RANGER AGAINST WAR: Ft. Apache, Cleveland <

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ft. Apache, Cleveland

--Peace on earth, 
Arend Van Dam

I'd rather be a farmer than to be a police
I'd rather be a singer than to be a police
I'd rather be a father than to be a police 
--Mr. Policeman, Rick James 

I went back to Ohio 
But my city was gone 
There was no train station 
There was no downtown 
--My City Was Gone, 
The Pretenders

 --Any information from the street so far? 
--Are you kidding?
Anyplace else a guy sees a cop get killed,
he runs to the phone, here the doors close.
Right now there could be five people
who know who did this, in a few hours maybe ten,
maybe more, but not us.
Up here Captain, cops are like husbands --  
they're always the last to know   
--Ft. Apache, the Bronx (1981) 

Idle hands are the devil's workshop

What sort of country has police that kill people for illegally selling cigarettes on the street, or a boy aiming a toy gun outside of a community center?

It should not happen in a civilized nation, yet it has happened here. The U.S. is one nation under fear, and it needs to get a grip on itself if it is to succeed.

Sadly, as always, the response to these and like events is the predictable bifurcation along political lines: The Left expresses outrage about a Stalin-esque spectre; the Right defends the response of those charged with maintaining law-and-order. Digging in thusly, neither accomplishes the thing that needs doing -- an honest assessment of and reckoning with the state of race relations in America. We can't do it because we are not honest, are restricted by our resentments and hamstrung but the strictures of political correctness.

Last month Ranger found himself in Cleveland re-visiting the remains of his old neighborhood. The house he grew up in on Eaglesmere had been demolished since his last visit, but the majority of the houses remain, in various stages of hideous decay. Very occasionally one will see a homeowner attempting upkeep that consists of more than Visqueen over the windows, and it is sad to think that there is nowhere for their property value to go but down.

The homes in the blocks surrounding Ranger's childhood home were solidly white, labor and Catholic, with some Jewish merchants thrown into the mix. The complexion has changed: it still ethnic, but now the predominate groups are African American and Asian. At some point after the early 1970's, white flight to the suburbs began, and urban decay set-in.

Still, five minutes away sits the grand neighborhood of Bratenahl, and the police treatment of the two zones is telling.

For countless blocks of Cleveland degradation one will not see a police cruiser, only the forlorn residents drinking alcohol on their porch at 11 a.m., except when the police must come in to investigate a crime. The day Ranger drove through was such a day.

On 11/9/14 a teen was shot on the same Eaglesmere corner where another man was killed the previous week -- the same street on which Ranger grew up.

The police were taking reports. The residents of the house on the corner claim the shootings were unrelated, and that the police should be protecting them; a city alderman calls the residents thugs and is moving for their eviction.

"Ward 8 Councilman Michael Polensek says the occupants are a nuisance and a threat to the public's safety. 'It is chaos. It is no coincidence,'" said Polensek. "Look at the number of times police have had to run to that house.'"

This was an area that was once safe for children to explore by bike, or ride public transportation. Now only a fool or a desperate person would walk these streets or stand at a bus stop at night. Ranger feels naked traveling this ground without a firearm.

Another thing you notice in the 133rd Street Eastside area is the lack of business. When Ranger was a boy he alternately worked at a corner grocer, and set pins at a local bowling alley, among other odds and ends. His peers also all had jobs, often multiple ones at any given time. There was no time to consider violence; there was too much to do. Ranger has always loved guns but he did not have his first handgun until age 21, and certainly he and his fellows never thought of shooting one another.

As a FAMU sociologist friend explained to Lisa, when blacks from the hood succeed in business, they often leave their neighborhoods versus investing in them. Upward mobility is the idea of American success, after all.

But in Ranger's Cleveland, the ethnic residents mostly did not seek to leave. Generations found brotherhood in a common background, and he idea of success was a hoped for incremental generational step upward; many of Ranger's schoolmates still live in the same neighborhoods as their parents.

Cleveland was changing by the early 60's. South of Superior Ave. and east, between 79th to 105th, had become clearly black-held terrain. At age 13 Ranger defended himself with a baseball bat from attack by an 18-year-old black teen armed with a bayonet near this area and landed in juvenile detention, until the event was adjudicated self-defense. Some ethnic neighborhoods tried to hold onto their fragment of the American dream, but Ranger's family was more typical, moving to the suburbs of 140th and Lakeshore where he spent his high school years.

Perhaps, urban blacks have missed out on some of the intermediary steps to finding social cohesion. Many were refugees from the agricultural South who sought out the same factory jobs as the low-middle class worked, and for a generation they did work side-by-side with their white counterparts. But after this first generation which straddled the 1940's and 50's, things began falling apart.

Unfortunately, the abruptness of the Civil Rights movement was operative in the break. Many black workers lacked a generational history of working in industry and riding the slow grind required to impart to coming generations the tools needed for possible escape. Instead, for many, after only one factory generation came the advent of quotas. Concomitant was the explosion of media-driven conspicuous consumption, which cannot easily be had on a worker's salary, so what's a poor boy to do?

As an aside, our town (Tallahassee) was recently reported to have the second highest crime rate in the state. Under the Tallahassee Democrat article online a commenter requested a map be given showing the areas of highest crime concentration. The following exchange occurred in response:

--Look for the Africans.

--Wait, what about the whites who commit bigger financial crimes daily?

--With evolution comes the ability to commit bigger and better crime.

This exchange illuminates one strain of thought among our citizens. Clearly, crime pays. Everyone wants nice material things.

We don't have the answer. Maybe you have a piece of the puzzle to share.

--Jim and Lisa

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I'm the next generation in this experience (I was learning to walk when Ranger was preparing to graduate ROTC, +/-). My experience picks up where Ranger's leaves off with the baseball bat versus bayonet incident.

So my father, at 40, was a confirmed bachelor when he met my mother. He lived in an upscale apartment complex near downtown Detroit and my mother - a blond single woman - (12 years younger) lived somewhere downtown as well. They met when she was singing in one of the popular fancy nightclubs downtown that were frequented by the white lawyers and business men that lived in the area (as an aside, she was the opening act for a young Barbara Streisand). This was the early '60s. That's all changed, forever, just a couple years later.

When I was born, my parents were living in my father's apartment. Within a year, though, as I understand it, the social climate had begun to change. It was getting a little sketchy for whites to be walking about freely in that area. So the family moved to a suburb adjacent to the city. Good timing. A couple years later came the riots which altered the complexion of Detroit forever. Any middle class to upper class whites that hadn't seen the writing on the wall could no longer fail to face the reality, and they moved out post haste as well.

After the riots, Detroit became a truly dangerous place for whites. As a teenager we never ventured downtown - perhaps to a concert or sports event - without a handgun in the car. To have broken down or been involved in an accident could have resulted in becoming the victim of a violent crime. This was not paranoid fantasy b/c we all knew someone it had happened to or that had narrowly escaped a situation.

The violence wasn't just along racial lines. Blacks were doing it to themselves as well, but being white made one a prime target.

By this time, late 70s and early 80s, excepting downtown itself, all white business was gone from huge swaths of the city. When I visited in the mid 90s white business was gone from virtually the entire city; excepting a few far flung corners. Sports arenas, concert venues and the remnants of the automobile industry had all moved to outlying areas that had previously been rural.

I would say, with 100% certainty, that the flight from the city, which I observed over the course of my life, was largely due to black racism against whites and, generally, a culture of violence and crime. An unpopular and un -PC observation, I know. Whatever whites had contributed to the problem was minor compared to what the blacks had put in the mix. Whites were not targeting blacks or their businesses with violence, but blacks were definitely an existential threat to whites and to successful blacks.

What interests me is that, as Ranger notes, that dysfunctional culture didn't always exist. The first generation of black factory workers in Detroit, Like those in Cleveland, were hard working and well adjusted. I have noted the same generational regression in modern Hispanic enclaves as well - though to a much lesser degree. First generation is hard working, church going, etc., but second generation gravitates towards gang life.

Could be a lack of decent jobs. Could be a lack of ingrained cultural values and a desire for instant gratification. I have no idea, really. It is interesting to me that whites are less likely to go down the violence/gang route even when faced with the same poor economic prospects. It must be a missing cultural component.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 11:07:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

Have you read any John Kenneth Galbraith? He talked a lot about these problems for a long time.

Attitude changes dramatically when hope dies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 11:40:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


We are now reading Nicholas Wade’s "blasphemous" book A Troublesome Inheritance in which the writer surmises that there are six general groups of humans, and that blacks are not particularly well-suited for the urban environments in which they now find themselves.

Wade has been a science writer at the NYT for the last 30 years, and his credentials can't be faulted, but his book (released this year) hasn't exactly set off a debate, has it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 12:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

ScatterShot--RE: Your Hometown, My Hometown, Hometown

Senator to grunt:
"How are things around here, son?"
"Depends on how you feel about decay, Senator."

Somewhere along the way the buffalo-skinners were put in charge.

"An angry white man with a gun is a patriot. An angry muslim man with a gun is a terrorist. An angry black man with a gun is a corpse."

"Property?" This whole fuckin' thing's about property."
--Sgt Walsh
Thin Red Line

"One of the things I loved about the series "Deadwood" was that sense of just how deadly clever people in the 19th century really were. If those guys got out of a time machine in downtown Los Angeles roght now they wouldn't be hopeless hicks. They'd be dangerous characters because they really were."
--Wm Gibson

“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”
--D.H. Lawrence

Out here in the wild west, in Albuquerque, couple of weeks ago at the Santa Ana Star Casino, mind you, they held an event billed as ARMY VS. MARINES EXTREME CAGEFIGHTING
CHAMPIONSHIPS, breathlessly, or heartlessly, exclaiming
"This event pits elite soldier against elite soldier in caged combat."
Tickets ranged from $19 to $80 a pop, depending on how much blood one wanted spalshed on them.

I asked a friend, who happens to hold a Ph,D. in Psychology, if she wanted to go see it.
She replied, with nairy a hint of irony: "Sure, If we can throw raw meat at them."
She's a kind woman, merely commenting on the society of the spectacle.

"While Nero has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, both personally and intellectually, he is starting to consider himself as having missed a chance somewhere."
--Nassim Taleb
The Black Swan


Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 2:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hadn't heard of Wade's book, but I just looked it up.

I'm pretty skeptical of the genetics/race argument for explaining these things. Actually, I think these are down right dangerous and the specter of the Nazi ideology always leaps to mind when I hear them.

OTOH, obviously there could be some racial differences manifesting in temperament, intelligence, etc. We know from working with horses that, though all are one species (they can successfully interbreed), the different races of horses are quite different. We have the twitchy - almost neurotic - high strung high/speed thoroughbred, the big calm honest hard working draft horses and the even tempered handy but not too slow quarter horse. Why couldn't such personality traits be involved in human races as well?

The problem is that identified differences lead to judgments as to superiority/inferiority based on one or two races definition; which in turn lead to oppression/exploitation. It gets all politicized in the worse way.

I think a key argument against Wade has already been identified. Blacks were doing just fine when they first moved to the cities. Also, many continue to do just fine in urban settings.

So the question should be, "What went wrong for the significant proportion that isn't doing OK?".

Wade could answer in some kind of bell curvish fashion. Those that are doing fine are the +1 standard deviation and above that are therefore equal to the avg whites and Asians in some important inherited characteristic.

I think that would be hard to prove. Culture plays such a tremendous role.

I note that blacks I see on the BBC are no different - even the English accent - from the whites other than skin color.

It seems to me that blacks in the US went from slavery, to adopting some of the worst aspects of poor white southern culture with a significant proportion becoming stuck right there.

I really don't know. It does seem that whatever it is, it has been highly resistant to progressive remedies. In fact it has gotten worse since civil rights, though that may be a coincidence and not causal.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 2:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Somewhere along the way the buffalo-skinners were put in charge."

That's beautiful.

That's what was in the back of my mind even as I wrote my own comments. Sure, white people aren't violent......if you overlook what was done to the Natives, WW1 and 2, dozens of other wars, and the wars we're itching to start now.

Whites have the power and therefore the ability to organize their violence en masse. Blacks don't. So they execute it penny ante.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 2:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

I don't know about extrapolatin' horsesense over to humans. Might be insultin' to the horses. but I'm sticking withthat one about the buffalo-skinners. Thanks.

Pew Research Center, just this morning, released the results of a study of American household wealth over the last 30 years.
Yep, you guessed it: Rich gettin richer is at historical record, but for this discussion, their study showed that median wealth--assets minus debts--for whites was 13X higher than blacks.

Median black household wealth hovered around $11,000 last year.
Couple that with a 34% drop in black household wealth since 2001, ship the prime of black youth to stock-dividend corporate-owned private prisons and say it's their own fault they can't pull themselves up by their own tattered bootstraps? It becomes a puzzle to me that the entire black community in this country isn't setting up ambushes right now.

So we send in drugs as one of the scant means of income generation, along with militarized RoboCop, who, by the way will whack our cracker heads when we start gettin' uppity about the already raw deal our black brothers and sisters are getting, and ask the Pentagon for more surplus toys to uparm ourselves against the black devil or the sand-devil or the uppity liberals-- I'd argue that the American Dream is being fundamentally misrepresented.

One of four black men and youth are in prison, on probation, parole or awaiting trial, essentially disenfranchising entire communities from even voting.
We pay $30,000 to keep a prisoner in jail for a year and we have the highest incarceration rate in the world?

From slavery to segregation to Parchman Farm back to Jim Crow Blues again, mama.

Because, as old Robert Bly once so aptly phrased it" "fear of black-haired men."

We should be grateful for the good parents and members of the black community and their churches in particular, for not taking up the hateful path as many of their white counterparts.

"There's a might judgement coming, baby."
--Leonard Cohen

"Son, this ain't a dream no more, it's the real thing."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 3:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

"Wade has been a science writer at the NYT for the last 30 years, and his credentials can't be faulted.."

Lisa, I don't know if 30 years at the NYT makes for
impeccible credentials.
Fossilized maybe.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 3:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


The data wasn't generated by Wade, only collated by him. My point is, we're not talking about all of the facets of the problem, because we're all kind and literate people.

But the facts are not always pretty, and only by looking at all input can an understanding + a solution be had.

Yes, there has always been questionable science. Zora Neale Hurston worked with Franz Boaz calipering skull sizes in Harlem in the early 1900's.

Lamarckian evolution lost out to Darwinian, and yet here we are in 2014 with our new knowledge of epigenetics. The idea that we might change our own DNA via intention, turning on or off certain markers which are then even heritable, would have been heresy; no more.

There was a black academic in the 1960's who did the talk show circuit and forwarded similar ideas about differing behaviors between the races and adaptabilities, and he was run out on a rail in short order for betraying his own. But to deny quantifiable differences it to stick our heads in the sand.

For instance, both black men and women have generally higher levels of testosterone than whites or Asians. What impact, then, does this have on their population?

I'm not implying castration, chemical or otherwise ... I'm asking, "How might this impact behavior?" And this is but one small slice of the pie.

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 12:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in grade school, I began spending the summers in Virginia with my mother's family. I was surprised at the difference in behavior between the AAs there and up in the D. It was explained to me that the Southern way was to keep the "darkies" in their place; keep them respectful for their own good as well as the good of white society.

It made sense to me then. At some point I started flip flopping every couple of years on how I felt about that.

One thing is for sure, what we're doing ain't working all that well. It's getting worse for significant portions of the AA population.

I know when I was younger and had elevated testosterone, I was often a trouble maker, couldn't focus on the long term, like to fight, etc. So, if that's true about AAs - combined with modern urban social environments - it would explain a lot indeed.

We used to have Motown - so smooth, so cool. Now we have gangsta rap. But down in Jamaica we still have reggae.



Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 3:31:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Jim b. said...

Why does everyone pick on the southerners? To me the trait towards violence, looks as thou maslov was proved right. Limit the growth, as in some of the skinner experiments, and replicate maslov, then extrapolate, from individual to societal. And it works.
And I was back in flint, last month. When I left in 64, vibrant, lively, gold coast type of town, you could make money, everywhere up and down the strip,Saginaw ave, awful to see now, poverty, shame they shut down the town. Went from good for all, to murder capital. Damn.

Friday, December 19, 2014 at 12:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

Speaking of Flint, here is a plug for "Roger and Me".

Friday, December 19, 2014 at 2:56:00 PM GMT-5  

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