Wednesday, August 01, 2007

That long hot summer - and this one

This morning's editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel capping the paper's interesting retrospective on the 1967 riots in Milwaukee leaves something to be desired. As the paper notes, there are many ways in which the residents of those parts of the city in which the disturbances took place are worse off than they were 40 years ago. The paper has not much more to say about that then it's a bad thing and there is "much to do."

Given that the editorial board is more than prepared to declare the Iraq war a lost cause and to oppose more of the same in Baghdad, it's inability to see failure here is astounding.

We have fought a war on poverty using all the tools that "progressive" opinion thought would work. We have spent untold billions and billions on schools, job training, welfare and community development. We have created an affirmative action industry and tried to racially balance the schools. We have fought a war on poverty.

Poverty won.

Just as in Iraq, the war is too important to surrender. Just as in Iraq, however, we ought to recognize that more of the same is highly unlikely to be successful.

Putting no new ideas on offer, the editorial board visits both of its blind spots on inner city poverty - one intentionally and the other inadvertently - in the same paragraph. Comparing the open housing marches led by Father James Groppi to the riots, it writes:

The two forms of protest, organized and disorganized, led to more opportunities for African-Americans. They became lawyers, doctors, bankers, engineers, police officers, journalists, professors, elected officials and social workers in numbers not seen before. But the plight of other African-Americans worsened, in large part because of the downturn in manufacturing.

The loss of manufacturing jobs has been a fairly automatic mantra for the paper, but it places too much emphasis on something that cannot be changed. Inner city residents were not the only folks employed in manufacturing (indeed, I suspect that there was as much discrimination in manufacturing employment as elsewhere) and the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy has not proved to be insurmountable for other groups affected by it. (In fact, I wonder whether, if one tracked black families that were headed by someone employed in a well paid manufacturing job in 1967, it has proved insurmountable for them either.)In any event, those jobs will not return.

But the paragraph also illustrates something that the paper consistently refuses to see. One might see the "two forms of protest" not as complementary but as contrasting. One might see them as emblematic of two forms of response to our racial past - one emphasizing cultural assimilation and the other emphasizing cultural opposition.

Only one of those responses "led to more opportunities for African-Americans." It is not astonishing that there is continued despair in the areas affected by the riots. The riots and the misanthropic cultural response that they represent - and not the "downturn in manufacturing" - is, "in large part," what has devastated and continues to devastate the areas in question.

Assuming the moral throne is unhelpful in dealing to this. I readily agree that historical white racism played a substantial role in creating these circumstances, but, just as you can't cure active lung cancer by stopping your smoking, the solution here has less to do with combatting white racism than addressing the deracinated culture that,to be fair, it has helped to create.


Anonymous said...

"We have fought a war on poverty using all the tools that "progressive" opinion thought would work. We have spent untold billions and billions on schools, job training, welfare and community development. We have created an affirmative action industry and tried to racially balance the schools. We have fought a war on poverty."

Hey, Rick, 1969 called, it needs its political debate back. Dude, you are having a conversation that hasn't been relevant for years. If it makes you feel better, its been decades since the government paid much real attention to the quality of life in the central city.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous, your father called and wants his DNA back. He said all of his sons had balls and you don't. If you have suggestions and alternative idea's SOCIETY is ALL EARS. You don't. You're the typical lib, barely post-pubescent dumb fux.
The governments job IS NOT TO PAY ATTENTION to the QUALITY of life in the CENTRAL CITY.
You're about one WATT short of a 5 watt bulb. It's called DIM, as in DIM WITTED.
All the kings horses and all the kings men, and all the kings baby mama's and all the kings drop outs, and all the kings liberals and all of the king,queen,prince, princess, jacks, tens and ace of spades (pun intended)money plus the tax payers ca$h, cannot make losers into winners. All the 14 and 15 year old girls, NOT WOMEN, but GIRLS who RUT like animals with 18-26 year old "dudes", and have babies they cannot support, morally or financially......CAN'T MAKE the CENTRAL CITY anything but what it is. A sh!t hole.
The liberal solution? Spend more on "programs".
I'm trying to be nice, but you are more of the same failed ideology.

Anonymous said...

Hey, O-Nation, if this is you trying to be nice -- with all your CAPITAL LETTERS, ESPECIALLY TO EMPHASIZE NASTY ADJECTIVES -- well . . . please don't come back when you're having a bad day.

Anonymous said...

Anon and obama;

No thank you for your unhelpful comments.

Rick Esenberg said...

Hey, Rick, 1969 called, it needs its political debate back

I like that.

But, of course, that's precisely my point. And precisely not that of the Journal Sentinel editorial board.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the only difference between the poor black and poor whites is that the blacks stay together and the whites are spread out everywhere.

When you drive in many remote rural areas you see many poor whites but we don't seem concerned about them.

Perhaps the blacks just want to be left alone and don't want people looking down on them trying to figure out what to do with them. Maybe they like things the way they are.

Anonymous said...

And if they stick to selling drugs and killing only other blacks, I am as fine withthat as you are.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:14 -

Do you remember Bill Buckly (I think that was his name) pushing hard to get drugs made legal back in the '80's? That would take care of the problem you raised.

Stevencap said...

Please share your stories about lost manufacturing jobs.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a national, non-partisan group dedicated to strengthening U.S. manufacturing. AAM’s blog,, covers issues related to U.S. manufacturing jobs and is compiling firsthand accounts of factory closings and lost jobs.

AAM invites people to share their stories about lost manufacturing jobs, either by emailing Steven Capozzola at, or by posting a comment directly on the blog,