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The Great American Breakdown

Jim Burroway

August 30th, 2010

Exhibit A:

A Nebraska man is jail after police believe he tried to spray mace on protestors outside the Omaha funeral of a Leesburg High graduate. George Vogel was arrested Saturday morning a few blocks away from the First United Methodist Church, the location of Staff Sergeant Michael Bock’s funeral.

Officers on duty for the funeral say Vogel drove up in his Ford F-150 pick-up truck and as he was passing by Westboro Baptist Church protestors he extended his arm out the truck’s window and sprayed a large amount of mace into the air from an industrial-sized container.

More than a dozen people were hit by the mace, including one police officer.

Exhibit B:

After a suspected arson and reports of gunshots at an Islamic center in Tennessee over the weekend, nearby mosques have hired security guards, installed surveillance cameras and requested the presence of federal agents at prayer services.

Muslim leaders in central Tennessee say that frightened worshipers are observing Ramadan in private and that some Muslim parents are wary of sending their children to school after a large fire on Saturday that destroyed property at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. Federal authorities suspect that the fire was arson.

…The Murfreesboro center, which has existed for nearly 30 years, suddenly found itself on front pages of newspapers this month and on “The Daily Show.” It became a hot topic in the local Congressional race, with one Republican candidate accusing the center of fostering terrorism and trying to link it to the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

Exhibit C:

Salt Lake City Police are investigating an instance of vandalism at the Utah Pride Center. Friday morning, employees of the center and its onsite coffee shop, Cafe Marmalade, discovered an anti-gay slur painted on the marquee in front of the building.

“We realize that often times the purpose of these actions are to cause widespread fear among the members of our community,” Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, said in a statement. “That is why today we are speaking out. This will not be swept under the rug. We will not be scared into silence by acts of intolerance.”

Exhibit D:

When Rodolfo Olmedo was dragged down by a group of men shouting anti-Mexican epithets and bashed over the head with a wooden stick on the street outside his home, he instinctively covered his face to keep from getting disfigured. Blood filled his mouth.

“I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t because of the beating they were giving me,” said the 25-year-old baker. Nearly five months later, he is still taking pain medications for his head injuries.

Recorded by a store’s surveillance camera, the assault was the first of 11 suspected anti-Hispanic bias attacks in a Staten Island neighborhood, re-igniting years-old tensions between blacks and Hispanics in New York City’s most remote borough.

Residents of Port Richmond — where an influx of newcomers from Latin America over the past decade has transformed the community — alternately blame the attacks on the economy, unemployment and the debate over Arizona’s immigration law.

Comments

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Lindoro Almaviva
August 30th, 2010 | LINK

I just saw the re-release of Avatar on 3-D and i walk in home to this.

I find it infuriating that we can put stuff like that on a cinema screen but people refuse to see the same attitudes and behaviors out on the streets.

Lucrece
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Arizona bill my ass. Blacks hate Hispanics with or without the bill because they see a minority that threatens their spot and welfare funds.

Lindoro Almaviva
August 31st, 2010 | LINK


Blacks hate Hispanics with or without the bill because they see a minority that threatens their spot and welfare funds.

I see that not even the gay community is immune to blatant racism.

Rarian Rakista
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Civil wars have started over less.

Lucrece
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Yeah, it was a generalization. Do try to explain away black/Hispanic tensions in poorer neighborhoods, I’m waiting to see how the Arizona bill and Republican fearmongering has any sway over a black demographic that’s pretty much non-receptive to Republicans.

Of course it’s easier to discuss white trash xenophobia toward Hispanics than it is to discuss how Hispanics were getting beat up/intimidated out of their place in emergency housing centers during Katrina. Makes the whole “griping about whites will fix it” narrative less compelling.

Emily K
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Katrina was a dire emergency situation. One that left people so depressed that the suicide rate in NOLA doubled after the storm hit. Of course people will succumb to their survival instincts and abandon parts of their humanity.

That’s quite different from fighting over “welfare benefits” that aid from day to day. And last I heard, illegal aliens did not qualify for welfare benefits.

Lucrece
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Not all Hispanics are illegal aliens, to begin with.

And, yeah, saying that you don’t feel threatened over having to compete over resources or turf is easy when in the middle class.

Doesn’t quite work at the working class levels or you wouldn’t see all the narrative about Hispanics taking jobs and clogging emergency rooms that belong to real Americans.

There’s a reason why lower income neighborhoods where minorities are pushed into end up divided into respective ghettos.

Emily K
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Actually, I live at the poverty level in a poor black neighborhood. We have several hispanic businesses in the area, but have yet to see violence divided by race.

I don’t know much about what causes conflict between races but I suspect it is more complex than “competition for welfare benefits.” I’m white and didn’t have a problem obtaining food stamps. No more than any other person of any race. (And it wasn’t a walk in the park, either.)

My comment about illegal aliens was in reference to fomenting voter turnout through the AZ bill.

Lucrece
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

It’s not about reality; it’s about perception.

When people whine about someone stealing their jobs, it’s obvious that’s not happening– they never had a job to begin with. But when people different from you seem to be growing in number in an environment that you are used to seeing as populated predominantly by people of your own race/ethnicity, people react violently.

It’s going on right now with whites as they see an American population no longer incredibly white, but rather growing minorities– with Hispanics at a projected 40% of the population in a few decades– becoming more visible and the feeling that your way of life/people will be pushed aside by this new competition. Anyone who isn’t you is against you. It happened with the Irish and Italians, and it’s happening with Blacks and Hispanics now.

Except that the feeling of competition is not race specific as some would have you believe.

KZ
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

With all these insignificant problems in the US, it’s nice to know organizations like NOM are fighting the real threats to freedom and civilization, like same-sex marriage.

No. Sarcasm. Here.

TampaZeke
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

A number of years ago I told everyone who would listen that if Americans allowed the rabidly homophobic public rhetoric, that was becoming more and more pervasive, to continue to grow unchecked and unchallenged it would awaken, encourage and embolden bigots of every stripe to come back out of the closet and take to the streets.

Exactly that has happened.

John in the Bay Area
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Quite frankly, I think that the general lack of violence directed at Westboro Church for their very provocative demonstrations at the funerals of servicemembers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan shows just how tolerant this country is. I can’t imagine putting up with that garbage while burying a loved one who died so young.

Even this guy’s choice of weapon (mace from what sounds like an anti-bear large pepper spray container) shows that he never intended to do permanent damage to the Westboro members.

I would really like to see Westboro try this at the funeral for a soldier from South Central LA or some other gang infested area. They might get peppered, but it won’t be with pepper spray.

Michael Bussee
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

The Great American Breakdown: Xenophobia. Homophobia. Vigiantism. Racism. Religious intolerance. Hatred. Whatever happened to the the American ideal of expressing differences in a civil manner?

Lucrece
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

What ideal is that? The country obtained sovereignty through bloody wars for independence; slaves were liberated after one of the bloodiest and most taxing wars in American history; and suffrage saw women being force-fed and assaulted.

This country has a history of violence as a catalyst for achieving social change, not civil discourse.

Ahab
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Disturbing articles. These incidents are proof that fear-mongering has real-life consequences!

Regan DuCasse
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Emily K, I can explain something to you that made you VERY uncomfortable before. Lucrece is being crude, but I’ll try and temper the point if I may.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles where several neighborhoods have faded to brown. A city like Compton, for example. Was all white during the 20’s to the 50’s. The war created a boom in jobs that attracted blacks from the Deep South, including my own grandparents. However, whites, left the neighborhood and with them, the banks, businesses and so on that would support the local economy. No loans, or other economic infusion was allowed, so poverty festered and eventually drugs and other viruses of economic downturns, infected a weak economic immunity from them.
Blacks, being a minority, didn’t have enough in house ability to sustain themselves economically.

The Hispanic influence has doubled and tripled due to intense immigration. Mostly illegal. These neighborhoods are now fading to black, but with a change in economic balance because Hispanics have a cultural chain between their countries of origin, where American blacks do not.
And since illegal immigration is allowed without restriction, there is a need for accommodating another language and competition for housing, and other services that have broken the system and created a deficit in the BILLIONS.

An unfair advantage has been taken because illegal immigration has real displacement, has real costs and unaccounted for expense. When the elected Latinos have less and less loyalty to ALL their constituents, and cater to the Latinos more while the local economy is flipping upside down, it’s a DANGEROUS combination.

And we have already had major crimes concerning Latino on black RACIALLY motivated murders.
The Latino gangs have become very powerful. Fed by the cultural chain. There is no loyalty to actually become a citizen and assimilate and this country doesn’t compel it in any way.

It’s not racist to see some favoritism come at the expense of those who have been responsible, shown that they care about the legal process or at least cultural assimilation and no dependency on very expensive social services we can’t afford.
It’s not fair to treat responsible residents that way. It’s not right.
And no amount of political correctness that ignores tangible displacement and the expense of it will make it right.

Perhaps you see illegal immigrants being treated as convenient scapegoats to cultural insensitivity.
And as a gay person you feel empathy with people treated that way.

But make no mistake, local economies do suffer from an immense amount of immigration from a needy population, with no ability to account for them. And we MUST account for who is here, if we are to know if we can even handle their presence.
That isn’t racist to weigh and measure how practically a situation can be handled.
But seeing how in our faces certain politicians pander without a care to the damage done, creates volatile situations.
They allow it, and ignore the results.

Los Angeles is exploding again in casual violence from warring gangs who can track their activity from foreign countries.
The sixth homicide in my neighborhood in as many weeks. And I live in a good middle class Studio City neighborhood.

I bet nobody will get serious even if OUR mayor gets assassinated. Because nobody has given a sh!t when our children have been murdered by gangs.

You’re a smart woman, EK. And you’ve chilled me out ever since I let my opinions about illegal immigrants be known.
You don’t have my job, and you wouldn’t want it either. I exactly what’s happening and I know it’s dangerous and that doesn’t make me racist or anti legal immigrant.

But having ANARCHY within the system of immigration is insane. Especially post 9/11 because of the stealth nature of the terrorists we’re dealing with. The public health problems, the economic problems and the lack of unlimited resources to handle it all.

Jason D
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Regan, a few questions:

These two points seem to be at odds with each other.

“The Hispanic influence has doubled and tripled due to intense immigration. Mostly illegal.”

“But make no mistake, local economies do suffer from an immense amount of immigration from a needy population, with no ability to account for them. And we MUST account for who is here, if we are to know if we can even handle their presence.”

If we have not accounted for people how do we know if a population has doubled or tripled, let alone that it’s mostly illegal immigrants?

I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m saying it doesn’t follow.

The nature of illegal immigration is that the people are not know to be illegal, thus how can you know that an area is “mostly illegals”?

And if your law enforcement gives you this information, why aren’t you turning it over to homeland security, immigration, etc?

I’m not accusing you of anything, but generally on BTB it’s not allowed to make blanket statements like “mostly due to illegal immigration” without backing it up with a citation.

Candace
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Glen Beck and his ilk should be brought up on charges of sedition. This summer demonstrates why one should not yell “fire” in a crowded theater and if they do, they should be liable for the consequences.

Candace
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

KZ + 10

Regan DuCasse
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

Hi Jason, I’ll try to explain. One way is to just SEE it. It’s not an intangible situation, nor subtle. The presence of mostly Latinos in areas such as I mention is much stronger now than just ten years ago. There are schools, or hospitals or law enforcement and jails that report an increase in certain populations, and it’s in some of those areas status has been revealed.

We are a sanctuary city where one’s status isn’t questioned. The schools register over 74 percent Latino in some areas of just Los Angeles. The entire county weighs in from time to time. There are children of Armenian, Ethiopian and SE Asian descent in specific areas too.

There are portions of LA that are balkanized, again blacks and whites being less represented by chain immigration are disconnected from this aspect somewhat, but think: if illegal immigration is not a matter of enforcement, nor is there triage from support by social services or public ones, it’s fair for immigrant residents to become suspect because so many of their cultural brethren HAVE cheated the system of entry.
Your question of how would we know if someone is illegal is somewhat specious.
We don’t know how MANY, but we DO know that our sanc city policy has not only allowed it, but we are seriously overcrowded and have lost vital services and efficiency because of it.

Members of our state leadership do blatantly pander to this population and everyone knows it. For example, our state attorney for over 15 years, his nearly singular agenda was to have driver’s licenses available to illegal immigrants.
When he became city attorney it was found that he was corrupted in many other areas.
This can only increase distrust of elected officials, and residents of each other.

This is a very distinct and discernible PROBLEM. Our jails had to release thousands of inmates because of overcrowding in which illegal immigrants make up to a fourth to a third of that population.

Most of whom aren’t even deported, and even then, what good is deportation if our borders and other areas are not secure?

Things vary from place to place. LA County is one of the largest in America. And much of who is here are transient and without any interest in assimilation and their dependence strains what’s left of our already compromised resources.
We in our agency are forced to take furlough days. As are state and county workers. Services are shutting down and we already have had hundreds of hospitals close. Hundreds.
Our schools have only half graduation rates. And guess which population is most represented in that demographic.

And yet, no one wants to admit it’s a problem. Let alone one that we can handle or solve.
And it’s ugly right now with people desperate for services they need, but that have been taken already by a part of the population that’s cheated entry, and other aspects of residence here.

What kind of economic calculus could ever work, that bleeds industry FROM this country, yet allows MORE people to enter and compete for what’s left?
Even legal immigration would hurt, let alone illegal immigration that people know isn’t right or fair to allow.

And certainly OUR job isn’t any easier. There are bodies stacked in the morgue of people who can’t be identified because they aren’t on the immigration grid. Or criminals who can’t be tracked because of the same.
And the very tools that would be useful in helping catch serious criminals, get shut down because of misguided politically correct criticism.
Such as what happened in AZ.

And I don’t hear any BETTER ideas or ANY ideas as to just how we’re supposed to do anything about it.
And something has to be done. Or hate crimes against immigrants WILL increase because who had the power to enforce the laws, couldn’t be bothered.

A citizen that knows they are living with other people who have done the right thing, won’t feel as much threat.
And those who have imported or outright destroyed certain industries in this nation, should not be dictating foreign policy at all.
Anarchy breeds anarchy.
That’s all I’m saying.

Riva
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

I would find this post a lot more compelling if I couldn’t make an exact or at least similar post during just about every major timer period of American history. It’s not a breakdown. Xenophobia, homophobia, misgyny, racism, etc, is the Great American Pasttime.

Regan DuCasse
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

No argument here, Riva.

Ryan
September 1st, 2010 | LINK

You’re right, Riva. Except that I would expand that to include the entire world. It’s kind of what we humans do. The good news is, the incidents like those described in the post are a hell of a lot less frequent in this country than they were 100, 50, or even 20 years ago. Hardly a “breakdown”. Imagine the homophobia and racism back then. We’re getting better and better as a country every year.

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