Lead Is a Lousy Excuse - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Lead Is a Lousy Excuse

Herewith a few more respectful thoughts about Baltimore.

First, I am happy to see that now that all decent habits of law enforcement and prosecution have been tossed out by Marilyn Robespierre Mosby, Esq., a sort of calm has returned to one of the most violent cities in America, Baltimore. The sacrifice of the most basic precepts of law have allowed blacks and whites to sing “Kumbaya” together over the dead letters of the Constitution.

But look at something that might scare you even more. Observe how incredibly little it took for that poor confused, weak state’s attorney to fold on basic principles of law. The night roughly one week ago when the riots and looting exploded in some neighborhoods of Baltimore, there were over a thousand marchers. But at most, at the absolute most, a few hundred thugs set fires and looted liquor stores and burned other stores. No one was killed and as far as I know, no one was critically injured. The violence was over by the next evening.

But that was all it took to frighten and entice the state’s attorney, Ms. Mosby, to cast aside any respect for legal tradition and simply play to the couple of hundred thugs and their patrons in D.C. and New York who had driven such a shot of adrenaline to certain news networks. That tiny sliver of the population of Maryland, far less than one hundredth of one percent, blown up immensely by the media, was enough for the Old Line State to abandon the rule of law.

The episode makes it easy to see exactly why it was so easy for so many countries to toss aside democracy and the rule of law in Europe and Asia and South America in the 20th century. A little violence, as the failed painter from Austria learned, accomplished big things.

There are still many levels of the judiciary above Madame Defarge Mosby, so maybe it’s not too late for law to return. But then what, now that the mob has gotten accustomed to having its way? It is not going to be easy to tell them that they are not the law — that there is a law above them. That will be some day.

Next, and this was suggested to me by a supersmart psychologist, one wonders why the most violent parts of the black population have such a huge hold on the political, judicial, and media mind. The black population is at most 14 percent of the national population. The Hispanic, white, and Asian populations are immensely larger. However, they are also immensely more law-abiding, as a group. (Obviously, the great majority of the black population is also law-abiding.) A small fraction of a small fraction of the population exercises great influence on the nation.

Why is that? Guilt over very real past injustices? Or perhaps, once again, it is that fear of violence. Violence is exciting and persuasive and frightening. It has worked well for some groups. But it does not make poor people rich as a group. It does not put fathers in families. It does not take kids off the streets dealing drugs. It is drama, not work, and work is what pays off in the long run.

Next, all of this nonsense about how the bad behavior of black kids in America is caused by lead based paint.… Just so you know, no one has been able to definitively quantify the effects of lead-based paint on anyone’s IQ or behavior. For a very long time, all of America breathed in immense amounts of lead vapor from gasoline and industrial uses. There was no discernible fall in national IQ from that. Even now, inhalation of lead-based vapors is high in auto repair, cosmetics application, target-shooting instruction, and many other fields. It is far higher in China than here.

There was no national crisis of intelligence or behavior based on that lead. China is obviously growing like mad. No one thinks the Chinese cannot learn.

Only when some smart sociologists and trial lawyers found they could make money and fame by asserting that the cause of misconduct and low scholastic achievement in the black schools was lead-based paint did that emerge as a “cause” of such problems.

It is junk science, my educated friends say. Everyone takes in lead. Not everyone uses it as an excuse.

Maybe it might be just a teeny tiny thought to ask where the data about lead-based paint having anything to do with Freddie Gray or anything else might be.

Maybe, just in general, it might be time to ask Americans for results instead of excuses.

Just a thought. Meanwhile, it’s all right because blacks and whites are holding hands in Baltimore and soon it will be as happy and peaceful there as it is in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Get the lead out and it’s all done.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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