Tuesday, January 30, 2007


In December Superior Court Judge Joan Weber implored Oceanside’s Mesa Margarita residents to stand up against the gang violence that is ruining their community. Five days later Officer Dan Bessant was shot and killed during a traffic stop in that same neighborhood. Two alleged gang members have been charged with the crime.

This month the county District Attorney is seeking injunctions that would expand the size of Escondido’s anti-gang “safety zones” and increase the number of gang members subject to various activity, association, and dress restrictions.

Judge Weber’s cri de coeur is understandable. Yet it’s as unlikely to change the situation on the ground as Peter Finch’s famous “I’m as mad as hell” rant in the movie “Network.” By contrast, the anti-gang injunctions that civil libertarians decry have had some success—as when these measures were instituted in Oceanside in the late 90s.

But what is the remedy for Los Angeles, home to an estimated 700 gangs with 40,000 members? There gang-related crime increased 14 percent last year—while crime citywide fell. Meanwhile, gang-related crime jumped 42% in the San Fernando Valley.

It’s ironic that “big picture” folks are so willing to play small-ball when it comes to explaining the proliferation of gangs. More federal dollars for law enforcement and a few education programs is about all they come up with. Anyone seriously interested in the “big picture” should consider these three factors: family structure, popular culture, and illegal immigration.

Gangs are family surrogates that take the place of intact homes. When more than two-thirds of black children in America, and one-third of all children, are born out of wedlock, the number of young males desperately looking for someone to show them what it means to be a man is substantial.

Furthermore, these youngsters find in the popular culture numerous “artists” who glamorize gangbanging as the route to “respect” in a presumably hostile and racist society. Instead of encouraging kids to rise above their circumstances or cast down their buckets where they are, the Hollywood bling crowd promotes low-riding pants, tattoos, attitude, and street-cred. Poor government-monopoly schools reinforce these low aspirations.

Thirdly, illegal immigrants and their children are susceptible to the blandishments of gangs because their ties to the country in which they now live are tenuous and their educational prospects dim. It’s hard to feel a part of a society whose language and culture is different from your own and whose laws you and your friends are daily violating. Accordingly, Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute has noted that many powerful gangs in Southern California are composed mostly of illegals.

Unfortunately, instead of recognizing the crucial role played by intact families, we pretend that marriage doesn’t matter. Instead of vilifying rappers and their corporate sponsors, elites tout these pimps as authentic voices. And instead of taking immigration laws seriously, politicians erect a wall of separation between INS and local police. No wonder cities are reduced to defensive tactics and judges to pathetic pleas in the face of gang violence.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Dr. Gideon Rappaport responds poignantly to "Ten Atheist Myths" -- a post that concerns ten (presumed to be) myths about atheists.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


It was atop the front page of Sunday’s January 7 North County Times: “40 percent of Medi-Cal births are to non-citizens.” Only substituting the word “illegals” for “non-citizens” could have made the headline more stark. And even as it was, a prominent 3-D graphic announced “The Cost of Illegal Immigration.”

The 40% figure concerned the 5,814 taxpayer-funded births in San Diego County in 2004. Statewide the figures were 42.6% and 105,665—numbers whose size partially explains why the government report was “quietly released last spring.”

Another reason is contained in Pat Buchanan’s book, State of Emergency—namely, that Los Angeles County, which was 82% non-Hispanic and white in 1960 is now home to a Mexican population that is “second only to that of Mexico City.” Meanwhile, the county’s Anglo population has “dwindled to 31 percent.”

Numbers like these (and the fact that since 1980 criminal aliens in state and federal prisons have grown from 9,000 to 125,000) make understandable local attempts to resist the wave of immigration that is changing the complexion of America from a nation that was 2.6% Hispanic in 1950 to one where that rubric applies to around 14.4% of the population.

Most illegals, and certainly most legal immigrants, are neither violent criminals nor regular welfare recipients. And Buchanan himself acknowledges that the desire of hard-working Mexicans to improve their lot north of the border is perfectly understandable. What isn’t so understandable is the willingness of Americans to believe that a massive migration of individuals from Mexico to the United States can occur without incurring costs more far-reaching than Medi-Cal dollars. As the economist Robert Samuelson has said, “No society has a boundless capacity to accept newcomers, especially when many are poor and unskilled.”

One consequence of America’s recent border policy has been an upsurge in the number of low-income Californians. Buchanan notes that as wealthy Californians proliferated in the 1990s, the state’s share of “people mired in poverty rose by 30 percent.” The result, according to Ruth Milkman, director of the UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations, is that LA County began “to resemble much more a Third World society where a class of people are stuck at the bottom.” Among San Diego’s fears of Los Angelization, this factor should be at the top of the list.

Another consequence of our border policy has been the creation of a large sub-culture whose roots are, as last year’s marches demonstrated, still planted in Mexican soil. The idea that two different cultures with two different languages will amicably inhabit the same land is a notion that anyone familiar with the history of Czechoslovakia, Quebec, or the Balkans should indulge with caution.

One reason this potential clash of civilizations hasn’t been taken seriously by American elites is that they themselves no longer value the nation’s historical traditions—as anyone who reads Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States can tell. Unlike most blue-collar Americans, many academic and corporate elites pledge allegiance to international flags—that is, to no country at all.