Thursday, May 31, 2007

McGee needs to be over

I've spent a bit of time listening to public reaction to the charges against Michael McGee, Jr. on WMCS (and I will be on the station this afternoon from 4:30 to 6:00). While the response was not monolithic, there is a substantial body of opinion - perhaps even a consensus - that McGee is being treated unfairly, hasn't done anything that bad or that the "good" (which I am constantly told, without specifics, that he does) outweighs this. McGee, calling into WNOV this morning, apparently sang a battle hymn to his supporters. He apparently thinks that he - or whatever cause he is supposed to represent (no snitchin'? wig peeling? gatekeeping?) are worth dying for. Maybe there are folks who agree.

There is a pretty clear racial divide and my sympathies are with those that believe this view of McGee is wrongheaded, harmful and pretty much outside the boundaries of reason. It wouldn't be hard to conclude that there is no possibility of dialogue between two Milwaukees who see things so differently.

I'd like to imagine otherwise. McGee and those like him strike me as mirror images of the segregation demagogues of the south. Wallace, Faubus, and Maddox capitalized on the anger generated by the end of segregation. They appealed to group loyalties that were stronger than any rational assessment of what would or would not better everyday life. Although they claimed to be the leaders who would help the south rise again, the south did not rise until they fell (or, in Wallace's case, changed their ways.)

McGee capitalizes on the anger that flows from a history of racial injustice. He claims to be the leader who will help black Milwaukee rise, but, just as was the case with the white racial demagogues, it will not rise until McGee and his ilk go the way of Faubus and his.

To say that McGee makes a few legitimate points along the way - or to respond to his wrongdoing by dwelling on the faults of his critics - is simply to enable him and block the evolution of effective leadership. The poor whites that Bilbo and Barnett spoke for had legitimate grievances too and there was more than a little snobbery and hypocrisy among the "pointy-headed" liberals that opposed them


Anonymous said...

2 observations. One, I think we have to wait until the specific allegations roll out and the evidence comes in - and we need to wait for it to sink into peoples' heads - before inferring too much from radio show callers, etc.

Second, and this is key, not everyone in the greater milwaukee area gets news from the same sources. We shouldn't simply assume that everyone views the world through the lens of the JS or the evening TV news.

Don't get me wrong, I have no love or respect for McGee. But, the fact that there may be a range of opinion (which well may change in the coming months) has some rather complex bases.

Anonymous said...

Why are you involving yourself in this? Have you ever worked in the central city and had exposure to the McGees types and his supporters? Or does this just give you an opportunity to be heard?

Anonymous said...

McBride has turned off her comments. SO I emaile dher the following:

Ms McBride:

You are utterly and absolutely correct about the 3 Milwaukees. But just how do you propose to convert group #3? With name-calling, slams, and chicken clucks? When you choose that course, you must know the psychological effect: it becomes one of pure ego and emotional reaction. If you insult me, I will resist you. Logic and external reality are eclipsed by the sense of abuse. Perhaps the final anlysis is this:

Milwaukee #1 : full of people right that McGee is a threat who are smug toward and angry with those who disagree.

Milwaukee #2 : full of people hell-bent on disagreeing with #1, which they correctly perceive to be mostly white conservatives, extensively in the suburbs, who are pointing at excruciating truths about black underclass dysfuction, which has been allowed to define black identity in general.

Milwaukee #3 : full of people rightly apalled or put off by the battle between #1 and #2 who will agree or pretend to agree with whichever side is most represented in their favored day to day social group. Or people who just shut down, or who actually see through it all and wish to ignore a terminally moribund discourse mired in pride and partisan politics.

What can you do to help change the game?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:18 - who are you direcying your question to?

Anonymous said...

Let's not confuse McBride with Esenberg. If she won't accept comments on her blog (and who is the chicken in that?) then just forget about her.

Esenberg's arguments - - I heard him on the radio today - - are his own and have their own validity and flaws.

But they are not the inflammatory remarks of that other blogger who used to be on a radio station, so let's confine the discussion to Esenberg's arguments.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:11 - I guess I was directing them at Rick because he likes to polk his nose into about everything, but if you wish to respond be my guest.

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