BY TONY BOUZA
The writer has a unique series of responsibilities. The first is to truth. Relevance and humility follow. Gratitude and respect for the reader, and I’m sure there are more.
Facile, no? No. If our President has reminded us of nothing else, he has reminded us of the worth of such abstractions as truth, integrity, brotherhood, patriotism and other qualities he scorns.
Our society is racist—but not as bad as it was—slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, incarceration and so on. We have made progress and, I hope, more comes in the wake of George Floyd. How ironic is that?
My responsibility is to try and help by sharing the perspectives a great country enabled me to acquire. They easily could be grotesquely off. Fallibility is my strong suit.
It’s great to see so many Blacks on TV and waxing so eloquently to boot. I think we have the Ivy League to thank for that. They’re doing such a great job that they’ve had to defend themselves in court in a suit brought by Asians who complained they were being deprived of places.
The Central Park birder—Christian Cooper—who behaved brilliantly—is probably a beneficiary. The Ivy League’s secret sauce is knowing that, if you devise a system that collects the country’s very brightest, they will educate each other. The professors facilitate the process.
Looking at the string of tragedies involving blue cops and mostly Black males, we can sort what I think are recurring themes.
The victims frequently played minor, but not insignificant, roles in their plight. Poor choices (bad or dangerous relationships); life styles (petty crimes, drugs, etc.); mental issues unaddressed (bizarre behaviors, weapons use); escape into addictions, and such.
It is nothing short of craven to blame victims, but the sad truth is that these egregious incidents are not taking place—mostly—while the victim is engaged in responsible pursuits.
Mayors appoint chiefs, who are the only ones who have any real hope of controlling the thumpers, who are protected and enabled by police unions. But who chooses mayors?
The incidents attract rapacious hustler-lawyers and photo-op-ready “leaders.” Families squabble and fracture over the windfalls. I often pine for the return of M. L. King, in whatever form.
Police departments have no strategy to cope with rioters. A riot is a disorderly mob wreaking havoc, but, within that mob, there is a variety of disparate elements.
Mostly the protesters are genuine reformers and seekers of justice; swimming among them are the predators and arsonists. The latter are profoundly alienated guys (yes) who hate a society that has bruised them badly.
Abandoned groceries. Shuttered drug stores. Empty liquor stores. And now you have to trek extra blocks just to find life’s necessities.
Convenience no more.
What is to be done?
The ancient verities apply.
Do justice. Love mercy. Tell the truth. Reject racism. Deal honestly. Enroll in the Ivy League. It ain’t either nuclear science or brain surgery. The New Englanders got it right.
I disagree that the ultimate aspiration of every parent should be to send their child to an elite Ivy League college. More importantly, my wife, Carol Hogard, who taught for 41 years at Minneapolis Community College, and began with others the first Women’s Studies program in the state of Minnesota there, believes that genuine progressive leadership can only come from educating the general public. And that can be done best through a statewide community college system. It was the Finnish Communist moms on the Iron Range who insisted that a community college system be developed so that higher education would be convenient to everyone, everywhere. As Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.”