Dr. Kimberly Cook, a Sociology and Criminology professor at UNC Wilmington, has written an op-ed piece that ostensibly seeks to explain the high rates of “violence in low-income communities” in our hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina. Under normal circumstances, I ignore political screeds written by my Marxist colleagues. However, this recent op-ed is so mired in intellectual incompetence and academic dishonesty as to require a column-length response.
Cook begins her op-ed by saying that “As a criminologist, (she) can offer some insights into this persistent problem (of violence in low-income communities).” By reminding people she is a criminologist she seeks to establish credibility. But she destroys her credibility in the next sentence by adding that, “arrest and incarceration exacerbate the problems” she is addressing.
When Cook eschews incarceration, she draws no distinction between petty offences such as drug possession and more serious crimes of violence such as murder, which have been on the upswing in Wilmington’s low-income neighborhoods. Hence, her suggestion that arresting people and incarcerating them would be detrimental raises some serious red flags. Were I the editor of our local Wilmington McTimes, I probably would have passed on Cook’s request to publish her “expert” commentary.
Continuing to speak “as a criminologist,” Cook states that another cause of violence is “a heteronormative masculinity that celebrates dominance, power and control.” This is the kind of socio-babble that offers nothing of relevance in the realm of public policy. No one would seriously suggest we encourage “homo-normative masculinity” or “hetero-normative femininity” as a means of controlling crime.
Cook also laments that the upswing in crime in Wilmington’s low-income neighborhoods is due to the fact that, “economic opportunity is not available.” The main obstacle she faces here is, of course, the evidence. While crime has been increasing in these neighborhoods, economic opportunity has also been on the upswing. While the nation is experiencing rapid economic growth, we are also seeing the lowest black unemployment rates in decades. There has been no downward shift in economic opportunity, which would explain the sudden uptick in crime in lower-income Wilmington neighborhoods.
Fortunately, Cook does recognize - at least at some level - how the crimes of her fellow Democrats have affected our community. She states that “Still, our community remains wounded by historical harms of racialized violence (the violence of slavery; the 1898 coup and massacre).” For those not from Wilmington, the 1898 massacre was a political coup perpetrated by white supremacist Democrats against black Republicans. But it has absolutely nothing to do with current rates of violence in poor black communities.
Cook only mentions these historical factors because she simply cannot communicate at length without blaming societal ills on whites and males, unless of course, the males are gay. The proclivity for identity politics is in her genetic code as a Marxist feminist revolutionary. As preposterous as they may be, her suggestions that slavery (ended in 1865) and the Wilmington race riot (of 1898) are somehow responsible for the high rate of violence in low-income minority communities in 2019 must be explored. So please allow me to speak as a criminologist who is not a disciple of Karl Marx.
Other nations, such as France, kept national crime statistics prior to the American Civil War. But the United States did not do so until the early 1930s. Hence, it is difficult to measure the effects that slavery and local political events of the late 19th century had on rates of violent crime. We can, however, use the statistics to pin the blame on other atrocities carried out by the Democrats. (While you consider these statistics, please note that the Democrats launched the War on Poverty in the 1960s).
For the first two full decades for which we have official crime statistics – the ‘40s and the ‘50s - we see that the homicide rate among black males fell dramatically. That drop was 18 percent in the 1940s and 22 percent in the 1950s. Then, the black homicide rate suddenly shot up by 89 percent in the 1960s.
Thus, to clear thinking people, Cook’s analysis of black crimes rates is more hysterical than historical. Rational minds simply cannot attribute this huge increase in black crime in the 1960s, which occurred nationwide and in Wilmington, to the “legacy of slavery.”
Nor did increases in homicide among blacks have anything to do with terrorist acts committed by white Democrats against black Republicans around the turn of the century. Cook has simply identified the wrong Democratic atrocity. She should be focusing on the War on Poverty, which resulted in skyrocketing rates of black illegitimacy. When that war began, families headed by only a single mother raised about a fifth of black children. Within a third of a century, families headed by only a single mother became the normal environment in which black children were raised.
But Cook cannot speak honestly on this issue because she supports welfare. She also supports slavery reparations. So she has to ignore the more recent data in order to make demonstrably false insinuations about the legacy of slavery. In a nutshell, she is not interested in addressing realities. She is interested in maintaining visions.
Sadly, this is more than professional incompetence on Cook’s behalf. She is knowingly advancing a false narrative. In her op-ed, she states, “For example, we know that prior to 1898 African Americans here owned homes and successful businesses, and there was a thriving African American middle class.” But that was after the Civil War. So the legacy of slavery argument does not hold water.
Nor does she have the moral authority to condemn the riots of 1898, which were perpetrated by her political party and which resulted in blacks having their property taken away. She states that, “The generations to follow lost the inherited prosperity that would have come to them had the massacre never happened.”
This would seem to be a strong moral condemnation of taking people’s property with force. But Cook is a Marxist. Thus, her political ideology revolves around taking other people’s property with force. At least Professor Cook isn’t a racist who would take property only from blacks. Seeking equality, her fellow Marxists would take it from everyone.
Cook furthers her intellectually dishonest brand of identity politics by stating that, “we need to acknowledge that most violent crime is perpetrated by men and boys. We also have to acknowledge that young African American and Latino men have shockingly high rates of violent victimizations.” She could have also stated the obvious point that:
Other African American and Latino men commit the vast majority of these crimes against African American and Latino men.
But Cook will not say that because she is committed to only repeating statistics in a manner that denigrates men and panders to racial minorities.
Cook concludes her manifesto with this glib suggestion: “Let’s establish and fund a truth and reconciliation program to better understand and address the historical harms of racism in our city. And let’s deliberately cultivate a version of masculinity that promotes peace and responsibility, repairing the harm inflicted on our children.”
I have a better idea. Let’s reject the ideas of incompetent Marxist feminists who distort history in an effort to advance failed visions.