mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Blue City Collapse
Baltimore Burns Amid Grievance and Frustration

The violence and looting in Baltimore yesterday recalled the start of the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Just as funeral services were wrapping up for Freddie Gray, a man who died of a broken neck while in the custody of Baltimore police earlier this month, police got wind of a plan publicized by high school students on social media for a “purge”—a supposed reference to a film describing the lawlessness that ensues after all crime is legalized.

Law enforcement officials were quickly outnumbered and outflanked by cinderblock-hurling youth, who went on to rob several convenience and liquor stores, check-cashing places, and hair salons. At least one building and several cars were set alight, and as many as 17 police officers were injured. No deaths were reported. Maryland’s governor called a state of emergency and made the National Guard available, while Baltimore’s mayor instituted a curfew.

Baltimore becomes the latest city to be convulsed by violent protests following incendiary evidence of police brutality. But though the kindling for the riots was clearly lit by the death of Freddie Gray, the riots themselves quickly revealed a more general feeling of grievance and frustration. The New York Times report carried a particularly illustrative anecdote:

A couple of the young men wore bandannas to hide their identity. The young men identified themselves as members of the Crips, Bloods and Black Guerrilla Family street gangs. One of the Crips members, who called himself Charles, wearing a red Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose T-shirt, said the gang members had taken to the street because “there is only so far that you can push people into a corner.”

“We’re frustrated,” he continued, “and that’s why we’re out there in the streets.”

Then he described how he and some Bloods had stood in front of black-owned stores to protect them from looting or vandalism. He said they had made sure no black children, or reporters, were hit by rioters. They pointed them toward Chinese- and Arab-owned stores. Charles said Mr. Gray had brought gangs together.

Stories such as this remind us that the promises of the Great Society have not been met, and that the economic situation of African Americans continues to deteriorate in many of America’s cities. It is also a sign of the blue model’s failure: Baltimore has had Democratic mayors and Maryland Democratic governors for years, and very little progress has been made. Martin O’Malley, the only alternative to Hillary Clinton on offer by the Democrats, was mayor of Baltimore from 1999-2007 before being elected governor of Maryland.

We don’t know everything about what happened to Gray or how the officers behaved yet, but his death is a reminder of a notable fissure in liberal thinking. The Democrats are the party that celebrates big government and public sector unions. But sometimes government exerts excessive force—as when it crushes a man’s spinal cord. A party that pledges to serve the poor and the weak, while granting the strongest possible protections to those who exert power over them, is going to wind up on both sides of a conflict between the two. That’s where the Democrats and their stand-by candidate are now, and it’s not a good place to be before election season.

[This post has been edited.]

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Pete

    The dilemma for Democrats — they need Negroes to vote overwhelming for them while at the same time they need union money.

    • fastrackn1

      “Negroes”

      At least you are man enough not to call them African Americans”…thank you….

  • fastrackn1

    “Stories such as this remind us that the promises of the Great Society have not been met”.

    What a bunch of crap!

    This country has more opportunity than anywhere else in the world. How much more opportunity do people need? If you can’t make something of yourself here here then you are worthless.

    We don’t need another flowery intellectual discourse and excuses about why certain parts of the population can’t seem to figure out how to behave.
    This is just another display of bad genetics…plain and simple.

    • rheddles

      This has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with culture. The black church has become a codependent with the government and has abandoned the black family. Things won’t change till the victim card is exhausted.

      • fastrackn1

        Actually it has everything to do with genetics. Our genes make humans and every other organism on this planet what it is…physically and mentally. Just as there are differences in physical attributes among different groups of humans, there are different mental/behavioral attributes also. Not all species of dogs behave the same, yet they are all dogs.
        The culture of a group of humans, or a group of animals, is a manifestation of it’s genetic make up.

        It’s basic biology….

  • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

    I served in the military with minorities who grew up in Baltimore, and I have since run across many more.

    People there who feel “pushed into a corner” may want to look at their own actions. Yes, the police need to be investigated when incidents like this happen, and prosecuted if warranted, but individual actions will determine individual outcomes.

  • Anthony

    Missouri is a red state. So, is the Republican party responsible for the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, as you say the Democrats are responsible for what is happening in Baltimore? There are impoverished ghettos in both red and blue states. Professor Mead’s analysis is superficial.

    • stanbrown

      St Louis and Ferguson are blue.

    • Dale Fayda

      “There are impoverished ghettos in both red and blue states”.

      True, but the inhabitants of those ghettos are overwhelmingly “blue”. In fact, they are the BASE of the Democrat party without which it doesn’t exist as a national force. The local government of those impoverished ghettos is also overwhelmingly “blue”. Think you’ll run into a lot of conservative Republicans in the ghetto, Anthony?

      Ferguson, MO has been run by Democrats for decades, as has Baltimore, which has a black mayor and a black police commissioner. No Republican, much less a conservative one has got within sniffing distance of citywide office in those places since Jesus was in short pants. Same for Detroit, Newark, Atlantic City, Camden, San Francisco (the worst ghetto in CA) and on and on and on…

      Moreover, vast majority politically motivated violence in this country is instigated and carried out by the Left. That is a fact. When was the last time there was a white conservative riot, Anthony? In the 1940’s, before that? When? You tell me and take your time with that – I’ll wait.

      Social Democracy or as TAI puts it “the blue social model” is in crisis – it is failing everywhere and at the same time. The only variable in the speed of its collapse is the resident population of that particular locale. The less productive, the more feral and criminal the population is in the aggregate (blacks), the faster the speed of the collapse, which is what we’re seeing in the “impoverished ghettos” across the country.

    • Anthony

      Anthony give us more nuance.

  • wigwag

    Blaming school teachers and policemen for rioting by the Cripps, Bloods and Black Guerrilla Family is literally demented. Via Meadia should be ashamed of itself. The idea that looting, throwing rocks setting fire to stores or overturning law enforcement vehicles is proximately related to civil service protections for government workers is simply wrong; in fact its beyond wrong; the suggestion is disgusting. There are plenty of reasons to be critical of civil service procedures. The idea that they are somehow related to the alienation and cultural depravity of gang members is not one of those reasons.

    Via Meadia should apologize to the cops currently putting their lives on the line to restore order in Baltimore and to the teachers who are locked up in classrooms with so many miscreants day after day.

    • Enemy Leopard

      Via Meadia, having been absorbed into The American Interest’s online presence, is no more. Unless a post is signed by a specific author – which isn’t the case here – authorship can only be attributed to The American Interest as a whole.

      • Andrew Allison

        He always “signs” his posts WRM

    • qet

      Sorry wigwag, but you are way overreacting. Pointing out the flaws in “the system” is not equivalent to impugning the integrity of each and every individual officer or teacher.

      • Andrew Allison

        He’s not discussing flaws in the system but lawlessness (encouraged, I might add by the current administration).

    • johngbarker

      People shouldn’t worry about firing teachers; they are leaving the profession in droves and young people looking for other vocations. Our government has done little in the past decades besides losing wars, and severely damaging the educational and healthcare systems.

  • Anthony

    “The price of inequality – how today’s divided society endangers our future” – is book title referencing economic imbalance but is apropos for current post. Subject matter remains old material but for any one seriously interested in America’s long divide and its 21st century remnants (criminal justice, law and order, public safety, economic interests, etc) see Michelle Alexander “The New Jim Crow”. Beyond that, “nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” (Martin Luther King)

    Finally, New York Times anecdote full of countervailing stereotypes and allusions – has anyone bothered to check veracity of reporters sources – crips, bloods, guerilla, etc. Be that as it may, this is old saw WRM and conveniently useful but definitely not attributable to a red or blue model arrangement (sans collusive indictment). Psychologists have learned to measure implicit attitudes (that is, attitudes of which individuals are not consciously aware) and they are not limited to a blue/red model type. Moreover, there is evidence that these attitudes predict discriminatory behavior better than explicit attitudes, especially in the presence of time pressure (such as police action often made under time pressure when encountering a stigmatized population). In the same way, game-theorectic models have shown how tacit collusive behavior can be used to suppress another group. But, hey, what’s new there!

    • Dale Fayda

      Was all this verbosity really necessary?

      These are the objective facts – blacks are burning down yet another city because of a grievance manufactured by the poverty pimps that pass for “black community leadership”, How many is that in the past 5 – 6 years, the glorious age of Obama? I’ve lost count, frankly.

      The local Democrat party government officials are once again passively abetting the rioting (see quotes from the black mayor of Baltimore). The particular monikers of the feral mob doing the looting and burning (Crips, Bloods, Black Guerrilla Family, The Nation of Islam, etc.) are irrelevant – they’re completely indistinguishable.

      This exact pattern repeats itself over and over, in every portion of the country with any kind of black population and it has for decades.

      I pose the question to you again – when was the last time there was a white conservative riot? Or an Asian riot?

      • Anthony

        Real simple my man sans verbosity (your designation): the ultimate legitimacy of law itself arises out of the degree to which it reflects the norms of justice of the larger community. Now, your grievance or scapegoating of “black community” engage elsewhere as subject matter requires more than wishful thinking or varying shades of truth. I’m done but “Hidden Biases of Good People by M. Banaji and A. Greenwald may avail you both more reference and additional perspective – I’m not the spokesman you seek for…

        • Dale Fayda

          I don’t hide my biases, but speak of them openly and back up my position with historical and empirical facts.

          You obviously can’t or won’t (same thing) answer my initial question, but I think I have made my point and I also think you’ve understood it. I’m done here too – no point whipping this dead liberal horse any longer…

          • Anthony

            Thanks!

          • fastrackn1

            Few here will answer questions like you had posed in your last comment. I have previously posed questions along the same lines as you have and never got a straight reply.
            You will often get “flowery intellectual discourse and excuses about why certain parts of the population can’t seem to figure out how to behave.”, (as I have stated in another comment here), but you will not get a straight answer.
            There are a lot of people who don’t live in reality, they live in the sheltered world of the intellectual…and it is what is destroying our society….

          • Dale Fayda

            Liberals… The weakest among us.

          • Anthony

            Here’s a straight reply: query/queries you pose have been answered by not only many here but also many throughout U.S. history (this is a subject emotively laced to detriment of level headed analysis; further, it is a subject to which on this venue I have well treaded over six years and choose not to elucidate further beyond my “predilection”). Aforementioned answers may or may not not fit a preconceived notion of how United States (society) really functions but no serious person avoids critical issues facing country and this issue or derivative thereof continues to roil. TAI currently offers several features from archives on front page addressing your “few here will answer questions….” Hopefully, archived issues still carry extensive comment thread. Goodnight.

          • fastrackn1

            Yes these type of subjects have been answered throughout history, however I am only interested in the answers posed in current times, such as by those here for example. Now as to “predilections, emotions, and preconceived notions…I am not confined by those, at least not when is comes to my thoughts about the human condition and basic human instinct. Humans are what they are deep down inside and that’s what drives us all. The only thing that allows us to be so intellectually high and mighty is electricity and our modern conveniences. Let the electrical grid go down permanently, heck, even for a few months and see how humans really are.
            People are what they are no matter how hard they try to cover it up intellectually…which is why they have not, and will not, ever change….

          • Fred

            You’re wasting electrons, Dale. Anthony doesn’t respond. After all, why should someone who has achieved his godlike transcendence of all bias interact with mere mortals? Also, it would require him to actually support his arguments and respond to counterarguments, both of which I’m reasonably certain he’s incapable of. So he hides behind convoluted and/or elliptical sentences, Latinate vocabulary, and a pose of Olympian detachment in an attempt to appear more intelligent than he is, and when called on his BS, he responds with hand-waving dismissal. If he actually engaged anyone on the merits of an argument, he would be exposed as the intellectual fraud he is, so don’t hold your breath.

          • fastrackn1

            100% correct….

          • Anthony

            You don’t know me and prior to some imagined offense you up voted (something which is meaningless) every comment I posted upon your arrival at TAI. Now, you do 180 degrees; talking about getting it straight and resorting to Nepalese conditions once shorn of modern accoutrements Wow!

          • fastrackn1

            I don’t know you or any one else on the internet except by what they write.
            Up voting is not meaningless unless of course someone (anyone) thinks they are ‘above’ up voting.

            No “180” from me…I have, and will continue to up vote you when you write something I agree with, or you write something I don’t agree with but you put up a good argument or thesis. There are often comments here from readers that I don’t agree with but will up vote…it’s just a click of the mouse, so why not?

            “resorting to Nepalese conditions once shorn of modern accoutrements”…jeeeez Anthony…where do you come up with this type of verbiage? Do you talk like that too? Well, if you do you better hope the electric grid never goes down or one of those big Ubangees from the ghetto will come and take your food away and throw you in the bushes…..

          • Anthony

            Two things: 1) Nepal as you know had a massive earthquake – earlier you referenced humans resorting to basics (see your comment below) sans electric grid and other conveniences. That’s Nepalese analogy. 2) People of different perspectives may see ideas and evidence in different ways. Let us agree to disagree and end it there. As an aside my man, taking care of myself has never been a problem (with or without electricity – thanks for the concern) I’m done here and hopefully…

          • fastrackn1

            Yes, spirited debate is one of the great things about blogs and the internet, so I always agree to disagree.
            I hope you understood that the last part of my previous comment was meant as a jape. For all I know you could
            be 6′ 8″ and 300 pounds.

          • Anthony

            Dan Greene (permit me the liberty Dan) provided you with a suggestion that a less troubled soul would not ignore and utilize given your systematic misperceptions (something like two years….). And real simple: no hiding, nothing or no one to engage upon recognition of framing (identification of well-defined preferences and beliefs [a standard economic theory concept, look it up] – remember: Oct 23, 2014.

      • Andrew Allison

        The verbosity is compulsive.

        • Anthony

          At this late date, still seeking commiseration. The emptiness of life – Je Burke got it right.

  • rheddles

    Surprised no one has noted that these things only happen when Republicans are governors in the Old Line State. Thank goodness that’s only twice a century.

    • MartyH

      And Governor Hogan caused these riots in only three months! That’s the amazing thing! Normally stresses and strains like this build up over decades of mismanagement as generations see their hopes dwindle. But O’Malley’s “tough on crime” stances as mayor and governor created a Baltimore that was flourishing, and now Hogan comes in and ruins it three short months.

      • rheddles

        Must have been getting secret support from the Koch Brothers.

    • Dale Fayda

      Do you think the animals in the streets of Baltimore even know there is a Republican governor? Do you think they knew who the previous governor was or if he was a Democrat or a Republican?

      No, chico – this a Democrat show, from top to bottom.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service