12.8.11

LOSING PATIENCE.

An outbreak of wilding at the end of Opening Day at the Wisconsin State Fair leads Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl, no card-carrying member of the vast right wing conspiracy, to break with the Conventional Wisdom.
Forget about blaming society, though I suspect plenty of these kids grew up with poverty, violence, unsafe neighborhoods, lousy parents or other challenges. The responsibility for this thuggery lies with the perpetrators. And they may not realize that the damage they're causing may be inflicted mostly on them in the long run as doors close and attitudes harden.
His colleague Eugene Kane, who was in Philadelphia at the time, after preemptively responding to the usual suspects, also says Enough.
But I do have real concern for the state of this community, where twice so far this summer there's been a shocking example of mob violence by young black people that can't be explained in any sensible way.
Put another way: no obvious police brutality, no insults exchanged, no gang fight.  While he was in Philadelphia, a flash mob unrelated to a state fair or a Phillies game or any other provocation got the city's mayor angry.
“Take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer,” Mr. Nutter, the city’s third black mayor, said in an angry lecture aimed at black teens. “Pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.”

“If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ‘cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said. “You have damaged your own race.”
He gave that speech at a church, and received an endorsement from the traditional civil rights establishment.
The head of Philadelphia’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, J. Whyatt Mondesire, said it “took courage” for Mr. Nutter to deliver the message.

“These are majority African-American youths and they need to be called on it,” Mr. Mondesire said.

Mary Catherine Roper, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said her group sees the curfew move as legal with its sole caveat being that it not evolve “into an excuse to hassle” any youths on the street.

The state ACLU filed a federal lawsuit last year challenging Philadelphia police’s use of “stop and frisk” searches. A settlement announced in June allowed the program to continue, along with safeguards to prevent the use of racial profiling.
At about the same time, a few nights of looting in Britain that might have been provoked by police action leads Thomas Lane of Talking Points to indict the social services that Britain's poor and marginalized receive.
Clearly, the rioters are responsible for their own actions. Equally clear is that years of social decay and widespread policy failures have created a witches' brew. But the talk of cutbacks and austerity that has permeated British discourse for the past year must have been a fiery ingredient thrown into an already spicy, toxic, boiling broth.

It's debatable how much these cuts have actually began to hurt. Although several British reports noted the recent closure of youth centers in areas where the rioting began, many of the rioters looked far too old to have taken much notice. Still, whether hurting or not, the message many have taken away from the British government's cack-handed selling of the austerity line is: "You don't matter."

Even in Britain's comparatively socialistic system, this is a message they've been hearing their whole lives. On Facebook one of my Labour Party friends wailed, "What are they protesting? Free Healthcare? Free Education? Democracy?" The answer, is yes, yes, and yes.

For them free healthcare means years of inching their way up waiting lists until they're finally admitted to a dingy hospital with an indifferent staff. For them free education means leaving school at 16 with a string of Cs and Ds and few clear paths into jobs or training programs.

And don't talk to them about democracy. What they see from democracy is a government - whether Labour or Conservative - that doesn't listen to them; that takes away their benefits while bailing out the bankers. If a government minister was magically placed before a mob pressing him on this, he might explain that it was all in the national interest; that the policy was designed to stave off a credit downgrade and the resulting rise in interest rates.
Note in that statement neither an endorsement of school choice and medical markets, nor a case for providing more money for social services.

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