Saturday, June 02, 2012

Fred Harris And His Friends Are Still Waiting

Fred says he's still waiting for the first black President, but in reality, he and his buddies are waiting for just about everything. Here's a key paragraph.
It was June 2007, and the speaker linked the incident to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “All the hurricane did was make bare what we ignore each and every day,” he said. “Which is that there are whole sets of communities that are impoverished, whole sets of communities that don’t have meaningful opportunity and don’t have hope and are forgotten.” The solution was clear: “If we have more black men in prison than are in our colleges and universities, then it’s time to take the bullet out! . . . If we keep sending our kids to crumbling school buildings, if we keep fighting this war in Iraq, a war that never should have been authorized and should have never been waged . . . it is time to take that bullet out!”
Let's see here, what is Fred waiting for? He's waiting for someone to bring him a job, he's waiting for someone to fix his school, he's waiting for someone to keep his friends from robbing and shooting each other, he's waiting for all kinds of things.

Implicit in his article is the butt-numbing inertia of his "community". You get this mental image of everyone waking up in the morning and going out to sit on their porches with a cup of coffee, waiting for hope and opportunity to show up. At the end of the day, they shuffle back inside, despairing that their lives will ever change.

Secondarily, there is no comprehension of how any of the things he uses today actually came to be. I've never read a biographical sketch of Henry Ford that said he waited in his "community" for an opportunity to come. The car Mr. Harris drives is a result of Mr. Ford going out and creating that opportunity. Everything Fred uses is the result of other people actively creating, not passively waiting.

As for fixing his school, why can't he and his friends do that? Graffiti, not exactly the work of outside forces, can be covered with paint using skills most preschoolers have. Replacing broken windows isn't exactly rocket science, either. Driving around the poorer neighborhoods here, I've not seen schools with roofs rotting and sagging, but I've seen a lot of property damage from vandalism. If their kids are going to wreck the place, then maybe they ought to fix it themselves.

Given the massive debt burdens at the state and national levels of government and the coming budget cuts, they're going to have to anyway.

See, Fred? It's actually pretty easy.

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