20.6.20

CHICAGO'S TRIBAL CONFLICTS.

I have a dim view of life in Chicago.  "Chicago is still fifteen square miles of privilege surrounded by the Third World, and with the improving weather will come the wilding."  A new mayor who ticks several identity politics boxes wasn't going to change reality.

Yes, when the protests following the death of George Floyd came to Chicago, the wilding followed the peaceful assembly.  It wasn't limited to the liberation of shoes and mobile phones from the Magnificent Mile or flat-screen televisions from the big box stores.
While Chicago was roiled by another day of protests and looting in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, 18 people were killed Sunday, May 31, making it the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. The lab’s data doesn’t go back further than 1961.

From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city, with another 85 wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a city with an international reputation for crime — where 900 murders per year were common in the early 1990s — it was the most violent weekend in Chicago’s modern history, stretching police resources that were already thin because of protests and looting.
Behind the scenes, though, it's the old story. Politics divides, trade unites. Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton notes,
African Americans and Latinos always have had an uneasy alliance. Both groups often are too ashamed to talk about it in the open.

For years, we have fought over crumbs, arguing about who deserves the biggest share of leftovers from a table at which neither group has been invited to sit. We glare at each other with envious eyes, focusing on our differences rather than the things that make us the same.

We have been reluctant to air our grievances publicly because opportunistic politicians are eagerly awaiting an opening to further divide us and diminish any chance that we might someday form a powerful coalition.

That is the greatest fear of those in the majority who resent the inevitable browning of America. Imagine the radical impact a union between the two largest minority groups could have on our country’s political and social landscape.
The category error she commits is in treating unity as strictly a political phenomenon.  The division of spoils is a strictly constant-sum game, constrained to the value of the protection money extracted taxes collected: a dynamic that provides incentives to opt out, by evading taxes or moving to Wisconsin.  Unfortunately, when the protests turned to looting, it was the entrepreneurs hardest hit.
The division was on full display this week during confrontations between blacks and Latinos in Chicago’s predominantly Mexican American communities. A call for unity among Latinos to guard businesses from looters quickly turned into vigilantism that resulted in violent racial clashes.

According to reports, Latino gang members in Pilsen, Little Village and suburban Cicero, some armed with clubs and guns, profiled and targeted African Americans. They surrounded cars, chased innocent people down the street and provoked fights.

The divisive actions of a few overshadowed the voices of other Latinos who marched through those same streets condemning the injustices that George Floyd and other African Americans have suffered at the hands of the police.

The violent behavior of gang members, of course, doesn’t represent the prevailing sentiment of blacks or Latinos. But the clashes offer a glimpse at what our biases toward each other look like when taken to the extreme.
Live by your tribal identity, die by your tribal identity. That's not exactly buying into America, or giving mainstream America reason to buy into your aspirations.

Note that in the Cities, something similar happened, a spontaneous self-defense force called Security Latinos De La Lake emerged.  (The report is from Minnesota Public Radio, treat their references to white supremacists from Iowa or Wisconsin accordingly.)

In Chicago, tribal fault lines proliferate.
Arab American business owners have had stores — including convenience, electronic and grocery stores — in black neighborhoods for decades. Sometimes, their relationships with customers have been tense.

While Chicago Arab American business owners interviewed recently said they have a good relationship with their black community, some black neighborhood residents pointed to ways stores discourage their presence. In convenience stores on the South and West sides, there are often large security camera feeds displayed, signs to discourage loitering and glass partitions between customers and clerks.
Those are bullet-resistant glass partitions, preceding the era of physical distancing. In addition, there are people who still don't understand commerce.
Nadine Naber, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor, said these stores and their owners cannot be separated from the context in which they arrive in the U.S. That includes anti-blackness in Arab countries, often exacerbated by European ideas of white supremacy, the prevalence of U.S. media — criticized for depicting black people as prone to violence — in Arab countries, and the struggle to assimilate into a culture that rewards whiteness, Naber said.

“There is anti-Arab racism here and immigrants are responding to knowing that they are seen as other, or as potential terrorists, or as having a backwards culture," said Naber. “They can sometimes respond to that by trying to prove that, ‘We’re not so bad, we’re good Americans.’ And part of being a good American is anti-blackness.”

In Chicago, the Inner-City Muslim Action Network has a corner store campaign that encourages business owners in majority-black neighborhoods to invest in those neighborhoods by making sure their businesses are beneficial to the community. Senior organizer Sara Hamdan said owners are given suggestions to improve their stores, like providing more fresh food, improving facades, and getting out from behind glass partitions.“Historically there’s been some that understand the responsibility that they have but maybe need some direction,” Hamdan said. “But there are some that are like, ‘I feel fine the way it is, why do I have to make any changes?’”

She said younger relatives of owners, born here and with fewer cultural and language barriers, also have a role to play.

“What drew me to the campaign was the recognition that other Arabs were causing harm to black folks in black neighborhoods,” Hamdan said.

Kanan Ashkar, who has stores in West Lawn and Albany Park, has worked with the Inner-City Muslim Network for more than two years. It’s made good business sense to have a relationship with customers, he said.
It says more about our higher education establishment than it does about the country when the professor makes "anti-blackness" a component of "being a good American." Mr Ashkar gets it, on the other hand. It's good business to offer the customer something of value.

We're not done, though, with the spontaneous self-defense forces in Chicago.  This time, though, one arises in Bridgeport, the neighborhood that heaved up the Daley family.  "[Chicago mayor Lori] Lightfoot said the city will not tolerate vigilantism after groups of mostly white men patrolled the streets of Bridgeport on Wednesday night in response to a nearby city protest. The situation in Bridgeport frightened and angered many residents and activists who expressed concerns about racism and violence." Counter Punch's Joe Allen sees a resurgence of the Red Squads in Bridgeport, for what that's worth.

The mayor herself, though?  "Rookie mistakes" is charitable.  Imagine Barack Obama with a bad haircut, forever scolding her constituents and letting them know just how disappointed she is with them.  It isn't selling well.
If Chicago Police lost control of sections of the city during the protests, the responsibility for this ignominy starts with Mayor Lightfoot, for once police were forced to retreat from enforcing the law and arresting lawbreakers for even minor violations, the disintegration of law and order was certain to follow.  As protests roiled Chicago, though Lightfoot frantically labored to present an image of a mayor in control with a brilliant plan to preserve order, what occurred in the city did not go well by any objective standard.  A failure in central planning of monumental proportion, a full catastrophe ensued in which portions of Chicago were briefly in the hands of unruly mobs, graffiti was sprayed over the façades of downtown buildings and storefronts, cars were vandalized and torched, police vehicles were overturned, police officers were assaulted, and untold stores were looted and set ablaze.  A civil rights jihad, the protests enveloped most of the Loop and turned the high streets of Chicago’s Near North neighborhood and the city’s glittering showpiece, North Michigan Avenue, into what resembled windblown tundra, bereft of the tiniest waft of culture or beauty.

Though the circumstances on the streets compelled an immediate and determined response, Ms. Lightfoot allowed the situation to worsen under the misguided notion the protesters’ revolutionary ardor would eventually fade.  Delusional and amateurish leadership, as protests widened and the prospect of violence became palpable, instead of swiftly and aggressively executing a plan to deploy police to potential flashpoints, Lightfoot fell into a state of shock, belatedly imposed a curfew, and, according to police, personally intervened to deny police use of OC spray to disperse rioters.  Equally unsettling, Lightfoot withheld hundreds of officers in reserve over her fear a large presence of police confronting rioters would rouse the mood of protesters and incite aggressive behavior among rioters.  A genuflect to marauding bands roving Chicago’s streets, Lightfoot’s refusal to marshal police sufficiently and her refusal to consistently and sternly condemn rioters and demand protesters comply with lawful orders from police only abetted and stoked further tumult and criminal activity.
That's a measured description of what happened.  I mean, when a politician makes Barstool Sports?  Over a recording of a conference call.
Being Mayor or President or any sort of elected official seems like the worst job in the world. No matter what you do, you're going to have a large segment of the population who thinks you're f***ing up. Maybe you are, maybe you're not, maybe people are 100% full of shit. And if you think those people criticizing you are full of shit, it's nice to hear that the Mayor feels okay with saying so bluntly in a matter that can't be misinterpreted.
Washington Examiner columnist Emma Colton doesn't even have to comment. She quotes, you decide.  Greg Jarrett offers instant analysis.  "The call is an insight into the upheaval on the streets that was met with ineffective action from Chicago’s leaders."

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