Last Friday, Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old Australian here on a baseball scholarship, was shot and killed while jogging in Duncan, Okla., population 23,000. He died where he fell.
Police have three suspects, two black and one white. The latter said they were bored and decided to shoot Lane for "the fun of it."
As Lane was white and the shooter black, racism has surfaced as a motive. Thursday came reports that killing a white man may have been an initiation rite for the black teens in joining some offshoot of the Crips or Bloods.
What happened in Oklahoma and the reaction, or lack of reaction to it, tells us much about America in 2013, not much of it good.
Teenagers who can shoot and kill a man out of summertime boredom are moral barbarians, dead souls.
But who created these monsters? Where did they come from? Surely one explanation lies in the fact that the old conscience-forming and character-forming institutions -- home, church, school, and a moral and healthy culture fortifying basic truths -- have collapsed. And the community hardest hit is Black America.
If we go back to the end of World War II, 90 percent of black families consisted of a mother and father and children raised and disciplined by their parents. The churches to which these families went on Sundays were stronger. Black schools may have been largely segregated, but they were also the transmission belts of patriotism and traditional values rooted in biblical truths and a Christian faith.
Though such schools graduated hardworking, law-abiding and productive citizens, today they would be closed as unconstitutional.
Indeed, all of those character- and conscience-forming institutions of yesterday are in an advanced state of decline today.
Seventy-three percent of black kids are born to single moms. Black kids who make it to 12th grade may often be found reading at seventh-, eighth- or ninth-grade levels. In some cities the black dropout rate can hit as high as 50 percent.
Drugs are readily available. And among black males ages 18 to 29, in urban areas, often a third are in prison or jail, or on probation or parole, or walking around with a criminal record.
Where do the kids get their ideas of right and wrong, good and evil? In homes where the father is absent and the TV is always on. From radios tuned in to rap and hip-hop. From films where Hollywood values prevail and the shooting never stops. From street gangs that sometimes form the only families these kids have ever known.
Still, crime has fallen since 1990, we are told.
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