Friday, July 31, 2009

Crime as fate, murder as happenstance

Lawrence Auster at View from the Right has picked up on a developing trend in the way crime stories are reported in the media - particularly the crimes of black men against white women.

Normally, liberals stress the idea of our autonomous will. They believe that our "agency" should determine our life paths in all respects.

Yet when it comes to violent crimes of black men against white women the idea of active wills and agency suddenly fades away. Instead of speaking of an evil act committed by the perpetrator against the victim, the event is written of passively as a "tragedy" for both parties involved.

Lawrence Auster's most recent example is the brutal murder of a 17-year-old white girl, Lily Burk, in Los Angeles by a 50-year-old black man, Charlie Samuels. The Los Angeles Times reported that a "collision of two worlds may have led to girl’s death" and that "chance brought the two together on a quiet, tree-lined street." It's as if no-one was really to blame, there was no evil intent, just a random act of fate. Hence the "tragedy".

There's also the somewhat different case of Natalie Novak, a 20-year-old Canadian. She chose to stay in a relationship with a violent, married, 33-year-old Ethiopian, Arssei Hindessa, who twice bashed her in public. The pair quarrelled one night, Hindessa locked the door and stabbed Natalie Novak fatally nine times before disfiguring her body.

The Toronto Star did report the judge's description of the attack as "extreme butchery and degradation". But the reporter wrapped up his article with this terrible quote from a defence lawyer:

This is a tragedy for everybody, a young man will spend most of his adult life in prison and it's a tragic loss of life for a young woman.


We usually think of a tragedy as some unfortunate, unforeseen event, some act of malign fate, bringing suffering to good, well-meaning or innocent people. On the stage, it was a hero or heroine who was brought undone by fate or perhaps by a flaw in an otherwise noble character.

It's difficult to find a "tragedy" in this sense in the crime under discussion. The Ethiopian was not a young man, but a 33-year-old who repeatedly and knowingly broke the law and committed acts of violence. The report describes him as "physically abusive and a philanderer who financially exploited his wife, Indisar Buba-Rashid, during their four-year marriage". He is a dangerous man of low character who predictably has landed in jail.

The victim of the crime chose to place herself in a situation of great danger. Even after being bashed twice in public by her boyfriend, she chose to stay with him. She selected as a boyfriend a much older married man from a completely alien background with a predilection for violence. This is not the same as a tragedy in which a person is struck down by events they cannot control.

But what can explain media reports which turn brutal acts of murder into a passive tragic fate of two equally unsuspecting, equally affected people? In some ways it's surprising that the liberal media would do this. As I mentioned earlier, liberalism tends to emphasise the idea of a radically autonomous individual who self-determines every aspect of his identity and his life path. It therefore reads oddly when this radically autonomous individual is suddenly lost in media reports of murders and replaced with a notion of fate, and not choice or free will, as determining our life outcomes.

Furthermore, liberals often state as their moral ideal the principle that you can do anything you like as long as you don't directly harm the life or liberty of others. In the case of murder, it's clear that the principle has been violated. So liberals ought to be able to hold the line on this issue.

So what goes wrong? I'm not sure I can explain it to my own satisfaction at the moment. But it's possible to speculate. Imagine the situation of liberals who believe:

a) that people are in their natures good and only act to harm others because of ignorance, superstition or prejudice

b) that the moral thing is doing what you want and that it is therefore wrong to judge the moral actions of others (i.e. they believe in a radical form of non-judgementalism)

c) that there is no absolute, objective moral truth but only moral convention or perhaps no moral truth at all

If a liberal believes some combination of the above then he may not have a strongly developed sense of individuals actively choosing to commit acts of evil. Liberals can have a keenly developed sense of "political crimes" in which one group organises to limit the autonomy of another group as an act of power or prejudice. This means that a liberal might be able to see the murders discussed above as a crime of men against women (and the Toronto Star report does spin things this way somewhat). But given that the perpetrators are black and the victims white there doesn't seem to be a political crime in progress here for liberals.

So it's all explained in neutral terms as two people colliding, as a tragedy befalling two people, as a more minor offence gone wrong (a "botched robbery"), almost as happenstance.

7 comments:

  1. Mark Richardson says:

    ...liberalism tends to emphasise the idea of a radically autonomous individual who self-determines every aspect of his identity and his life path. It therefore reads oddly when this radically autonomous individual is suddenly lost in media reports of murders and replaced with a notion of fate, and not choice or free will, as determining our life outcomes.

    ....In some ways it's surprising that the liberal media would do this...

    So what goes wrong? I'm not sure I can explain it to my own satisfaction at the moment.


    The Left-liberal medias schizophrenic attitude towards the color of the criminals a consequence of contradictions in their philosophy. As liberals they wish to retain their individualist philosophy which rewards merit. But as Leftists they are committed to an institutionalist philosophy of social stratification.

    Left-liberals have a "who-whom" world view. They believe higher-status people are subjects of their own individual will. Whereas lower-status people are objects of alien institutional forces.

    In the context of crime this turns Left-liberals into benevolent racists. White people are higher-status and therefore held responsible for their actions. Colored people are lower-status and are not held responsible for their actions.

    Of course this implies that Left-liberals accept the underlying assumptions of the Bell Curve. Which is an anthropological theory explaining the relationship between biological identification and sociological stratification.

    Left-liberals, in their personal choices of mates, school and neighbourhoods, do accept the Bell Curve. But it in their political presentations they appear to back away from it.

    So the real question is why are Left-liberals so anxious to avoid the racist and regressive implications of anthropology. As soon as one lays it out that way the question answers itself.

    The regressive implications of Darwinism are radically at odds with the progressive expectations of Christian/Kantian world-views. This is obvious from the example of the career of the most prominent Darwinian politician of the 20thC: A. Hitler.

    Its also becoming more painfully obvious as the progressive hopes of various lower-status identity politicians are dashed against the wall of Caucasian Alpha-male dominance.

    I dont blame Left-liberals too much for placing politically correct taboos on this kind of knowledge. Racism treats individuals as parts of collectives and is unfair. Moreover scientific racism tends encourage hopelessness and despair over the possibility of progress.

    Taboos have an important role to play in preserving social order. But they have no place in science.

    All this goes to show that their is an inner contradiction between Leftist institutional progressivism and liberal individual autonomism. But we conservatives knew that anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good points, but I'd take issue with this bit:

    "Moreover scientific racism tends encourage hopelessness and despair over the possibility of progress.

    Taboos have an important role to play in preserving social order."

    You seem to be saying that white people should continue to go around with a kick-me sign on their backs to avoid hurting the feelings of non-white poeple. If they do hurt they the feelings of non-whites then the later are likely to go on a murderous rampage or sink into hopeless despair.

    Personally I tend to agree with Steve Sailer, honesty about race wouldn't have that much impact on social cohesion, people already suffer unequal outcomes due to racial differences, and explaining some differences due to biology isn't going to make people more unruly or despondent.

    Suppose for example that someone suffered a serious head injury as a young child and their parents didn't tell them about it.
    According to your logic that person be better off if they were ignorant about their condition, rather than knowing about it so they could take advantage of the latest research/drugs, services etc for people with head injuries.

    I would say they would either be better off, or about the same as they would be suffering in ignorance. It's unlikey they would be worse off.

    Most working class people (of all races) already believe in racial differences. Middle class liberals claim race realism would create despair and disorder, because they stand to lose out if government and NGO funded programs based on blank-slade thinking are cut.

    Acknowldedgement of race realism would allow us to make more realistic, and better-targeted steps towards moderating social inequalities, instead of engaging in King Canute-like social experiments which end in total failure.

    Note also how violence against whites in the US actually increased after race realist thinking was made taboo in the US in the early 1960s.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Left wingers dont consider white people to be as valuable as black people. Media outcomes like this are inevitable.

    ReplyDelete
  4. How about a simpler explanation?

    According to liberalism, as Mr. Richardson frequently points out, human nature is intrinsically good, and the individual is the free, autonomous chooser of his own values and actions, which, again, are intrinsically good.

    Since the free, autonomous individual and his actions are naturally good, it follows that evil actions cannot be performed by a free, autonomous individual. Evil is therefore the result of something apart from the free, autonomous, natural individual. This leaves two possibilities: (1) Evil is the result of some artificial human structure, such as capitalism or white racism or civilization itself (see Rousseau's Second Discourse on Inquality); or (2) evil is the result of chance. So, if whites mistreat blacks, that is the result of the artifical structure of "society" that controls and perverts the individuals within it; and if blacks rape or kill whites, it's the result of chance, with no human agent or artificial social system being blamed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I know this is neither here nor there in the context of your post, but it might be interesting information.

    Arssei Hindessa is of the secessionist, southern Ethiopian group, the Oromo. His father was the co-founder of the Oromo Liberation Front, and it looks like the son was involved in it as well, as he was jailed and tortured.

    The Oromo are mistrusted by the original founders of Ethiopia, the northern Amhara.

    This Amhara group is staunchly Orthodox Christian, and managed over the centuries to sustain Christianity, as well as to eventually form the nation of Ethiopia. It was an imperialistic move by two Emperors – started by Twedros and finished off by Menelik. But it was a devoutly nationalist one as well, made to consolidate the disparate tribes under one benign, civilized rule. This spurred various secession groups during the 20th century. Ordinary Oromo, though, (and other groups) have always been happy to live harmoniously as Ethiopians.

    These Amahra leaders have always considered the Oromo as needing civilization. Still, some kind of group instinct encouraged the Amhara to separate themselves from this group, despite acknowledging their common nationality as Ethiopians.

    In any case, the anti-Ethiopian members of these groups (Oromo, Tigre, Somali), often from traumatic experiences as described above, and with their own natural belligerence, use “Ethiopian” as their ticket into various immigration schemes. When it suits them, they’re Ethiopian. This man came as a political refugee from the government that imprisoned him for his activism.

    So, it seems that the West is not getting the cream of the crop, despite many efforts by Canadians to grab the “skilled and educated.” Instead, it is getting even those that their own countries deem dangerous and disturbed. Of course, in my own biased view, the cream of the crop from Ethiopia would be the Amhara. But, for that very reason, they are clearly needed in their own homelands. (No Canadian ever really thinks about these kinds of implications).

    In Hindessa's case, perhaps it is really liberalism at work. This man could have stayed in Ethiopia, served his time, and tried his luck again either at more political activism, or at a more sedate, non-criminal life.

    Instead, he applies for refugee (victim) status in Canada, gets it, and causes mayhem (something which he would have had less possibility of doing in Ethiopia).

    Sorry for the length. But such is the nature of the world when fine distinctions are lost. That is why immigration is such a dangerous national strategy; you don’t know what you’re getting, and in most instances, I would bet it’s the worst.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I should add, since I'm a bit out of the loop, many Ethiopian blogs are saying that even this man's account of his past tortures (including what people are laughing at regarding his "sexual assault" - unheard of in Ethiopia, apparently) may have been fabricated to get maximum sympathy for his refugee status.

    Also, many OLF members already come with blood on their hands, since their movement is a violent one. So they are already seasoned killers even before they enter the land of their refuge.

    Finally, Hindessa is no longer a refugee, but a legal Canadian resident.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mike Courtman said...

    Suppose for example that someone suffered a serious head injury as a young child and their parents didn't tell them about it.
    According to your logic that person be better off if they were ignorant about their condition, rather than knowing about it so they could take advantage of the latest research/drugs, services etc for people with head injuries.


    I can see you point but may I politely suggest that making a general analogy of people suffering head injuries with people of color is probably not the best way to go to start persuading liberals.

    Apart from needlessly causing offence this analogy ignores the fact that there is considerable overlap in the aptitudes and attitudes of different races.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.