Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson

“The first two steps toward uplifting young black men are simple: Stop killing them and stop locking them in prison for nonviolent offenses. Subsequent steps are harder, but no real progress can be made until the basic right to life and liberty is secured. If anything positive is to come of Freddie Gray’s death and the Baltimore rioting that ensued, let it be a new and clear-eyed focus on these fundamental issues of daily life for millions of Americans.”

Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson, in an op-ed called “It’s time to seriously rethink ‘zero tolerance’ policing.”

"Honoring Excellence in Journalism, and the occasional incompetent hack..."

“Honoring Excellence in Journalism, and the occasional incompetent hack…”

Seldom have I read a column by a prominent pundit that so disqualified itself from serious consideration by the utter foolishness of its first sentence. Robinson has a right to say any silly thing he chooses, but as a columnist for a major newspaper, he has an obligation to use his extra-loud trumpet responsibly, because ideas have power, and really, really stupid ideas do terrible damage when supposedly smart and influential “experts” begin promoting them.

Robinson has a Pulitzer Prize, not that I have ever seen evidence of why. A paragraph like this one, however, ought to be grounds for revocation. It is Pulitzer Prize-winner malpractice. I know that Robinson is an African-American and a Democratic Party cheer-leader, right or wrong, and feels like he has to jump on board whatever pandering policy bandwagons the Democratic standard bearers start driving whether they make any sense or not.  But there have to be limits. All right, let’s debate non-confinement punishments for drug offenses, since apparently a disproportional number of  African-Americans find simply obeying  laws unfairly challenging. It is certainly not healthy for any society to have an already under-performing demographic group suffering from a critical mass of life, career and family disruption.

To say, however, as Robinson does, that the “easy” part of the solution is to “stop locking them in prison for nonviolent offenses” is irresponsible beyond belief or excuse. Non-violent drug offenses? I’ll tolerate the debate. All non-violent offenses? Burglary,  grand theft, forgery, drunk driving, fraud, identify theft…no prison time? What, then? Or do we just legalize those things?

I may be an old Gloomy Gus, but if a whole lot of crimes suddenly have no penalties attached to them, I have this funny, sinking feeling that there will be more crime, more victims, and even more black victims. Unless the idea is, and it may be, to just let black non-violent criminals, you know, the good kind of criminals, pray on white victims, and only arrest them when they pick on blacks. That’s rejecting “no-tolerance policing,” I guess: tolerate crimes against some, and not against others. By race! It’s the new American way!

After all, Robinson doesn’t argue that white criminals should be allowed to avoid prison for, say, passing bad checks, stealing cars, or hacking into banks. No, just blacks, that’s all Eugene cares about. That’s not what he means, you say? Then why didn’t the Pulitzer Prize-winner write what he meant, with those much-honored skills of his? Why didn’t Post editors insist, “Uh, Gene? The way this is written, it makes you sound like an idiot”?

I think he did write what he meant. Advocating a black crime tolerance-only policy is ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than his extortion-gets-no-prison-time advocacy. Later in the essay, Robinson specifies armed robbery as justifying prison, but that’s because guns equal violence. Steal a million bucks via cyber-crime? Crash the power grid? For that, in Eugene’s Safe World For Black Men But Not Anyone With Money, you get a stern talking to, a fine you can’t afford to pay, and nasty comments on your permanent record.

It’s all a matter of rights to Robinson. Since there’s a right to life, this means, to a Post op-ed writer who appears on network news programs, that cops can’t shoot, say, a 300 pound drug-addled kid who’s rushing at him. Since there’s a right to liberty, this means that black criminals are at liberty to rob, cheat, and ruin our lives as well as those of their neighbors. as long as they are nice and non-violent about it. (The right to pursue happiness means all the drugs young black men can handle, I guess.) OK, let’s be serious: white criminals will get to avoid prison too, whether Robinson cares about them or not, because letting black criminals run amuck means that white criminals will also have to be allowed to run amuck, thanks to that annoying Constitution thing.

But since Eugene Robinson thinks getting rid of the rule of law is good for blacks; the Constitution may well be next. That’s his next column.

36 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson

  1. It’s amazing. Lefties want to have a discussion about racist white cops “killing blacks”, and unequal lack incarceration rates…and lack of jobs, and lack of education opportunities, and socio-economic inequality, and euro-centric teaching methods, and every other subject under the sun to explain why some blacks struggle to succeed, but never -NEVER- about individual behavior. It’s as if free will dosen’t exist.

    Proof? How about Michelle Alexander, author of the recently mentioned book, The New Jim Crow: “The temptation is to insist that black men ‘chose’ to be criminals. The myth of choice here is seductive, but it should be resisted.”

    (shaking my damn head…)

    It’s easy to complain about the “unequal” racial makeup of prisons…where’s the conversation about the unequal levels of black criminality? It’s easy to tell the story of racist white cops unfairly targeting blacks, when crime rates are left out of the conversation. But as pointed out by Heather MacDonald, of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, in 2009, the NY Times made a big deal of the fact that blacks were 23% of NYC’s population, but accounted for 55% of police stops, while whites were 35% of the population, and accounted for 10% of the stops. But what the very biased Times ignored, was the fact that blacks committed 66% of all violent crimes, in the first 6 months of that year, 80% of all shootings, and 70% of all robberies (so with the 55% police stop rate, blacks were stopped at a rate that was too LOW), while the whites percentages were 5%(violent crime)/1.8%(shootings)/5%(robberies) (so that their 10% police stop rate was higher than it should have been).

    The left always wants to talk about black violence is over exaggerated to create the the myth of the “scary black man”….how is throwing out the tired phrase, “stop killing blacks”, giving off the perception that white cops killing blacks is a widespread and prevalent phenomenon, any different?

    • “In 1997, criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen concluded that “large racial differences in criminal offending,” not racism, explained why more blacks were in prison proportionately than whites and for longer terms.

      A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases from the country’s 75 largest urban areas discovered that blacks actually had a lower chance of prosecution after a felony than whites did and that they were less likely to be found guilty at trial.”


      • I’ve mentioned it before on this site, but I honestly don’t recall if I’d mentioned it to you, specifically, so please forgive me if I seem a bit senile. I was in prison a while back (possession of an “assault weapon”) for 4 years. During most of that time, I was at facilities which had an abundance of vocational programs. Good stuff too, like machining, CAD/CAM, welding, Electrical (!), electronics, and several others, not to mention opportunities for distance learning & GED. Though blacks comprised most of the population, you very rarely saw a black guy in these programs. I know this because I worked with the electrical department, and had the run of the place. I even asked the facilitators, mostly older, very warm and motherly black ladies, why this was. According to them, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort on their part to recruit them. I even tried to drum up interest. The kids in there looked up to me, and I was thus able to convince a couple of them that they could have a good life if they wanted it; that the “recidivism trap” wasn’t a foregone conclusion. I helped them get their GED’s. That’s it; 2 kids in 4 years. Very sad. Not wanting to take advantage of these programs that were presented to them on a golden platter baffles me to this day. Sorry, I’m a “let me tell you a story” type of communicator.

        • Paraphrasing Bill Cosby (and separating Cosby, the rapist from Cosby, being accurately outspoken on black culture): “What good is Brown v Board of Ed, if nobody wants it?”

    • I don’t understand the “myth of choice” argument. I just don’t. My father was as poor as a person can be during the Depression, had no father around, had a mother in and out of work. Why did he have a choice? How is anyone forced to break the law? Jean Valjean I can understand. But breaking the law for drugs? I understand desperation, despair, anger, all of those things. But there is still free will. The lack of a belief in free will has undergirded progressive thought since the early 20th Century. Clarence Darrow believed that it was evil to punish criminals at all, since their fate was pre-ordained. It springs from such a hopeless, degrading, pessimistic view of humanity. And it leaves personal responsibility…and ambition, and self-determination— in its wake.

      I wonder how Darrow would have explained Malcolm X.

    • ” It’s as if free will dosen’t exist. ” Well, you just zeroed in on a big part of the left’s central dogma. There’s just too much baggage with free will, like responsibility, for instance.

      • Nah, it was a quote placed in a book I’ve recently finished reading, called “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed”. An excellent, excellent book, by Jason Riley of the WSJ.

          • I honestly don’t know the answer to that, but I know that there is a connection..I feel like I read somewhere that the book was dedicated to Sowell, or something like that.

            • Free will and a non-racial society doesn’t enter into the liberal equation. The concept in play is all goal oriented. Their goal is simple; unshakable political dominance. Their prime weapon; divide & conquer. These riots, spread by the mythologies that the Left has fabricated, are what they wanted and have gotten. Until the idea (long fostered to young blacks) that they have no future without a liberal, paternalistic State and no inherent responsibilities of citizenship is overturned, then they will, in large numbers, continue to be impoverished, criminalistic and tools of their “liberators”.

  2. Advocating a black crime tolerance-only policy may be ridiculous, but it seems to be the media’s position, at least. And, let’s not pretend we don’t know that the constitution is fouling the left’s propeller.
    As far as his brilliant idea, we could implement it just as you stated, and blacks would STILL be proportionately over-represented in violent crime, and the low-lives in question would STILL blame the White Devil for all their self-imposed trials and tribulations. I wonder how he would address that? “Well, let’s just lower the bar a tiiiiny bit more.”

  3. My only remark here would be that if this isn’t worthy of a head explosion tag, nothing is. I know I’m still searching for the shards of mine.

    Usually, one must go search the Daily Kos for an obscure, first-time diarist full of RAAAACIST outrage to find an article the quality of Robinson’s. Not exactly his finest work.

    • My head maintained its integrity with the humble hope that I was missing something, somehow. Alas, it appears that it really is just a stunningly awful, inept, irresponsible botch. It would get a D in junior high civics. “Now, Jimmy, how could you not imprison black youths without also letting white crooks go free? You have to learn to think these things out more carefully.”

      • Jack — Not these days. The people teaching civics (is there still such a course?) would probably agree, if not based on bias then at least on ignorance of the Constitution. Our children are being taught by morons to be morons.

        • Nope, no civics anymore. It’s now called “Social Studies” and, from what my grandchildren tell me, it mostly revisionist history (American and Texan) and liberal indoctrination.

  4. The first two steps to uplifting young black men are actually:

    1) stable father figures

    2) non-glorification of violence as the go to solution for EVERY SINGLE disagreeable interaction.

    • Bingo. And the impediment to that is where to find 1) when there have been fewer and fewer of them every successive generation to teach 2)?

  5. This kind of thinking is common among liberals because ideology is what matters. Truth and outcomes don’t matter. If you don’t get the results that liberal ideology says you have to get, it doesn’t mean the ideology is wrong, it means you didn’t try hard enough or conservatives spoiled it.

    Look at the NJ speeding study. NJ threw their state police under the bus by admitting that they racially profiled. The proof was the fact that blacks were pulled over for speeding at higher rates than whites. The state police commissioned a study by an independent research group who found that blacks speed more frequently than whites and black speeders had higher overall speeds. Rather than admit, “hey, our assumption that blacks and whites speed with the same frequency was wrong and this explains the disparity in ticketing” they tried to suppress the study. Think about that for a minute. The state of NJ suppressed a study that showed that their police weren’t racially biased in policing so they could sustain a lawsuit against themselves to promote the idea that racist cops are the problem. Ideology over truth.


  6. ““The first two steps toward uplifting young black men are simple: Stop killing them ”

    How do you get them to stop killing EACH OTHER?
    And at a much higher rate than cops do, I might add.

    • “How do you get them to stop killing EACH OTHER?”

      I’ll say it again: Get ’em outta there, while they are kids. Move them out – away from their environments of concentrated poverty, despair, and inter-generational exploitation – and spread them far apart, placing them in racially mixed, economically less desperate environments. I know, that’s a human trafficking solution, but at this point, misgivings about doing that are more “ick” than anything. Oh yeah, they’ll still kill, even kill each other. But over time, it’s a fair bet they won’t kill or be killed in the same high numbers that they would, were they to continue to live in festering, bad ‘hoods.

      • We can offer say, one hundred thousand dollars a year to persons who are willing to foster children from such neighborhoods. The catch is that they must either have an annual income in excess of one million dollars, or assets in excess of twenty million dollars, and in either event they must live in a neighborhood whose median home price is one million dollars.

  7. I am tired of seeing liberals take the full brunt of the rap for the seemingly interminable misery and despair among black Americans.

    You can’t say – well, *I* can’t say – that the people who want to keep going in the direction Robinson wants the country to go, that is, in the failed and failing struggle to improve black Americans’ lives, are liberals. Leftists, yes; liberals, no. Liberals may have been the useful idiots of leftists for a long enough time to enable the chronic poverties of black Americans that we all suffer. But now, the Left is dependent on a breed of *conservatives* – leftist conservatives, nanny-statists, racketeers – to keep things going as they have been going, without a thought to changing course, changing policies, or even analyzing the causes of those continuing poverties. Those are the true racist conservatives – hiding in plain sight. They stand by failed governance, steadfastly in denial and in resistance to changing one penny of its thrust.

    • I don’t follow, maybe Im misunderstanding…how did a post about separating Lefties from Liberals ( a fair enough point, perhaps…I don’t know enough about the differences to agree or disagree), end up being about racist conservatives hiding in plain sight?

    • I, on the other hand, see exactly what you’re saying…I hope. Years ago, the folks working for less government involvement, more individual responsibility, more Constitutional government, more equality and more freedoms were liberals. Now, not so much. The liberals are now being pushed by the far leftists into a near-tyrannical form of governance. Yes? And along the way, are promoting a nanny-state that they claim will be benign, but probably won’t be.

    • “[H]ow did a post about separating Lefties from Liberals ( a fair enough point, perhaps…), end up being about racist conservatives hiding in plain sight?”

      “So, Democrats are now racist conservatives and Republicans are…more racist conservatives?”

      Skins: Millions of non-leftist conservatives still mistakenly brand as “liberals” the most conservative enablers of leftism’s “forward march.” (I laugh derisively when I write those two words in quotes in that context, because it’s sarcasm like I might use.) In truth, the Left has taken the country backward farther and faster in the past 5, or 25, years than anything the Right has done over the past 50 years. The Left has done that by using liberals, first, by establishing a leftist-friendly (and deceptive, falsely liberal-friendly) governance, and then – in the typical leftist, one-way-trap-door fashion of tyrants – by sucking power out of people and over-centralizing it, by seducing liberals to become too conservative for their own credibility or for anyone’s good. The Left has made it untenable for liberals to be truly liberal while the slightest bit leftist anymore – all the while, scaring the masses away from the would-be tyrannical, racist-sexist-homophobic, poor-exploiting (ENSLAVING!) menace of the evil Right.

      Michael (but also for Skins): No, not all Democrats are racist conservatives, and yes, among the Republicans are additional racist conservatives. (I give up trying to determine whether the Republican racists are “more racist” than the Democrat racists.) The more conservative of today’s Democrats (many of who surely still call themselves “liberals”) can fairly be called racists, because they don’t want to see one penny cut or re-directed from all the programs they have supported over the recent generations, even though enough time has now passed that the programs and spending can be judged unqualified failures and continuing failures. There comes a point where “liberals” get enough of their way, long enough, and then defend continuation of what they have established despite its failures long enough, that they do not deserve to be called “liberals” anymore, but conservatives instead.

      It may be an uphill battle, but I aim to defend these assertions:(1) Rightists can be liberal, AND without being racist; (2) Rightists can also be conservative without being racist, and (3) Conservatives can champion successful governance – as long as they do not allow themselves to become too conservative along the way, and do not enable other conservatives’ (again, many of who do and will call themselves “liberals”) teaming with leftists on establishment of falsely “progressive” governance.

      The two parties together have effectively conspired to enable the failures of policies and programs ostensibly intended to combat disparities in certain minorities’ assimilation into class-mobile opportunity environments, by way of falsifying perceptions as “the only choices” for voters. Non-racist rightists (including such who are conservative rightists) and non-racist, non-leftist liberals must shoulder a share of the blame for that, for their not bolting from the two major parties sooner and in larger numbers. Poverty, particularly in urban concentrations of black Americans, has become a racket for the two major parties, instead of a problem to solve. Mean streets in the minority-heavy urban areas are not going to become less mean, as long as voters choose only between Democrats and Republicans.

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