Edward Banfield on white social dysfunction

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Bob Dylan Roof

BAP wanted me to put together some quotes from Edward Banfield on the dysfunction of whites in the United States. The following quotes come from Banfield's very rich The Unheavenly City (part of which I have summarized here ), which humanely picks apart typical liberal and conservative explanations of social dysfunction.

Some of this material should definitely be reviewed in the context of the "how the Irish became white" narratives on the left.

It is plausible to conjecture that the more present-oriented the culture of an ethnic group, the larger the proportion of its members who became lower class (similarly, the more future-oriented a group culture, the higher the proportion who entered the upper classes). The Irish, for example, contributed heavily to the lower class as compared to the Jews, From 1885 to 1890, persons born in Ireland comprised 12.6 percent of the population but accounted for 60.4 percent of the almshouse, 36.7 percent of the workhouse, and 15.5 percent of prison inmates; Jews from Russia and Austria-Hungary were 3 percent of the population but accounted for none of the almshouse, 1 percent of the workhouse, and 1 percent of the prison inmates. Very likely, the present-orientation of the Irish and the future-orientation of the Jews had important indirect effects as well. The Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite, for example, probably discriminated against people who showed little disposition to get ahead and in favor of those who showed much...

In another report on the predominantly Irish Middle West Side of half a century ago, mention is made of "the hopelessly unmoral attitude of the neighborhood," where "boys as young as seven and eight actually practice sodomy."

A.B. Hollingshead, for example, describes in Elmtown's Youth the social structure of a "typical" Midwestern county seat, the population of which in 1940 was white...and consisted mostly of native-born Protestants, many descended from "old American stock." In this all-American community, nearly a quarter of the population had the status of pariahs. Class V (lower-class) families "are excluded from the two leading residential areas. . . .Employers do not like to hire them unless labor is scarce or they can be induced to work for low wages. . . .Class V persons are almost totally isolated from organized community activities. . . .They knew that their children were discriminated against in the school system by both the teachers and the pupils. . . . The Class V's get the bad jobs, such as helping in the junk yards and hauling garbage and ashes. . . .Class V persons give the impression of being resigned to a life of frustration and defeat in a community that despises them for their disregard of morals, lack of 'success' goals, and dire poverty."

Hollingshead summarizes the community's view of the lower class -- "the scum of the city" -- as follows:

They have no respect for the law, or themselves.​
They enjoy their shacks and huts along the river or across the tracks and love their dity, smoky, low-class dives and taverns.​
Whole families -- children, in-laws, mistresses, and all -- live in one shack.​
This is the crime class that produces the delinquency and sexual promiscuity that fills the paper.​
Their interests lie in sex and its perversion. The girls are always pregnant; the families are huge; incestual relations occur frequently.​
They are not inspired by education, and only a few are able to make any attainments along this line.​
They are loud in their speech, vulgar in their actions, sloppy in their dress, and indifferent toward their plight. Their vocabulary develops as profanity is learned.​
If they work, they work at very menial jobs.​
Their life experiences are purely physical, and even these are on a low plane.​
They have no interest in health and medical care.​
The men are too lazy to work or do odd jobs around town.​
They support the Democratic party because of the relief obtained during the depression.​
This group lives for a Saturday of drinking or fighting.​

The community's view of the lower class is not, apparently, based entirely on prejudice. Class V parents, Hollingshead says, are "indifferent to the future":

They will leave a job casually often without notice. . . .8 percent of the mothers and 46 percent of the fathers had been convicted once or more in the local courts. . . .Serial monogamy is the rule. . .one-fifth to one-fourth of all births are illegitimate. . . .The mean [number of children] is 5.6 per mother. . . .Disagreements leading to quarrels and vicious fights, followed by desertion by either the man or the woman, possibly divorce, is not unusual. . . . The burden of child care, as well as support, falls on the mother more often than on the father when the family is broken. . . .Before the sixteenth birthday is reached. . .75 percent of the class V's have left school. . . .​

If something like one-quarter of the population of a typical Midwestern town is (more or less correctly) perceived in this way, it should not be surprising that a sizable part of the population of a large city is perceived (also more or less correctly) in the same way. Racial and ethnic prejudice obviously do not account for the low status of so many Elmtown people. Why, then, should the same attitudes be attributed to racial prejudice when the Class V's are Negroes (or Puerto Ricans or Mexicans or whatever) rather than white, Protestant, native-born Americans?..[T]o treat the lower-class Negro exactly like the lower-class white is not, on the face of it, to show racial prejudice.....

In the New York metropolitan area, Nathan Kantrowitz constructed indexes of segregation in 1960 for eleven ethnic groups plus Negroes and Puerto Ricans. Segregation as between whites of southern and northern European origns was such, he found, that slightly more than half of the population of souther European origin would have to be redistributed in order to achieve full integration with the population of northern European origin. Even within these two populations of European origin there was residential segregation: the index between Norwegians and Swedes, for examples, was 45.4.
Bronze Age Pervert