The riots in Baltimore after the untimely death of small-time criminal Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police officers has set off an interesting series of commentary.
For instance, this from the Huffington Post: On the Cusp of an ‘African American Spring’. This gem is from the pen of John Fitzgerald Gates, Ph.D. National Diversity Expert; Principal and Chief Strategist of Criticality Management Consulting; Former Associate Dean of Harvard College. I am not making that up.
Aghast at the sight of the Baltimore riot, I struggled for days to find meaning in what appeared senseless. I searched history for answers, discovering that what’s happening through the protests and riots of African Americans throughout the country is similar to the “Arab Spring” that occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Are we on the cusp of an “African American Spring” akin the Arab Spring? Perhaps.
Media and public officials have arrived at the lowest common denominator of reason in assessing the riots as wonton acts of lawlessness and the rioters as criminals and thugs. Newscasters, politicians and community leaders, perhaps rightly, decried the riots. As in the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, African American ministers circled the wagons of respectability politics in their appeals for calm. But few people acknowledged the riots as a legitimate form of protest that has long been part of the fabric of America and that we support in other countries. This hypocrisy is not lost on the youth of our nation.
Riots will ensue as long as institutionalized racism leads to more deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police and lack of opportunity for the disenfranchised. African American rage will become American rage. There’s no getting around it. Until we address institutionalized racism as our most critical national security threat, we will continue to see the righteous indignation of riots in the streets of America.
At this point one is compelled to note that Baltimore has been a majority black city for forty years. Baltimore has had a black mayor for over eight years. The police commissioner is black — the first black Baltimore police commissioner was appointed in 1984. Nearly half of the police force is black. But, as always, whitey is the problem.
PBS’s Tavis Smiley had this to offer:
These riots aren’t a black or white thing–they’re a humanity thing, a dignity thing. When the mayor and the police chief and the President cannot explain to fellow black citizens why Freddie Gray is dead, somebody’s got to be held accountable.
Protests and riots–uprisings–could become the new normal. Welcome to the new America.
On the merits, both Gates and Smiley are idiots. Baltimore’s problems are rooted in a deeply corrupt and entrenched power system. Over the years various ethnic groups have held sway but it is probably safe to say that Martin O’Malley was the last white mayor of Baltimore. Baltimore is firmly in the hands of a black elitist clique that is absolutely no different from the previous elitist clique save in melanin content. The city coffers are used as a piggy bank. The education system is a shambles, not for lack of resources:
The city’s $15,483 per-pupil expenditure was second to New York City’s $19,770. Rounding out the top five were Montgomery County, which spent $15,421; Milwaukee public schools at $14,244; and Prince George’s County public schools, which spent $13,775.
but because of rank incompetence and corruption.
There are hundreds of police shootings each year that do not result in riots. If ever a shooting deserved a riot it was killing of 12 year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. But there wasn’t one. The riots that the liberal commentariat are focused on are those in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore. What those two riots have in common is that the person killed was a low level street hood. In Ferguson, if the grand jury report is to be believed, he was desperately in need of killing. So these riots have not been a response to police brutality or to institutional racism or to a crappy school system or to a lack of jobs. They have, at their most essential level, been a retaliation by a criminal element against the killing of one of their own. This gets to the point of why Baltimore (and Ferguson and before that Los Angeles) doesn’t matter.
If you are angry at someone and want to retaliate you punch them in the face. You don’t punch yourself in the face… unless you work for Vox.com and then there is an easily understandable reason. If either Gates or Smiley were correct the rioters in Baltimore would have made a beeline for affluent neighborhoods, like Roland Park, and burned it down. But they didn’t. The burned their own neighborhood and looted local businesses. Those businesses will not come back until several years have passed. The areas torched after the Rodney King verdict still haven’t been rebuilt. You could see the effect of the 1968 Washington, DC riots thirty years after the event.
Baltimore will result it some quiet harumphing. Barack Obama will ensure federal dollars flow into the wallets of the ruling class in Baltimore. The street hoodlums who carried out the riot will carry on with business. The business owners and occupants will move to more inviting ZIP Codes. People who thought about moving into Baltimore (which, for the most part is a nice city) will decide to stay in the suburbs. Businesses will think twice before investing. Quality teachers will flee to safer school districts. No one is going to invest time or energy in trying to change the status quo. In a very perverse way, this riot is a win-win for everyone.
Baltimore might be the new normal. If it is, Smiley and Gates and their fellow-travelers will discover that very few people care when someone else punches themselves in the face.