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Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

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Blaming society is favorite excuse

By BEN BOYCHUK 

Manhattan Institute’s City Journal
M
y friend Joel Mathis compares apples with blood oranges. A few tea party protesters — not exclusively white, by the way — showed up to rallies lawfully bearing arms. Nobody was shot, stabbed or beaten.

Those demonstrators didn’t turn over cars, loot businesses or burn down pharmacies. In fact, they often left rally sites cleaner than when they showed up.

But remember what happened next: The tea partyers put away their (few) rifles, put down their bullhorns and picket signs, and took on the much harder task of organizing themselves politically. The contrast couldn’t be more obvious. We’re told peaceful demonstrators outnumbered rioters in Baltimore. So what? Anything noble or right about the protests over the unexplained death of Freddie Gray burned down along with a senior center. At some point, our liberal friends and fellow citizens need to take a good, hard look not only at the “repressive regime” they themselves endorse and helped build, but the culture that’s festering around it.

According to the Baltimore Sun, at least 12 people have been killed since Gray was arrested April 12. Homicides are up 23 percent over the same period last year. Is the “repressive regime” to blame?

Or is it the lousy public schools? The awful public housing? Bad cops? How about the perennial scapegoat, “society”?

“Every society but ours knew two things about boys and young men,” writes Anthony Esolen, a Providence College professor and author of “Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.” “They are dangerous. They are dynamic. Those are really flip sides of the same coin. It is absolutely necessary to socialize them so that they don’t destroy everything.”

We no longer know these things. We’ve either deliberately forgotten or we’ve insisted that those facts of life are no longer operative. We’d better start remembering. 

Reach Ben Boychuk at bboychuk@city-journal.org.