AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY

As one police officer lay dead this morning, others wounded, and as I’ve watched innocent people pummeled and brutalized by rioters in a world out of control, and as I’ve listen, with much disgust, to the national media coverage of these events ( Savannah Guthrie on NBC this morning speaking of “unrest, some of it dangerous” LOL), I’m reminded that, back in the mid-seventies, I met renowned — and liberal — journalist Joe Klein ( author of Primary Colors) at a New York journalism conference. He told me more than once in separate conversations that he believed The Boston Globe had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for lying about the realities of forced busing in Boston. Joe, like millions of citizen and journalist, cared about racial justice. But the realities on the ground in Boston were that busing was essentially pitting one poor neighborhood against another, was social engineering run amok, imposing the ideal on the real (putting it mildly), fueling racial division and animosity, disrupting and ultimately denigrating actual education in the city, and, of course, leading to racial violence in and out of the school buildings and massive white flight to the suburbs. The Globe’s basic narrative was that it was all about achieving social justice and white neighborhood were to blame for resisting this bit of spinach on their plate. The newspaper acted as advocate rather than information source. Were there some bigots in Southie and in Boston? Sure. I knew and know some. They’re everywhere — outnumbered, very evidently, by people of good will. Early in this century, the city of Boston finally abandoned all its legal efforts to continue to fight parents’ efforts to get rid of the strained efforts to artificially achieve racial balance in the schools. The city and schools once very racially imbalanced were still imbalanced — from a majority white to majority minority. And everybody was the poorer for the effort. The mayor’s and other leader’s rationalization? “It’s a different city now.” No it wasn’t and isn’t. It’s every bit as racially imbalanced as it was in 1974 — and the negative legacy of forced busing is on display in schools and in neighborhoods. You’ll never get the Globe or City Hall to admit that. So, in the wake of an undeniably horrible and deadly act against a black man by a midwestern police officer, all the urban forces of social disintegration are on display — I’ve seen video of an innocent man being beaten by two black youths with two-by-fours as he tried unsuccessfully to protect his business. Stuck in my mind is the image of a youth twice his size pulling him up off the ground already nearly beaten to death and smashing him against the front of his store. I watched, as have all of you, scores of primarily black youths smashing windows and rushing from stores with armloads of looted merchandise, laughing gleefully. “Peaceful demonstrators?” Of course, there are some — massively outnumbered by criminal hooligans. I don’t need to catalogue all that you’ve seen. The national media would have us believe that these youths, with some exceptions,
are acting out of outrage over their mistreatment at the hands of a racists society. They are testing our credulity to the breaking point. We have seen police, in their desperate and pathetic effort to placate demonstrators engage in the symbolic act of “taking a knee.” This, after which the destruction of their cities continues unabated. I guess maybe we can call that an act of surrender. And we must not say that any of this is being instigated or fueled by outside agitator looking to sustain massive social unrest in the service of an essentially anarchic agenda. We are witnessing the political class, even the President to some extent, rendered impotent and craven by this social revolution that threatens all of us and which has absolutely nothing to do with social justice. I recall President Lyndon Johnson’s perplexity after he skillfully managed passage of a landmark Civil Rights Act, only to see Detroit and other cities set ablaze ( and Detroit has struggled to recover from those nights of horror.) And media coverage? I’ll call it what liberal journalist and author Neil Sheehan chose to call — whether one agrees or not — most representations of the reality on the ground in the tragic Vietnam War — a “bright shining lie.” He was speaking of the Administration at the time. It is the mainstream media that willfully filters, mutes and distorts reality now. By the way, I worked at the Globe as an editorial assistant — a low level person, but nonetheless able to sense the palpable air of advocacy and bias against busing’s sometimes all too easily dismissed opponents. We are witnessing a rolling tragedy, aided and abetted by the media. We will have trouble recovering from it as we struggle to recover from a pandemic. And we are being handed a mess of infuriating lies and being told not to acknowledge the true nature of what we are seeing — and have seen before — with our own eyes. This is as tragic as things get.

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