The spirit-crushing reality is that the events in Baltimore can happen in America anywhere, at anytime. It may not be a case of eternal recurrence, but it is undoubtedly an extremely persistent one.
Recognizing that reporting on historic and structural matters (racism, poverty, alienation, the ongoing existence of at least two de facto “separate and unequal” criminal justice systems) is less visually engaging than watching folks running out of a CVS…it is unfortunate – yet also unsurprising and depressing – that some traditional media reporting resembles reality television.
Meanwhile, there are stories emerging…primarily via social media…that are offering a more complete picture of events as well as the facts and motivations behind the positive and negative actions taken today. Baltimore residents are talking about local leaders, private citizens as well as public figures, who are urging restraint, respect and reflection…these are the words and deeds of responsible men and women. Quiet heroism in the midst of adversity. These are true patriots.
This author was too young to recall the so-called Detroit Riot of 1967. Yet the circumstances that led to that event, and the destruction left behind in the aftermath, endured long after the police raided that blind pig on 12th Street. Twenty-five years later, the Los Angeles unrest witnessed over 50 deaths and 2,000 injuries. Different places and times, similar causes.
It is unknown, as of this writing, if the civil disturbances in Baltimore will approach the scale and horror of Detroit ’67 or LA ’92. Personally, I doubt if events will spiral to those depths.
We can hope for not just the restoration of order, but the enactment of a just peace.
What is known is that many of the underlying factors present at those places in those times linger within our society. They may manifest themselves differently, but the blights remain.
Hopefully, wisdom and honesty will prevail…and we can find solutions to address these societal challenges that expose our hypocrisies and threaten our social compact. We, as a people, can be better.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.