December 12, 2005

There's something strange about the soon-to-be late Tookie's anti-gang oeuvre:

Gangs and Self-Esteem (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence.)Gangs and Violence (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gangs.)

I realize that the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Tookie Williams, the co-founder of the Crips and murderer of four innocent people, is now (was then? time is getting late) a sincere anti-gang crusader who has kept millions of impressionable children like these from joining criminal street gangs like his Crips, but there's just something about these cover pictures from his anti-gang books that seems a little, well, irrelevant. Let me ponder this more deeply and perhaps I'll deduce what seems a bit off...

Dennis Dale writes:

By now you’ve seen the two more heavily circulated photos of Williams, one apparently from the cover of his book showing him stripped to the waist and flexing body-builder style (Williams is said to weigh about three hundred pounds and has a body-builder’s physique), and another of him in a similar stance, wearing prison issues and bearing a massive afro, the very image of a hardcore gangsta. These are pinups for the adoring. While Tookie’s famous gang protocol and his children’s books are lauded as, it would seem, Herculean efforts to save the nation’s youth from gang culture (150,000 lives saved and counting, according to the “Tookie Fact Sheet,” based on “emails and letters”) what actually evokes all this adoration is his impressive physical stature and the same brutality (inferred by the thinly veiled braggadocio of his oft told history) that makes Tookie’s ilk so dangerous, necessitating their removal from society.

You see, there isn’t one of us who, at one time or another, hasn’t wanted just once to be Tookie. Tookie wants to be Tookie. Tookie has cultivated his image as the hulking brute more than anything else, and had he never been caught and convicted of his crimes he would no doubt have gone on being Tookie for as long as he could have pulled it off before death or incarceration put a merciful end to his tear. Physical prowess and emotional detachment combine to make a powerful intoxicant, in the bearer and in the beholder. Just witness the continuing fascination with all things gangster, from The Sopranos to Fifty Cent.

Just beneath the thin veneer of our socialization, deep in the base of our brains, on the wrong side of the tracks from our still developing prefrontal cortexes in the amygdala where our fear resides, we not only reflexively defer to physical superiority; we revere it. Brute force and the audacity to use it are, deep down, considered values unto themselves, even if we don’t like to admit it. So when the celebrants make the pilgrimage to the shrine of Tookie it is hardly a handful of children’s books or some ridiculous contractual form legitimizing street gangs that brings them there. They are there to pay homage to the undeniable value of brute force.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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