I used to be a big fan of Tracy Chapman for more than one reason. Everybody liked the songs. Some people liked the lyrics. I liked both, and sometimes the lyrics more than the songs. While apparently there's no end to the amount of political correctness that can come from folk songs, there's only so much wisdom. Tracy did manage to outlast both Spearhead and Meshell N'Dgeocello on both counts. Sometimes I get nostalgic, thus the title of this essay, the core of which is the following rude observation.
Nobody got hurt in Oregon. Lots of people got hurt in Baltimore.
Now don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm researching and it seems that the web will not help me get to the facts, but there's opinionating and narrative all over the joint. For example. The Christian Science Monitor says of Baltimore:
“What’s so disturbing is that the news gives people the impression the entire city was in chaos, which wasn’t the case,” says Elizabeth Nix, an assistant professor of legal, ethical, and historical studies at the University of Baltimore and co-editor of a book on the ’68 riots. “But with social media, people see these images over and over, and they get conflated with fictional depictions of the city.”
Baltimore has public health problems. Its infant mortality rate is high, for instance. But Hopkins is a world-class hospital located in a high-poverty area that treats all comers. It is the centerpiece of a regional medical economy that provides thousands of jobs for Baltimoreans, from doctors and nurses to receptionists and maintenance crews.
Maybe arson and looting will cripple these places. That’s possible. It’s possible unrest will spread and consume whole neighborhoods. On Tuesday, though, volunteers were out cleaning up and relative calm prevailed.
The British bombarded Fort McHenry and tried to burn the city in 1814. It didn’t work then. And in 2015 when the violence cools and the camera crews depart, Baltimore will still be there.
But here are the facts:
Here are some preliminary assessments of the damage:
- 200-plus businesses destroyed, most minority-owned, many without insurance
- 113 police officers injured*
- 144 vehicle fires
- 15 structure fires, including $16 million senior housing/community centerthat was 40 percent complete
- 2,600 volunteers signed up for Saturday cleanup on Pennsylvania Avenue
- 3,000 National Guardsmen deployed
- 150-plus National Guard vehicles utilized
- 486 people arrested in protests and gathering-related activities**
- 578 Maryland police deployed
- 283 Pennsylvania police deployed
- 149 New Jersey police deployed
- 31,500 to 52,500 pounds of food delivered by Maryland Food Bank to pantries in Mondawmin, Druid Hill, Pimlico, Forest Park, Union Square, Howard Park and Irvington
- 5 nights of citywide curfew, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
You will notice that not much has been said about the occupation in Oregon over the past week. It's not a story because there has been no bleeding. So this is for the history books, another sad example of how racial theorizing gets immediately thrown into the media mix, and indicates how it will be retroactively resurrected. All of the 'unarmed black' protesters of rage destroy property and cause casualties. All of the 'armed white' protesters are negotiated with peacefully. There can only be so much stereotypical thinking until its falsity overtops the levees of society and the breakwaters of democracy and begins to drown our civilization in lies. We live in stormy times.