Joliet - Tony Ray was talking with a police officer outside the Forest Park Community Center in Joliet a couple of weeks ago when the two men suddenly heard the crack of gunshots.
Ray, executive director of the center, headed to safety inside the building. The officer ran to investigate.
Sadly, the incident is not all that uncommon.
There have been 165 shootings so far this year, almost as many in all of last year. Murders are up, too. There have been nine so far this year compared to six in all of 2008. That has community leaders like Ray and the Rev. Herbert Brooks concerned. The two men remember the gang wars of the 1980s and they don't want to see a return to the bad old days.
Ray hears from residents who are afraid to travel the Forest Park area's streets at night. "It's definitely increased," he said of the recent rash of violence. "These kids (who are shooting guns) do not understand the ramifications if they hit somebody."
Robert Putnam of Harvard became an academic celebrity in 2000 with his book, Bowling Alone, which argued that society is in dire straits because so many community attachments are breaking down. Americans are increasingly mobile and isolated, with few group affiliations. Prof. Putnam wants to bring back what he calls “social networks,” because he says they make people happy, contribute to democracy, help rear children, and make the economy run better.
He later analyzed census and survey data to find out what role racial diversity plays in all this—whether it deepens attachment to community or further atomizes people. To his dismay, he found that racial and ethnic diversity destroys trust in neighbors and institutions.
The third graph, on page five, shows the results of asking whether people trust members of their own race “a lot.” Prof. Putnam points out that if diversity makes people distrust people of other races, it might be expected to increase their trust in people of their own race—and here is the surprise: Diversity reduces trust in everyone, even in people of one’s own race. This is what leads to Prof. Putnam’s widely quoted conclusion that diversity makes people behave like turtles—they pull into their shells. On the basis of other survey data, he lists other unhappy consequences for people who must live with diversity:
• Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.
• Lower political efficacy—that is, confidence in their own influence.
• Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.
• Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).
• Less likelihood of working on a community project.
• Fewer close friends and confidants.
• Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.
• More time spent watching television and more agreement that “television is my most important form of entertainment.”
This is a convincing set of reasons to oppose the sort of diversity we are always told to celebrate. Indeed, it confirms what immigration activists and race realists have been saying for decades. These findings alone, and the publicity they have received, are worthy of, well, celebration.