Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Punks with Guns: more prog pandering

Of course SF's homicide total is unacceptably high. But the question no one can easily answer is, What exactly can/should be done about it?

San Francisco Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval is holding a news conference today to draw attention to the eight homicides in the Excelsior district over the last three months. "We had a 14-year-old kid stabbed to death and it got a paragraph in The Chronicle," Sandoval said. "I think the community feels like these things are going unnoticed. I've been trying to get the mayor's office to react, but basically there's nobody home."

Yes, Supervisor Sandoval, who is running for a seat on the Superior Court, understands that one thing a politician can do is hold a news conference to suggest that he has the answers and to accuse the mayor of being AWOL on the issue. (Sandoval called a special Board of Supervisors committee meeting a few weeks ago to pander to the bike people. Black people are the targets of this week's pandering.) As Nevius points out, at least Newsom learned one thing the hard way on this difficult issue: It's best to keep your mouth shut if you have nothing substantive to say, which Sandoval is probably incapable of learning.

The reality is that the issue---which I call Punks with Guns---has deep cultural roots in the most vulnerable part of the black community. Many poor black kids grow up with nothing but the vile hip-hop/thug garbage as purveyed in music and videos. Along with contempt for women and gays, these youngsters also learn that the smallest personal slight justifies a violent---even murderous---response. Bill Cosby, Juan Williams, Cynthia Tucker, and other black leaders have tried to combat this blight on black youth with little discernible effect.

The thing about oh-so-progressive San Francisco is that this important cultural dimension of the Punks with Guns problem is never even mentioned. That would presumably be too much like blaming the so-called victims of American racism. Criticizing this aspect of black culture would upset some members of the black community, and if there's one thing progressives fear above all is that someday, someone, somewhere will accuse them of being racists.

For a while Supervisor Mirkarimi and other progressives were suggesting that foot patrols by the SFPD was the answer to gun crime in the city. Now that city cops have been walking neighborhood streets for some time with little impact on the city's homicide rate, that dog clearly won't hunt. The Murk is now suggesting that the SFPD's homicide unit and/or the District Attorney aren't up to the job of arresting and convicting killers. Given the conditions and the ethos of ghetto life, however, getting witnesses to testify isn't easy for obvious reasons. No witnesses means no arrests, no trials, and no convictions.

If city progressives aren't ready or willing to acknowledge that there's a deep cultural gap between many young black people and the rest of society, they should shut up on this issue, since anything they say is going to be at best irrelevant or, like Sandoval's press conference, demagoguery.

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