Whatever the cause or causes of the crisis in Ferguson, five, ten years from now, do you think life will be better or worse for the people remaining there because of the riots? Fred Siegel has no doubt:
Riots bring but one certainty—enormous economic and social costs. Businesses flee, taking jobs and tax revenues with them. Home values decline for all races, but particularly for blacks. Insurance costs rise and civic morale collapses. The black and white middle classes move out. Despite its busy port and enormous geographic assets, Newark, New Jersey has never fully recovered from its 1967 riot. This year, Newark elected as its mayor Ras Baraka, the son and political heir of Amiri Baraka—the intellectual inspiration for the 1967 unrest.
The story is similar in Detroit, which lost half its residents between 1967 and 2000. Civic authority was never restored after the late 1960s riots, which never really ended; they just continued in slow motion. “It got decided a long time ago in Detroit,” explained Adolph Mongo, advisor to the jailed former “hip-hop mayor,” Kwame Kilpatrick, that “the city belongs to the black man. The white man was a convenient target until there were no white men left in Detroit.” The upshot, explained Sam Riddle, an advisor to current congressman John Conyers, first elected in 1965, is that “the only difference between Detroit and the Third World in terms of corruption is that Detroit don’t have no goats in the streets.”
However unjust the provocation, burning down your own house is never a good idea. All the concern expressed by all the journalists, activists, and academics in the world will not replace the lost businesses and the lost middle class. The kind of people — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and so forth — that you need around to build a viable and thriving neighborhood will leave, and they really don’t care what you think.
Imagine that the residents of Ferguson would have responded with non-violent resistance, and met the tear gas of the police with same.
Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a spiritual genius, he also saved America — black America and white America both — from a terrible fate. If the Palestinians ever produce a MLK, it will be a new world.