Coates. Him say:
I have all the repressed rage of a kid who was bullied — except now I have some size to match. At that moment, violent fantasies, wholly unmentionable, were dancing in my head. Contributing to those fantasies was a simple maxim inherited from childhood: “Thou shalt never be found a punk.”
My friends, being like me, and doubtlessly pumped up by the presence of other males, felt the same. There were four of us and two of them. But against all our instincts, we let it pass.
Afterward, we sat around stewing in our anger. Collectively we were a doctor, a filmmaker, an executive vice president at a health care company and a writer. All of us are in our late 30s. Our places in life no longer allowed for barroom brawls. We may well have had the numbers, but we also had our new and invented selves.
And then somebody responded:
How is this different than Italian American, Irish American, or Polish American kids who grow up in the rough and rugged inner city? Another example of Black "elites" pathologizing Blackness with vile racial essentialism. Do Black kids who grew up in Sag Harbor exhibit this behavior? Another example of how the Black "elite" do damage to the masses. This piece basically screams, "STOP AND FRISK IS JUSTIFIED."
My take on this, to put it at the street black level, is that for most of my life, I have identified positively with law enforcement on an abstract level. When I say abstract, it wasn't the local cop I idolized but the Navy Seal, or in the way that I identified with my own father's service in the Marine Corps. My father taught me how to jog, for miles. I knew I could outlast the street thugs, most of whom also could not swim. Aside from that, I knew that the thugs feared cops, and that more than one knucklehead in the 'hood, couldn't hang in the Army. So I always knew there were higher codes of honor that weren't punk codes.
Steven Pinker's latest book on violence reinforces this understanding of the tribalistic nature of non-legal honor codes of small towns and ghettos.
The problem with Coates, as always, is that he is so fraught with the socioeconomic significance of his experience without much (if any) props to people who learned what he's discovering many years ago, and throughout history. As a blogger, I get it. As an editor in a national magazine, it's a bit pathetic.
At some point, which he seems to be approaching, his connected experience with civilization is going to take precedence over his ghetto memories. He's going to have to choose, or become a caricature. I suppose, as a Leftist, he can explain away the contradiction - he certainly will have enough company in New York.
My evolving take on all of this at a higher level, and that I am applying to myself, is that the overwhelming majority of upper middle class America is absent a true martial education. Most of us cannot put two and two together with the understanding that our exercise and diet regimens would make us better fighters. We only think of evolutionary biology when it comes to sex, but not to fighting and war. We understand our attraction to representations of violence, but so few of us actually spar or hunt that we don't realized how much we have intellectualized all of it.
So for me, the solution is simple - a martial education which I will autodidactify on my own behalf.
The point of course is to become an order of magnitude more organic than people we can only judge by the policy implications of their intellectual blather. If Coates or any of his bourgeois buddies had a proper martial education, they would have known exactly where their rights and their abilities would be during 'fighting weather'. Instead, we have chatting class chock full of pussified men who can only show their honor and manhood through the backchannels of literary criticism and policy recommendations.
This is also highly correlated to the death of Trayvon Martin and his co-assailant. And that goes back to Bernie Goetz and the rest and so many other similar situations in the American public. Our problem is that America is full of men who learn, over their entire lives, less than what police officers - who need no college education - learn in a few short months in their respective academies. We have no proper martial education. We don't know our capacities, the law, our emotions and consequently how to handle violent conflict face to face as civilized men.
Of course this extraordinary helplessness and ignorance serves the political purpose of the ever-condescending protectionist liberal reactionaries who find their blather at all times superior to most everyone else's experience with violence. And in that regard, Coates' narrative, absent the possibility of martial education, makes for a useful (but meaningless) segue into ethnic essentialism as has been observed.
The answer is that there is a proper way to deal with drunk belligerent men on the street, but most of us have not been educated.