Alibi V.15 No.1 • Jan 5-11, 2006 

Guest Editorial

A Whiter, Nastier Shade of Pale

Local political blogger Joe Monahan ( launched the New Year with a rapturous love note to Garrey Carruthers, former Republican governor and current dean of the New Mexico State University College of Business. Monahan is beside himself with enthusiasm over Carruthers' "bold, blunt assessment" and "dose of reality" pinning New Mexico's current and future problems directly to the state's Latino and Native American citizens. (Ever notice how right-leaners reserve terms like "bold, blunt assessment" and "dose of reality" for comments dissing minorities, women, liberals or gays?)

To Carruthers' credit, he limits his blame assessment to real concerns about minorities' lower levels of education. In a Las Cruces Sun-News editorial, Carruthers says, "Over the next 15 years, vast numbers of white workers will reach retirement age in New Mexico, while the state's Native-American and, even more so, its Hispanic population will expand dramatically. As a result, by the year 2020, 47 percent of New Mexico's working-age adults (people 25 to 64 years old) will be Latino. ... The gaps in education between New Mexico's white population and its Hispanic and Native-American populations are great enough to turn these demographic shifts into a real statewide decline."

Monahan, however, disdains such limitations, blaming New Mexico's Latino and Indian populations for pretty much everything. "What Carruthers did not say, but I will, is that Anglos also do not even come close to being afflicted with the rates of drug abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, DWI, child poverty, learning disabilities and low wages that Hispanics and Native Americans confront. Don't want to deal with it? Then get ready for another 50 years of being fiftieth." (Actually, New Mexico is 46th in child poverty according to the U.S. Census statistics linked to Monahan's blog, but I suppose he thinks "fiftieth" sounds snappier.)

Jeez, where do you start? Maybe these guys should rent a vacation cabin with William "One Armed Bandit" Bennett, our national Moralizer Laureate, who said that aborting all black babies would lower the crime rate. If Anglos designate the criteria of success, then Anglos will score the highest. Set up different criteria and you get a different set of perps. For instance, if we did away with white guys, we'd pretty much eliminate serial killers and all those weird boys who shoot up their schools in honor of Timothy McVeigh.

If white guys hadn't squandered thousands of lives and billions of dollars by deceiving us into an unnecessary war, we could educate every minority student in the country to the limit of his or her ability. White guys have been the prime instigators of the metastatic growth and accompanying environmental destruction that promises to kill us all. And it's mostly white guys making a bundle by exploiting what used to be minorities' ancestral lands.

White guys have enjoyed the overwhelming majority of benefits from tax cuts for the rich, leaving minorities to suffer the resulting service cuts. If Monahan is correct in laying crime at minority doorsteps, why has the nation's crime rate been going down since 1992 as the minority population has grown faster? Could one factor be that minorities are arrested, sentenced and incarcerated at higher rates? For instance, Connecticut imposes a mandatory sentence of five years for possession of one half-gram (0.5g) of crack cocaine, while an offender possessing powder cocaine has to possess 28 grams (28g) to receive the same sentence. The drugs do roughly equal damage to the human body. The difference? Most crack users are black, most powder users are white.

Making sweeping generalizations is so much fun. Anyone can gin up a theory and do it. Here, let me try one: The problem isn't minorities but religion. Many of the woes Monahan cites are directly connected to women being unable to control the size of their families. A lot of devout minorities belong to various religions holding the wacky belief that God demands women risk pregnancy every time they have sex.

What's more, the Journal of Religion and Society reports a study showing that "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so." So there you are. Obviously, New Mexico's problem is not a minority majority but religious devotion.

Or maybe the real problem is being conservative. Repeated studies show that "red" states, with their tiresome pose of moral superiority, have the worst statistics on pretty much every social measure from divorce rates to child poverty.

Sometimes things can show a relation without having any real connection. For instance, I get up every morning and put on the coffee, and right after that the sun comes up. This does not, repeat NOT, mean the sun will not appear if I sleep late.

Come on, have a try! Anybody can do it! The marketplace of oversimplified generalizations and phony cause and effect is now open!