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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Once More, With Feeling

Baltimore

I've gotten a lot of mail on Baltimore.

Why haven't you said anything? When are you going to weigh in on this? Do you not care?

Baltimore is burning and why haven’t I said anything?

You don't think there’s been enough self-serving gratuitous hand wringing, chest beating, and dick waggling on this subject?

Really?

Because every network, every pundit, every politician has managed to find a way to profit from this latest round of violence. Every single one.

Before that, though, not one of them ever mentioned Baltimore. Not even me. Nobody gives a shit about Baltimore – not even Martin O'Malley and he used to run the place. But suddenly every media outlet has a truck in Baltimore, live on the scene and streaming the pictures into every living room in glorious High Definition and there you are, on the bloody mean streets of Baltimore.

Every presidential hopeful has something to say about Baltimore.

Every Senator and every Representative knows who to blame for Baltimore.

Every pundit is an authority on Baltimore.

And every American has picked a side in Baltimore.

And so, what? I should make some hay in Baltimore too? Sure, why shouldn’t I pander for donations and page views and "likes" built on the pain and misery of others?

So, what is it exactly that you'd like me to say?

I mean, what is there left to say?

 

You're maybe expecting some pithy observation? Some special insight, right? Sorry, I'm fresh out.

 

We all, every single one of us whether we admit it or not, we all know what the deal is in Baltimore.

It's the same all over America.

It’s the same all over the world in fact.

When people have nothing left to lose, when rage and hopelessness are the norm, when violence and poverty have become birthrights, when systematic disenfranchisement is the order of the day, then riot and destruction are always only seconds away. Always.

What we forget is this: When people have nothing left to lose, then the only thing left to them is rage.

You've seen this how many times in your life? How many times throughout history? Here and abroad? Opportunists who inevitably turn peaceful protest to violence. Faceless police, machine-like in armor and shields. Riot and mayhem. Soldiers in the streets. Fire, shattered windows, blood, and the air dense with the fog of gas?

And you're surprised, shocked, how?

You look at the images on your screen and you see exactly what you want to see, confirmation of whatever terrors keep you up afraid in the night. The politicians and the media, left and right and lost in the middle, feed you whatever you want to hear.

We’ve seen this same, exact, scenario played out how many times? Frankly, I’m only surprised that it happens as infrequently as it does in America, that’s a luxury unknown for many outside our borders.

But the thing is this: You know how to solve this problem.

You know what the answers are, we all do, even those of us currently determined not to admit it.

Oh we certainly do: equality, justice, liberty, humanity, compassion, education, investment, opportunity, access, community, shared history, shared dreams, shared purpose, belonging, pride, acceptance, self worth, respect.

Those are what make up a stable civilization.

Those are the things that keep people from riot and rage.

Those are the things that hold civilization together and drive it forward.

But those things do not exist in a vacuum.

It’s not enough to tell others to pick themselves up.

It’s not enough to to yell, “get a job, have some pride, stop lighting shit on fire, you stupid lazy fuckers!”

You can not bootstrap from nothing to everything.

Civilization, society, they don't spring whole cloth from parched soil, they require effort. A healthy civilization, one that doesn’t go around lighting itself on fire, well, that requires we make good on the promise of our founders: life, liberty, and justice for all. Along with equality, humanity, compassion, tolerance, solid education, investment, opportunity, access, community, shared history and shared dreams and a shared purpose, a sense of belonging and ownership – only then will you see pride in self and respect for others replace rage.

But civilization is hard.

If it was easy, if those things listed above were easy, then they would be the human condition.

But it is injustice and intolerance and rage that are the norm instead.

Civilization has to be built from the ground up, nurtured, encouraged, protected, watched over, managed.

It's much easier to ignore the problem.

It’s far far easier to blame complex problems on simple things, race, drugs, ideology, religion, money.  It makes for a better sound bite. It tells us that it’s not our fault nor our responsibility. It’s them, those stupid lazy fuckers, if they’d just get a job and stop lighting shit on fire, pull up their pants and take some pride in themselves…

Like New York and Berkeley, like Ferguson, like Brooklyn, like Anaheim, like Oakland, and like a thousand other moments of rage before, Baltimore will soon be forgotten.

And we’ll go on as before. Eyes averted, pretending there’s nothing wrong.

But down underneath? We all know, all of us, what needs to be done.

But we will not do it.

And tomorrow another city will burn.

79 comments:

  1. Nice Article...In all the reporting, and commenting on the problems in Baltimore(and Ferguson et al) I don't recall anyone hitting the cause smack in the nose like (Of all people) Orioles COO John Angelos.....I'm going to post the link here and you can edit it as you wish...http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/04/27/orioles-coo-john-angelos-puts-baseball-and-civil-rights-and-protests-in-perspective/.... I am publishing this under Anonymous, as I don't have any of the other credentials I'm Mike Webb on FB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angelos's father is "old Baltimore" (pro-union, Democrat) and it appears the apple did not fall far from the tree?

      Delete
  2. What you suggest is hard work, and most people naturally gravitate towards the comfortable, and easier path of least resistance. The Corporations know this, the Media knows this, and the Politicians know this. They cultivate, depend, and count on such complacency that seems to be built into the human nature of things. Outside of my window, the neighborhood is peaceful and nice, why would I want to go outside of that an help? It's dangerous out there! Better to watch it from the TV where it's safe. To re-elect the same old politicians because I know them, and that is also safe.

    I believe real change in this country will only come about when term limits are imposed on all levels. County, State, and Federal. They will never impose such limits on themselves, they have a total racket going of the Political Career now. People need to vote in the new, and out with the old. Look for people that are running that have little to no backing of big money. It's a slow way to turn this massive ship around, but we have to start somewhere.

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    1. Not everything "new" is better. The Tea Party was "new" not so very long ago. And if you believe their hype, they were supposedly a grass-roots organization.

      In my opinion, it would be better to say do your homework about your candidates. Check their voting record if they have one--we all know politicians can say just about anything on the campaign trail, what matters is what they actually do when they have power. So we need to do our best to elect people who will actually DO things that add up to the best interests of at least some significant portion of the electorate. If that's the new one, fine. If it's the tried-and-true, don't throw out one that might be working just because others aren't.

      Gretchen in KS

      P.S.: I don't think my locals are working. I voted against. But I wasn't among a large enough majority. I'm still trying not to crawl out on the CT limb, but when my state's AG refuses to allow inspection of the voting paper trail, it just makes it that much more difficult for me to NOT think there was vote COUNTING fraud involved.

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    2. Because lobbyists don't have term limits, they hang around for years and are the only ones who know what is and has been happening. Newbies don't know history but the lobbyists do and bend it to their benefit. Not the benefit of the people who didn't elect the lobbyists!

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    3. I disagree with term limits for legislators. When we the people, limit how long our elected officials can serve, we relinquish the institutional power of knowing what and how to legislate, to the unelected professional staff and to lobbyists.

      We may dislike Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, but they both know more about how the Senate operates and what any given legislative history is, than the average senator. We, the people, can vote those guys out, but not their staff and definitely not the lobbyists.

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    4. "We, the people, can vote those guys out, but not their staff and definitely not the lobbyists."

      Exactly

      Delete
  3. Sad to say, we saw this before, and we'll see it again - 'cause we as a society don't want to do the hard work of fixing what is broken. Like many events, we choose to ignore the cause and focus on the reaction. The various talking heads are spouting their bullpucky for their audience to eat up, since it is easier to chat about it, than, you know, actually do something to keep it from happening (again, and again, and again...).

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  4. I love you and thank you for this.

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  5. Yes. The problem is us, and our unwillingness to recognize that ALL have a responsiblity to merge these two Americas.

    Because the rage may not be limited to west Baltimore much longer, as this writer argued well before Baltimore happened.....

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/08/david-simon-capitalism-marx-two-americas-wire

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  6. Shit Jim, we have a long history of this, starting with the Whiskey Rebellion. Draft riots during the civil war, the Ludlow massacre, Watts, on and on. Solutions? Ain't gonna happen I'm afraid. I got mine and I'm keeping it, fuck you, seems to be ingrained in human nature.

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  7. That pretty much covers it. I find it ironic that there is a conservative political movement that takes its name from an event of property destruction in the gestational years of this nation. They call themselves the Tea Party.

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  8. Thank you, Mr. Wright. I agree completely. Kat K, Berkeley

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  9. Sorry Jim I really can't comment on the situation.

    So I am going to be flippant...

    I loved your line: "Baltimore is burning".

    With it we can rewrite the 1979 song by the Ruts (and one of my favourites having been an original punkette):

    Baltimore's burning
    You're burning the street
    You're burning your houses
    With anxiety

    Chorus:
    With anxiety
    Baltimore's burning
    Baltimore's burning
    With anxiety
    Baltimore's burning
    Baltimore's burning

    Baltimore's burning
    You're burning the street
    You're burning the ghetto
    With anxiety

    Chorus

    Baltimore's burning, baby
    Can't you see?
    Baltimore's burning
    With anxiety

    You'll burn as you work
    You'll burn as you play
    Smoulder till you're smothering
    With ignorance and hate

    Chorus

    Baltimore's burning, baby
    Can't you see?
    Baltimore's burning
    With anxiety

    Baltimore's burning
    (repeat to fade)

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  10. This bad boy should be trotted out every time it's applicable just like "Bang Bang Crazy".

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  11. Sadly, you are correct. We as a nation no longer care enough to do anything about big and hard problems. I don't know what it will take to wake us up.
    Somebody asked David Crosby on Twitter his thoughts on Baltimore and this is what he said: "My view is walk a mile in the other man's shoes. How would you feel if you were black? In the USA? ....Right Now? "

    As always, very well written. Thank you. Barbara Schneider

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  12. All I can reply to your truth telling is, "Amen." Thank you, Jim

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  13. The haters love watching the riots. It justifies their hate. It makes them feel justified in hating the bums who loot and pillage. If you don't sass a cop, he won't wring your neck like a chicken. They all got criminal records anyhow.

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  14. Yup!
    Same song
    Second verse
    A little louder
    A little worse

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  15. Yes, yes, yes. I just thought of this last night. When are we going to face our problems and at least TRY to right them instead of our current blame game.

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  16. And isn't it even sadder that the media paid no attention to the killing of another unarmed black man, despite a week of peaceful protests, until the rage took over.

    Something has changed fairly dramatically in the last couple of decades with our police. While there is no doubt that the bad apples always have attacked and beaten young black men, in the days when I was prosecutor the police did not think it was acceptable to kill them. The cops I worked with learned very quickly if there was any unjustified hint of violence with an arrest, I would not prosecute their cases. But there were no murders by the police. This is a discrete problem from the much larger and more difficult societal issues that have created our urban areas. And for the life of me, I do NOT understand why we tolerate this conduct from those we hire to protect us. But I just answered my own question. The cops are smart enough to target those who do not have voice, and who do not engender sympathy in our society. I for one am tired of it. Our cops have become nothing but murderers and what they are learning is they can get by with it provided they are cautious in who they target. It is time to start charging every single one of these cops.

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    Replies
    1. I second the Amen.

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    2. Thank you. My feelings exactly. And I third that Amen

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    3. Thank you. Very well said.

      Delete
  17. You are right. We will forget and another city will burn. I saw hope in the situation last night when the curfew began though. Hundreds of police carrying plastic shields and no guns slowly advanced on those who refused to obey the curfew. In between the police and the crowd there were residents telling the crowd to "go home". Some people threw bottles at police but cops only shot pepper bullets at them. Only a few dozen were arrested. And nobody was injured or killed. A whole lot different than what happened in that same city and neighborhood back in 1968. Maybe we are learning how to be more civilized.

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  18. Thank you Jim, this is truly heart wrenching and I did cry

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  19. When you've got no bootstraps, how can you be expected to pull yourself up by them?

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  20. "People crushed by law, have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous."- Edmund Burke (1729-1797) politician and statesman

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  21. Thank you. I was burned out on everyone's big fat opinions by 4pm. Like a certain part of our anatomy, and all its attributes, opinions are also only important to that person. Yet they were wiped all over social media and left big greasy stains. They weren't helping my little brother, a police officer, sent there two days ago from another precinct, with their Opinions. I didn't want to alienate people though, by saying what I was really thinking: Do something real, or shut up. -Lynn

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  22. Why do people ask you what you have to say about things that every pundit and politician is already talking about? Because unlike the pundits and politicians, what you have to say is worth hearing.

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  23. I'm a seventy-year-old white woman and I feel like we are back where we were in the 60s. I would have thought we would have gotten over this shit by now. It's heart breaking. Thank you for your perspective, Jim. I always look forward to your take on things.

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  24. I read the article. I went to give it a rating. And just for a second... okay, maybe a little bit longer... I was sorely tempted to rate this an "I hate you." It was those last four sentences. They really gave me the feels, as the kids say.

    Don't get me wrong. Brilliant writing. I agree 100% But, just for a second...

    Squirrel.

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  25. "Those who want peace must work for justice." -- Pope Paul VI.

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  26. ShopKat !. Your usual sterling and incisive presentation with just enough heat. One cannot paint over the corrosion in our society with trite phrases and distant promises and expect it to stick. I invite the loyal readership to read the words of "Black Day in July" by Gordon Lightfoot. This time it wasn't Motor City (Detroit). The theater changes but the passion play continues to erode the stage.

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    Replies
    1. A particular stanza from "Black Day in July" seems all the more appropriate.

      "The streets of Motor City now are quiet and serene
      But the shapes of gutted buildings
      Strike terror to the heart
      And you say how did it happen
      And you say how did it start
      Why can't we all be brothers
      Why can't we live in peace
      But the hands of the have-nots
      Keep falling out of reach"

      Gordon Lightfoot. 1968 -- Still rings true.

      Delete
  27. Poli Sci 101 and Russian Studies gave me one conclusion a long time ago when I was in college: whenever you have a very large and stable middle class, you have political stability and economic progress. A critical mass of people who are economically threatened and have no access to the same kind of justice as others is a roadmap for violence and unrest. Still true today as it has always been.

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  28. Until we as a country are all on the same page as to what the problems are, what to do about it, and lock our hate and anti-ethnic prejudices away, we won't get anywhere. I see protests, both peaceful and violent, taking place after each of these atrocities and then they fade till the next one.

    I would like to see a massive peaceful demonstration in every single city and town. Everyone involved as much as possible, for as long as possible. Scare the crap out of those responsible directly and indirectly for these crimes that think it will blow over and they're safe.

    Power in numbers. Thank you again, Mr Wright.

    bd

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  29. Welllll......I agree with you, but I don't. Yea, I know, the ability to hold two opposing ideas in my head.....but like you said, it's never that simple, it's complex, but I still believe that basic truths apply regardless of what side of the street your are viewing this from. I think we need the media to hold ALL of us up to the mirror, because we are ALL guilty of the uglies, but that mother smacking her child upside the head was one of those simple truths that all the excuses in the world cannot gloss over. She's the mother we ALL need.

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    1. I disagree that a mother smacking her child around is what we all need. Seeing that made me profoundly uncomfortable. And the gleeful reaction to it made me sad. I'm just not seeing violence as the answer to any of this, whether it's violence from police, protesters or moms.

      The smug satisfaction people got out of watching a kid be hit just reinforced the narrative that the protesters just need to be slapped down, that they're misbehaving. I'm sure that mom was all kinds of pissed off when she saw her kid up to no good, but to play it over and over and hail her "mother of the year" is just too much. It's too easy an answer.

      My guess is that's not the first time she's hit her kid, and what good did it do up to that point? If hitting a kid is the solution, why was he up to all kinds of foolishment to begin with? Why has crime not stopped, even though police spend lots of effort on beating suspects? It's just not helpful or amusing.

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    2. Anonymous, you expressed what I felt and was unable to articulate. Thank you.

      Leslie K

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    3. "My guess is that's not the first time she's hit her kid, and what good did it do up to that point? If hitting a kid is the solution, why was he up to all kinds of foolishment to begin with?"

      Exactly, 9:05. We can't look past the violence involved just because we applaud the effort of being a responsible parent. It is an underlying component of the bigger problem.

      bd

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  30. Jim, once again you nailed it. Another great piece that cuts right to the heart of the matter. Well done.

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  31. Ironic. The one image almost all white folks approved of was that of a woman "smacking her child upside the head." That this image reflects precisely the wrong message is lost, because deep down we embrace the belief that those who rebel violently are evil and should be punished, even when what they are rebelling against is injustice.

    Was the teen in that video rebelling against injustice. Maybe. Maybe he just got caught up in the mob mind because kids do that even more readily than adults. Nevertheless, the glee expressed at those images makes one sad.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe, just maybe, as a parent, she lost her mind when she saw her BABY in the midst of a dangerous situation. Kid goes near the stove, smack on the hand and a "NO!". Kid runs Into traffic, smack on the rear, and A FIRM NO! Just because you are a parent, doesn't mean you never lose your mind. Maybe, just maybe that is the FIRST time, she has struck him, and hopefully the last. Sometimes we all need to be brought up short and reigned in.

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  32. Well, me, I've been talking about Baltimore since I first drove through there decades ago. I remember what the city was like outside the convention center district at the 1983 Worldcon. Was bad then. Got better for a while, then it got worse.

    Why bad? Racism, drug war, unsympathetic (mostly white) state legislature. Why worse? 9/11—every bad cop's friend. The depression. Also Fox News, that keeps reporting on the worst things and scaring the white folk. There have been non-violent protests in Baltimore. Even now, there are non-violent protests. Airtime? Zip. But it bleeds—or burns—, it leads and goes on 24-hour repeat.

    I don't know why white folk think they're immune. When police forces go bad, they aren't too selective in their targets.

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  33. Great as usual, Jim. Here was a comment that I posted. “So many see the problem, but will not accept the solution. Accepting equality is the solution. We accept it within our family. If we have a retarded child, we do not give that child less. In fact we give it more. Until we can do that through out the human race, there will be conflict. I do not believe that just because I am superior to another, in some way, that I should have more. Can humanity ever think this way? I doubt it. We see others faults as a reason to have more than them. We should see it as a reason to help them improve. To help them contribute, in what ever way they can, and not use it as a rational for having more than them. Some humans seem to be good enough to do that within their family. Why can we not extend that to all of our family? The human race.”

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    1. Bill - Perhaps you meant to say "Just because I have more stuff than other people doesn't mean that I'm superior to them." Or perhaps you meant it to come out just as it did. And please - equating dealing with poverty to dealing with a "retarded" child (your word, not mine). Wow. Just - wow ...... That being said, somewhere deep down I think you meant well.

      JZinFL

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  34. If it bleeds, it leads, as the saying goes. I, like you, prefer to leave the mindless hand-wringing to the talking heads who seem to specialize in it. If we aren't going to try to solve the underlying problems, why bother to talk about the outcomes? We're just going to keep seeing more of this until American's stop pointing at each other as problems and start working towards solutions.

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    Replies
    1. "If they're dead, WE'RE LIVE!"

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  35. It's the oldest story in the world: if the cream don't get spread around, somehow, someway, the bucket gets kicked over. Always has, always will. No amount of police or guns can stop it.

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  36. I was saddened to hear about the rioting in Baltimore. I was a bit shocked about the burning and looting. But what really amazed me was that many citizens organized and came out the next day to clean up. How well was *that* reported? It sure doesn't fit the Fox/GOP/racist theme.

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  37. Mr. Wright, I figured if I kept checking back to this space... when you had something you wanted to say about "Baltimore".... you would. Once again, you don't disappoint. Thank You.

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  38. Since all I've heard about this is second or third-hand and I don't live anywhere near there, I cannot and will not comment on what's happening, but I quit thinking of the media as journalists many years ago and quit watching TV as well since most of what was on when I quit was 'reality' crap.

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  39. ....That there's no way to delay that trouble coming every day....

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  40. I read this column whenever it is published, but I also read all of the comments. I want to thank Mr. Wright for his writing (and his thoughts) but also thank the comments (at least most of them) for making me feel that I am not alone in thinking the way I do.

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  41. Don't worry, the "media" is on it - showing all that ratings-boosting footage of looting and rioting while ignoring all the peaceful protests of the previous days. Then the Geraldos and Hannitys and O'Reillys can do what they do best - point to oppressed and say "its your fault."

    Peace (Please?)
    Chris in S. Jersey

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  42. Thanks, Shipmate. I really wish you had a higher stump to reach more people.

    As someone who grew up in the 1960's, I remember having hope that things would change by the time I got the age I am now. And some have, but not all the way I would have liked. When I see the change in attitudes of the majority of our citizenry, such as, I got mine and that's all that matters, or, people are at the bottom because they don't want to work, etc....well, it is just depressing. Not ready to give up trying to change the world piece by piece, but sure does seem a lot less likely to get civilization established worldwide anytime soon.

    Old Navy Communications Officer

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  43. Thank you, Jim Wright, for digging down to the substrate of why Baltimore.

    Yes. Civilization is hard.

    Injustice, intolerance, rage, prejudice, and all their mangy offspring—like the specters beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present (Ignorance and Want)—are EASY. They are the fallback, safe, cozy, effortless reactions to things we do not know first hand and have no desire to understand.

    It's like a kid that won't clean up her room. Laziness keeps her from picking up the first pair of socks to hit the floor shy of the laundry basket or taking that plate back to the kitchen, but once the situation goes on long enough, the mess becomes overwhelming and laziness is replaced by sheer deer-in-the-headlights paralysis. The problem has become (seemingly) too big to solve.
    To that I say, horse hockey. Time to dig in and clean up our mess. If we want to live in a world that's joyful, peaceful, unified and where we can each realize our potential, we need to pick up after ourselves from the very next dirty sock.

    It's like I tell my daughter—if you want to be treated like an adult, act like one.

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  44. The media covered the riot, not the protest. One who was there said it was all good; chanting, music, food and dancing. No rage, no attacks. As evening fell the police started firing tear gas to get them off the streets, and that's when the shit hit the fan. As he said, "If you want to see who started a riot, look for the guys who came dressed for a riot."

    I was reading about the West Virginia mine wars, "Mother" Jones, and the machine gun attacks on workers and their families. It's sad to think how few people even remember the events that kicked the labor movement into high gear. And here we are, fighting again for human rights against a corrupt system. Nothing new.

    I just wonder how many of our fearless leaders know anything about history.

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  45. You've said it the way it should be said. Thank you!

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  46. I have to disagree with you on this one Jim. I think it boils down to a whole lot of stupid. I don't think it has anything to do with poverty or helplessness. I think people enjoy being assholes at times.

    I sincerely doubt the protestors and especially the looters really *care* about the deceased in question. Oh...I think they're bothered by it, worried, concerned for their own children, but not "mad as hell" to burn down their own city.

    Peaceful large scale protests should have been taking place every day since Treyvon Martin, if not earlier. Knee-jerk protests after the next guy gets killed are meaningless and are largely forgettable when rioting happens.

    A suspect dies in police custody so we rail against *all* police, to the point where chunks of rocks are being thrown at them and fire fighters?!? Were I a cop, I'd take off the kid gloves too at this point. Both sides are convinced they are right and we are too stubborn and hateful as a people to find a middle ground and solution.

    I suspect many aren't even looking for that. They're just too dumb not to get caught up in the drama.

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    1. Jay,

      I don't think you get it. It appears you are seeing Baltimore as some kind of anomaly – anger over a single man, a single incident. But police brutality, systemic poverty, and purposeful ghettoization have been going on for decades - longer even. These riots are the built up rage of a people systematically denied their place in this country.

      Your boast: “Were I a cop, I'd take off the kid gloves too at this point.” Really, the cops have been using kid gloves? You could have fooled me. We’re they using kid gloves when two Cleveland cops murdered a 12 year old, and then LIED about it. Was Michael Slager using kid gloves when he used Walter Scott for target practice, and then planted evidence on the dead body? Kid gloves, indeed.

      Jay, you are very much a part of the problem. Try using empathy for a change and put yourself in their place.

      Peace
      Chris in S. Jersey

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    2. Jay, you write: "..we are too stubborn and hateful as a people to find a middle ground and solution."

      But isn't part of that stubbornness grounded in the same inability you display to understand what the "other" side is experiencing? You filter the emotions—the fear, the anger, the sense of indignity and injustice—through your own experience and, incapable of grasping it, write it off as invalid.

      That's a huge part of most social problems in which two "sides" evolve: the assumption that if I can't understand what the other person is feeling, thinking, saying, it must be invalid or— as you say—stupid.

      And therein lies the anger, Jay. The protestors have, for decades, had people tell them that they are stupid and wrong and that their concerns aren't real, aren't valid, and don't matter. That attitude only perpetuates the problem.

      Try to imagine yourself in that position with regard to something you care deeply about, then really look for the middle ground. Without empathy, I guarantee you will never find it.

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  47. The clip I enjoyed most was the young Baltimore man who was trying to engage Geraldo Rivera in a conversation which Rivera was meekly avoiding. The young man asked why the press didn't cover the peace marches from a couple weeks ago and why they don't cover the poverty and the education system and the lack of opportunities for many low-income people in Baltimore. He then asked why the media only shows up when the riots start. All perfectly valid questions which that fine Faux journalist ignored. A perfect example of why this will keep happening over and over. The media is long past affecting any kind of positive change; its descent into irrelevance and celebutainment has gone too far to be corrected. The important things continue to be pushed off the front page in favor of sensationalist garbage and vapid soundbites. The priorities of this country have shifted, much to the detriment of its citizens. That young man made an important point that will be ignored because, like Geraldo, all eyes will be averted and the pretending can go on uninterrupted. Until the next time.

    Pam in PA (less than an hour from beautiful, historic Baltimore)

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  48. By David Simon's (The Wire) account: "The drug war began it, certainly, but the stake through the heart of police procedure in Baltimore was [mayor] Martin O’Malley." He wanted to proclaim a miracle in crime reduction and he corrupted the police to do it.

    Go read it.

    This not another instance of a national problem, this is local, and it can be solved locally, if the will can be found.

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    1. Perhaps you should also read another article at that same web site. It appears that police officers in Maryland don't have the same Bill of Rights as the rest of us. They have a *special* Bill of Rights that gives them more rights than the rest of us, which makes it basically impossible to investigate or discipline police officers in the state of Maryland. This also explains why Prince George's County is notorious for police brutality too (that's the county notorious for doing a no-knock raid on a local mayor and shooting his dog, which resulted in a big lawsuit but not a single officer disciplined) -- the state basically has overruled any kind of discipline for police officers in Maryland.

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  49. Nothing to add but applause.

    Oh except I did expect and want to hear your thoughts on this Jim Wright although I knew you'd get around to it and didn't email to ask or anything.

    I am not disappointed because you have - as always - delivered spot on, 100% and summed it up so perfectly. Thankyou. Yes, you are my god indeed! Well kinda anyhow. Ramen! ;-)

    PS. Those who blame the rioters might just want to ask how many the rioters have actually killed versus how many dubious deaths of black skinned men at the hands of the cops there's been. Also how little response those deaths and the clear injustices and lack of attention those too many, too needless, too awful black individuals deaths have drawn up until their folks have y'know, broken in well justified fury and pain and started to burn shit down.

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  50. We HAVE to fix it. The only other option is open revolution. Keep in mind it is the black oppressed neighborhoods now, but they will also come for the rest of us before the end.

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  51. Seems like an echo "something something "forget history" something something "repeat it".

    French Revolution, anyone? When women couldn't feed their children they were the first to start throwing cobblestones, and then they sat at the foot of Mdme. Guillotine (sp?) to make sure justice was done.

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  52. Thank you, Jim. A must read for all but, I'm afraid few will.

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  53. I think my biggest question after reading this is what do I "know" what I have to do. Equality and justice are too broad. What specifically needs to be done to help all low income neighborhoods, not just predominantly African American. I think the biggest issue is there is no direction on what to do. And I'd the answer is just more welfare, how long will it last. I don't mind helping out people who either got a bad draw in life or are just on hard times, but no civilization was built on handouts. I do agree there is a problem that needs to be fixed though, I just don't think it is clearly defined.

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  54. It is a historical certainty: when the wealthy of a society begin to take too much, leave too many others trying to scratch out an existence fighting over crumbs, those left behind will violently rise up and hang the wealthy from the street poles. This happens 100% of the time in the history of human civilization. It might take awhile, but the masses will eventually heave out a collective "Fuck off!" and start smashing the place. And the wealthy always think it won't happen to them. It will be different this time. This time their walls and security apparatus will keep them safe. It never does.

    The Arab Spring should be a lesson to the ruling elites worldwide. That can happen anywhere, and once the masses violently decide that they're done with their government, that government is finished. Once people revoke their consent to be governed, they rarely give it back. The only question is how much blood will be spilled before power is wrenched away.

    As always, Chief, thank you for another great essay. You say it better than anyone.

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  55. All me feel is sadness and frustration.That city was me home a long time ago. To see it torn apart is great sadness. It didn't have to happen;that's what frustrates me. This problem has existed for sooooo long.. many decades in fact I grew up inBaltimore before they "gentrified" the harbor,back in the time Baltimore and Light streets were NOT a place to be after dark. Same problem then now. Greed, racism,arrogance.Btw, just so ya know.I learned about prejudice in Baltimore..I am old enough to remember "white only" drinking fountains. Jim is right, as long as we do nothing about the root causes of this anger..another city will burn..and another and another.

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    1. What do you propose we do?

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    2. "You know what the answers are, we all do, even those of us currently determined not to admit it.

      Oh we certainly do: equality, justice, liberty, humanity, compassion, education, investment, opportunity, access, community, shared history, shared dreams, shared purpose, belonging, pride, acceptance, self worth, respect."
      Asked and answered, read the text of a post before you make a foo; of yourself "Anonymous"

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  56. When Native Alaskans start rioting in the streets. Oh wait, that will never happen. Why is that?

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  57. As usual an eloquent and well thought out response, one of the main things I like about you Jim is you never shoot from the hip. I wish our politicians and pundits would step back count to ten (a thousand would probably be better), and give us something as considered as you normally manage. Enough ego stroking, Stay Free!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuYzsrYSQx4

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