August 03, 2015

What social and medical science has to say about Obama's push to "desegregate" white suburbs

In their constant determination to go against the grain of what they see in the society around them, Leftists have long argued that contact  between people of different races is a good thing.  They started that ball rolling not long after WWII, when it emerged that black/white contact in the American military during WWII had fostered some inter-racial friendships, even though the forces were at that time largely segregated racially.  That the military is not much like society at large and that war is not peace were  "overlooked".

So the "contact hypothesis" was born and thrived for many years in social science writing.  As early as 1974, however, I was arguing in the academic literature that the converse is true: The more you see of other races, the less you like them.  Nothing I wrote in the research literature on the subject had any influence, however.  It took Robert Putnam to blow the nonsense out of the water.

Putnam was a well-credentialled Leftist whose early illustrations of declining "social capital" in the USA had attracted a lot of interest.  In that work he showed how social interactions outside  the home had shrivelled up since the '60s.  People were "hunkering down" and "bowling alone".  People were increasing less trustful of their environment and reluctant to set foot outside their own front door.

He proposed several reasons for this effect but omitted the obvious one:  The "liberation" of blacks accomplished by the Civil Rights Act and the destruction of racial segregation that took place in the '60s.  Whatever else it did, Jim Crow kept blacks significantly subdued and, in particular, not dangerous to whites.  A black man getting "uppity" could in some cases end up hanging from a tree in those days.  The incidence of violence among groups of sub-Saharan Africans is uniformly high at all times and in all nations so there was still a high level of crime among blacks in the Jim Crow era but it was almost entirely black-on-black, as, indeed, it still largely is.

I am not of course defending Jim Crow or advocating a return to it.  I am simply being a good social scientist and noting that, after it abolition, life became more dangerous for whites.  And it was because the world outside was more dangerous that white Americans, in particular, became more hesitant about setting foot outside their front door, particularly at night.  They watched TV instead.

Eventually, however, Putnam felt he had to address the racial facts that kept bobbing up in his data.  After years of hesitation,  he dropped his bombshell: The more ethnic diversity there was in a community, the less was the social interaction and co-operation.  It was when you had black neighbors that you stayed at home as much as you could.  So much for the contact hypothesis!

So "diversity" brings on social isolation.  But social isolation is a very bad thing.  Ever since the work of sociologist Durkheim in the late 19th century, researchers have known that alienation from those around you has serious psychiatric consequences.  It is, for instance, a major cause of suicide.

And if social isolation is troublesome to us in advanced societies, it is even more troublesome in less sophisticated societies.  Australian Aborigines are, for instance, compulsively social.  They have a strong need for the physical company of others of their kind. Put one in isolation in jail and he will do his level best to kill himself.  An erring Aboriginal can be "sung" to death by his tribe.  The singing consists of the men of the tribe sitting down together and chanting disapproval of the person for hours on end.  The target of such chanting will simply die.

So from the literature of both anthropology and sociology, we know that social isolation is bad for your health  -- bad to the point of being fatal.  I was pleased therefore to see the article from the medical literature below which confirms how fatal social isolation can be.  It's no wonder so many Americans avoid "diversity" by "white flight" and it's very threatening that Obama is trying to "diversify" existing white suburbs.

So an obscure article in a medical journal has great relevance to a current "hot" political issue.  Under the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), announced by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently, Obama wants to plop down "affordable" housing in the middle of better-off communities. In conjunction with Putnam's findings, the article below would suggest that more white  suicides will result if he succeeds. Leftism can be fatal in all sorts of ways -- large and small.

Association Between Social Integration and Suicide Among Women in the United States

By Alexander C. Tsai, MD et al.


Importance:  Suicide is one of the top 10 leading causes of mortality among middle-aged women. Most work in the field emphasizes the psychiatric, psychological, or biological determinants of suicide.

Objective:  To estimate the association between social integration and suicide.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We used data from the Nursesí Health Study, an ongoing nationwide prospective cohort study of nurses in the United States. Beginning in 1992, a population-based sample of 72?607 nurses 46 to 71 years of age were surveyed about their social relationships. The vital status of study participants was ascertained through June 1, 2010.

Exposures:  Social integration was measured with a 7-item index that included marital status, social network size, frequency of contact with social ties, and participation in religious or other social groups.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The primary outcome of interest was suicide, defined as deaths classified using the codes E950 to E959 from the International Classification of Diseases, Eighth Revision.

Results:  During more than 1.2 million person-years of follow-up (1992-2010), there were 43 suicide events. The incidence of suicide decreased with increasing social integration. In a multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model, the relative hazard of suicide was lowest among participants in the highest category of social integration (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.23 [95% CI, 0.09-0.58]) and second-highest category of social integration (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.26 [95% CI, 0.09-0.74]). Increasing or consistently high levels of social integration were associated with a lower risk of suicide. These findings were robust to sensitivity analyses that accounted for poor mental health and serious physical illness.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Women who were socially well integrated had a more than 3-fold lower risk for suicide over 18 years of follow-up.


Go to John Ray's Main academic menu
Go to Menu of longer writings
Go to John Ray's basic home page
Go to John Ray's pictorial Home Page
Go to Selected pictures from John Ray's blogs