September 6, 2005

Religion, Urban Life, and Morals:

A reader writes:

One thing that seems to be missing from the conversation is religion... There is something to be said for the notion that God tests people with disaster, or, rather, a belief in God makes them better able to weather disaster.

We have a good comparison for this with New Orleans and Mississippi. I have yet to hear of looting in Mississippi that reached the scale it did in New Orleans. Yet Mississippi didn't lack for temptations. Anyone watching Fox or MSNBC saw those casino barges carried half a mile inland and busted open for all the world to see. Nor does Mississippi lack for Wal-Marts and other department stores. And while the population in Mississippi might not be as black as New Orleans' population, it certainly has a large presence. The only difference between the two areas is that one is governed by an ethic that is driven by the most shameless hedonism, while the swears by the kind of Bible-beating fundamentalism sneered at by our nation's elite.

Another reader writes:

Also, a point on the stupidity and destructiveness of noticing racial differences, I was listening to NPR and some Mississippi congressman was furious that he was not allowed to distribute relief supplies by FEMA because they insisted that it all had to be surrounded by National Guard escorts to prevent riots over the food. He was saying "my people are not from New Orleans, they all know each other and they would behave civilly." FEMA would not even let them take it with police escorts, so eventually they had to waste millions of dollars by using National Guard Helicopters (this is somehow outside of FEMA's jurisdiction) to get the food to the affected areas, even though the roads were clear, and of course there was no rioting or problems over the supplies. I've been trying to find an article about the story online, but I haven't been able to. I'll send you a link if I find it.

Another important point that a number of my readers have made to me is to note there are probably differences in law-abidingness between big city and small town people. The anonymity of urban life is more conducive to life as a criminal since bystanders are less likely to recognize you as you commit a crime. Whereas, in small towns, witnesses are likely to tell the sheriff, "Oh, it was that Jones boy again, the bad one, not the nice one who plays the flute, but that no-good one you arrested last year."

That, along with the moral-cultural differences, may help explain why the black imprisonment rate in 1997 in absolute terms, according to a liberal activist group, was almost 50% higher in Louisiana than Mississippi.

Nationally, the black imprisonment rate per capita was 9.1 times the non-Hispanic white rate back in 1997, but it tended to be significantly lower in conservative southern states, such as only 6.0 times the white rate in Mississippi, and 6.1 times higher in Alabama. In Louisiana, it's 7.5 times higher. This suggests to me that rural living and and church-going are, on average, good for black people.

There's a new, highly detailed report on racial differences in crime and imprisonment that will be out soon, and which I'll be writing about for VDARE in a couple of weeks. I haven't checked carefully yet, but I'm guessing it will show that this 9.1X black-white imprisonment gap seen in these 1997 statistics has narrowed some in more recent years. 1997 was right after the worst of the crack wars years, which were fought primarily by black crack dealers. Black law-abidingness has improved since then, so I expect to see lower (but still substantial) black to white ratios. But we shall see when the report is released.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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