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Far too many people on the left, while they are not liable to think of themselves as Marxists in so many words, are influenced by Marxist ideas. Black on black violence is not a problem to them because they see it as the vanguard of the revolution. Other people’s children are just a little sacrifice they’ll just have to live with on the way to their leftist Utopia.

Recently, I happened to read Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s” from 1970. I’d read other writings of his from the sixties and early seventies and assumed I’d read that one as well. I hadn’t. If I had, there is no way I could have forgotten it. It’s absolutely brilliant. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly. Most of it is fairly amusing observations about high society and the behaviors of people in it. Toward the end, however, Wolfe recounts the discussion that took place about the Black Panthers’ political program. One person at the soiree, Richard Feigen, asks if there is any chance the Black Panthers might consider backing a candidate for governor. “In other words,” he asks, “are the Black Panthers interested in getting any political leverage within the System?”

The representative of the Panthers, Don Cox, explains that they have “no use” for “the traditional political arena, because if you try to oppose the system from within the traditional political arena, you’re wasting your time…. We have no power within the system, and we will never have any power within the system. The only power we have is the power to destroy, the power to disrupt.”

In a fabulous descriptive passage, Wolfe writes:

Hardly anybody has noticed it up to now, but Leonard Bernstein has moved from the back of the room to an easy chair up front. He’s only a couple of feet from Cox. But Cox is standing up, by the piano, and Lenny is sunk down to his hip sockets in the easy chair . . . They really don’t know what they’re in for. Lenny is on the move. As more than one person in this room knows, Lenny treasures “the art of conversation.” He treasures it, monopolizes it, conglomerates it, like a Jay Gould, an Onassis, a Cornfeld of Conversation. Anyone who has spent a three-day weekend with Lenny in the country, by the shore, or captive on some lonesome cay in the Windward Islands, knows that feeling—the alternating spells of adrenal stimulation and insulin coma as the Great Interrupter, the Village Explainer, the champion of Mental Jotto, the Free Analyst, Mr. Let’s Find Out, leads the troops on a 72-hour forced march through the lateral geniculate and the pyramids of Betz, no breathers allowed, until every human brain is reduced finally to a clump of dried seaweed inside a burnt-out husk and collapses, implodes, in one last crunch of terminal boredom.

After a discussion of the tensions between the Black Panthers, the churches, the “established black community” and a mention of the fact that the civil rights leader Bayard Rustin did not attend due to threats, Leonard Bernstein and Otto Preminger try to pin Cox down on what the Black Panthers are seeking.

Lenny breaks in: “When you say ‘capitalist’ in that pejorative tone, it reminds me of Stokely. When you read Stokely’s statement in The New York Review of Books, there’s only one place where he says what he really means, and that’s way down in paragraph 28 or something, and you realize he is talking about setting up a socialist government—”

Cox beings to elaborate, but Bernstein interrupts.

Lenny says: “How? I dig it! But how?”

Cox dodges the question.

“You can’t blueprint the future,” says Cox.

“You mean you’re just going to wing it?” says Lenny.

“Like . . . this is what we want, man,” says Cox, “we want the same thing as you, we want peace. We want to come home at night and be with the family . . . and turn on the TV . . . and smoke a little weed . . . you know? . . . and get a little high . . . you dig? . . . and we’d like to get into that bag, like anybody else. But we can’t do that . . . see . . . because if they send in the pigs to rip us off and brutalize our families, then we have to fight.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more!” says Lenny. “But what do you do—”

Cox says: “We think that this country is going more and more toward fascism to oppress those people who have the will to fight back—”

“I agree with you one hundred percent!” says Lenny. “But you’re putting it in defensive terms, and don’t you really mean it in offensive terms—”

After more discussion during which Bernstein talks about the Black Panthers’ feelings towards white society in psychoanalytic terms, Barbara Walters finally manages to speak, and asks the question no one seems to be willing to ask the current crop of radicals.

Last year we interviewed Mrs. Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, and it was not an edited report or anything of that sort. She had a chance to say whatever she wanted, and this is a very knowledgeable, very brilliant, very articulate woman . . . And I asked her, I said, ‘I have a child, and you have a child,’ and I said, ‘Do you see any possibility that our children will be able to grow up and live side by side in peace and harmony?’ and she said, ‘not with the conditions that prevail in this society today, not without the overthrow of the system.’ So I asked her, ‘How do you feel, as a mother, about the prospect of your child being in that kind of confrontation, a nation in flames?’ and she said, ‘Let it burn!’ And I said, ‘What about your own child?’ and she said, ‘May he light the first match!’ And that’s what I want to ask you about. I’m still here as a concerned person, not as a reporter, but what I’m talking about, and what Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Preminger are talking about, when they ask you about the way you refer to capitalism, is whether you see any chance at all for a peaceful solution to these problems, some way out without violence.

this country is going more and more toward fascism… I’ve heard this refrain with great regularity. If I haunt left leaning websites, I’ll read it every single day. More and more towards fascism – for forty-five years. The slowest slippery slope known to man.

From the website The Daily Kos alone in just the month of August:

Trump’s a fascist… And his demagoguery is lifted right out of the 20th century fascist playbook

Firearm Fascism in America

Could elements of a far-right fascist movement be present in the “preventative war”-backing, conspicuously self-radicalizing American right?

The neo-fascists are not practiced in throwing poo at a real fascist.

The left is seduced by radical rhetoric, but few follow the radical reasoning to its conclusion. The bask in the glow of revolutionary postures, secure in the knowledge that they live far from any real violence.

But people who live in more vulnerable circumstances do not have that luxury. They do not want their children to be the cannon fodder of the revolutionary vanguard. While homicide rates in most of the country remains low, it has increased dramatically in a small number of cities, St. Louis and Baltimore being two of them. These are the sacrificial victims on the alter of the revolutionary dreams of the educated. The would be leaders are utterly insensible to the pain of the people they pretend to lead.

Although leftist websites are unlikely to disseminate Hubbard’s video, which has racked up over five million shares on Facebook, the far right websites which have shared her video don’t fully represent her interests either. Right now, there is no political party or movement that represents people like her, and that’s missing from our political life, much to our detriment.

The Alameda is a wide, tree-lined street. The 1890s were the era of the City Beautiful Movement and in 1893 the landscape architect firm, Olmsted Brothers, was engaged to survey the city of Baltimore and make recommendations. The Alameda was one of several boulevards built during this time period to connect parks. It runs through the neighborhood of Coldstream-Homestead-Montabello. CHM is by no means a wealthy neighborhood, but it is not the sort of neighborhood that is associated with urban dysfunction. Predominately African-American and working class, it’s the sort of neighborhood that is often forgotten in discussions of our cities that reduce everyone to caricatures.

A broad boulevard in Baltimore

Yesterday, the Alameda sadly was home to the 200th homicide of the year in the city of Baltimore. The police have not released the identity of the victim. The Baltimore Sun called it part of a “wave of killings the likes of which hasn’t been seen in four decades.” When the loss of population Baltimore has experienced over the past 40 years is taken into account, it may be a wave of killings the likes of which have never been seen. The month of August has averaged one killing a day. This rate has not let up. Since the death on the Alameda, the was another shooting victim on the other side of town, on McCullough Street.

This does not take into account the shooting victims who are injured but not killed. In the same article in the Baltimore Sun:

Three other people were injured in two shootings early Monday morning. At about 12:35 a.m., officers found a 29-year-old man shot multiple times and a 19-year-old woman shot in the abdomen on the 1300 block of N. Carey St. in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, police said.

At 3:40 a.m., officers responded to the 500 block of N. Bouldin St. in the Ellwood Park/Monument neighborhood, where a 24-year-old man was found shot in his abdomen.

 

Generally, I find that my memory is pretty good, surprisingly so. I’ve tried to cross check facts with my sister and, to a lesser extent, with my mother, and this cross checking has left me with the feeling that my memory’s pretty reliable. That’s a good thing since I’ve never been able to keep a diary for more than about a week. I guess this blog is the closest thing to a diary that I’ve ever had. Sometimes, I remember entire conversations or sequences of events, but mostly it’s spottier, more like a series of snapshots and the occasional sentence. If I have enough of these snippets, I can usually string them together into a coherent, readable narrative. Unfortunately, there are some events I need to cover where my memory is not good. This is one of them. I’m going to try to make it as easy to follow as possible. I also behaved very badly, and I’m going to try to not whitewash my own behavior. That’s difficult. We all want to hide our faults a little.

In the days following being slapped by Lanky Joe, the other girls behaved in a way that I can only describe as cool. No one said anything, at least not openly. The other girls, of course, continued to date their boyfriends, and Chuck E and Hazy Davy remained friends with Lanky Joe. The result was that they would all continue to get together and I became alienated from the group. There was no consequence for Lanky Joe for slapping me, but instead I was the one who was socially punished. No one thought this through, I’m sure. It was just a chain of human weakness and self-interest. The exception was Suzy Q. She was beginning to develop something of a feminist sensibility, although I’m not sure whether or not we would have called it that at the time. We were aware of feminism, but only in a childish way. The tennis player, Billie Jean King, was probably the most well-known feminist among children. Since I wasn’t athletic, I felt that it didn’t have much to do with me. Suzy Q, however, saw the idea of me being alone while the boy who hit me continued to be invited as an unjust situation.

One Saturday shortly afterward, Suzy Q and I went to the shopping mall. We went there, in part, because the others rarely did, although it was a common enough destination for kids our age. The shopping mall was laid out around a central atrium. All of the stores were on the first floor and on the second floor, ringing the atrium like a great big doughnut, was a food court. In the center, was a double height waterfall landscaped with potted plants. In my provincial little mind it was quite snazzy. Behind the waterfall were several staircases. They twisted and turned and opened out into areas with benches and then narrowed again. When the shopping mall first opened and I was still quite young, I loved these staircases. They were like a labyrinth. As I got older, they became partially hidden places to hold hands with boys and maybe even exchange some kisses. There were escalators and an elevator going to the second floor, but I always took one of the staircases and I preferred the path with the greatest number of turns.

Suzy Q and I headed up to the second floor to get something to eat. We passed a landing with a nook where I once sat with a redheaded boy whose name was the masculine version of my own and we held hands and giggled, too young to even yet understand why we wanted to do that.  Further up, there was a larger landing where another staircase joined the one we had taken. As we passed by, I heard somebody call my name. I turned to see Lanky Joe. Behind him were Chuck E and Hazy Davy. He said something. To this day, I’ve never been able to recall what he said. Suzy Q was a couple of feet behind me and didn’t hear it, neither did Hazy Davy. Chuck E would later tell me that he heard but wouldn’t repeat it. I am entirely clueless about what he said. Entirely. All I know is that I flew at him. All reason entirely left me. I have no idea what I would have done had I actually managed to reach him. There was no thought, only action. I charged like an enraged bull. Chuck E lunged forward and grabbed me. So did Hazy Davy. I caught a glimpse of Lanky Joe and he was smirking. The smirk sent a chill through me and I started to calm down. I saw that Cherry Bomb and Cat Eyes were there. Cherry Bomb was angry, “You scratched Chuck E!” Indeed, Chuck E had a faint red line across his cheek, although I didn’t remember doing it.

My mind was foggy and I felt confused. Chuck E turned to Cherry Bomb and said, “Calm down. It wasn’t intentional.” Then he took me by the shoulder and led me around the corner. I started to apologize for scratching him.

“Don’t think about it,” he said. “I know it was an accident. Look at you. Either of us could have overpowered you without even trying. It was only because I was trying not to hurt you, so I was grabbing you in a funny way. You didn’t scratch me. Your hand brushed against my face. That’s all. I don’t know why Cherry Bomb’s so upset. I’m sure she’ll calm down and forget about it.

“Do yourself a favor and keep far away from Lanky Joe. I wouldn’t care if you hit him. You’re too small to hurt him and he probably deserves it. He’s looking for an excuse to hurt you and you don’t know what he’s capable of.”

My mind was still spinning, trying to believe what had just happened had actually happened. Had I really done what I just did? Why? Can your body just go without your mind’s consent? I asked Chuck E what Lanky Joe had said. He was taken aback that I had no memory of it. In fact, my memory is spotty of everything between hearing my name and seeing that smirk. Chuck E shook his head, “Then I’m not going to tell you. Forget about Lanky Joe. Forget about everything.”

Cherry Bomb wouldn’t forget, however. She would repeat later to me that I had scratched Chuck E. If the other girls had distanced themselves from me before due to circumstance, now it was intentional. A few days later, Chuck E would seek me out after school. He emphasized yet again that he felt it was an accident. He told me that he’d be perfectly happy to have me hang out with them again and would ask Lanky Joe to not come by. He said that he tried to make it okay again with Cherry Bomb, but she wouldn’t have any of it. He seemed to feel really awkward and bad about it.

Cherry Bomb, Cat Eyes and Sour Puss didn’t stop at simply avoiding me themselves. They started putting pressure on Suzy Q to not be friends with me. Suzy Q, however, stuck by me.