As the silly season accelerates it seems that presidential candidates are stepping all over themselves trying to pander most effectively to the audience they face at the moment. Unfortunately in the process they say the most outrageous things and they should not be afforded impunity for those gaffes.
How about this one from John Edwards:
What do you suppose he meant?
It's almost a cliche that we recite, the canard about more black men in jail than...fill in the blank to fit the occasion... So, Edwards takes the great leap of logic that if we continue the trend we will soon have no more African-American men. They will all be incarcerated or dead.
The National Review Online skewers the statistic pretty effectively by noting there are MORE black men in college than in jail--the initial number shows a frighteningly small margin, but then NRO points out that the straight up comparison isn't a very good stat. If reduced to the number of college-aged men, then the proportion goes to four to one in college versus jail.
And, what would be the conclusion Mr. Edwards wishes us to draw? Should we stop building jails so as to not have so many African-American males incarcerated? Would that stop the crime? Would that protect society? While it might be very popular to imply that there is some sort of racism involved here and he is the guy to correct it, it seems to ignore the crime stats for urban areas.
What is his solution to this problem? He doesn't seem to offer one, but then the audience he was addressing was an MTV forum--you remember, "Rock the Vote"? Would it be elitist or even ageist for me to point out that the MTV viewer is probably not very politically astute? Can you hear the comments from the audience? "Wow, that is like so true, Dude." "It's like the establishment, man." "It's like that town in Lousiana...it's Jena-cide."
Sorry, John, but the reason folks are in jail is because they break the law. We've got poverty and drugs and ghettos in this country and that's bad. But we've also got a system of law enforement and advocacy justice and due process and punishment. When folks wind up in jail it is because they were apprehended, indicted, tried and convicted. It isn't a plot to do away with Black men and it is disingenuous to imply that it is.