Skip

flash rob mentality
August 8, 2011 12:27 AM   Subscribe


 
If, as a journalist, you ever write a sentence like this:

"Stores in cities from St. Paul, Minn., to Las Vegas and Washington, have been the first to experience this frightening — and dangerous — new trend."

You are a fraud. You're wasting your life. Please quit and find something more productive to do, like cleaning floors.
posted by empath at 12:36 AM on August 8, 2011 [29 favorites]


"Mefites in cities from Stockholm to Las Vegas and Washington, have been the first to experience this frightening — and dangerous — new snark."
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:39 AM on August 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Everyone needs a flash hug.
posted by davejay at 12:47 AM on August 8, 2011


If we're going to change one letter in "flashmob", couldn't we change it to 'flashmop'? It'd make things much cleaner and we could update the "Ragmop" song...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:51 AM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


see, I told you guys the Republicans would eventually figure out how that whole 'trickle-down' thing would actually work.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:52 AM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


They have those zombie walks every year, did anyone ever think to call those fleshmobs?
posted by mannequito at 12:54 AM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Giving Rob a bad name?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:43 AM on August 8, 2011


Just a man, with a man's courage
Now he's nothing but a man
Who will never be the same

posted by Smart Dalek at 2:15 AM on August 8, 2011


I'm not certain this is a bogus trend as it is missing the key ingredient: A NY Times link.
posted by srboisvert at 2:17 AM on August 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


It does have the catchy portmanteau though. At least it's not sacks-ting.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:23 AM on August 8, 2011


Is this not just Steaming by another name? Large groups of young people relying on size and speed to get away with robbery, it was in the papers a lot a couple of years ago (in London/the UK).

According to this Independent article from 96, steaming was an idea 'imported from the US' originally.
posted by Encipher at 2:29 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


In Philadelphia, gangs have been coordinating mob attacks via Twitter and cell phones for several months. Everyone runs to the location together, people are injured, property is stolen, and they run off. They call this a "flash mob".

This was also the modus operandi of the Tottenham looting and riots. Are those flash mobs as well?

I'm of the opinion that these planned attacks are similar but essentially different from truly spontaneous riots like Vancouver. People came to Vancouver to riot, but they didn't text each other saying, "let's meet in this location at this time and start beating people up".

I guess they're both crime.
posted by shii at 2:34 AM on August 8, 2011


see, I told you guys the Republicans would eventually figure out how that whole 'trickle-down' thing would actually work.

Well not quite. But it does seem that someone has learned something from the Republicans:

A flash rob occurs when a large group of young people swarms a store, grabs as much merchandise as they can carry and runs off within minutes, leaving shopkeepers stunned and with thousands of dollars worth of losses.

Silly kids. In adult life we call this a bail-out and it occurs when a large group of bankers and stock brokers swarm the economy, grab as much money as they can carry, and run off within minutes, leaving taxpayers stunned and with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of losses.

The only difference? Stealing a few hundred dollars can get you shot. Stealing billions comes at no risk at all.
posted by three blind mice at 2:42 AM on August 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


Stealing billions comes at no risk at all.

But it bloody well should.
posted by lucien_reeve at 2:44 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live in Milwaukee.

In the past month we've had two mob/rob/looting attacks. July 3rd post fireworks attacks and more recently on the first day of state fair

Lived here all my life. I've never heard of anything like it prior to this year.
posted by j03 at 3:11 AM on August 8, 2011


Just realized the links of the news reports I posted are from the youtube account of an unapologetic racist (of course) and would like to distance myself from... no, completely refute his views.
posted by j03 at 3:20 AM on August 8, 2011


The guardian is reporting this about the riots/looting in London at the moment. From the Urban Mashup blog:

In recent public disturbances such as the Student protests, commentary has focused on the role that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have played in the planning of demonstrations and coordination of protesters. By contrast in this riot it appears the social network of choice is one provided by none other than BlackBerry.

Is there going to come a point when people stop referring to these things as flash mobs and just mobs? I find it interesting how the changes in technology affect these types of behaviour but I hope soon the media will stop ranting about social networks causing these things. There were riots in London before Blackberries and facebook, that said, I don't recall any myspace riots taking place.
posted by pmcp at 3:26 AM on August 8, 2011


Is there going to come a point when people stop referring to these things as flash mobs and just mobs?

Sometimes the technology characterizes the event. A drive-by shooting is a murder, but the combination of vehicle and weapon makes it a lot different than a stabbing in the park. An anonymous phone call is not the same as an anonymous note shoved under your door.
posted by pracowity at 3:55 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yep. It's hard to shoot someone through the phone.
posted by Splunge at 4:04 AM on August 8, 2011


The only difference? Stealing a few hundred dollars can get you shot. Stealing billions comes at no risk at all.

The other difference is if you steal billions, you still get your annual bonus.
posted by DU at 4:18 AM on August 8, 2011


The only difference? Stealing a few hundred dollars can get you shot. Stealing billions comes at no risk at all.

The other difference is if you steal billions, you still get your annual bonus.


Bob Dylan put it this way:

Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king....

What these kids are doing is wrong. Don't approve. ( But it probably is good practice for the day when nobody has a job.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:20 AM on August 8, 2011


Sorry, SpiffyRob. I didn't RTFA.

*puts pants back on, slinks back out of Rob's apartment*
posted by Eideteker at 6:04 AM on August 8, 2011


The term “flash mob” originated when college-aged kids would converge on a spot like Grand Central Station in New York
and do seemingly-impromptu performance art.
But now, the term is being applied to violent groups.


Why? I'm still puzzling over why this particular term was repurposed to describe gang crime.
posted by stroke_count at 7:17 AM on August 8, 2011


I'm still puzzling over why this particular term was repurposed to describe gang crime.

1. People heard the term "flash mob" without really knowing what it meant.
2. People usually associate the word "mob" with "something bad."
3. These incidents started happening.
4. People thought, "oh, 'flash mob,' that's a good word for it, because it's a mob, which is bad, and they're doing something fast."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 AM on August 8, 2011


"The country is so angry now that it would not take much more than the right butterfly in the right place to take us to the next stage of struggle over the Great Society legacy. Just as the urban riots of the 1960s played a role in the hasty adoption of the sixties policy complex, so a rash of small urban confrontations that caught on à la française could dramatically accelerate and intensify the current upheaval in American politics." -- Walter Russell Mead on the trend
posted by shivohum at 7:22 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


That Time blurb is so full of fear-mongering wafflespeak that it makes your head swim. "Blatant acts of robbery" -- what robbery isn't blatant? "But to a point they're almost shameless" -- what does that even mean? "They're gaining momentum in youth circles across the country." What is this, 1956? "Youth circles"? Are they partaking in the reefer madness too?
posted by blucevalo at 7:30 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Black kids rioting, and using strange newfangled technology to do it?

The people at Fox News are dancing in circles right now. Bill O'Reilly is planning the new wing for his mansion. This is the Tea Party's nightmare/wank-fantasy made real.

All the people who cluck-clucked at the shooter in Norway, but said he kind of had a point if you think about it -- those people are going to be OUTRAGED at the use of violence by common thugs. They're going to be demanding more police brutality and more surveillance.

Gonna be an interesting decade. Let's hope we all get through it.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:32 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait until Drudge gets ahold of this.

BLACK FLASH MOB MURDER-SPREE NEGROID ZOMBIE SHARK ATTACK APOCALYPSE


RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

posted by goethean at 7:34 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait until Drudge gets ahold of this.

Eh, pretty close. Pertinent headlines from the Drudge Report page as of now:

'Mob' beatings at WI state fair...
'Hundreds of young black people beating white people'...
Fairgoers 'pulled out of cars'...
'They were just going after white people'...
Heightened security...


So, yeah.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:39 AM on August 8, 2011


I live in Milwaukee.

In the past month we've had two mob/rob/looting attacks....Lived here all my life. I've never heard of anything like it prior to this year."

The "flash rob" type of thing used to happen at the old Capitol Court mall back in the '80s. The usual target was Boston Store as it was an anchor store with street exits. Usually a couple dozen kids would walk in, grab whatever they could and run out. The only difference was a lack of social networking beyond word of mouth and the telephone. As for the attacks at State Fair, this also happened at Summerfest a couple of years ago but on a smaller scale. I guess everything old is new again...
posted by MikeMc at 7:44 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are acting like this is something new. Back in my day, this was called wilding, and I remember reading similar "OMG BLACK TEENAGERS ARE DAAAAAAAAAAAANGEROUS" histrionics in the news then, too.

get off my lawn
posted by deadmessenger at 7:54 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And here's a statement (pdf) from two Milwaukee alderman (fun bonus game: read to the bottom and then try to guess their race!)

(hint: they do a relatively great job, actually, of describing the systematic and structural inequalities between the black and white communities, and then strangely state that the sole solution to the problem is for "new seeds [to] be sown" "from within the African-American community.")
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:00 AM on August 8, 2011


Yeah, I remember "wilding", but that was a higher level of race-baiting hysteria, as it involved groups of young African-American boys robbing and raping random passers-by. See also: "superpredators", which is a pretty hard name to top, really. Once you've moved into hyperbole of that degree, it's only understandable that you start grasping at straws and come up with stuff like "flashrob". I mean what is that? I just keep picture Rob Schneider in a chair, pulling a chain, and getting a bucket of water splashed on him.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:02 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or Rob Lowe, for that matter.
posted by blucevalo at 8:05 AM on August 8, 2011


"And here's a statement (pdf) from two Milwaukee alderman "

I saw that the other day and I was really surprised to see such a blunt statement issued by a local politician (of any race). Usually the the line is "nothing to see here, move along". Things like the State Fair, Summerfest, ethnic festivals etc... bring a ton of money into the city so everything tends to be classified as "an isolated incident" to avoid scaring people away.
posted by MikeMc at 8:06 AM on August 8, 2011


One thing seems certain, none of these Flash mobs are using Apple products.
posted by three blind mice at 8:07 AM on August 8, 2011


One thing seems certain, none of these Flash mobs are using Apple products.

Definitely a BlackBerry crowd amirite?
posted by MikeMc at 8:09 AM on August 8, 2011


"They grab soft drinks, chocolate bars and bags of chips"

Why go after such low-value goods?

And such bad nutritiom, tsk-tsk...
posted by aerotive at 8:31 AM on August 8, 2011


"They grab soft drinks, chocolate bars and bags of chips"

"They say they do it 'for the lulz', a corruption of LOL, meaning 'laugh out loud'."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:39 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"But to a point they're almost shameless" -- what does that even mean?

That at a certain point they aren't shameless?

Anyway: Roy Edroso's definitive work on the new black crime wave.

"Flashrob" makes me think of Rob and Don from The Dark Knight Returns. Balls nasty.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:40 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The crazy thing is this is exactly how Bank of America and their buddies work - they just don't have to leave their desks and stand in front of surveillance cameras. Oh yeah, and they're mostly white.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:25 AM on August 8, 2011


If they can keep it non-violent, I'm totally okay with this. Leave the privately owned stores though, and just let the inner city poor and working class collectivize the businesses that have been exploiting them for decades. I'm having a hard time not feeling just a little smug.
posted by jwhite1979 at 9:30 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, those kids must have taken like $600 worth of synthetic snack products!
Terrifying.
posted by Theta States at 9:42 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mead tips his hand by equating 'entitlements' with 'welfare' just like my one misguided Tea Party friend on Facebook. I wish people would get it through their thick skulls that Medicare and Social Security are NOT entitlements. We pay into them with every single paycheck. Food stamps, welfare and stuff like that ARE entitlements, she said last week.

The fact that TANF, i.e. what we used to think of as welfare, costs $17 billion or 0.45% of the federal budget never seems to sink in. Indeed, the entire top level 'Welfare' category of the budget, including TANF, Food Stamps, SSI for disabled people, all Federal housing assistance programs (including the Home Affordable Modification program including in TARP), and every other way our tax money goes to relieve the suffering of our fellow citizens who are poor, hungry, homeless, or disabled amounts to 13% of the budget. This is nevertheless a substantial amount of money, nearly half a trillion dollars.

(N.B. My go-to site for these kinds of figures, www.usgovernmentspending.com, appears to be down at the moment. Indeed, it went down while I was in the process of writing this. A few minutes of searching didn't turn up an acceptable substitute. The GPO does make the budget available as Excel or CSV files. My apologies.)
posted by ob1quixote at 9:50 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poor people and hopeless people are starting to get angrier, and more organized. Color me unsurprised.

A formerly smart friend of mine who went off into the Tea Party, gun-toting fantasist lala-land is seriously salivating at this stuff. It fulfills all his dreams about getting to shoot black people.
posted by RedEmma at 9:51 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, those kids must have taken like $600 worth of synthetic snack products!
Terrifying.

It can be terrifying to a small business owner who operates on a slim profit margin and can ill afford such a loss. His insurance no doubt goes up every time he has to report a loss like this. Just because the convenience store owner is selling overpriced junk food it's no big deal to trash his store and steal hundreds of dollars worth of items? I don't understand the non-chalant acceptance of flash mob violence.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:57 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


P.S. I envision a political comic that shows a white stockbroker in a three-piece suit pointing to the results of a "flash rob" in a black gangster kid's bedroom and asking him where he learned such behavior. The kid looks at him in teenaged defiance and disbelief, "I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, DAD!!"
posted by RedEmma at 9:58 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Walter Russell Mead seems to be living in a fever-nightmare obsession with the terrors of urban life. Just in the last week alone, his blog has contained not only his screed against the coming wave of urban black mob crime, but an invidious comparison to the riots in London ("given our racial history and tensions, things could get very nasty very fast"); a link to a Joel Kotkin essay about Los Angeles, to opine that the city, once "the bright and shining beacon of American optimism," has "a haunting harbinger of a much tougher future: more Blade Runner than Oz" (even though Kotkin leavens his criticism of LA with a nod toward the continuing qualities that make it possible for the city to be resilient); a snarky description of New York boroughs that includes the gem "Brooklyn has tribes of vagrants barbecuing the wildlife in its parks; Manhattan’s parks teem with rats"; and an equally arch comment that "Stories about hip young white people moving into decaying urban centers and revitalizing them with their trendy creative brilliance are a dime a dozen" (in service of the argument that suburbs are still where it's at).

That's not to mention his vaguely condescending use of the capitalized "Black" in reference to African-Americans (he has a convoluted explanation of why he capitalizes that doesn't make sense to me even after having read it several times) and, in talking about black people moving south for better economic opportunities, quipping, "Blue is not always good for Black." Eccentric, to say the least.
posted by blucevalo at 10:56 AM on August 8, 2011


"It can be terrifying to a small business owner who operates on a slim profit margin and can ill afford such a loss."

Around here (Milwaukee) most of these places are run not by owners but operators who lease the stores from a larger company like Bulk Petroleum. I'm not sure if that's better or worse for them.
posted by MikeMc at 11:17 AM on August 8, 2011


I'm having a hard time not feeling just a little smug.

If you're ok with these crimes breathing new life into racism and right-wing populism, well, I guess that's something to feel smug about.
posted by shivohum at 11:36 AM on August 8, 2011


An alternate source for information on the specifics of the budget.

And racism doesn't have new life breathed into it; it's the same fetid stench that's always been there.
posted by dglynn at 12:09 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the thing that makes me shudder--that is if I'm willing to even accept the fact that there is some sort of "rise" in this sort of behavior, instead of just being overblown by white-owned media--is that historically speaking, when white folks see any whisper of an angry black mob, they tend to overreact by doing things like this.
posted by RedEmma at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2011


I don't understand the non-chalant acceptance of flash mob violence.

For sure it must suck for the manager and owner, but I was more commenting on the national scare-factor of it.
posted by Theta States at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2011


dglynn: "An alternate source for information on the specifics of the budget."

Thanks. I liked that usgovernmentspending.com site for a couple of reasons. First, it took the base data from the GPO and put it on the web in a subtotaled, click-to-browse form. Second, the editorial tone of the site was decidedly conservative, so the people I would argue against using its data couldn't accuse me of using 'liberal' numbers. I do hope its absence is only temporary.

Of the official government sources I found in a brief search, I felt like the best option was the spreadsheets available from the GPO. The PDFs available from the OMB would mean I'd have to calculate everything manually or convert them to something calculable.

Then again, given the events of the day

P.S. The 'entitlement' confusion I mentioned above must be on somebody's talking points sheet. It's now a full-fledged Facebook meme. From a different conservative Facebook friend:
Entitlement my ass. I paid for my Social Security Insurance! Our benefits aren't some kind of charity or handout! Congressional benefits - free health care, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days - now THAT'S welfare. And Congress has the nerve to call my retirement an Entitlement? Re-post if you are sick of their crap, and ashamed of our "leaders" - I did, and I am.
The mind boggles.

posted by ob1quixote at 1:17 PM on August 8, 2011


If you're ok with these crimes breathing new life into racism and right-wing populism, well, I guess that's something to feel smug about.

I'm not okay with either of those things, but it makes me happy when people stop behaving. It means there's less fear, or at least the fear is being handed over to other people for a while. I know there will be a backlash, but that doesn't undermine the good that comes from this sort of thing.
posted by jwhite1979 at 1:34 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Definitely a BlackBerry crowd amirite?

Well, I was making reference to the fact that the iPhone does not provide native support for Adobe Flash, but it seems BlackBerry users might especially be targeted for justice:

Will RIM help British police ID BlackBerry users who rioted, looted?

You can bet they will. Text messages, MMS servers, billing information, tracking of phone location, video cameras..... there will be plenty of forensic evidence for police to organise a few flash mobs of their own.
posted by three blind mice at 1:50 PM on August 8, 2011


If hundreds of white teens swarmed a state fair, targeted blacks, pulled them out of cars and beat them, it would be all over the national news. Jesse jackson and al sharpton would swoop in demand hate crime charges be filed. Instead of pointing out the obvious racial dynamics of these mob attacks, many of the commenters here are using this as yet another opportunity to snark about how racist it is for us to notice that whites are being victimized and attacked for their race.
posted by Acromion at 2:42 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If hundreds of white teens swarmed a state fair, targeted blacks, pulled them out of cars and beat them, it would be all over the national news.

I should hope so! That wasn't what I saw in the videos though. I saw a bunch of people taking food, drinks, and clothes en masse. I did see one person attack a shopkeeper, and that turned my stomach.
posted by jwhite1979 at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2011


If hundreds of white teens swarmed a state fair, targeted blacks, pulled them out of cars and beat them, it would be all over the national news.

I should hope so! That wasn't what I saw in the videos though.


Previous commenter was talking about this.
posted by andoatnp at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2011


Jwhite - I wonder if you will still be happy when people "stop behaving" if you are ever the victim of such violence. Your.comment shows a.perverse lack of sympathy for the people who have suffered from these acts of wanton violence.
posted by Acromion at 3:26 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where, Acromion, in any of jwhite1979's comments, did you see them "happy" about this behavior? Or maybe you're projecting?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:56 PM on August 8, 2011


Oh, wait, there it is. Carry on.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2011


Poor people and hopeless people are starting to get angrier, and more organized. Color me unsurprised.

Unsurprising perhaps, but terribly unproductive. Causing harm to others is never the way out of poorness and hopelessness.
posted by gjc at 5:49 PM on August 8, 2011


And before the snark lays on too thick, a flash mob is just a bunch of people showing up in one place for no reason. It is a quantitative description, not a qualitative one.
posted by gjc at 5:51 PM on August 8, 2011


it makes me happy when people stop behaving. It means there's less fear, or at least the fear is being handed over to other people for a while. I know there will be a backlash, but that doesn't undermine the good that comes from this sort of thing.

You can believe that the kinds of fears expressed by Mead, et al. are overwrought at best, race-bating at worst, without believing that adolescent hooliganism is anything better than, well, adolescent hooliganism. These people aren't primitive revolutionaries, they're looking for kicks. It's staggeringly naive to think they're doing anything else.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:18 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can believe that the kinds of fears expressed by Mead, et al. are overwrought at best, race-bating at worst, without believing that adolescent hooliganism is anything better than, well, adolescent hooliganism. These people aren't primitive revolutionaries, they're looking for kicks. It's staggeringly naive to think they're doing anything else.

I know they're being hooligans. I know that they're not political radicals. I get what everyone here is saying. But I still see it as indicative of the shift in public attitude, and in that way it is a kind of chaotic de facto political disobedience.

I wonder if you will still be happy when people "stop behaving" if you are ever the victim of such violence. Your.comment shows a.perverse lack of sympathy for the people who have suffered from these acts of wanton violence.

Dude, they're taking food and clothes off store shelves, and they're doing it with a "fuck you" attitude. If I were the victim of a group of people taking pants off the rack of a store where I work, I would probably think "That's something you don't see every day. Wow." I'm about as staunch a pacifist as you'll find anywhere. I do feel bad for that clerk who got decked. I thought that was entirely uncalled for, but of course I didn't see the whole exchange.

I just clicked on some of the links in shivohum's deleted post. I came across some claims that the violence was more pronounced than what was shown in the opening links in this thread. I didn't see any hard news though--just some vague comments about supposed violent attacks. If those reports are legit, then of course I'm not celebrating them. Of course I condemn that kind of behavior. I'm surprised that I have to actually articulate all of this though; I'd think it would be evident from what I've already said.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:08 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. This piece was in my inbox this morning - I honestly thought it was just another "Oh Dad, you're so wacky" sort of email and that it wouldn't get much attention from anywhere else, because really?
2. My favorite part is where he accuses the media of not covering the story - after just having cited the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Philadelphia Inquirer, In These times, and the Christian Science Monitor. Apparently these do not qualify as media.
3. Meanwhile...
posted by naoko at 7:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, growing up in Philly, I do not remember ever having the opportunity to do something like this. I guess the mostly white and Puerto Rican kids in my neighborhood didn't go wilding. Or if they did, they didn't invite me. I was pretty nerdy, even back then. I do recall, going to the boardwalk in the summer en masse and doing stupid shit just to fuck with the tourists. Nothing outright illegal that I can remember though.
posted by runcibleshaw at 2:09 AM on August 9, 2011


If, as a journalist, you ever write a sentence like this:

"Stores in cities from St. Paul, Minn., to Las Vegas and Washington, have been the first to experience this frightening — and dangerous — new trend."

You are a fraud. You're wasting your life. Please quit and find something more productive to do, like cleaning floors.
For you and others who want to read more sophisticated journalism, there's Time Advanced.
posted by Anything at 5:08 AM on August 9, 2011


Unsurprising perhaps, but terribly unproductive. Causing harm to others is never the way out of poorness and hopelessness.

Of course it is unproductive. Of course it won't alleviate the problems of poverty and hopelessness. Aside from causing some social awareness that there *is* a problem, rioting or things like it generally do not lead to positive outcomes. What I'm saying is that things are pretty shitty out there. We live in an increasingly segregated society, and I'm talking about class here more than anything else. We live in a culture that values you for how much of a job you have and how much stuff you have in your house. This leads to a whole lot of kids who see no way to get a job and no way to get all that stuff that makes them (supposedly) valuable human beings. Not to mention a society where violence has become oddly expected (even though the rate of such things has gone down--everybody really thinks it's going up, due to 24/7 media hype). So in some way, it seems like these kids are seeing this sort of behavior as what's due, what's their right on some level. Why is that? What makes that happen?

What people normally do is shake their heads and blame "kids these days" or more specifically if they are many of the white people I know, "black people because you know that's what those people are like." They don't say it outright, usually, unless under cover of internet anonymity, but there you go. And that's it. That's the end of the conversation. They maybe buy more security for their house or store, or they buy a fucking gun, like that's going to save them.

The other result usually, and probably in this case and in further cases as things get tighter and more desperate, will be further incarceration. We just love our prison-state, and we're gonna keep building it. Gives rural white folks jobs, after all. Keeps them from doing the same thing, maybe.

So when will we all see this as a symptom (whether we point to the actual supposed trend, or the media hype of said events) of what's really going down? When are we going to stop seeing our value in how many fancy electronics we have and stroke our guns to protect them from "those people" and start looking at what we've created?
posted by RedEmma at 8:16 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So when will we all see this as a symptom (whether we point to the actual supposed trend, or the media hype of said events) of what's really going down? When are we going to stop seeing our value in how many fancy electronics we have and stroke our guns to protect them from "those people" and start looking at what we've created?

It would be nice to think incidents like these might prompt a national soul-searching of this type. But they won't. As noted upthread, what they will prompt is even more racially tinged seething on the part of the cultural right. And maybe not just the cultural right; or, this is how more people begin identifying with the cultural right.

Not sure how the events in Philadelphia in recent months have escaped most of this thread, but back in April it wasn't just clothing being swiped: they were beating the f*ck out of people.

That's where I personally lose any sympathy for the poor downtrodden who have been wronged on society and are merely acting out their frustration, etc. Philly Mayor Michael Nutting climbed on that bandwagon, saying yesterday:

"You know, I do not care what your economic status is in life - you do not have a right to beat somebody's ass on the street! None!"

And also this:

He chastised black fathers for being nothing more than "sperm donors." He called out "doggone" hoodie-wearing teens who'd never get jobs with their underwear or the "crack of your butt" showing. And he came down on neglectful parents who "need to get a hold of your kids before we have to." ...

"You've damaged yourself," the mayor accused. "You've damaged your peers, and, quite honestly, you've damaged your own race."


Nutter, who is black, is now catching hell for saying this. But he said it specifically because he knows how the "flash mobs" play in the suburbs.
posted by kgasmart at 8:54 AM on August 9, 2011


Yup. Because if all those hoodie wearing kids started wearing suits the jobs would be there, right?
posted by RedEmma at 9:42 AM on August 9, 2011


Chicken or egg. The lack of jobs creates an atmosphere validating and valuing the uniform of defiance or dissent. But that uniform then becomes an impediment to attracting and creating jobs.
posted by kgasmart at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2011


« Older Nancy Wake (1912 - 2011)   |   Round Barns and Covered Bridges Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post