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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Monday, September 24, 2012

RIOTOUS

"it turned out that America’s cities didn’t need rescuing. They just needed mayors who were not actively making things worse."

Maybe I'm just cynical but whatever the outcome of the presidential election in November, I expect there to be riots.  However the vote turns out, I predict that there will be smoke over cities in America.  Either Romney wins and there will be riots over how racist white people threw a black man out of office( and probably cheated to do it), or Obama wins and there will be 'celebratory' riots like when a sports team wins.
The problem with these riots is that they never really accomplish anything except destroying people's homes.  Nobody leaves their neighborhood to riot except Black Block idiots, and that's more organized vandalism than a riot.  People don't say "I am not taking any more!!" then go down to the capitol or a rich part of town.  They walk outside and start breaking things in their neighborhood.
Consider the story of Jessica Elvers who was shot in the 1992 Los Angeles riots.  She was still a baby in her mother's womb then (get this - abortion supporting "its just a fetus" MSNBC's headline for this tales is "Unborn baby shot in Los Angeles riots: 'I'm still here'" -- its a baby when the discussion isn't about abortion) and her mother Elvira was shot in her pregnant stomach by a stray bullet.  Elvria is 20 now and doing fine, with a scar on her elbow.
But the riots have left a scar on the city, too.  South Central LA has changed a lot since 1992, with the area more Latino and less impoverished, but there's still a swath of the area that has virtually no businesses except for fast food joints where once there were merchants of all sorts.  That area is like a burn scar on a mountainside, where new plants are growing but the former  big trees are just skeletons on the ground.
And the good that has taken place is no thanks to the riots or the people who tried to help.  Tim Cavanaugh at Reason writes:
Few regions in California, possibly few regions in the whole country, have received more "help" from apparatchiks, community organizers, holy rollers, union goons, neighborhood activists, public-trough developers, political appointees, and city planners than has South L.A. Virtually none of this attention has done the area any good, because the tensions of 1992 were never about economics. They were about crime and police behavior, two areas in which the City of Angels really has gotten better.
Various community activists, race hucksters, leftist groups, even President Bush the Elder got involved to pump money and their ideas into the city.  They didn't help at all.  What made the difference was a change in attitude in the police, a shift away from giveaways and leftist "social justice" schemes, and a focus on letting business build its self.  The bailouts and special development funds have been phased out as useless, and the police has shifted away from terrorizing locals to solving local crimes.
The failure of community activism is on vivid display throughout South L.A., where neighborhoods thrive in almost exactly inverse proportion to the attention they get from activists. Thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown’s wise decision to abolish California’s redevelopment agencies, South L.A. has lost what was probably its biggest destroyer of value: the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, whose history of crushing productive businesses, creating urban prairie, and dragging out decades-long development processes only to have them end in failure I have been documenting for many years. When the CRA/LA went down, its death was cheered by locals. Even the unimpressive Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declined to rescue the corrupt agency.
But the riots are always waiting to happen again anyway.  Because what drives people to riot isn't based on reason or logic, but emotion and manipulation.  People are pushed to it by racial cries or religious complaints from some prominent leaders who get media attention, and act out their frustrations and fears in an orgy of destruction on their own homes and businesses.
Deliberately misleading pollsters, continual slanderous cries of racism, and the inevitable complaints of racial intimidation, disenfranchisement and cheating will push people over the edge, I fear, with an Obama loss.  And again, the cities will burn, not because of injustice but because it was politically expedient and made the right people the right sort of attention and money to push people to the brink.
And the riots do not, cannot, fix anything.  All they do is deeply harm a community, kill people, and destroy business.  What changes communities is hard work, a shift away from hedonism and selfish focus, and a desire to accomplish more than what is comfortable or makes me happy right now.
Which in a twisted, slight way is a reflection of the 2012 presidential election.  While Romney doesn't exactly represent the conservative ideals of small government, personal responsibility, and local focus, Obama represents the opposite: communal control, big government, reliance on government, and entitlement.  Which will America choose?

For a particularly vivid personal account of the riots, check out this story by Chuk Devore who was in the national guard at the time.

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