Detroit’s new emergency manager is set to take over the city tomorrow, and Detroiters are bracing themselves for regime change. Thus far, nobody knows quite what to expect, and an air of apprehension has set in as a number of groups prepare to oppose him, including everyone from unions concerned about their contracts to elected officials worried that the manager has effectively stripped them of their power. The New York Times surveys the atmosphere in the Motor City:
“I am angry, like so many thousands of other residents of Detroit,” said Kathy Montgomery, 64. “Angry that our governor and mayor decided we need an emergency manager. We must oppose them.” […]The president of the Detroit chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., the Rev. Wendell Anthony, said he expected to see protests in the coming week. “It’s not about how we should brace for Mr. Orr,” he said. “Mr. Orr should brace for Detroit.”
Sadly, Reverend Jesse Jackson has added fuel to the fire by traveling to Detroit and encouraging residents to protest against the new manager, denouncing his instatement as an attempt by the state to strip citizens of their voting rights. The Detroit Free Press reports:
“As opposed to having a city council that’s democratically elected and a mayor, you’ll have a plantocracy, a plantation-ocracy, replacing a democracy,” Jackson said.“We marched too long and bled too much and died too young for the right to vote to have a governor … take away the impact of our vote,” said Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
The real civil rights violation here is that federal and state prosecutors did too little to stop the development of a culture of lawlessness and entitlement that transformed the Democratic political machine into a weapon of mass destruction.Detroit has had serious problems, not all of them caused by the city. The decline of the automobile industry was not crafted in City Hall. But a confederacy of hacks and crooks were more interested in looting the ruins than in helping the city respond.Rev Jackson could provide an immense national service if he called for the clean up of these machines and demanded a culture of excellence and accomplishment in the institutions that serve the poor. Unfortunately he’s choosing a course that will make it harder for Detroit to recover, and harder still for the people of Detroit to recover their dignity and pride.It’s another sad step in the decline of the civil rights leadership. Martin Luther King would be weeping at the condition of Detroit today, and some of those tears would be for the absence of strong moral leadership from those who claim to be his heirs.