Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Why Chris Hayes won't live next to black people

Dear Hannah,

MSNBC honky Chris Hayes says he's afraid of black people, and by saying it joins the ranks of Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote a whole damn book about it; Jesse Jackson, who worried out loud one of them was going to mug or murder him; Al Sharpton, who left blackville the second he had the chance; James Baldwin*, who told us to love Americans and then exiled himself to France; Barack Obama, who lives in alabaster Kalorama and sends his kids to white schools; and Maxine Waters, who got so rich riling up her constituents that she was able to move away from them.

Black celebrities aside, one thing you never see a white liberal do is move into a black neighborhood.  Chris Hayes won't because he's already lived near one and he says he hated it.  White liberals have a list of reasons, of course, and they're the same reasons the "white supremacists" use to stay in white neighborhoods.  Not getting punched in the face again, in Chris's instance.  Rate of crime.  A superior level of order.  Cleanliness.  Proximity to the businesses they actually work at.  That kind of thing.  But it isn't white supremacy when liberals do it, because, of course, they aren't white supremacists.  They're telling you they're scared but they're also beating their chests.   They love black people.  They just prefer to live anywhere but black neighborhoods.

This fact is the basis of Chris Hayes' book, A Colony in a Nation -- probably one of the finest books to come out of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and if not the finest, then one of the funnest (My personal favorite?  We Were Eight Years in Power).  It's easy to read and it's highly original.  It covers multiple aspects of black neighborhoods and makes you want to get away from them.  Then it asks you embrace them.  How anyone could describe these war-zones and then ask you to bus your kids to them is beyond my understanding, but it seems to be the gist of Black Lives Matter.  Your kids might be shot but you won't be a racist.
 
Chris Hayes is pretty honest about all this, and he expresses himself in bouts of self-contradiction.  He says he went to police academy and his nerves made him loose on the trigger.  He says "broken windows policing" is evil right before admitting, in part, that it saved New York City.  He wants officers prosecuted willy-nilly while admitting it led, in big cities, to the Ferguson Effect.  He says cops are too skittish around blacks while admitting that black neighborhoods are extremely dangerous for cops.  He says whites ought to be less fearful of the ghetto while telling us everyone is afraid of it.  He says white people are more racist against blacks while telling us everyone is more racist against blacks.  He says drug crime is more devastating than KKK terrorism and then asks us to go easier on crackheads**.  He says white people overreact to violent crime and then says their overreactions are responsible for the safety of white neighborhoods.  He curses a lack of investment, and when white people invest riles gentrification.

We wish this was the end, but Chris Hayes has a true knack for shooting himself in the foot.  He says our cities ought to be more lawless -- like we are at our colleges.  He says we ought to be more considerate with our criminals -- like we were with Brock Turner the rapist (yes, he really said this).  He says our criminal justice system puts undue stress on families while proving that criminals put undue stress of families.  He says everyone wants a nice place for his children to grow up.  Then he calls it racist when police harass junkies, prostitutes, rowdy hooligans, the mentally disturbed, loiterers. panhandlers, drunks, and people yelling in the streets.  He says the crime drop since 1992 is one of the greatest things that ever happened in this country***.  Then he shames people for worrying it might actually reverse.  Ta-Nehisi Coates says this book is highly original and I agree with him.  The book has to be read to be believed.  He says he's for black people, but in terms of public relations you couldn't ask for any worse from a Nazi.

There are two real highlights to this book, and the first of them deals with the riots in Ferguson.  Mr Hayes argues -- convincingly, I add -- that the citizens of Ferguson were taxed worse than Robin Hood, and faced a list of grievances very similar to Tom Jefferson's.  His equating dealers to John Hancock is a bit of a stretch; but the riots he justifies, I think, on terms that most white Americans can agree about.  He says the city needed money so they went to the police.  He says that in 2014 alone, the police handed out 53,000 tickets in a population of 22,000.  Those tickets resulted in court dates.  An intentional lack of hearing times led from court dates to "failure to show up in court."  A failure to show up in court resulted in more fining; and so the spiral went until the people of Ferguson, laden with taxes too heavy to bear, were forced into debt to fund well-dressed oppressors.  Michael Brown's death wasn't the beginning, but the last straw of their grievances.

We all know that rioting can't be the modus operandi.  But we know that when the modus operandi is injustice, as Zach De La Rocha put it, the riots be the rhyme of the unheard.  We did it with our Boston Tea Party.  They did it for the same reasons in Ferguson.  We hated writs of assistance.  They currently hate searches without warrants.  This part of the book should be read twice and cherished.  Our black Americans, despite the awful descriptions in this book, are still our fellow Americans; and when we defend their rights we're defending our own.

The second highlight is the end, and involves the author in New York's Prospect Park: a place right between the black world and the white.  Hayes describes it as a kind of urban paradise: a quiet and beautiful place where you can play catch and walk dogs and bring children.  It's flowing with waterfalls and shaded by big trees.  Some people say it's prettier than Central Park.  The people inside it suggests that it's uglier.

One day, shortly after Baltimore's riots, Hayes said he saw four black boys.  They were rowdy and aggressive and looking for trouble.  He saw one of them ride a bike at a man walking his family.  The boy rode right at the stroller and then, as if to threaten a collision, turned to the side at the very last second.  When the man protested over the safety of his baby, the black boy, puffing out his chest, menaced him with a what'd you say?  The man worried for his family, tucked his tail between his legs, and left without arguing.

Things from this point escalated quickly.  The boys began menacing women.  Threatening people and swearing at them.  Then one of these hooligans, seeing a white man with a nice phone, ran up and snatched it out of his hands and his friends took off with him.  People standing by began to chase the boys, yelling he stole that man's phone! while the boys laughed, riding off into the distance.  Where was Chris Hayes in all of this?  Being a hero -- to the black boys.  He sat there with his hand on his phone; proud of himself, in the end, that he didn't call the police.

This isn't a satisfying end to any book, but at least we can thank God Mr. Hayes isn't a racist.  He loves black people.  He's willing to give up anyone's phone for them, and endanger anyone else's baby.  He just won't live in any of their neighborhoods.  He just won't protect us in any of ours.

Your father,
-J

*James Baldwin did tell us, in The Fire Next Time, that unconditional love was the only thing that could save us.  He also wrote in Notes of A Native Son,
I was forced to admit something I had always hidden from myself, which the American Negro has had to hide from himself as the price of his public progress; that I hated and feared white people. This did not mean that I loved black people; on the contrary, I despised them, possibly because they failed to produce Rembrandt.
And perhaps more importantly, this:
there is, I should think, no Negro living in America who has not felt, briefly or for long periods, with anguish sharp or dull, in varying degrees and to varying effect, simple, naked and unanswerable hatred; who has not wanted to smash any white face he may encounter in a day, to violate, out of motives of the cruelest vengeance, their women, to break the bodies of all white people and bring them low, as low as that dust into which he himself has been and is being trampled;
Like all human beings I'd like to be loved unconditionally, but having lived to the age of 35, the term seems, to me, to be a way of getting people to give things to people who don't deserve it.  But even less than the term I believe less in the people who preach it.

**Anyone who's ever spent time smoking crack (hello) knows that the difference between plain coke and crack coke is astronomical.  We used to call a coke high "super sobriety."  It was a short high but you felt in control: you feel smarter, more alert, and like everything is going your way.  Crack is nothing like this.  When the stuff finally hits you it's a feeling that makes you stand up immediately and shout for joy and want to run around in circles.  But as we all know, what comes up must come down.  The crash comes sooner and it's harder than coke -- and a coke crash is already like purgatory.  Thus crackheads have a harder time coming off of it, and because they hate coming off it they do crazy things to get it.  Which is why we rank crack offenses more harshly than coke.

***Steven D Levitt wrote convincingly, in the bestselling Freakonomics, that the main reason America's crime rate dropped after '93 was abortion.  What he didn't mention is that the people aborting their babies the fastest were black people.  You can do what you want with this information.  Chris Hayes either didn't have it or didn't want it, and because he didn't use it he blamed the crime on other things -- such as lead poisoning.

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