MANCHESTER, Conn. Fathers of black teenage boys are writing resentfully about the formal talk they believe they must have with their sons about how to behave in the presence of police officers -- super-respectful and careful -- because police operate on hair triggers with young black men, considering them far more threatening than other people.
Call it a prejudice or a stereotype, but a visit to any criminal court or prison will show that it's not irrational. Young black men commit a hugely disproportionate amount of crime. Whatever is to blame for this, slavery or the welfare system, which denies fathers to children, it isn't the police. After teachers, police are just the first to get stuck with the consequences.
Any black boy who has a father to give him "The Talk" is luckier than most black boys -- indeed, luckier than most fatherless boys regardless of race. But necessary as it may be, "The Talk" should stress that while some police officers are racist, most are not, and that even those officers who are especially suspicious of young black men are responding to the racial disproportion in crime.
Of course this stereotyping of young black men isn't fair -- no fairer than the stereotyping of cops as racist predators.
But while there will always be misconduct by police, at least there is redress for it -- at police headquarters and in court -- and regardless of their occasional misconduct, the police are always more sinned against than sinning as nearly half the country's children grow up without two parents and without much idea about how they must behave.
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About $45 million in government grants and charitable contributions, The Hartford Courant reports, have been bestowed on Newtown, social-service agencies, and survivors to remediate the consequences of the massacre of 20 students and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago. Can that astounding sum be questioned?
After all, it's hard to see how much more can be done by $45 million than could have been done by $26 million, which would have provided a million in compensation for every devastated family.
Meanwhile, murders and mayhem remain daily events in Connecticut's cities, particularly Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven, without any organized financial compensation of the survivors or concern about civic trauma. Why the difference?
Part of it is that Newtown's victims were mostly innocent children. But the victims in the cities are all somebody's children, too, some of them also innocent, and even those who were not so innocent shouldn't have been murdered.
Newtown also may get so much sympathy and financial aid because such horrible things aren't supposed to happen in white middle-class towns to people who lived productively and away from the underclass. No, horrible things are supposed to happen only to underclass people in the cities. It's not that underclass people deserve it but rather that they should expect it -- and indeed the rest of Connecticut takes city mayhem for granted, part of the normal order of things, as it long has been.
Yes, for the last half century government has appropriated billions in the name of remediating poverty in Connecticut's cities, far more than has been appropriated for Newtown. But little has been remediated. The cities are more of a mess than when that remediation began and as traumatized as Newtown, just less articulate about it.
But Newtown keeps getting not only cash it really doesn't need but also government studies that will never be able to track the massacre beyond the peculiar circumstances of a disturbed young man who in a few years had already gotten more professional attention than most city residents get in a lifetime.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.