October 5, 2010
The one thing that many environmentalists seem not to care about is the environment. By this I mean its visual appearance. They would happily empty any landscape or any city of beauty so that the planet might survive. Like the village in Vietnam, it has become necessary to destroy the world in order to save it. And, of course, destruction of beauty has the additional advantage of being socially just: for if everyone cannot live in beautiful surroundings, why should anyone do so? Since it is far easier to create ugliness than to create beauty, equality is to be reached by the former rather than by the latter.
The indifference of environmentalists to aesthetic considerations was illustrated by a friend, who kindly forwarded to me a brochure about a fully ecological house, erected (or assembled, since it was pre-fabricated) in the centre of Paris in front of Haussmann-style buildings. Needless to say, it completely destroyed the harmony of the surrounding townscape.
It looked like a three-dimensional Mondrian, all boxes and bright colours. Inside, it was more a laboratory than a home, the kind of sterile environment necessary for in vitrofertilisation. However much it might have been heated by the sun, it lacked warmth. It was a proper place for androids, not for humans.
The brochure claimed many advantages for it, not the least of which was that the residents could monitor their energy consumption electronically hour by hour, minute by minute, in order to minimise it. Thus they could ensure that they never forgot their own impact on the environment, and were never totally free of anxiety about it. What the saving of their souls was for the ancients, saving of electricity has become for the moderns…
Mediocre but ambitious people – of whom, it seems to me, there are more than ever before in human history, the ambitiousness being what is new, not the mediocrity – are offended by the very sight of achievements that they know they cannot possibly match. They are not inspired by them, except to hatred and resentment. It offends them that the world should have achieved quite a lot before their advent into it; their response is therefore a destructive one. In Europe, architects rarely consider the harmony of what they build with what already exists, rather the reverse. That is why, in so many old towns in Europe, a harmonious assemblage of buildings, constructed perhaps over centuries, is comprehensively destroyed by one modernist structure. The hatred and resentment seeps out of it, like radon out of granite. Environmentalism is (or perhaps I should say can be) the new justification for the destructive urge born of resentment, all the more dangerous because of its plausibility.
The Daley dynasty in Chicago may be giving way to the Obama-Emanuel political machine, but one thing remains constant in the Windy City: youth violence and a collective refusal to acknowledge its root cause. On the one-year anniversary of the beating death of a Chicago teen by his fellow students, Chicago remains in denial about the driving factor behind such mayhem: the disappearance of the black two-parent family.
The September 24, 2009, mob assault on 16-year-old Derrion Albert was captured on cell-phone video and broadcast around the world, provoking a crisis in the Obama administration. The White House was at that moment pushing the International Olympic Committee to award the 2016 Games to Chicago, a city intimately associated with the president and his inner circle. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan hurriedly flew to the Windy City promising more federal aid, while the Chicago school system launched a $40-million social-services and security program to connect “at-risk” male students with social workers.
Not surprisingly, the federal and local efforts have borne little fruit. Since Albert’s death, 78 more youth under the age of 19 have been killed in Chicago, overwhelmingly in black-on-black shootings. The studied silence in Chicago about the massive reality that underlies that city’s youth-violence epidemic—black family breakdown—is so complete as to border on perverse.
Chicago’s South Side marked the anniversary of Albert’s death with a Parent Resource Exposition, organized by the Black Star Project, a black empowerment group. The purpose of the exposition was to link up parents—i.e., single mothers—with social-services and health programs that allegedly would keep their children away from gang life. “This is how you prevent murders, by empowering parents,” said the Black Star Project’s executive director, as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’ve got to be doing major outreach to parents who need this kind of resource.” The mother of a 13-year-old murdered in February 2007 told the exposition: “The enemy is attacking our young people. This is about change for all of our communities. . . . I think we need to come together (in) a unified voice and until it happens, nothing will change.”
Fenger High School, where Albert and his killers had been students, held a peace rally in the cafeteria, attended by Albert’s grandfather. “We’re doing this so this never happens again,” he said. “We’re making it so we can start getting along together. We have to bring these kids together so they can know each other.” The Chicago Sun-Times editorialized: “It’s up to all of us—to be better parents, to be better neighbors, to reach out to a child in need.”
Such vacuous sentiments, while well-intentioned, are utterly beside the point. “The enemy” attacking Chicago’s young people is not a nameless force but something quite specific: the disappearance of paternal responsibility. All five of Albert’s suspected killers, as well as Albert himself, came from fatherless families. The overwhelming majority of perpetrators and victims in Chicago’s four-decades-long juvenile murder spree have come from single-parent homes. In Cook County, 79 percent of all black children were born out of wedlock in 2003, compared with 15 percent of white children; the black illegitimacy rate in inner-city Chicago is undoubtedly higher still. If anyone associated with the anniversary events—attended mostly by women—or in the press mentioned such family breakdown, much less called for an effort to change it, the record does not reflect it…
October 5, 2010
This image has been posted with express written permission. This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.