By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Among people not still living somewhere on the psychological plantation, either in the shacks or the Big House, everybody understands that breaking the law is primarily a matter of personal moral responsibility and choice.
I know it gets confusing, especially when you've got thousands of people marching in Jena, Louisiana, to defend gang-style boot-stomping as a legacy of Dr. King.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: If somebody makes fun of you, cold-cock him, get him down on the floor and then six of you kick in his skull until he's dead or retarded.
We still have a lot of people in our society who are full of it—so full of it that they can become ardent champions of evil while believing whole-heartedly in their own virtue. The trick is not to be among them.
If the News wants to say that Dallas has a high crime rate because it has a lot of black people, then the least it can do is stop weaseling and squirming around about it and take a stab at an honest discussion of black crime. In the meantime, I still would like to see that model, because I wonder what they did with the poor white meth-heads in their math.
The black side of the equation is often every bit as screwed up as the white. The best example I have seen in recent days is the argument, rife on blogs and in mainstream media, that federal prosecutors, in order to show racial impartiality, should have indicted former Mayor Laura Miller and council member Mitchell Rasansky.
Miller, the argument goes, should have been indicted because she received generous campaign contributions from Potashnik, the apartment developer indicted Monday. One big problem with that idea: No one has ever even whispered that Miller sold her vote.
I keep trying to get my mind around the idea. The feds should indict white people whom they believe to be innocent in order to balance out the indictments of black people whom they believe to be guilty? The very best explanation I can think of is that somebody here does not have even a minimal grasp of the rule of law.
I suspect Rasansky's name is being tossed into the slop for even more base motives. Both Miller and Rasansky are Jews. A recurring theme in black southern Dallas—a moral Achilles heel—is anti-Semitism. I can't think of another single reason for anybody even to bring up Rasansky's name in this context.
It's part and parcel of the same phenomenon. It's not possible for anybody, black or white, to have even a rudimentary understanding of the black experience in this country and be an anti-Semite. Blacks who are anti-Semites do not understand the history of blacks in America. They do not own their own moral legacy.
Something is going on right now in the black community having to do with the Trinity River referendum. In meetings in southern Dallas, Mayor Tom Leppert and others seeking a no vote from black voters in November have been aggressively promoting the idea that black business people should seek more contracts with the city.
That's not a bad idea. That's a good idea, at least on its face. When Leppert was running for office he made it plain he thinks the city should work to "build strong companies" in the minority community.
The unsettling rumble just beneath the surface, however, is that black leaders who helped Leppert get elected are trying to position themselves as gatekeepers for this new form of patronage. A recent move by newly elected black council members to kick Joyce Foreman off the DART board may have been part of this plan at work.
If that's what's going on, then please allow me to be the first to predict the next big round of indictments. I'm going to say these will come down in, oh, let's say the year 2010. That's about how long these things take to ripen.
They all work the same way. The white man who wants what he wants spots a weakness and goes for it. The black man who needs a dollar and doesn't understand power takes the bait. He betrays his own community for a cheap bribe. Things go south. The FBI catches a whiff. The white guy hires a good lawyer and runs downtown to sell out the black guy.
I devoutly hope that this new round of indictments may inspire the kind of painful introspection this city so badly needs. Somehow we must lift ourselves up out of the cynicism of the plantation—the white idea that black people can always be bought, the black idea that black people have nothing to sell but themselves.
In its place we need sharp eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation in which people honestly pursue the interests of their communities on both sides of the river. Maybe by not getting along so well we can actually learn to live together some day.
I'm not holding my breath.