Where’s the Outrage?

 

I just don’t get it.  There are so many injustices, cruelty, corruption, lying and so forth going on every day in this country that you’d think people would be up in arms and protesting loudly in the streets, on the airwaves or in the news media.  Have we been so pacified with all sorts of escapist forms of entertainment? (An estimated 30 million watch “American Idol” each week.) Have we just become so numb from all the bad news that we throw up our hands in resignation? 

            Look at the fact that abound from all sorts of reference points.  People are working more and getting less; more and more jobs are being “outsourced”; more and more money is in the hand of fewer and fewer people (thanks to Bush’s tax cuts and various schemes to avoid tax payments by the super rich); the lies from the Bush administration about the war in Iraq are so vast that you’d expect the noses from everyone associated with his administration to be larger than Pinocchio’s; drugs are just as plentiful as ever despite the billions spend on the drug war (an April 27 story in the New York Times noted that: “Five years and $3 billion into the most aggressive counter-narcotics operation ever here, American and Colombian officials say they have eradicated a record-breaking million acres of coca plants, yet cocaine remains as available as ever on American streets, perhaps more so.”); everywhere you turn there’s another case of political corruption and corporate crime (which takes from the American citizen of more than a trillion dollars each year and kills more than 100,000). And speaking of the war and the associated lies, whatever happened to the letter from John Conyers signed by 88 members of congress asking Bush to respond to the leaked memo?  It is Memorial Day weekend and I just saw a make-shift memorial near where I live listing the names of American soldiers who have died in this illegal war.  When I saw the names all I could think of is that Bush and Company should be tried for murder.  Where’s the outrage?

            But you know what puzzles me more than anything? It’s the apparent silence from the Civil Rights leaders and other representatives of the black community over the fact that people of color (Latinos too) are being summarily disenfranchised every day and sent to jail or prison, mostly on drug charges and the latest figures (some of which I report in my latest research article “Slavery in the Third Millennium”) showing that about one-third of black children born today will someday end up in prison and that probably half will experience the feel of handcuffs as they are escorted to a local jail in the back of a squad car.  Around two-thirds of those sitting in jail or prison on any given day are either black or Latino.  In virtually every state there are more black males in prison than in college.  Those who are faculty members at colleges and universities around the country can’t help but look in their classes and find several black females but few black males. (Although I have not conducted a survey, in my classes the ratio of black females to black males is at least five to one, if not greater. When I discuss the declining number of what William Julius Wilson referred to as the declining number of “marriageable black males” the black females in class immediately grasp the meaning.)  

            Around 15 percent of blacks in the country cannot vote, which made a big difference in the 2000 election (according to a study in the prestigious American Sociological Review) and probably in the 2004 election.  In many states this percentage is larger – such as 30% in Alabama and Florida.  Then, too. there is this astounding figure I came across the other day: half of black males in New York City are not in the labor force (“Nearly Half of Black Men Found Jobless,” New York Times, February 28, 2004).  I wonder what the numbers would show for other states.

            I look in vain for some reference to these problems in the mainstream press (the alternative press mentions these issues frequently), on television, on radio, etc.  Instead we get the usual “tabloid journalism” found regularly on Fox, CNN and all the others.  Someone got killed, someone is recovering from a tragic accident or cancer, a woman takes off running from her wedding, the Michael Jackson trial, ad nauseam.  When black leaders take center stage it is normally when one case of injustice against minorities (among thousands that happen every day) happens to make the headlines (e.g., the police firing their weapons 50 times or so at a black motorist in Los Angeles).  Even then rarely is there any kind of in-depth analysis of the root causes of the problem. (I know my saying “root causes” nearly always bothers conservatives since they apparently believe things just happen for no particular reason.) 

            I would think that at the very least the Justice Department’s civil rights division would start an investigation of the racial bias in the drug war.  After all, surveys have consistently shown that whites are more likely than blacks to use illegal drugs and yet the drug arrest and conviction rate for blacks on drugs is far greater than whites. Just recently the Justice Department did threaten an investigation into the obvious racial bias in the “crack baby” issue in Columbia, South Carolina, where it was found that of 30 women arrested for using crack while pregnant, 29 were black.

            I guess these issues are not important.  After all, it is not regularly making headlines in the New York Times (consistent with their famous banner “all the news that’s fit to print”) and other “liberal” newspapers and it is not part of special reports on the “liberal” CNN and other networks.