS THAT SHE SANG IN THE SHOWER seem to be deeply cutting experiences that expose moments of Isbell's reckless youth. In SONGS, Isbell's lyrical genius weaves a vivid story though the words are Spartan- "On a lark, on a whim, I said there's two kinds of men in this world and you're neither of them. And his fist cut the smoke. I have an eighth of a second to wonder if he got the joke." The scene is painted, the brushstrokes few. Then, in the aftermath, a confessional- "In a room by myself. It looks like I'm here with the guy that I judge worse than anyone else. So I pace and I pray and I repeat the mantras that might keep me clean for the day."
In SUPER 8, Isbell delivers the carefree, irresponsible country tinged rock and roll songs that harken back to his DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS days. The riches of Isbell's transformation do not only manifest in his lyrics; his wife, Amanda Shires, his obvious anchor in a storm of temptation, is a marked presence on the album. The sweeping violin, played by Shires, transforms the song NEW SOUTH WALES from a story about strangers in a strange land to an authentic English (via Australia) folk ballad. Nowhere is Isbell's gift of intelligence in language, metaphor, and imagery more polished that in STOCKHOLM and ELEPHANT, where he wrestles with falling in love and death respectively. Both songs layer innuendo, meaning and cliché within Isbell's typical narrative clarity. The album is a journey of reflection and change, so the fitting capstone is RELATIVELY EASY. This is the grown-up, sober Isbell seeing the big picture of life. Despite problems, personal demons, loss, and trivial irritations, things for Jason Isbell have become "relatively easy."
I had the opportunity to catch the last show in the first leg of his SOUTHEASTERN album tour in Chattanooga, TN on Saturday night. For those that know the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel and campus, you may know the venue. Nestled in the far back of the tourist hotspot is a former roller rink turned rock venue called Track 29. The large standing room, place was lined with dedicated fans. Isbell is always a stellar live performer with his backing band the 400 Unit (named for The Shoals infamous mental ward).
He is one of the rare performers who sound better and richer live than in the confined and controlled environment of the studio. The most striking aspect of the show was the crowd’s eagerness to sing along and celebrate his new album. Usually, at a show, the attendees all eagerly await the “hits” or a personal favorite. Here, songs that are scarcely a month old were sung in chorus from an adoring crowd as if they were perennial hits. When Isbell’s lyrics took a personal turn and his sobriety was mentioned the entire crowd rejoiced, unprovoked, in support and celebration of his life style change.
During his encore, he took the stage alone and did an acoustic rendition of a favorite from his days in the Drive- By Truckers. The song, TVA, could not have found a more receptive audience, as the Florence born Alabama native praised the Tennessee Valley Authority as a continuing economic and cultural boon created in the depths of the Depression. He was after all playing to a Chattanooga crowd in the very heart of the TVA. The feeling that pulsed through the crowd was almost religious. He and the band closed with a rare cover, the Rolling Stones’ CAN’T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING. The Stones like Isbell are one of rock and rolls greatest gifts, irrevocably tied to the sounds of the Alabama Shoals.
I'll leave this hopefully insightful commentary with perhaps my favorite turn of phrase in an album filled with them. It is indicative of the trials and redemptions related in this masterpiece called SOUTHEASTERN- "A heart on the run keeps a hand on a gun. You can't trust anyone. I was so sure what I needed was more I'd shoot out the sun. Days when we raged, we flew off the page. Such damage was done. But I made through `cause somebody knew I was meant for someone."- COVER ME UP by JASON ISBELL
RECOMMENDED LISTENING- Alabama Pines, TVA, Stockholm, Heart on a String, Decoration Day, Outfit, and the album Live in Alabama by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (2012)
By Dillon Lee
Filmmaker, CHS Theatre Director, Pop Culture Critic-At-Large

The Obama Administration’s Race-Baiting Campaign

Democrats want 2014 to be an us-versus-them election. 

Today's Tune: Jason Isbell - Pancho and Lefty (Live)

The Saga of Gabriel Allon Flows On in 'The English Girl'

Book Review Jackie K Cooper
July 11, 2013
The English Girl by Daniel Silva
When you read a book by Daniel Silva you are always secure in knowing his story is going to unfold in an interesting manner. You open the pages and the words just flow, pulling you along with its tide of a plot and a wave of characters. Once you immerse yourself in this story you cannot fight the tide nor can you stop and disembark from the story. You will go to its destination and enjoy the journey. Such is certainly the case with Silva's latest novel THE ENGLISH GIRL.
Once again we are transported to the world of super Israeli spy and operative Gabriel Allon. It is a world that is very timely and Allon deals with happenings of today, tomorrow and yesterday. He moves from country to country in order to accomplish his mission. In THE ENGLISH GIRL it takes him to Britain, Corsica and Russia among other places, but his base of operations is always Israel.
In this story Allon is trying to solve the disappearance/possible kidnapping of a woman named Madeline Hart. She is "the English girl" to whom the title refers. Madeline has been on vacation in Corsica when she disappears. Allon gets the call asking him to investigate what happened to her and if possible to find her. The Israelis want him to do it as a favor to the British.
Finding out what happened to Madeline only takes up half the book. There are other circumstances that come into play regarding her disappearance that fill out the remainder of the story. This second half adventure is based on a situation that is just as intriguing as the circumstances in the first.
The plot is tricky and enjoyable, but it is not the main reason to read this story. The main attraction in a Gabriel Allon book is, and always shall be, the character of Allon himself. This man has many facets to his personality and Silva has complete control when writing about them. There is never a slip up; never a contradiction.
Even better Allon is not a Superman. He is totally human and sometimes very fallible. His strengths, however, outweigh his weaknesses but the weaknesses give him his humanity. Readers respond to this part of his character and love him even more for being human.
You can lose yourself in a Silva book. You can get caught up in the twisting adventures that are undertaken, and you can steep yourself in information about the characters that populate the pages. Allon's world is not a solitary place. It takes a village, or at least a large group of people to get his missions accomplished. Everyone in his orbit is unique and essential.
Block out some time for this great novel. Allon is a great political operative, but Silva is an even greater writer. That is what makes THE ENGLISH GIRL a must read.
THE ENGLISH GIRL is published by HarperCollins. It contains 406 pages and sells for $27.00.
Jackie K Cooper

Two Necessary Books

By Elise Cooper
July 20, 2013

On June 30th Egyptians took to the streets in a 'second revolution' to demand the removal of the dictatorial President Mohammed Morsi. Raymond Ibrahim's latest book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians is a fascinating read given the context of what is currently happening in Egypt. A second informative book also discusses this topic, A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save his faith, by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser.

Ibrahim's parents emigrated from Egypt to the U.S., and raised him as a Coptic Christian. He is able to use his fluent Arabic and his past travels to uncover the truth about the lack of religious freedom in Muslim lands. Dr. Jasser is also a first-generation American but he was raised as a Muslim who believes in the principles of the U.S. Constitution: liberty, freedom, and separation of Mosque and faith. American Thinker interviewed authors Daniel Silva, Raymond Ibrahim, and Dr. Jasser about their books as they relate to the current events in Egypt.

A quote in Daniel Silva's, a New York Times best-selling author, latest book The English Girl, "If the American President isn't careful, his two most important foreign policy achievements will be a nuclear Iran and the restoration of the Islamic caliphate." Since he once lived in Egypt and was a Middle East correspondent he reflected to American Thinker, "If the Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in cementing its grip on Egypt they would have turned it into something like an Islamic Republic of Egypt."

Ibrahim agrees, and points to the many Arabic videos that show Morsi, the former Egyptian President, as stating, "The Koran is our constitution, Muhammad is our leader, jihad, in the path of Allah, is our way, and martyrdom is our inspiration." In fact, this sounds a lot like a slogan from Al-Qaeda. Ibrahim emphasizes that their very name, Muslim Brotherhood, not Egyptian Brotherhood, shows how this group is not inclusive, nor is it a secular group as James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, referred to them.

Dr. Jasser emphasizes that the West has allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to deceive the Egyptian people by defining democracy as elections. "The Obama administration should have understood that democracy is not a light switch that can be turned on, but has to develop over time to get a viable party system. This revolution happened because people realized there was not a mechanism for a no-confidence vote or the ability to impeach Morsi. As much as I am not a fan of the Egyptian military there was no other option. All they did was to remove a dictator."

Ibrahim thinks it is laughable that there are American politicians and media figures who refer to Morsi's election and his government as democratic. Under this regime there was no freedom of religion and no rights for women. In fact, Morsi tried to impose Sharia Law when he was in power.

Dr. Jasser cannot understand how people do not recognize the attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to base their constitution on Islamic theocracy, without having any separation of powers, parameters of free speech and religion, as well as equating criticism of Morsi with criticism of Islam. "I met with some of the Christians and women's groups who refused to stay in the process of modernizing the Constitution because they saw it as a corrupt process."

As Andrew McCarthy pointed out in a recent article, McCain once referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as "a radical group that, first of all, supports Sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic -- at least as far as women are concerned." Yet, now McCain wants to cut off American aid to the Egyptian military. Ibrahim sees "McCain and those like him as either naïve or cynical. I am hoping for the latter, that he has a plan and is using the aid card as a political strategy. For me, it comes down to either ignorance or stupidity. The human rights issues in Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood should not be ignored. In the book, I tried to show how, in the past, the West did not see themselves as liberal and soft, with a multicultural mentality. Now a lot of politicians in the name of democracy want to support those that are committing atrocities. I am hoping my book shows why that should not be the case."

A quote from Ibrahim's book could almost reflect John McCain's flip-flop: "Long gone are the days when the West, confident, and proud of its own ways, attracted Muslims to its civilizational achievements. Now, apologizing for its 'sins' and demonizing its own Christian heritage while whitewashing the cultures and histories of others, the West only pushes Muslims back to reclaiming their Islamic heritage."

Ibrahim also wants Americans to understand that the Muslim Brotherhood only makes up 4% of the population compared to the Coptic Christians, who make up about 20%. Yet, one of the first things Morsi did was to appoint Muslim Brotherhood members to all the important posts, without any Coptic Christians represented. He also shows throughout the book how the Coptic Christians were the scapegoats for the Muslim Brotherhood and were blamed for everything that went wrong, a la the Jews in pre-World War II Germany.

Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians and A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save his faith are necessary reading for understanding Egypt and the Mideast as a whole. As Ibrahim told American Thinker, "This book shows how Christians are a snapshot for what happens to others under Islamic rule," while Dr. Jasser asserts that "a cornerstone for democracy in Egypt must be a separation and an opposition to Sharia Law." This is no more relevant than today with Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles. 

Page Printed from: at July 20, 2013 - 06:26:28 AM CDT

The Downfall of Detroit

It took only six decades of “progressive” policies to bring a great city to its knees. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today's Tune: Neil Diamond - Holly Holy (BBC Concert - 1971)

A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal

No, it wasn't confined to a few rogue workers in Cincinnati.

By Peggy Noonan
July 19, 2013
The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel.
That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn't say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.
Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.
To quickly review why the new information, which came most succinctly in a nine-page congressional letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, is big news:
Getty Images
IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division revenue agent Elizabeth Hofacre, left, and retired IRS tax law specialist Carter Hull testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
When the scandal broke two months ago, in May, IRS leadership in Washington claimed the harassment of tea-party and other conservative groups requesting tax-exempt status was confined to the Cincinnati office, where a few rogue workers bungled the application process. Lois Lerner, then the head of the exempt organizations unit in Washington, said "line people in Cincinnati" did work that was "not so fine." They asked questions that "weren't really necessary," she claimed, and operated without "the appropriate level of sensitivity." But the targeting was "not intentional." Ousted acting commissioner Steven Miller also put it off on "people in Cincinnati." They provided "horrible customer service."
House investigators soon talked to workers in the Cincinnati office, who said everything they did came from Washington. Elizabeth Hofacre, in charge of processing tea-party applications in Cincinnati, told investigators that her work was overseen and directed by a lawyer in the IRS Washington office named Carter Hull.
Now comes Mr. Hull's testimony. And like Ms. Hofacre, he pointed his finger upward. Mr. Hull—a 48-year IRS veteran and an expert on tax exemption law—told investigators that tea-party applications under his review were sent upstairs within the Washington office, at the direction of Lois Lerner.
In April 2010, Hull was assigned to scrutinize certain tea-party applications. He requested more information from the groups. After he received responses, he felt he knew enough to determine whether the applications should be approved or denied.
But his recommendations were not carried out.
Michael Seto, head of Mr. Hull's unit, also spoke to investigators. He told them Lois Lerner made an unusual decision: Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny—a multilayered review.
Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner's senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:
Q: "Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?"
A: "She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel."
Q: "The IRS chief counsel?"
A: "The IRS chief counsel."
The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And again, he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.
What was the chief counsel's office looking for? The letter to Mr. Werfel says Mr. Hull's supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker, provided insight: The counsel's office wanted, in the words of the congressional committees, "information about the applicants' political activities leading up to the 2010 election." Mr. Shoemaker told investigators he didn't find that kind of question unreasonable, but he found the counsel's office to be "not very forthcoming": "We discussed it to some extent and they indicated that they wanted more development of possible political activity or political intervention right before the election period."
It's almost as if—my words—the conservative organizations in question were, during two major election cycles, deliberately held in a holding pattern.
So: What the IRS originally claimed was a rogue operation now reaches up not only to the Washington office, but into the office of the IRS chief counsel himself.
At the generally lacking House Oversight Committee Hearings on Thursday, some big things still got said.
Ms. Hofacre of the Cincinnati office testified that when she was given tea-party applications, she had to kick them upstairs. When she was given non-tea-party applications, they were sent on for normal treatment. Was she told to send liberal or progressive groups for special scrutiny? No, she did not scrutinize the applications of liberal or progressive groups. "I would send those to general inventory." Who got extra scrutiny? "They were all tea-party and patriot cases." She became "very frustrated" by the "micromanagement" from Washington. "It was like working in lost luggage." She applied to be transferred.
For his part, Mr. Hull backed up what he'd told House investigators. He described what was, essentially, a big, lengthy runaround in the Washington office in which no one was clear as to their reasons but everything was delayed. The multitiered scrutiny of the targeted groups was, he said, "unusual."
It was Maryland's Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, who, absurdly, asked Ms. Hofacre if the White House called the Cincinnati office to tell them what to do and whether she has knowledge of the president of the United States digging through the tax returns of citizens. Ms. Hofacre looked surprised. No, she replied.
It wasn't hard to imagine her thought bubble: Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, "Don't forget to harass my enemies"? Are congressmen that stupid?
Mr. Cummings is not, and his seeming desperation is telling. Recent congressional information leads to Washington—and now to very high up at the IRS. Meaning this is the point at which a scandal goes nowhere or, maybe, everywhere.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, finally woke the proceedings up with what he called "the evolution of the defense" since the scandal began. First, Ms. Lerner planted a question at a conference. Then she said the Cincinnati office did it—a narrative that was advanced by the president's spokesman, Jay Carney. Then came the suggestion the IRS was too badly managed to pull off a sophisticated conspiracy. Then the charge that liberal groups were targeted too—"we did it against both ends of the political spectrum." When the inspector general of the IRS said no, it was conservative groups that were targeted, he came under attack. Now the defense is that the White House wasn't involved, so case closed.
This is one Republican who is right about evolution.
Those trying to get to the bottom of the scandal have to dig in, pay attention. The administration's defenders, and their friends in the press, have made some progress in confusing the issue through misdirection and misstatement.
This is the moment things go forward or stall. Republicans need to find out how high the scandal went and why, exactly, it went there. To do that they'll have to up their game.

Al Sharpton, Posh Populist

Living large among the 1 percenters. 

If Tom Wolfe were writing The Bonfire of the Vanities today, he’d need a scene in the Grand Havana Room in New York City. It’s an Olympian den fit for what Wolfe called the “Masters of the Universe” — the super-rich gods of finance who today go by the name “the 1 percent.” Taking up the penthouse floor of 666 Fifth Avenue, the Grand Havana Room is a private, invitation-only cigar club and four-star restaurant. Through its windows, you can see the toiling salary men 39 floors below as they scurry about like ants, some furtively smoking in doorways, ever fearful of Nanny Bloomberg’s All-Seeing Eye.

Named by Business Insider as one of the “11 exclusive clubs Wall Streeters are dying to get into,” the Grand Havana Room is where power brokers and celebrities hobnob with captains of industry in one of the last places where it’s still legal to smoke in the Big Apple.

Immune as I am to the seductions of class resentment and Jacobin envy, I will admit it: I love the place. If invited, and if I could afford it, I’d join.

The one question I have is: Who’s paying for Al Sharpton’s membership?

“The Rev” is an omnipresent member of the club. After his MSNBC show, he’ll swing by for dinner and cigars amid the other Masters of the Universe. I couldn’t confirm that he repaired there after he broadcast his radio show, Keeping It Real, from Zuccotti Park to show his solidarity with the 99-percenters.

The reason I ask who’s paying for his membership is that Sharpton’s relationship with money has always been complicated. When he claimed he didn’t have the resources to pay damages in a defamation suit he lost, Sharpton was asked in a deposition how he could afford his suits. He didn’t own them, he replied, someone else did. He was merely granted “access” to the garments as needed. The same went for his TV, silverware, etc.

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. In our overly therapeutic culture, we talk a lot about “enabling” pathologies, self-destructive behavior, etc. Well, Sharpton is a pathology enabled by the very system he loathes.

In a healthy society, Sharpton might be on parole now — not the must-get guest for Meet the Press and Today on issues of racial justice. He was a ringleader in perpetuating the evil Tawana Brawley hoax, in which he and two corrupt lawyers (now disbarred) falsely accused assistant district attorney Steven Pagones and others of gang-raping a 15-year-old girl in a racist attack (Brawley claimed that she’d been smeared with feces and had had racist epithets written on her body). No person of any ideological stripe could doubt it was a fraud — except, that is, for the unrepentant Sharpton, who recently insisted “something happened.”

If he’d been locked up for that, he might not have helped incite the Crown Heights riots in 1991. After a tragic car accident in the New York neighborhood in which a Jewish driver accidentally struck and killed a black child named Gavin Cato, Sharpton stoked anti-Semitic rage. At the funeral for Cato, amid shouts from the crowd of “Heil Hitler!” (one banner read, “Hitler did not do the job”), Sharpton didn’t call for reconciliation; he inveighed against “diamond dealers.” During the riots Jews were beaten in the street, and eventually a Hasidic tourist from Australia, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed to death.

Perhaps if Sharpton had been shunned for his role in that, he might not have encouraged yet more violence in 1995, when he led protests against the eviction of a black-owned record store. Sharpton fueled rage on his radio show and at rallies to the point where one of the protesters ran into a Jewish-owned store whose owner was wrongly blamed for the eviction, shot several people, and then burned the place down, killing seven (mostly Hispanic) occupants.

But he was shunned for none of it. Nor was he shunned for his sometimes cavalier compliance with tax laws or his shabby shakedowns of corporations for donations. In fact, in a culture that increasingly rewards shamelessness, Sharpton got in on the ground floor and has been cashing in on his access ever since. The attorney general himself celebrates his “partnership” with Sharpton.

Sharpton is even hailed as an expert on racial tensions, which in a funny way is true. The establishment he constantly seeks to “speak truth” to has enabled him in every conceivable way. He doesn’t just have access to his suits, he’s been given access to just about everything the 1 percent has to offer, including the very best cigars.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of the The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback. You can write to him at, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

The Post-Zimmerman Poison Pill

July 19, 2013

Political Cartoons by Robert Ariail

The most poisonous untruth being peddled in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal is the claim that American justice is racist. The criminal law regularly announces that black Americans are “worth less than other Americans,” Cardozo Law School professor Ekow Yankah wrote on the New York Times opinion page this week. It wasn’t activists who “injected” race into the discussion, scoffed The American Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie on Monday, the “criminal-justice system” is “already” racial. An e-mail alert on Wednesday from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School proclaimed: “An ugly truth rears its head again: Racial disparities are alive and well in our criminal-justice system.”

The idea that the criminal-justice system discriminates against blacks — and that this bias explains blacks’ disproportionate presence in custody — is a staple of civil-rights activism and of the academic Left. Every effort to prove it empirically, however, has come up short. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases from the country’s 75 largest urban areas discovered that blacks actually had a lower chance of prosecution following a felony than whites did and that they were less likely to be found guilty at trial. Alfred Blumstein has found that blacks are underrepresented in prison for homicide compared with their arrest rates. A meta-analysis of charging and sentencing studies showed that “large racial differences in criminal offending,” not racism, explained why more blacks were in prison proportionately than whites and for longer terms, according to criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen.

Criminal-law professors across the political spectrum agree that the Zimmerman verdict resulted from prosecutorial overkill, not juror bias. The trial was scrupulously fair and presented the prosecution with full opportunity to make its case.

Close on the heels of the “biased justice system” conceit, however, is the preposterous implication that the primary homicide threat faced by young black males comes from honorary whites such as George Zimmerman. “Our children are targeted. Our community is targeted,” Martin Luther King III told the NAACP national convention on Wednesday. Protesters at the Orlando, Fla., courthouse this week held signs proclaiming “Endangered species: young black men and boys.” The New York Times ran an article today about the “painful talks” black parents are having with their children about how not to get gunned down by whites. A nurse’s assistant in Missouri told the Times: The whole situation ‘“would just make me skeptical about what crowd of white people I put [my son] around.’”

In fact, if a black parent wants to radically reduce his son’s chance of getting shot, he should live in a white neighborhood. New York’s crime profile is typical of urban-crime disparities across the country. The per capita shooting rate in predominantly black Brownsville, Brooklyn, is 81 times higher than that of predominantly white and Asian Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, according to the New York Police Department. Blacks in 2012 committed about 75 percent of all shootings in New York, and whites a little over 2 percent, though blacks are 23 percent of the city’s population and whites 35 percent. Blacks are 60 percent of the city’s homicide victims. Their killers? They aren’t white.  

The picture is the same nationally. Black males between the ages of 14 and 24 committed homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males combined in the same age category in 2008, resulting in a homicide victimization rate nearly as disproportionate. As for interracial crime, black homicide offenders in 2010 had nearly three times the absolute number of white and Hispanic victims as there were black victims of white and Hispanic homicide offenders, despite blacks’ much lower population numbers.

The “white death threat” meme predominated in the immediate aftermath of the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting as well, of course. But in the intervening year and a half, the mainstream media have been forced, however fleetingly and inchoately, to acknowledge the black-on-black shooting spree that continues to characterize urban America, despite the country’s 17-year crime drop. The January 2013 slaying of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a majorette in the Chicago marching band that had played at Obama’s inauguration, triggered sporadic attention to Chicago’s hardly unique gun violence over the following months. Even if the press was unwilling to point out that the killers of such inner-city victims share their skin color, that fact should have been obvious to anyone who has even the most remote contact with reality.  

Yet this recognition of the real source of black homicide risk has evaporated completely in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, and we are back to the “rampaging white racists” conceit. The American Prospect’s Bouie even argues that “there’s no such thing as ‘black-on-black’ crime.” Black-on-black crime is simply a matter of proximity, he says; blacks kill each other because they usually live next to each other. But Asians also frequently live next to each other; we don’t try desperately to ignore “Asian-on-Asian” crime, however, because their crime rate is so low.

Honesty about disproportionate rates of black crime requires acknowledging another truth as well: Trayvon Martin’s race could well have been a factor in Zimmerman’s initial suspicion of him. But that is because the known suspects in the recent pattern of burglaries in his neighborhood were black. Had Asians been breaking into homes, consistently with an elevated rate of Asian crime, an unknown Asian teen wandering the neighborhood could also have drawn the attention of a neighborhood-watch volunteer. To recognize the possibility of criminal profiling at the onset of the encounter is not to justify in any moral sense the killing of an unarmed black teen or to diminish the horror of that encounter’s conclusion. The Martin case is an undeniable tragedy. But if one extremely rare shooting of an unarmed black teen by a non-black neighborhood-watch volunteer is leading black parents to warn their children about getting shot by whites, it is no less natural that people faced with blacks’ actually elevated crime rate are going to view teens who fit the black-thug look with a greater degree of trepidation. If shopkeepers in an area plagued by black robbery and shoplifting go into heightened awareness mode when black youth congregate outside their store or enter it, their response is not only inevitable, it is also rational, based on the evidence. The most efficient solution to such reactions is to bring the black crime rate down to the rates of white and Asian crime.

An eight-year-old girl was killed, and two other children and their grandmother wounded, in Oakland on Wednesday night when an unknown gunman sprayed their apartment with bullets. I’m guessing, based on historical crime rates, that the gunman is black. Do the people grandstanding today about “racial profiling” think otherwise?

— Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal and the author of Are Cops Racist?