Will the USA ever learn?

The events that have triggered the mess in Baltimore are making news, as this situation should. Well, now for my look at it all.
An old email friend sent me a link to an article regarding Baltimore and asked my opinion of it. The article mentioned that this year is the 50th “anniversary” (the article didn’t use that word as I recall) of the Watts riots. I remember that time. Dad had moved us to southern California in the spring of 1959. His job had a higher paying position for him and his ability as a diesel mechanic there. He jumped at the offer and off we went. OK, we left a few months later as we had to sell the house and pack, etc..
I was a junior in high school when Watts erupted in 1965. Yes, for those who may be wondering, I hit 67 this past December, my birth month.
The fact that the Watts riots were 50 years ago got my old brain spinning. Looking back, it amazes me how very little, as in next to zero, the country learned from the riots in Watts in 1965. Seriously folks, IF, admittedly a very small word with huge meanings, IF the country had actually learned from the Watts riots and put those lesson in place, the recent mess in Baltimore would not have happened. Of course I could as easily say that the Rodney King beating would also never have happened. Good grief, 50 years? Amazing that after all this time, as a country, we have learned nearly zero from our own history.
I get this way every time I check various web sites and/or blogs that have a readership outside the US of A. People from other countries are amazed at how ignorant many ‘Merikkkans are of world history. Well, it is even worse, and I just flat got wore out from posting, a majority of ‘Merikkkans are near totally ignorant of US history, let alone world history.
Naturally, our (??) politicians are out and about spouting off on how we need to get tougher with those “thugs” etc., etc.. Yeah, sure thing there Sparky, just how well has that worked out for us these last 50 years? Oh joy, the US of A has the highest number and percentage of its own citizens in prison/jail. See, we ARE number one! Not exactly in a category I’d be proud of though.
I am not going to pick apart the reasons why nor get into the proposed “solutions” that are and will be offered. I do want to add this, you cannot, absolutely CANNOT keep dumping on a group of people for extended time periods and then act all surprised when they finally say ENOUGH and rise up against those who oppress them. Nope, no can do Jackson. That is total bullshit.
Just take a closer look at the unemployment stats. Think its bad for young folks today? Try being young and a member of any minority group, the rate of unemployment goes through the damn roof!
Oh, and the “war on drugs” with its idiotic mandatory sentencing is a major contributor to this mess we have in Baltimore today. Oh, we are told, the drug thing is all about economics. Yep, it is too. Supply and demand, pure economics. Trouble is, the gummint is going after the supply without even bothering to look at the demand. Well crap, just about any half way decent parent knows, or sure as hell ought to know, if you are trying to change behavior, you need to reward good behavior not just punch behaviors you want gone. Carrot and stick, and it cannot, ever, be 100% stick. Nope, that never works out right, ever. This does not mean we should let all the real criminals go free, just use some common sense about illegal drugs. We know prohibition does NOT work, oh, wait, that means knowing some US history, doesn’t it? Yeah, well, crap, I just shot down my own best argument didn’t I? Ever feel like you just can’t win? Well, try being a young person, better yet, try being a young person who is a member of some minority. No, we do not need to “coddle” them, that is not going to work either. How about something different? How about fair yet firm. Tell everybody the rules and enforce them with the use of real brain power, not fire power.
My personal view on all this, we could have prevented it. We could have prevented the Watts riots also. How so you ask? Simple, just follow the old “golden rule”. Yep, just try, every day, to treat ALL people you come in contact with the way you want to be treated. One more thing, don’t toss in any religion with this, it isn’t needed. Just try your best, every day, every hour, to be nice to each other. I honestly believe that IF (that little word again) we ALL of us, would just try and treat ALL we come in contact with the way we each want to be treated, we’d ALL be happier and this rioting would not happen. There would be no need for it. We could riot/demonstrate against things like war and the obscene profits that war makes for the very richest of the rich.
Come on people, give it a try, be nice to each other. Show the other person some respect. Trust me, it will make you feel better once you start doing so.

Until next time, please, be good to each other.

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7 thoughts on “Will the USA ever learn?

  1. I can’t get over the way Obama has dealt with this latest outrage.
    I don’t expect him to treat black people “special”, but fer chrissakes, how about defending their damn right not to have their neck broke by some wannabe Nazi-cop trying to show how tough he is.

    Obama could have stopped this long ago by ordering a DOJ investigation that would push for Murder 1 charges against the perpetrators. Then the killing would stop pronto.

    • Mike,
      It could have been stopped even further back in time. All it would take is for a president to actually commit to a realistic justice system. Something on the order of, “….all men are created equal…”.
      Yeah, that sort of thing. Not just say the words, but back them up with the full force of the US gummint. Oh, wait, we can’t have that crapola, why, just imagine, the richest of the rich might be “put out” some how by true equality. Sort of like basing your pay on the quality of your work and not on who you know. Oh nuts, there I go again, sounding like some commie…..LOL
      I have said this before and will again….and again…etc.. Marx was a chickenshit, not radical enough.

  2. Came across this Robert Kennedy quote yesterday, in response to Watts: “There is no point in telling Negroes to obey the law,” he said. “To many Negroes the law is the enemy. In Harlem, In Bedford-Stuyvesant it has almost always been used against them.”

    Yes, he cites New York neighborhoods (I believe he was a New York Senator at the time) but the comment was a response to former president Eisenhower’s remarks re: the Watts riots. And it’s a damn good point…a point middle and upper class whites probably don’t get at all, while working class and working poor whites probably get a taste of the same treatment, but nowhere near the full course.

    Obama, for all his faults, did say something worth considering,and based in reality: this will likely and very unfortunately be forgotten, just like Ferguson, just like Los Angeles in 1992, just like Miami in the 80s and early 90s, just like Detroit, Washington DC…Baltimore at least once previously…and all the other instances of riots brought on by police or official provocation…and a history of institutional violence towards the poor, but especially the minority poor. A history glossed over and covered up, if thought about at all.

    Mentioned to you the other day, I think, that Rick Perlstein’s latest book — about Reagan — apparently confronts this. Haven’t read it, but have read the reviews, and also recently came across an appropriate quote that might sum up at least one major point of the book. A quote from Rosalyn Carter, of all people. She apparently once said that Reagan “makes us comfortable with our prejudices.” The reviews of Perlstein’s Reagan book indicate he focuses on how, in the aftermath of Watergate, Vietnam, the Church hearings…and the race riots, come to think of it…the country had an opportunity for some real reflection. Instead, Reagan swept it all under the rug…Shining City on the Hill…of course, while supporting states rights in a speech in Philadelphia Mississippi (nice, eh– sort of like going to Dealey Plaza to extol the virtues of carbine rifles)…and some hippie punching. And the country, or at least enough of it, ate it all up.

    Damn…

    • Thank you for this comment. I missed the Kennedy quote. Not a big “fan” of that family as I doubted their supposed liberalism. Too much BS built up around both John and Robert in my view.
      I agree on the wiring class bias in this country. My one big, very huge actually, disappointment is that the working people of the US do not see how they must get together and get past all the false “divisions” such as skin color, religion, etc.. They will never see any improvements in their lives until they do so. Taking bits from Marx and the IWW (aka; the “Wobblies”) they need to hear again and this time take to heart; Workers of the world, UNITE. You have nothing to lose except your chains.
      Oh definitely, “saint” Ronnie was a “uniter” and the “great communicator”. Yes, I was being very sarcastic in that last statement. He did not unite us and his communications skills were not that great.
      I still remember talking with dad after my military days were done and I’d started working at a machine shop, we’d see the news and there would be some story of a national strike in some country in Europe. I asked him why that never happened here in the US. We decided it was mostly due to the bullshit tossed out by our “leaders” who made every effort to keep us divided. One more reason I am so very happy he raised me as he did. I still enjoy the company of good people who actually think about what matters, their skin color or religion do not matter, until they try to make me buy into their personal beliefs. I would not ever ask anybody to believe as I do. I am not a leader, so if any follow me, they do so at their own risk. Mostly because I don’t really know where I am going, except that some day it will be to my death.
      I’d have to say that the crap Ronnie fed the country just proves how damn stupid the majority of ‘Merikkkans can be, and still are to a large extent. What a terrible shame that is, this country could be so very much better for all. Seriously, I do not think it would cost any of us much at all to try. Oh, the very rich may have to “suffer” a small cut in their obscene profits, but good grief, they have more than they could spend in ten life times as it is today.

  3. Sorry I’m so late reading your post, Charlie. I’ve put your rss feed back in my bookmarks. Might not be first off the block, but at least I’ll be here in a little more timely fashion from now on.

    I lived in Baltimore for a couple of years in the ’90s. On E Pratt Street, a couple of blocks from Patterson Park. Johns Hopkins was over the hill, and the area was undergoing gentrification. They ran me out of town.

    There were black people in East Baltimore, but West Baltimore seemed to be The Ghetto. I never went there because I was afraid to, to tell you the truth. And I had no reason to. I’d have stood out like … a Baltimore cop. At least that’s what I’d imagined. I never did go, so I don’t know what it really is like in West Baltimore.

    I do know that Washington DC is much the same. There’s Georgetown and then there’s where the black people live. But it’s been that way … ‘forever’. See Hail Columbia!

    Image 1.3. “Hail Columbia!! View of the Capitol at Washington,” illustration from Theodore Weld, American Slavery As It Is (New York, 1839). Though published in 1839, this image attempts to depict an incident that was first reported in the late 1810s. A coffle of enslaved people marching through Washington, DC, in plain view of congressmen taking a cigar break on the Capitol steps, saluted those representatives of a free people with an ironic rendition of the patriotic American song “Hail Columbia.”

    That’s from a book called “The Half Has Never Been Told”, by Edward E Baptist. I saw it referred to at Black Agenda Report and then found it over the wire. I recommend it to any- and everyone. Baptist puts slavery right into the modern era … in Lousiana in the 1830s, State Banks bundled slave mortgages – mortgages for the purchase of people, not houses – for sale in tranches to investors in New England and Britain and France for people who wanted a piece of the slave action without moving to Louisiana. Just like the bundling of residential mortgages in the early 2000s … maybe now again. They went just as bust in the 1830s as they did in the 2000s … and the government bailed ’em out then, too.

    Another book that I found to be a great read recently was “The Black Jacobins”. I found that one over the wire, too, after reading a quote from it in a C.Hedges post, “The rich are only defeated when running for their lives.” It’s the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Haitian revolution, written by C.L.R. James, whom I’d never heard of either. Haiti has been punished ever since 1804 for throwing out the slave masters and asserting its independence. I can only recommend The Black Jacobins to any- and everyone as well. The irony of the flash and decay of the French Revolution – the Rights of Man – resulting in the brutal, attempted, suppression of the Haitian revolution is almost too much to take. And the tought of Haiti today, over two centuries since its revolution, is … what is it? I won’t say depressing, Outrageous!

    They call the formerly rural people impressed into spiPhone production in China slaves. They point out that the US prison population works for less than those Chinese slaves, and that blacks are well ‘over-represented’ in ‘our’ prison population, the largest in the world. And then we must wonder if … with the advent of the TPP and TIPP, on speed … we aren’t headed for an enslaved population again … when labor in the American for-profit prison population makes us ‘competitive’ again. If then we do stir our stumps and enact legislation re-outlawing slavery … the TNCs will sue us to recover damages. Just as the French did, sending a fleet of warships to demand damages from the Haitians for overthrowing their masters, in 1824.

    It’s not only the USA, in my opinion, although we are on point. It’s the whole of Western – now ‘globalized’ – civilization. Will we ever learn? Not voluntarily, in my opinion. Only after the collapse.

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