Is Crime Out of Control in Tuscaloosa?

Each day brings more tragic news in the city of Tuscaloosa. Another series of  shootings?  Some of the incidents will  not be solved, leaving the culprits free to strike again. Most of the crimes involve black victims and perpetrators. The statistics are not in dispute. What is in dispute is why this travesty continues, and how to end it.

The usual explanations are the impact of poverty, institutionalized racism and flawed policing. Any real discussion concerning moral and cultural dysfunctions afflicting the inner cities is condemned as blaming the victims.

However, ascribing all of the weight to economic and structural problems and assigning to the government the sole responsibility for solving them is both analytically false and certain to fail. Let's be honest, inner cities have been the  victim of government-driven economic and social engineering for many years and things have gotten progressively worse, not  better.

Based on personal experience, I seriously believe the main responsibility for inner-city crime rests with numerous dysfunctional social and cultural trends within the  community itself. These trends are reinforced by the palpable failures of  leadership..

Hugh levels of anger and hostility among many in the population, coupled with celebration of drug use and prison culture, undue veneration of machismo and violent music. Many young people care very little about health or nutrition, do not embrace individual responsibility, and have low self-esteem. Disregard for authority induces some  to act out of charter in ways that many times escalate the most routine police encounters. This is the key factor in many police shootings. Many teenagers show total disdain for human life, whether one's or of their fellow humans.This is all profoundly depressing, but not hopeless.These problems are susceptible to community-driven remedies, curable by steady, one-on-one work with teenagers and young men, coupled with morality-promoting efforts by the institutions that shape and drive popular culture.

All the strategies in the world will not work without a major effort by community leadership to drop the blame game and dedicate themselves to helping their communities. Community leaders should live in the inner cities, rather than the suburbs, would be a good beginning. Trust in police would be enhanced if they lived among the people they protect. Church pastors would be more effective if they lived among their congregation and expanded their churches' outreach to young males and females on the streets.

Good leadership also means not participating in destructive aspects of our culture. For example, leaders, actors, rappers, athletes and politicians should never use derogatory words when in the public arena.

 

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