The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

HOW STUPID IS DUMB?

I had begun go write this post (in a slightly different variation) the other day but as things would have it, other news events, notably the Zimmerman trial and its aftermath got in the way.

Then there’s also my effort to clean up my emails when I went on mental sabbatical although I’ve got that down to under 5700 and have set a goal for myself of reading them all by Labor Day.  I’m attacking them in most current date of receipt first – so don’t be surprised if a month or so from now, I comment on a post you put up in March.  This is a challenge as I get 60 – 80 new ones per day and those also need attention.

Well, back to the post.  The reason that it came back to mind was a news story about my former home town of Chicago and a vote of the City council – but we’ll get to that.

A few blocks from my home in Chicago was a wonderful deli, The Flying Lox Box.  Absolutely terrific pastrami and no ambiance anywhere in sight.  Not only was it a favorite of many who lived in the east part of Hyde Park, it was a preferred lunch stop for some of Chicago’s finest who patrolled the area.  Between the University of Chicago police and the CPD, we had a lot of law enforcement patrolling the area.  As a result of all this patrolling, the neighborhood had a reputation as being one of the safest places to live in the city.

Of course, there’s always some ungrateful cretin out there who asks a question like, “If it’s so safe, why do we need all these police?”  There’s simply no pleasing some people.

Over time, some friends and I got to know a number of the police patrons at “The Box” as we affectionately had abbreviated its name.  One of those was a sergeant who had the girth of a Jackie Gleason and the wit of a Robin Williams.  We loved it when Sgt. Adolph (his first name) would regale us with stories of his 28 years on the force.  There was no question that if he hadn’t gone in to law enforcement he could have had a successful career in stand up comedy.

As I was nibbling at my dill pickle and picking at the pastrami that exuded from the overstuffed rye bread, he told me and the friends whom I had met for lunch at the deli about a call to which his car was dispatched when he was early on in his career with the force.  It was a call that he didn’t want to get because it was a matter of domestic violence which had occurred at the Cabrini-Green housing projects.

While Cabrini-Green was not the most violent of Chicago’s ghetto housing projects, (that distinction belonged to Robert Taylor Homes), it was right up there in the top three.  At the outskirts of Cabrini-Green was one of the best rib joints in Chicago – Farmer Brown’s, which was a business owned by a black family.

When you walked into Farmer Brown’s you noticed  there were no tables.  The business was take out only.  And it was hard to miss the foot thick plexi-glass which extended from the top of the counter to the ceiling to prevent armed robbery.  After placing your order, the person who had taken it would push out a long, deep metal tray into which you dropped your money.  They would give you your change in that same tray and a few minutes later your order would be packaged and dropped in the tray as well.

Apparently, the owners deemed this method of doing business prudent after the third time they were robbed and one of their employees shot – though, thankfully, not fatally.

So that was the environment near Cabrini-Green and the monochrome, cheaply constructed buildings housed even worse.  No cop wanted to go there because there was a high probability that answering a call in the projects would result either in a medical leave from the force or a funeral.

But my friend Adolph and his partner responded, as was their duty, to the call.  Ms. Smith had reported that her boy friend was “beatin on her.”

When the two of them got to the Smith apartment, they knocked on the door and identified themselves as CPD, Ms. Smith quickly opened the door and let them in.  They could see that she had indeed been beaten.  The area around her left eye was severely swollen and she had a cut in her skin which she was trying to stop from bleeding with a kitchen towel.

“Ms. Smith, do you know who did this to you,?” Adolph asked.

She said, “I told the oprator it was my boyfriend, Lavell.”

“Do you know where Lavell is now?”

“He in the bedroom.  He drunk an I think he pass out.”

“In order for us to arrest him, it will be necessary for you to come with us down to the police station, give us the details of what happened and to file a complaint against him,” Adolph said.

“You mean you gwyne arrest him?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Oh, no, no, no.  Don’t do dat.  I don’t wan Lavell arrested.”

“Well, ma’am, that’s what we have to do. He obviously beat you.  Has this ever happened before?”

“Cupola times – but not so bad as dis.”

“Well, ma’am, it seems like Lavell is a violent man and is going to keep on beating you if we don’t put him away.  Don’t you see that?”

“Yeah, but he don’t beat me so frequent – mebbe evry cupola months.”

“Ma’am, if you don’t want us to arrest him, why did you call?  What is it that you want us to do?”

Ms. Smith looked at Adolph and his partner.  As he described it, a sheepish grin came over her face and she said, “Mek him say, he love me.”  And she drew out the word love for a few seconds.

As Adolph concluded the story, I think all of us who heard it were stunned that any human being would react the way Ms. Smith did in this situation.  But we were not so shocked when we heard the P. S. to this night in Cabrini-Green.

It appeared that Lavell was not only Ms. Smith’s boyfriend.  He was her pimp.  She was one of twelve young women in his stable.  And a year later, when he tried to expand his business empire into drugs, was found shot dead – a bullet through his head.

I have often thought that in order to understand another person, her thinking, her dreams, her motivations you had to be that person –if only for one day.  When I hear stories like this one, I cannot even begin to fathom how the Ms. Smiths of the world see their lives.  Do they know there is more out there than whoring and being beaten?  Or is their universe so circumscribed and limited because they are merely doing the same thing that everyone around them is doing and experiencing the same thing that everyone whom they know experiences?

There was a very good reason that in the deep South before the Civil War, all states which permitted slavery expressly forbade that a slave be given an education.  An ignorant population was an easily manipulated and controllable population.  If you look at the literacy rates and the number of high school dropouts within our urban black ghettos, not much educational progress has been made since those days.

There is virtually no way out of this cycle of economic and moral depravity for the women who were born there – and for the men the only paths are pro sports, becoming a drug dealer or pimp or having a career as a rap or hip hop star.  So when we hear comments from our pro stars that could well have been uttered by the late Lavell, are we surprised at the sorry truth of the statement, “You can take the boy out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the boy?”

What we need to do in this country is forget this nonsense about racism – because it is not racism with which we are dealing.  What we have is a problem in classism and those who have created this problem through their policies (primarily whites) do not want to acknowledge their failure; and for those who are black and middle class. business people and professionals. the pain of realizing but for the Grace of God, they might also be another statistic on the police blotter of one of our major cities is too frightening and so they too ignore the problem.

Though I have no evidence to support this, I doubt that among either the black or white congregants who will amass at the behest of Massa Al Sharpton this weekend, armed with signs and hoodies to protest “American injustice” you will find many who will leave those rallies and return to their hospital, resuming their duties as an ER physician or go to work in their own small business.  I suspect that most of those involved in the rallies have no work to which they could go, (and quite probably have no desire for a change in their unemployment status).

They are the manipulated but they are so undereducated I believe that they honestly feel they are pursuing a God-like and virtuous cause.  As did those who stood in front of the guillotine as the nobility were dispatched from this world one by one.  And they cheered and held up the severed heads and celebrated – until there were no more of the oppressive upper class to murder and so the Angel of Death expanded its grip on the mob and turned on them as their heads fell into the basket.

We live in an “instantaneous gratification” world.  But problems that are deep-rooted in decades of history cannot be resolved with the stroke of a legislative pen – no matter how brilliant or well-meaning the author.  A people that has been in bondage may have their shackles removed, but it will take time for them to understand how to live as free men and women – and to understand what society expects of them.

But if we continue to address the symptoms rather than trying to find a cure for the disease, we merely momentarily assuage the problem – but will never eliminate it.  And that brings me to the City of Chicago’s council meeting today.

“The Chicago city council voted unanimously on Wednesday to toughen its existing ban on assault weapons by adding more types of guns to the banned list and imposing stiffer fines for violations of the law.“

In 2012, Chicago recorded 532 murders – an all time high.  Do you know how many of those were committed with “assault weapons?”  None.  Do you know how many fines were collected for violating the gun ordinances that were on the books?  None.

So a thinking person might reasonably ask, “If a particular form of firearm is not being used in the commission of murders, why would banning other instruments of that same class help reduce the number of homicides that are occurring?  And if the City is not collecting fines for the illegal possession of guns, how will raising the amount of the fines contribute to a better, safer community?”

Unfortunately, this kind of mindless thinking is not limited to Chicago.  It is rife throughout America today.  And while the people who pass these sorts of ordinances are stupid, it is we, the electorate who vote them into office and who keep them there who are truly the dumb ones.

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Comments on: "HOW STUPID IS DUMB?" (7)

  1. And the so called educated tell us we are evolving!! Evolving into what? I think you nailed us all in this blog, the supposedly-educated, the apathetic who look on the problems of humanity as on someone else’s horizon, and the willingly manipulated who are looking for a cause without thinking through a solution. So these activists kill people who they feel endanger the life of an unborn child or in the name of animal rights, or for some other cause they feel they have the right to kill for. Not much of a world we live in is it? I felt for Ms Smith, she desperately wanted love, but had never seen it demonstrated so was willing to accept a much devalued version. Keep writing stories like this. Maybe you will change us all for the better as we read.

    • Into what, indeed are we evolving? Perhaps the sad point of this post is that while some of us would like to believe that we are rapidly ascending away from the primordial slime, others of us make no such pretense and are content to live in it.

  2. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  3. Great post! This has nothing to do with color, although I am sure the black community is one of the most prevalent where this happens. But I have seen the same attitude in the poor white community. Sadly it is not just the elites who keep this going. A few years ago we had a young man working for us when his brothers ex wife set him up with her new boyfriend. They told him she needed to talk to him about his brothers kids and while he was talking to her boyfriend, she stabbed him in the back with a butcher knife, just missing. by a centimeter, his heart. This happened if front of her young children and yet the police, the local sheriff’s department, city police and state police, never bothered to arrest this woman. A couple of them were friends of mine and when I questioned one of them as to why they didn’t even bother to arrest her or even charge her with a crime, he just laughed and said “he probably beat her up sometime and she thought he deserved it.” This is a mostly white rural community, but the attitude of the local cops is that they have the right to decide who lives and who dies, as well as who pays a penalty for a crime. Unfortunately, in this country more and more, your value is determined by those in power, and it depends on how much money you have more than anything else. This young man is in prison now and I daresay he needs to be there, but how would someone with money and influence paid?

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment and sharing that story. I read it just before I went to bed last night but wanted to consider what you had said before answering.

      In the late ’60’s and ’70’s in Chicago, the black community pointed to the fact that they were “underserved” by the Chicago police. That statement was probably true. In part, the police apparently took longer to answer a call in the projects as a matter of personal safety. They figured that if they were slow in arriving at the scene of the crime, that would allow the criminals who were armed, time to get away and they themselves would not become potential targets. And then I heard one cop say, “Let them shoot each other. It makes my job easier.”

      Deplorable as that statement is, I believe it speaks less to racism than it does to that officer’s realization that there were people in his city who had never understood or entered into the “Social Contract” that most of us accept and expect others to have accepted; that in order for society to function, each of us has to respect the life and personal property of others; and that a violation of that basic respect correctly should be punished with incarceration.

      If you look at the steadfast resistance on the part of so many in this country to gun control, rather than seeing a bunch of “Wild west types” who are characterized as being “trigger happy” by those who want all weapons taken away from the citizenry, perhaps their resistance is as they say – intended for their self-defense. Maybe they too have read the headlines and realize that for many Americans the Social Contract has never existed and if they must depend on the protection of law enforcement agents such as those you describe, it is better for them to take their safety in their own hands.

  4. Ooooh! Farmer Brown’s? I got lost one day and ended up there-more scared than I would care to admit. But it was wonderful food, served expertly well, they would have gotten rich, very rich, if they had a better location.

    But your main point, I don’t think we’re evolving anymore-we’re devolving, and we did it to ourselves. We can talk forever about who’s to blame but it doesn’t matter, the thing is to fix it. How? I don’t know really but, what we’re doing caused the problem so I’d say we try something, almost anything else.

    But it strikes me that a lot of the problem is to give these people some sense of self respect, it seems like whenever I read about this that’s what jumps out at me, a lack of self respect, how we put them in the way of earning that I don’t know, although I suspect it has to start in education.

    Some city councilman said the other day that what the NRA wants is to give every black in Chicago a gun. The NRA never said that, of course, but I wonder if it wouldn’t actually be an improvement, if the good people (and anybody who thinks knows there are many of them) were as well armed as the thugs, it couldn’t hardly but help. Honest courts would help a lot more and a lot less bloody, of course.

  5. Although I am not fond of studies conducted on animals, they exist and while I do not encourage more of them be done, it seems only reasonable to refer to the experiments that have been concluded. In this case, the subjects in question were rats.

    Many studies (and the repetitive nature of these is one of my greatest objections) have shown that rats, when there is ample food and room for them to live, raise and nurture their young in a wholesome manner and their offspring grow up to do the same for their offspring as well. But when overcrowding and diminished food resources occur, the adult rats begin cannibalizing each other as well as eating their own offspring. This latter situation is not very different from life in the ghetto.

    There will be tremendous objection to the suggestion I am going to make from those within some segments of our religious community. But just as I believe God gave man the injunction to “Be fruitful and multiply,” he also admonished us to be “Good stewards.” It’s hard to bring in a bountiful harvest if you crowd your crops too closely together.

    Our present welfare system contributes directly to the overcrowding I referenced by rewarding women to have more children – gaining an additional monthly stipend for each one she produces. What if, instead of rewarding a person we said that welfare will pay support only for a mother and two children. After that, you’re on your own. (Obviously, this would apply to new claims). And if you want to be sure that you don’t accidentally have more kids, we will offer a free tubal ligation and increase your monthly benefit by 25%.

    There are those who will say this is unfair because it puts the onus entirely on the woman and they are right. So to them I would suggest that if the mother can identify the father of her children and DNA proves him indeed to have responsibility, we should again increase her benefit by another 25% and seek to collect that from the father – either through some form of community service or in direct payments.

    Just some thoughts …

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