Suburban drug users play role in city crime


MR. Hard-working White American, please read Peter Hermann's story in today's Sun.

Mr. Hard-working White American wrote me in response to my column on the rash of school shootings in various parts of the country, in which I noted that the perpetrators -- except for the most recent one in Richmond, Va., in which no one was killed -- were white.

"You take these incidents that were perpetrated by sick and twisted very young men and try to use this distinct handful of incidents to debate rational discrimination? These young boys chose their victims and had very directed anger. If I were running a mostly white rural high school or the parent of an attending student, yes my world would be rocked and I would be practicing rational discrimination against any young male exhibiting any of those characteristics of dangerous, out-of-control anger that could escalate to events like those.

"Rational discrimination is mostly spontaneous fear. If I see one or more black people (men or head-bobbing sisters) approaching me with an attitude, a cocky gait and in the current costume of the day (for the latest batch of black, white or yellow criminals), then you're damn right I'll be alert and scared, because if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it's probably a duck. The same description above applies to white trash and the same reaction will result. The problem is that in most cities these days, where we all have to or want to visit or work in, the ducks are mostly black and mostly bad.

"This is proven on a daily basis on the pages of your very own paper. Oh yes, there's some white crime but it pales in volume next to black crime, again, read your own paper. Look at today's issue -- the black event 'Night Out,' there's a great example and maybe a larger version of what goes on at Howard Street and surrounding area on a routine basis."

OK, Mr. Hard-working White American, take your own advice: Read my own paper. Read Hermann's article about how affluent, white suburbanites who sit on their duffs and figure they contribute nothing to America's social ills routinely ride into neighborhoods like mine to cop their latest hit of cocaine or heroin fix. Read how our own city Police Department says these suburbanites contribute to that black crime you seem to feel defines nearly every black person in Baltimore. (Those are your words: "The ducks are mostly black and mostly bad.")

Well, Mr. Hard-working White American, what about the white ducks who contribute to the drug traffic, which, according to many a white judge who works just as hard as you do, is what fuels over 80 percent of all crime? Should we apply "rational discrimination" to them and assume that because some white suburbanites use drugs that "most of these white ducks" probably do?

Wanna talk crime stats, Mr. Hard-working White American? What would the crime stats look like if those white suburbanites were actually prosecuted for drug possession? As Hermann's article points out, most cases are simply thrown out of court. It's true that blacks lead in arrests for homicide and robbery. But again, note that judges say most of the crime is linked to drugs. Thus, these white suburbanites contribute, even if only indirectly, to any crime that is drug-related.

The color of America's drug problem isn't black or white. The color of America's drug problem is American. Since drugs and crime are linked, crime isn't a black problem, but an American one.

You missed the point, by several light-years, Mr. Hard-working White American, of my column on those boys who gunned down their classmates and teachers. The point was that white Americans cannot afford to smugly assume that they do not contribute to the social ills of this country. The problem of violence is a male, not a black, phenomenon. The other point was to show you what it feels like to be lumped together with a few bad apples from your racial group. Doesn't feel too good, does it, Mr. Hard-working White American?

I trust reading Hermann's article was eye-opening for you, Mr. Hard-working White American. Before I leave you to contemplate it, a correction is in order. Subsequent investigation into that black event, Night Out, revealed nothing close to a disturbance took place at the Brokerage. It seems some folks just panicked at a large number of black folks in one place at one time. But I assume that's OK with you. You're already on record as saying that a large number of black folks in one place is by definition a cause for alarm.

Pub Date: 6/21/98

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