Tag Archives: culture

BOOK REVIEW: Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed by Jason L. Riley

StopHelpingUs5 of 5 Stars

Recommended for: Every conservative in America especially those that are interested in education.

Up until this year, I had never heard of Jason Riley. I listen to Benjamin Weingarten’s TheBlaze Books podcast (If you are a political and book nerd like me, then you need to be listening to this podcast!), and he had him on as a guest back in July. Weingarten had him on again in mid-August, on that episode they discussed Ferguson, Missouri.

I was incredibly impressed with Riley, and somehow or another, I ended up with an email and an offer to review the book. Time has gotten away from me, and I should have had this review done sooner.

I have always been fascinated at how the left has been able to capitalize and utilize black voters to their advantage. While they get their vote, they continue to promote policies that do nothing but harm black people. Put that in context of the fact that they were the party of slavery and Jim Crow, it is probably the most successful hoodwink in the history of our Republic.

Please Stop Helping Us is short in length, but long in implication and importance. In 175 pages and six short chapters, Riley tears apart the lunacy that is liberal special interest politics. Well-cited, and filled with personal stories to contextualize his topic, Riley presents an engaging read that challenges so many stereotypes and fictions that Americans wrongfully believe.

Riley states in the introduction:

This book examines the track record of the political left’s serial altruism over the past half century. Have popular government policies and programs that are aimed at helping blacks worked as intended? And where the black advancement has occurred, do these government efforts deserve the credit that they so often receive?…In theory these efforts [welfare, minimum wage, affirmative action, soft on crime laws, and a mistaken belief school choice is harmful] are meant to help. In practice they become barriers to moving forward. Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results.

Chapter one, Black Man in the White House, takes a look at the implication of Barack Obama’s election as President in the historical context of black political history.

Chapter two, Culture Matters, is a brave chapter. Riley uses his own personal narrative to approach the issue of black culture. Riley first discusses absentee fathers within the black community. While his mother and father did not remain together, Riley had a father that was present and involved in his life.

“And though they couldn’t save their marriage, my parents were resolved to save their kids. What this meant in practice was that they tried, with mixed results, to minimize the impact of America’s black subculture on their children.”

Riley was the only one of four siblings to escape this culture. Sadly, Riley lost two of his siblings to drugs and his older sister became a single mom.

Riley enjoyed school, and the byproduct of this was that Riley was picked on by other blacks and members of his own family. He tells a story of his nine-year-old niece attacking his proper speech, “Why you talk white, Uncle Jason?” Turning to her friend, she continued, “Don’t my uncle sound white? Why he trying to sound so smart?” Somehow black culture has equated white with being intelligent and learned.

Riley moves on from his personal narrative to a discussion of the impact of black culture on the educational performance of black people. Pulling heavily from educational studies, Riley paints a picture of black culture that is ignorant to the importance of education and destroying itself from the inside out.

“Black cultural attitudes toward work, authority, dress, sex, and violence have also proven counterproductive, inhibiting the development of the kind of human capital that has lead to socioeconomic advancement for other groups…A culture that takes pride in ignorance and mocks learnedness has a dim future.

Black culture today not only condones delinquency and thuggery but celebrates it to the point where black youths have adopted jail fashion in the form of baggy, low-slung pants and oversize T-shirts. Hip-hop music immortalizes drug dealers and murderers.”

Chapter three, The Enemy Within, takes a look at the issues of crime inside of the black community. Riley once again starts out with personal anecdotes about encounters with law enforcement. While frustrating, Riley once again courageously puts the blame on the reality of the situation. In this case, we are referring to high black crime rates. Riley states, “The black inmate population reflects black criminality, not a racist criminal justice system.” The chapter is full of statistical evidence that bolsters Riley’s position. As Riley says in his conclusion of the chapter, “The stark racial differences in crime rates undoubtedly impact black-white relations in America. So long as they persist, young black men will make people nervous. Discussions about the problem can be useful if they are honest, which is rare.”

Chapter four, Mandating Unemployment, is a brilliant look at the issue of minimum wage in the context of racial history in America. I never knew the link between unions, racism, and minimum wage laws. This chapter is damning to one of the most successful myths the left has managed to perpetrate in this country. Survey research continues to show Americans support additional increases in the minimum wage. Minimum wage laws are incredibly harmful to the poor, and as Riley demonstrates, they are significantly harmful to black Americans. This is probably my favorite chapter in the whole book.

Chapter five, Educational Freedom, takes a look at the education system and its effects on black Americans. Riley looks at how successful choice programs (vouchers and charters) despite union opposition, are making a difference in some of the poorest communities in New York City. Riley closes this chapter with a brief look at historically black colleges and universities.

The final chapter of the book examines the left’s sacred cow, affirmative action. Not only must liberals help, they must social engineer to right all wrongs. Consistent in form, Riley equipped with research destroys the myth of affirmative action. I’ve always suspected this practice has done little to better minorities in our society, and this chapter reinforced that belief. Since 1960 the black middle class has failed to grow any more rapid than prior to 1960. In 1970, 33.5% of blacks were below the poverty line and in 1990 that number was still at 31.9%. Riley also discusses the effect of affirmative action on colleges in this chapter.

This review has gone on a bit long than I like to make them, but I loved this book and wanted you to get a feel of what was inside it. This is one of those books that make liberals incredibly angry because it presents the truth of their ugly manipulation of a special interest group. Go get a copy of his book and read it for yourself!

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Image courtesy of vectorolie / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of vectorolie / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Broadway musical West Side Story first appeared in 1957. It dealt with members of teenage gangs, at that time called “juvenile delinquents.” In the song “Gee, Officer Krupke” the gang mocks the then current practice of finding social and psychological expiation for the gang members’ criminal behavior, blaming their ‘bringin’ upke’ and other causes. They claim to need, not prison, but ‘an analyst’s care’ because they are ‘sociologically disturbed’ and ‘sick’ and that a job is for a ‘slob.

The term “juvenile delinquent” isn’t heard often in 2014, but excuses for unspeakable behavior abound, and today’s excuses continue to be astonishingly illogical, from poor upbringing, to poverty, to lack of opportunity and a litany of psychobabble theories for the social malfunction of large numbers of criminal adolescents. But in 2014, unlike 1957, a great deal of money exists to throw at the problem. And worse, because decades have proven that social remedies do not work to curb crime among young people, the dominant liberal culture now makes a massive, stumbling rush to downgrade the real issues involved in criminal behavior. Today’s social engineers, using the pernicious doctrine of  political correctness, now put into place legal mechanisms that not only foul up the justice system, but corrupt education by ignoring the immorality of crime and teach the young that society at large and not the criminals are at fault, thus, that crime is not committed by criminals, but by their environment, by others, even by their victims.

Upbringing, poverty, sociological displacement, culture and bad home life are all used as excuses. An excuse, remember, is not an explanation. it mitigates what it excuses. But, while some of these may be factors in someone’s psychological and social development, they are not excuses for crime. Moreover, ineffective measures put in place to redress social grievances, such as generational welfare that discourages productive work, come at a very high cost for taxpayers who are often victims of the very problem they are paying to redress. Generational welfare has not reduced, but encouraged, rampant crime in poor neighborhoods, where drugs are sold openly and people are robbed and beaten up with predictable certainty.

It has been proven for decades that excuses for criminal behavior do not discourage crime. In the real world, the purpose of  punishment is rehabilitation. When a person is punished for a certain behavior, his natural tendency is to avoid the behavior for which he was punished. In fact, excusing behavior does the opposite. It encourages criminals to believe, indeed to realize, the probability that they will not be punished at all, or that their punishment will be mitigated by what excuses they can make for having committed crimes.

Diluted replacements for “punishment” do not work, but cause young criminals to ignore the law and the immorality of crime, because they know that they will not suffer retribution. In fact, they disdain the value of “going straight” gainful employment. Combine this casual attitude toward crime with the supply of welfare money available under the liberal aegis and you have a recipe for total social collapse.

Crime should be punished, not by violence, but by incarceration of violent criminals, even young ones, and perhaps the re-estabishment of reform schools for those still young enough to be rehabilitated, in which they are benevolently but firmly treated, but are separated from the criminal elements that might usher into irreversible cycles of adult crime. There, students would be educated in behaviors and would be given skills on which to build a productive, law abiding life.

In addition, a true education in social morality must be restored to our schoolrooms. From elementary school through high school, every student must be taught that committing egregious crimes for “fun” or on a “dare” or as an initiation rite into a criminal enterprise, such as a street gang, will be punished. Children must be taught that “knockouts” and flash mobs are evil and no longer be tolerated, that good behavior is indeed not “uncool” but a matter of survival in a free society.

Since the decade of the late 50s, when West Side Story appeared, street crime committed by young people, especially by young men, has increased geometrically and has gotten more violent and vicious. The liberals’ tendency to excuse it or explain it away make prospects for reducing it less hopeful and likely. Our only hope is the rational application of punishment, in combination with traditional education. We should abandon the jargonesque sociological theories which bring in grant money for fancy sounding theories that do nothing to solve the societal problem of youth crime. In schools where crime is already commonplace, I say, “Come Back, Officer Krupke, and bring your handcuffs and your nightstick with you!”

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse.



Filed under American culture


tlirRating: 5/5 Stars

Recommended Audience: 6th grade and up

I just finished Andrew Klavan’s newest book, Nightmare City, and I realized I was remiss in not having up a review of The Last Thing I Remember.

I have mentioned through my reviews on here that I think conservatives need to focus more on the culture. For those that agree with me, Andrew Klavan is someone you must be following. Klavan is an award winning author, screenwriter, and media commentator. Two of his most notable works are True Crime and Don’t Say a Word, both of which were turned into movies. For anyone wanting to learn a little more about Klavan you can check out his website, http://www.andrewklavan.com/, and you also can read the interview that I conducted with him back in December 2012.

The Last Thing I Remember was Klavan’s first foray into young adult literature. It is the first book in the four book The Homelanders seriesI admit the story is a bit over the top, some of the things that Charlie faces are a little unrealistic. It really doesn’t matter because this book is so adventurous and so much fun! It’s a real page turner!

At the beginning of the story Charlie West wakes up strapped to a chair. He has been tortured and battered and someone is about to kill him. Not to go out without a fight, Charlie manages to escape and begins his journey home. Along the way he faces many struggles and problems. 

The reason I really like this book is the unapologetic, pro-American values that Charlie displays throughout the story. If you consider yourself a constitutionalist, then this kid is going to make you grin from ear to ear. 

I loved this passage on p. 76:

“…this was the year I had to take calculus. It was insanely hard, and I worried it would wreck my grade point average. And if it didn’t, there was Mr. Sherman, my history teacher, to worry about. I thought he was out to get me because I argued with him him all the time, and a lot of the time I won. For instance, he stood up in class once and said all these nasty things about America. He said America was racist and violent and greedy. So I just got up and told him that he was wrong and that the facts proved him wrong. I told him, sure, people in America make mistakes because people everywhere make mistakes. But when you came right down to it, there was not one place on Earth where people had any freedom or dignity or human rights and America hadn’t helped it happen or helped it stay that way. I challenged him to name one place-one single place on Earth-and he couldn’t, because there isn’t one.”

We live in a time period where it seems popular to bash our own country. The left just loves to tell the narrative that makes us out to be nothing but villains. Our historical record is not perfect, we’ve made mistakes, but we still should be proud of all the good we have accomplished around the world. I’m glad to see a young adult novel that promotes these ideas in an accessible way. Young adult literature needs more author’s like Klavan.TLWH

ttotm(As a quick note, I have read the second and third books in this series. The second book, The Long Way Home I would rate a 4/5. There was a part of the story that went on for way too long. Unfortunately, it actually causes some of my students to abandon the series. The third book, The Truth of the Matter, is every bit as good as the first. I would give it a 5/5 star rating as well.)



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