The media, at its best will tell us what happens without giving us their interpretation. For the big events this is normal. We don’t need the media to tell us the meaning of the war’s end, the death of Bin Laden, and the like. For other events it’s not so easy. And we need help too understand what’s going on. Who by himself, for example, would know what meaning to give to the Donald Trump phenomenon.
And in fact we sit back and watch the Donald and wonder, and almost hope that what is really a circus performance won’t stop. For we want to see what happens when that which could never have happened does happen and Donald Trump becomes the Republican choice for president. And confronted with such a happening the media takes off the restraints and is all over it. For they too are fascinated by the Donald phenomenon, and like us want to understand, and we get hundreds, thousands of their interpretations.
Now most happenings or events are not enough in themselves. They need someone, most often the media pundits, to draw conclusions from them. Such a happening is this one, one that I read about in today’s Boston Globe, Black enrollment at Latin School falls sharply – The Boston Globe.
Students leaving Boston Latin School on Wednesday. Nearly half of Latin School’s students are white, compared to 14 percent districtwide.
Two quick answers in the way of explanation of what is happening would be,
1/ That the quality of the Blacks who are applying to Boston Latin is not up to where it was in the past.
2/ That the quality of the growing numbers of Whites who are admitted to Latin is higher than it was in past years.
Let’s assume for the moment that we know the meaning of “quality,” it being something quite comparable to IQ and SAT scores.
But this is only a restatement of what is happening, there are fewer Black students at Latin. But this is not an explanation. Here’s another attempt at explanation, or rather two attempts, that of the progressive left and that of the conservative right. Those on the left tell us that even today as shown by what is happening at Latin we are still not doing enough for the Blacks. More government help is called for. Those on the right tell us that we’re still doing too much for the Blacks, our welfare programs making them less able to do for themselves. Less government is what is needed.
Here the opposing players are far apart, the explainers at a loss to explain and by their argument persuade those opposed. So we go on talking but not listening, listening but not hearing, heariing but not seeing. What we should recognize and admit is that people are different. Blacks are different from Whites and probably not even most importantly by the color of their skin. There are probably as many reasons why there are fewer Blacks at Latin as there are kids in the school, and whereas by itself the notification of fewer Blacks in the prestigious Latin School makes great copy it probably means nothing at all because the number of possible explanations are at least as numerous as the numbers of witnesses. And we’re still far from understanding what is happening.