About . . . . . . Classes . . . . . . Books . . . . . . Vita . . . . . . . Links. . . . . . Blog

by Peter Moskos

April 29, 2015

As Reagan said...

I'm going to attribute this to Ronald Reagan so cops will agree with it. Reagan invented compassionate conservatives, right? (Even if he didn't coin the phrase.) Unlike Obama, Reagan was willing to speak the truth. Liberals just blame everybody else. But Reagan would blame bad parents for messing up their kids. Reagan would call out absent fathers. Reagan knew too many people were dealing drugs. It takes somebody who supports police to say you shouldn't blame police officers when we send them in to do society's dirty work of containing these people. And only a great leader would say we need to pay attention to these problems not just when fools burn a drug store or police kill somebody. That's how I remember him. It went something like this:
If you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents -- often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves -- can't do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college. In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks -- in those environments, if we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we're not going to solve this problem. And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.
...
But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant -- and that we don't just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don't just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped. We're paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they're important. And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.
It takes that Morning-in-America-Again vision. If only liberals like Obama could understand stuff like this, things cops have always known.

16 comments:

Jay Livingston said...

Reagan's DoJ also backed the police in court -- another thing that liberals like Obama should understand, as this points out.

Kim Hewitt said...

I disagree with your characterization of liberals as people who don't hold others accountable for their actions. That is liberalism at it's worst. We're not all like that. Some of us understand that people need to be held responsible for their actions AND we want social institutions that create equality and healthy environments (medical care, housing, education etc) in which people can thrive.

Anonymous said...

Hand washing....

Anonymous said...

I can't bring myself to believe that a self-righteous dolt like Reagan ever in his life said anything that smart. I'm calling BS.

Peter Moskos said...

I know, Kim. I with you on that one. But I take these events in Baltimore a bit personally. And you wouldn't believe some of the push back I've received simply for condemning the rioters. (I won't be politically correct and refer to events as a "rebellion" or "uprising.")

It seems you're not allowed to say it's wrong to cut firehouses unless you simultaneously condemn police and explain the history of deindustrialization, capital disinvestment, generations of state indifference, and institutional racism.

Head-up-their-ass liberalism is also seen in the idiotic debate about whether the (black) mayor was racist to use the "thug" to describe rioters. This is while the city is burning! Unbelievable what some people can consider important.

Doug McGinnis said...

As a genuine bleeding heart liberal, let me just say that it's not so much that you're not allowed to say it's wrong to cut firehoses without caveats as much as it feels a bit incomplete. Most people in most places don't go around cutting firehoses or throwing rocks at police. It's worth wondering why people that do do that do that.

Also, as a Negro, I would say that the word thug has become problematic and I definitely wouldn't use it to describe my constituents if some municipality were to have made the mistake of electing me their leader. City burning or not, this is the word that racists use in place of the word nigger. Take a look at Donald Trump's twitter feed if you disagree. Though, if we're questioning the mayor's use of language, I'm more concerned about that spaces to destroy comment. And thugs or no thugs, I liked what the president had to say.

IrishPirate too damn lazy to sign in from Chicago said...

I don't see the word "thug" as having a racial connotation, but I know word meanings can change over time.

I guess we need to find some new language. Frat boys thugs could be "frugs" after rioting after a sports victory. Lesbians fighting in the Jewel, major grocery chain, parking lot post gay pride parade could be "lugs".

Tom Clancy, writer millionaire, had a line about blacks something like "they're like white people only generally a bit darker of skin". Clancy's 2nd wife was black.

I'm a bit sick of the arguments I see out there pointing out that white people have rioted in the past, and will do so again in the future, as if that condones the violence in Baltimore. White thugs or frugs tearing up stores post some sports victory should be arrested just like black idiots looting or tearing up stores should be arrested.

The 1919 Chicago race riots which were started and instigated by pasty white people doesn't absolve the current rioters of their crimes.

This isn't an insurrection or an uprising it's a fucking party. Cutting firehose, Burning down rowhouses, etc is not an act of revolution. It's idiots looking for an excuse to act idiotic.

I have some understanding of the effects of deindusrialization and the fact that blacks have been on the wrong end of the American experience since about 1619, but that doesn't excuse cutting fucking firehoses.

Some people just want to see the world burn and assholes come in all shades,races and genders.

AAAAAAAAAAAAGH

I feel better now.

Doug McGinnis said...

Yeah, I think a few years ago I might have agreed that there's not much of a racial connotation. But after hearing the way it was used to describe people like Richard Sherman, Treyvon Martin and even President Obama, I think some folks just gave the game away. For that reason if I found myself in a position of authority, I'd avoid it.

And nah, I don't think that people bring up white people rioting to condone it so much as they use it to demonstrate that we speak differently about different groups of people engaged in the same activity. And specifically, it's used to argue against this idea that black people are somehow uniquely immoral. Personally, I've been black all my life but the closest thing to a riot I've experienced is that time in 06 when UCLA beat USC at the Rose Bowl and students thought it was a good idea to start lighting things on fire in Westwood. People condemned it but no one was blaming it on some deep seated pathology within the University of California system.

Peter Moskos said...

But people do blame a deep seated pathology of frat boy culture. And I think for good reason. I do believe there is a culture in the ghetto (of many cultures, mind you) that is not healthy.

I don't know what else to call it, many individuals with a shared belief system. That's culture, right?

Peter Moskos said...

And yes, I do think the riots are a party to many involved. It's not a statement or a movement. It's fun.

Anonymous said...

I think you basically don't know what you're talking about.

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

I've only been in one riot--the looting accompanying the blackout of '77 in New York. Definitely a party. Unless, of course, you owned a business, like my father did in '68 in DC.

Doug McGinnis said...

Point taken. But I think you get at why the claims of some sort of black pathology are so fraught when you say that healthy or not, there isn't one monolithic black ghetto culture, let alone one monolithic black culture. And I'd definitely agree about it being a party for some people, whether we're talking about college kids in West LA setting things on fire or kids in West Baltimore stealing toilet paper out of a CVS.

Peter Moskos said...

Doug, see my next post.

Kim Hewitt said...

I really like this blog for its multifaceted view of these issues! I lived in Baltimore for about 6 years so it is one of my hometowns. I know the dysfunctional "ghetto culture" that exists there and in many places. It's short-sighted to overlook that as one factor. Ditto with age. Kids do stupid things - especially if they haven't had good parenting and are frustrated and bored (altho I think every single one of us did some kind of stupid shit as a kid!). To overlook just how stupid and destructive some of these actions have been would be absurd. But then, I kind of doubt rioters (NOT protesters) care about or understand the consequences of their actions.

Anonymous said...

the only thing i remember about reagan was that he imposed mandatory sentences and expanded the "war on drugs" while reduced the funding for treatment of addiction, transforming it into a legal issue not a medical one. I am sure RR would never said that because he never believed that.