The Parable of the Stone Crabs
In the middle of last October, two harvesting operations went into high gear. At first glance, the two might seem completely unrelated. Actually, they had a lot in common. Taken together they offer a rather depressing political parable for our times. One harvest involved people, the other involved decapods.
I’ll start with the decapods. While many of you may not recognize the formal name of the decapods in question—Menippe mercenaria of the family Xanithidae, according to Merriam Webster’s—you’re probably familiar with them as Florida stone crabs. These large, brownish creatures are found on the southeastern coast of the U.S. and in the Caribbean area. Millions of seafood lovers, myself included, look forward to the annual stone crab season (October 15 to May 15) when this succulent delicacy is featured in upscale restaurants across the country.
Unlike the more familiar Atlantic blue crab and the Dungeness crab of the Pacific west coast, the only part of the stone crab that is eaten is its claw. Each year, in a rather sadistic variation on the catch-and-release theme, fishermen trap thousands of the creatures, ripping off a single claw and then returning the living but mutilated beasts to the sea. Most survive the ordeal, grow a replacement claw, and may undergo the same annual ordeal for many years to come. While not an ideal situation for the stone crabs, it definitely pays off for their harvesters.
Which is where the parable comes in. As this year’s stone crab harvesting began, so too did the Democratic Party’s vote harvesting operation aimed at black Americans. The modus operandi of both the fishermen and Democratic campaign effort were eerily similar: harvest as many as you can, take what you want from them, and throw them back into the troubled waters they came from. Then forget about them until it’s time for the next harvest.
It has been said that politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, rush out and buy more tunnel. You could call it the Politics of Hopelessness. While it has done nothing to improve the plight of minorities, it has paid off handsomely for the left. The tragic decline of once great American cities—Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, Minneapolis and Baltimore, to name only a few—has been presided over by an unholy alliance of white radical politicians (like New York’s Mayor de Blasio) and black racial demagogues (like the not-very-reverend Al Sharpton) driving more and more decent, hard-working Americans of all races out of the cities and into the suburbs and exurbs for their own and their childrens’ sakes.
This mass exodus, especially of educated, successful black Americans, has transformed many urban areas into squalid combat zones where decent people who cannot afford to leave are at the mercy of violent criminals who own their streets and kill more of them in a week than all the rogue cops in America do in a year. While these blighted areas have profited nothing from long years of “progressive” local government, they still provide enough of a bloc vote to sway statewide and presidential elections in mega-states like New York and California and in many swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
All of these destructive elements were being cynically exploited by the left long before Donald Trump entered politics, and unfortunately they’re likely to be with us long after he is a distant memory. If there is one thing we can count on, it is that the so-called mainstream media will keep on fanning the flames as it did so shamelessly in the long, hot summer of 2020.
The working model from the “progressive” handbook has unfolded in many other cities since we first saw it in Minneapolis. There, in the case of George Floyd, the liberal Democratic mayor and state attorney general were slow to react to a brutally shocking incident. When they did react, they spent more time railing about “systemic” racism than they did taking responsibility for what had happened on their own watch, in their own backyard. The blood of George Floyd, we were told, was on the hands of white America in general and the Republican administration in Washington in particular—half a continent away from where it happened.
Cities burned, monuments were destroyed, and streets that were supposed to belong to all of us were taken over and often trashed by disorderly mobs. In the short term, it may have helped the left harvest black voters in November. But in the election’s aftermath, like stone crabs after the harvest, those black voters will find themselves thrown back into the same old sea of sorrows.
Aram Bakshian Jr. is a former aide to presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. His writings on politics, history, gastronomy, and the arts have been widely published in the United States and abroad.