Here’s an explanation of why Americans are less inclined to riot in this day and age:
"So why," Katz asks, "had collective violence more or less disappeared from the streets of American cities?"
He tackles this question in a new book, Why Don't American Cities Burn?, which he discussed Friday in Washington at a forum hosted by the New America Foundation. What's so striking about his answer is that many of the trends implicated in our quiet streets are not necessarily good ones. It's true, American cities aren't burning. But we shouldn't pat ourselves on the back just yet.
Some of Katz' explanations are good news: Previously marginalized groups that once felt they had no other outlet now have more voices in the political process. White flight ceded whole cities – and their governments – to African Americans in the U.S. And this left neighborhood boundaries less contentious, Katz argues, eliminating one of the causes of urban friction. In the 1960s, by contrast, large numbers of African Americans were moving into the city at a time when whites had not yet left.
So, racial homogeneity corresponds with reductions in riots? Who could ever have guessed it? Anyway, it looks like diversity is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Maybe, then, we shouldn’t try to force the issue. Maybe, then, we should simply let people decide who they want to live with and who they want to live near to. And maybe we should leave those people alone.