Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What Brought Detroit to it's Knees?

 This is just an amazingly, on-target post by a Detroit resident who counters the notion that poor politics, liberal democrats, union members, or wild spending bankrupted Detroit. It is, in fact, a response from a progressive libertarian who blames racism, pure and simple, for Detroit's fiscal problems...and who sees great promise in the city still.  Thank you to Milo Sales for this impassioned analysis:

Anyone who knows anything about Detroit knows how dumb this (blaming Obama or specific politicians) is. If a racist had a city, it's what Detroit would look like 50 years later. You might want to look up what White Flight and Redlining are - because that's what turned Detroit into what it is today. When you move all the jobs to the suburbs and refuse to let poor minorities rent/buy houses in the area, with shit for mass transportation (effectively stranding them with no means of reasonable income) guess what, the city will degenerate.
What you fail to realize is that METRO Detroit (ie, the Suburbs) are prosperous. As a matter of fact one of our suburbs is the second richest city in the ENTIRE country. [I suspect he is referring to Grosse Pointe].  If you understand the scale of Detroit (we can fit Manhattan, Austin and SF all in our city borders only) and then consider the size of the suburbs (at least 15x larger) you might start to make some connections here. The Old Detroit spread out, taking its wealth and jobs with it. It's not coincidence that the City/Suburbs is the most racially segregated part of the entire USA - 8 Mile is a Black/White Line, even still. 

You have a city designed for a tax base of a million trying to make do with 200,000 - which falls daily as black people whose families got left behind emigrate to the more prosperous suburbs now that, you know, they can actually do that.

Detroit wasn't killed by Democrats or Liberalism, it was killed by Racism - pure and fucking simple. Now tell me, which party is more Racist? Yeah, I thought so. It's amazing that the city has held on as long as it has without going bankrupt.

Second, despite all of this - Detroit is an amazing place; especially for Libertarians. Where else could a couple kids buy a 3 story building downtown for 40k? I renovated an entire loft out of nothing, no electricity, no water, with no permits, no government interference. I built a place that in another city would have been so far out of my budget it's absurd. You know how many permits I pull when I go till an abandoned lot and plant a community garden? None. We have communities, real ones, where people stick together and know each others names still. We have neighborhood watches where we manage not to kill unarmed kids, despite their being ACTUAL crime. We have an incredible entrepreneurial spirit - art galleries which spring from nowhere, designer clothing shops started up by 20 year old's, 2k and a screen printer. Nineteen year old's are buying and renovating homes, starting businesses.

But maybe you're right, if Obama had a city maybe it would be Detroit. A city where blacks and whites come together despite centuries of racism, create and achieve things that no one expected or thought possible. While I'm no fan of the president, I'll take that comparison.

The general ignorance of people is amazing. Maybe we're all Secret Muslims too.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Boycott Russian Winter Oympics? A Resounding NO...

I am seeing an increasing number of people calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. Some come from the Neoconservative Right, because they're pissed off at Russia's non-cooperation on Snowden.  Others are gay activists, horrified at Russia's new draconian anti-gay laws.

I'll be the odd man out, and say this is a really bad idea folks.

First, NO ONE calling for a boycott will be personally hurt by it. They have nothing to lose, so its easy to yell, "Yeah, let's boycott!"  On the other hand, hundreds of American young people who have been training and working and devoting their lives to these games, would have to bear the burden of this action. It's easy to call for action when *others* have to bear the cost. I'm not willing to have American athletes suffer (or athlete's from any nation, quite frankly) to make  a political statement.

Second, the message is mixed. If we want Russia to "do" something, what is it? Turn over Snowden?  Or Repeal Anti-gay statutes? It's a mixed, muddled - and conflicting message. In other words, in return for destroying innocent people's dreams - nothing will be accomplished and no laws will change.

Third, it's hypocritical. If you wanted to protest governments that engage in civil liberties violations and espionage activities, you should have boycotted Beijing a few years ago. If you want to punish countries with anti-gay laws...where was your voice when 30 athletes came from Nigeria (a nation where homosexuality is punishable by death in the northern states) arrived in Atlanta in 1996?

Lastly, it's just poor policy to use Sports as a political weapon.  Sports is one of the few human activities that actually has the ability to take human conflict and channel it into constructive competitiveness somewhere other than on the battlefield. The statement  that was made in the summer of 1936 when African-American athletes (like Jesse Owens) trounced the Germans in track and field in Berlin helped topple the myth of Aryan Supremacy in a bloodless way that no bullet ever did.  The Olympics need to be kept out of political intrigue and maintained as a sporting event. The original, ancient Greek Olympics allowed warring city-states to compete with each other, and allowed its populations to override the war-mongering idiocy of their governments by coming together in spite of political differences.  

And that's the way it should stay.

Gay brothers and allies...you want to do something that will really hurt them where it hurts? Stop drinking Stoli.  Demand that your local liquor stores and favorite bars cease carrying Russian-made vodka.  Hit them where it hurts. But to do so requires you to get off your keyboard, and bear the burden of this protest yourself...will you do it?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why Whites Insist on Defending Zimmerman

I have really been shocked at the stridency with which so many white folk – otherwise intelligent, even liberal white folk – have engaged in semantic gymnastics in an effort to justify the Zimmerman verdict and criticize those who see injustice.  The righteous anger in defense of Zimmerman is startling, even for someone like me, who has grown accustomed to racial animus as a fact of life.  But why has this case struck such a nerve, in the white community as well as in the black community?

I think back to something a very wise, sympathetic figure said about me more than a decade ago.  

I was still closeted, and had not come to terms with my sexuality. I was engaged in furious online debates with this man, who was unapologetically open about his orientation. I came up with every argument in the book as to why he was wrong, mistaken, sinful, sick, twisted, and deluded.  I would grasp at any weird event that had happened in the gay community, and attempted to characterize it as ‘normal’ for that group. With each such bizarre post, I would punctuate my comments with the equivalent of “A-ha!  See?!  You’re a hypocrite/wrong/blind blah blah blah."  I was irrational in my need to prove I was right.

This gentlemen with whom I was debating wrote a private message to someone else, who had the courage to send it to me.  What it said was,

“Thom is a man conflicted.  You fight yourself the hardest, and he is not really fighting me…he is fighting himself.”

That insight was brilliant.  I have never forgotten it (eternal thanks, John/Jane Z)

And I see the same concept manifesting itself among white people in the aftermath of the trial.

White people who insist that they are not racist, because, in their heads, they know it's a bad thing to be racist.

But for who, in their guts, still have knee-jerk feelings...based on race.

In their hearts, they know they distrust blacks more than whites.  They know they’re even afraid of blacks, and will cross the street to avoid them.  They know in their gut that when they hear about welfare queens and people who rip-off the tax system, they envision a black family.  They can’t avoid these feelings, often because they were raised in an environment where they were taught to fear and loathe blacks.

But, they know in their heads that such misplaced hate and prejudice is simply wrong. Ergo, they deal with a conflict between the head and the gut.

And so, “they fight themselves the hardest.”  They scour their minds and the internet and every cliché they can find to make sure that they can satisfy the racial fears in their guts by lauding Zimmerman, without violating their conscience which tells them that racial fear is not a good enough reason.

They throw punches in the air:

“Black on black crime is much worse…”

“No one ever talks about a white kid getting killed by blacks…”

“The jury spoke, it’s over…”

“You don’t see whites rioting…”

“Zimmerman was being pummeled…”

“It’s the media’s fault…”
"He was a thug.."

“If Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton wouldn't get involved….”

“The civil war ended over a hundred years ago, and all you people do is talk about race…”

Of course, not one of these arguments is a legitimate reason to support George Zimmerman. Not one of them addresses the District Attorney’s sweeping this under the rug for 45 days,  the misuse of the Stand Your Ground Statute and the refusal of the Judge to issue jury instructions on that matter, the admission of concrete slabs and shirtless pictures of Trayvon as evidence, the lack of *any* pre-emptory challenges by the prosecution over jurors, the lack of any men or blacks on the jury, the fact that Zimmerman’s father was a local Judge and the venue wasn't changed,  and a host of other suspect irregularities.

But what these folk are doing is not fighting for or against Justice.

They are using George Zimmerman as a proxy for themselves.

They know that George suspected Trayvon, because Trayvon was a young black man in a gated, middle class neighborhood.  

And they know they would have felt the same.  

Putting Zimmerman on trial is like putting them on trial.

And so the only way to fight the inner vestiges of racism in their gut, is to ‘fight themselves the hardest’ – lash out and defend Zimmerman any way they can, so they can avoid the ugly reality of having to reconcile Gut with Mind.

It’s an irrational, ugly, brutal process.


Thursday, July 04, 2013

RePost from Last Year: Time for Another Revolution

What follows is the list of grievances contained in the 1776 American Declaration of Independence which compelled us to engage in armed revolution. One can only wonder where that fiery, rebellious spirit has gone:

"...He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands…

(Like the refusal of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform…and Arizona’s and Alabama’s efforts to force brown people to ‘show papers’ simply to travel)

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers…

(Like removing terrorism trials from Judicial Review by calling them ‘military tribunals’)

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance...

(like DEA waging a ‘War on Drugs’ and the FDA raiding raw milk vendors)

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures...

(Like a vague “war on terror” as a pretense for increased militarization and global adventures, the militarization of our police forces, and drones flying overhead)

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power...

(Like asking the Generals how they feel about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rather than telling them what to do)

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation…

(Like the World Trade Organization…)

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States…

(Like arresting citizens for videotaping police brutality incidents on their cell phones and protecting troops who engage in waterboarding and other tortures)

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world…

(Like embargoes on Cuba and Iran)

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent…

(Like Imputed Income Tax on same-sex spouses covered by health insurance)

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury…

(Like confiscation of property in tax and drug cases prior to trial)

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences…

(Like Guantanamo Bay)

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies…

(Like Iraq and Afghanistan)

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments…

(Like suspending Writs of Habaeus corpus under The Patriot Act, and eliminating the need for a warrant to search cars, library records, and bank accounts)

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

(Like gerrymandering districts to insure the outcomes of elections, making it almost impossible for third parties to get on the ballot, and passing laws against victimless crimes and regulating our private lives).

What will YOU do this year to continue the Spirit of the American Revolution?