TUCSON – During a supposed Black Lives Matter protest in Tucson on August 1, a white man punched a black Tucson police officer who was sitting in his patrol car.
This happened in a city where blacks comprise only 5% of the population and are not concentrated in a black ghetto with a history of ill-treatment, as they are in Los Angeles or Rust Belt cities.
But more relevant, as will be seen, it is a city where 44% of the population is Latino, with a Latino mayor and a Latino member of Congress.
Tucson cops don't fit the stereotype of macho, racist bullies engaging in racial profiling and otherwise looking for trouble. Cops have such a weak presence in Tucson that the de facto sanctuary city has one of the highest rates of property crime in the nation. Business owners and homeowners have learned to protect themselves with security bars on doors and windows, since they cannot rely on the police to keep their neighborhood safe and have to wait interminably for them to respond to 9-1-1 calls.
Compared to the riots in other parts of the country, the Tucson incident seems insignificant. However, it is a microcosm of the socioeconomic rot in the rest of the country. Tucson does not have an aggressive police force, but it does have racial disparities, high poverty, a one-party government (Democrat), a left-leaning media and academia, and public schools in the iron grip of mercenary teacher unions.
You don't hear about the city in the national news because it's off the beaten path of bicoastal national reporters, who pretend to be woke and in love with diversity but live in wealthy enclaves among their own social class. Diversity is easy for reporters when so-called minorities in the newsroom are just as educated, cultured, and well-paid as they are.
For those unfamiliar with Tucson, the city proper is largely poor and rundown, with a poverty rate twice the national average, K-12 test scores near the bottom, and, due to a hostility for private industry, an economy in which the largest employers are government or businesses dependent on government subsidies, such as healthcare and defense.
Whether run by Democrats or Republicans, there are many places like Tucson across the United States.
Poor and rundown locales can be found not only along the border with Mexico but also in Central California outside of the rich cities on the coast, in the deep South, in deindustrialized sections of the Midwest and Great Lakes, in former coal-mining hollows of Appalachia, and in neighborhoods that ring the uber-wealthy urban centers of the Northeast. And even within the rich enclaves of the East and West coasts, there are large swaths of homelessness, drug addiction, crime, filth and poverty.
In a country as rich and innovative as the USA, this is embarrassing and unacceptable.
In the USA, incomes vary as much within races as they do between races. In the aggregate, blacks and Latinos earn less than the broad category of whites, who earn less than the broad category of Asians, but the variation within each race or ethnicity is just as large when disaggregated.
Much of the differences in income, crime and test scores between races is due to wide differences in their respective percentages of single-parent families. Blacks lead with the highest percentage of single-parent families, followed in descending order by Latinos, whites and Asians.
In Tucson, the poverty rate is 27.4% among Latinos, and the estimated rate of single-parent families is 44%. For the whopping 28% of Latinos who don't graduate from high school, the poverty rate climbs to 33%.
For Tucson's non-Hispanic whites, the poverty rate is 17.5%, which is more than six percentage points above the national average but nearly ten percentage points below the poverty rate for Tucson's Latinos. This suggests that a lot of whites are doing better than Latinos, but a lot of them are just as impoverished.
A disproportionate number of those doing better can be found among the 10,000 faculty and staff at the University of Arizona, where pay, benefits, job security and working conditions are above-average, along with above-average education levels. Ironically, the university is where students are taught about white privilege but not the privilege of government sinecure.
Speaking of education, open enrollment is the law in Tucson and Arizona, which means that students can attend public schools of their choice. And both the city and state have a high number of charter schools that, by law, are open to everyone. In spite of this, the high school graduation rate for Latinos is 72%, or 22 percentage points below the graduation rate for whites.
There are those who claim that the main cause of these tragic socioeconomic outcomes for Latinos is institutional racism, going all the way back to the discrimination at the hands of Anglos that occurred after Mexicans found themselves on the wrong side of the border following the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Those making this claim smoke too much peyote or have taken too many one-sided history courses or have absorbed too many social-justice imbecilities at the Tucson-based University of Arizona.
Yes, Mexicans endured discrimination at the hands of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, just as my Italian forebears did, just as other Catholics from Southern Europe did, and just as the Chinese did. But this an oversimplified and even sophomoric explanation for the plight of Latinos in Tucson and elsewhere—and is just as oversimplified and sophomoric as the explanations for the plight of African Americans across the nation.
The largely untold story is that Latinos carry the cultural burden bequeathed to them by the Spanish Empire and its legacy of one-party government, of economies based on extraction instead of production, of insecure property rights, of widespread political corruption, of the monopolistic religious power of the papacy combined with native superstitions, and of a two-class society of Spanish aristocrats at the top and everyone else at the bottom. Even though slavery was ended in Latin America two decades before it was ended in the USA, this positive couldn't overcome the negatives of the Spanish legacy.
It doesn't take much imagination to imagine what the Southwest and California would be like if they were still part of Mexico. Oh, oh, was that a faux pas? Let me apologize by saying this: It doesn't take much imagination to imagine what the Southwest and California would be like if they were governed by Sicily. They'd be dirt poor, corrupt, and the home of Wise Guys with ping-pong balls in their cheeks, like Marlon Brando in "The Godfather." At least if that were to happen, the 3.5% of the Tucson population that is of Italian ancestry, including this Italian, would finally have power and privilege.
The point is, inherited culture is difficult to overcome and can take generations to do so, especially when immigrants are poorly educated and skilled and don't speak English. This has nothing to do with genes or white privilege.
But don't expect the media and academia to make this point.
And don't expect the media to practice good journalism.
Like a lot of cities nowadays, Tucson's main daily, the Arizona Daily Star, is owned by an out-of-state conglomerate. In the Star's case, the owner is Lee Enterprises out of Davenport, Iowa. It is hard to imagine two cities that have less in common than Tucson and Davenport.
As with the newspaper industry in general, the Star has suffered financially from the rise of the internet and from such advertising platforms as Google and Facebook, which have drained away advertising income and forced the daily to cut staff and shift its presses to Phoenix. As a result, it doesn't have the resources for in-depth reporting and investigative journalism. At the same time, TV stations don't have the interest or financial incentive to fill the gap.
Which takes us back to the opening sentence in this commentary about a white demonstrator punching a black cop in his police car. The news coverage of the event was pitiful.
One news outlet printed a tweet from the Tucson Police Chief instead of interviewing him in person. The tweet said this:
An aggravated assault on an officer, construction barricades/signage toppled, tagging, & traffic blocked for hours. Is this supposed to help the cause? I get it that it's the minority of protesters who do this but the others seemed to ignore or celebrate this conduct last night.
Another outlet published a Facebook posting from Tucson Black Lives Matter, as follows:
Magnus tweeting inflammatory statements about alleged crimes committed against his officers and property is divisive and unhelpful. These are charges not convictions, smearing people before they've had their day in court is designed to taint the outcome.
Is this journalism or social-media musings? What happened to in-person interviews? What happened to asking who, what, where, why, when, and how?
Who was the puncher? Was he affiliated with BLM or some other group? I dunno.
How many demonstrators were at the scene? What did they see? I dunno.
What is their goal? What political, social and economic changes do they want? I dunno.
What are they like, where are they from, what are their politics, and what are their occupations? I dunno.
What did the black police officer and his fellow officers see? I dunno.
Such horrendous journalism can be found across the country.
In closing: Given today's political, governmental, economic, and social rot in Tucson and the nation, it's more important than ever to have a media and academia that are impartial, nonpartisan, thorough, original, and fearless. Unfortunately, most of them are also rotten.