The respected black commentator and philosopher Thomas Sowell has described the growing toll of black-on-white violence as a race war. I would take issue with that only because "war" implies a level of organization that supersedes that of the flash mobs.
There are no shortage of what, the media occasionally describes as, "racially-motivated-attacks". Every society has its outside groups targeted for opportunistic violence. The people you beat up and rob when you're bored and there's nothing good on television. These are people whose lives are worth less than yours, against whom your group holds an enduring grudge against and whom the authorities will not intervene to protect.
In America, the outsider is perversely the majority. There was a time when opportunistic violence was white-on-black, but the authorities, both legal and cultural, have done an excellent job of stamping that out. Black-on-white opportunistic violence remains commonplace because it's safe in the same way that a 19th Century lynch mob was safe. While technically illegal, there is little public outrage over it, and the odds of being prosecuted for it are better than any other form of violence. The flash mob, like the lynch mob, relies on safety in numbers, the complicity of the authorities and the weakness of the system to beat the law.
Imagine for a moment that you are a black teenager or twenty-something, living in a blighted neighborhood, with few job prospects, a lot of free time and a lot of social networking. You know that white people are "bad", not so much because of the street agitators telling you that white people are the devil, but because the entire society that you live in has been telling you that from Day One.
If you made it through high school, which you probably did because every city and town is obsessed with making sure that every student gets through twelve years of educational promotion, then you learned that there is a race war on. A war of white-on-black that began with the slave ships, continued through segregation, and continues today with every report on white racism. Everything you learn tells you that you are on the losing side of a war, that your people are just as good, if not better, yet are being kept down, kept in prison and kept out of power, because of white power.
The Nation of Islam believes that white oppression is genetically coded, but that's a view that is marginally distinguishable from mainstream liberalism, which insists that white privilege makes all people part of the oppressive side to an extent that leaves them unable to understand the oppressed or to pass judgment on their suffering and outrage.
Your textbooks, unlike Malcolm X, a man you are far more likely to respect than Martin Luther King, who was a doughy preacher type, don't say that white people are the devil. They do however convey that same exact message. The world is a messed up place, and most of your textbooks tell you that white people made it that way. The news, when you watch it, talks often about white racism. The movies only occasionally have black heroes, but they always have white villains.
Take all that in, bake it in a 103-degree oven on a hot summer day, mix it with the natural xenophobia that every group has for outsiders, baste it with some envy, throw in gangsta culture's fake macho posturing, so typical of a generation of feral men with broken families and absent fathers, and the rest is utterly unsurprising.
Why would our hypothetical assailant have any great degree of respect for a white person's humanity? Asking that question is far more dangerous than speculating on IQ points, because it cuts at the heart of the cultural blight. Humanity, in its natural state, is vicious. Civilization is imposed on man from without, it does not develop naturally from within. The question is never why is an evil committed, but what influences are there to keep it from being committed.
Americans of all races, are subjected to a constant stream of information and innuendo that trains them to see one race as oppressive and the other as oppressed. This narrative shapes their worldview, it feeds their prejudices and makes it impossible for them to see past it. The narrative teaches them to disdain objective laws as cold and sterile, and to view racism as a fixed pattern that emerges out of any power wielded by a white person. The rest is just a matter of opportunity on a hot summer day.
Black people came north, like so many immigrants, to take on jobs in an industrial sector that died away leaving them stranded. The plight of the urban ghetto and that of the Rust Belt have more in common than either side realizes. The manufacturing jobs that might have made a thriving black middle class possible have gone to China, and there aren't nearly enough government jobs to compensate.
The new generations of immigrants have hacked their way up through street-level retail, often in black communities, to finance their children's education and progress up the ladder, as the only remaining access point to the American Dream. But that's a narrow ladder, and not one to which Irish, Jewish or Italian immigrants were limited. Immigrants adapt, the black community has not. Instead, its adaptations have all been maladjustments, destructive responses that leave them with fewer options than before.
Black leaders, individually, wield a great deal of power, but the black community has little power. Their "helplessness" is an excuse for the exercise of power on their behalf. That "helplessness" is what makes men like Obama or Sharpton or the neighborhood fixer and machine politician so powerful. He wields a collective tool of group votes, racial grievance and simmering violence-- but the practical benefit of this is limited. Black communities receive a sizable proportion of taxpayer money directed at services and entitlements which leave them more maladjusted than before.
All those gifts carry a dangerous price with them, creating an addiction to freebies and learned helplessness. And when the latest government giveaway implodes, as the housing market did, they are left stranded with no clue how to get back up without government intervention. The more community centers open up, the fewer businesses remain. The fewer people in the community that have real jobs, the more blighted the neighborhood becomes.
Crack is a minor addiction compared to entitlements. You can break the drug habit because you know it's killing you, but how do you break a habit of getting free things and special benefits because of the color of your skin? It's a hard habit to break, and despite racist claims otherwise, white people are not any better at breaking that habit. It's just that white people are given far less of the free stuff to learn to be fully addicted to it.
Imagine for a moment that you didn't really have to work, that you were surrounded by ads offering you free food, endless free training programs and benefits, special opportunities to get everything from jobs to government contracts, without having to work for them. Imagine that at any job you held a "Get Out of Work" card by filing an accusation of racism. What's more, imagine if you were surrounded by ads and people encouraging you to do just that? Imagine if you had been brought up in a dysfunctional community by a broken educational system and its even worse entertainment partners to believe that all of this was just because you were oppressed by white people? Then go ahead and break the habit.
This isn't typical life for black people in America, but it's the background that's always there. Most black people know someone that lives this way. They've known people who behave this way at work or who go from job to job, or never hold down any job at all. And while they may not admire them, the blame is assigned to a white society which made them that way.
Black America has been robbed of responsibility and once you take away responsibility from people, it doesn't just grow back. What began with labor slavery turned into serfdom and then into political slavery. In all these incarnations black people helped sustain a broken system with their bodies. They are still doing it now, except the system that they are sustaining is the liberal system, which depends on warm bodies to collect benefits and justify task forces and collectives to provide social justice.
Race wars need soldiers, but this isn't a race war, no more than World War I was about the Huns raping Belgian nuns; it's about power. The racial element justifies the power of those looking for power and adds a moralistic element to their tyranny. They aren't oppressors, rather they are liberating the oppressed from their true oppressors, wielding absolute power in the name of social justice.
Like all things, this one is not new under the sun, but it can be hard to see it when staring directly at it. Fish know little of the water they swim in and the 21st Century Homo Americanus, fed racial mythology along with his mother's milk, often knows less. He sees the racial tensions, but not the reason why. "Divide and conquer" is something he associates with ancient Greek generals or episodes of Survivor, not with the tactics of the unelected bureaucracy that has seized control of his country in the name of an ideology that he thought died when the Berlin Wall fell.
21st Century America is a strange place, bankrupt and omnipotent, bristling with advanced technology in every pocket, yet barely able to keep its infrastructure operating; the least racist place on earth that imagines it is the most racist of all places and times. It isn't torn by a war between races, but by a conflict among its elites over how it will be run. This conflict only marginally involves the common man, who is occasionally hustled out to march for a cause and then sent home so the big men can talk it over a closed-door meeting..
The players in the conflict care very little for either of them. They are not completely inhuman, but they are playing for different stakes, and both believe in a Post-American order with no borders and no national identities. The only question is how this Utopia will be run and on what principles. But they both agree that it can only be properly created by destroying the nation in the name of some post-national virtue, whether it's social justice or free enterprise.
On the streets though, when it's 103 degrees in a hot summer, the plans don't matter, the men cutting deals over the body of a great nation, over its decaying cities, are an afterthought. Human power is an ephemeral thing. It is better at destroying than at creating. It leaves behind scars easily. These streets are scars, the racial tensions are scars, the attack is a scar. It is not the first and it will not be the last.