Juneteenth

Juneteenth by James Howard Kunstler

Historians of the future, boiling acorns over their campfires (a nice accompaniment to cattail tubers and milkweed pods in a squirrel-tail reduction), will marvel that the Democrats back in the woeful year 2020 thought that burning down the country would be a winning election strategy. Has anyone been fooled by the party’s straight-up support, comfort, and incitement of this season’s looting and arson? Now that all the old statues are torn down, beheaded, or drowned, will future statues of statesman Joe Biden portray him at his most heroic, with a face-mask dangling from one ear as he scours the vacant chambers of his prefrontal cortex for a fugitive homily?

No more Cocoa Krispies for you, racist America! Aunt Jemima has served her last pancake, Lord, and is quitting the big house for an endowed chair in critical flatbread studies at Princeton. Every last reel of Gone with the Wind will be melted down for guitar picks. And get this, Whitey: Uncle Ben is no kin to you and never was!

Actually, Huey P. Newton of the Black Panthers said it best fifty years ago: “Marxism is my hustle,” is how he put it. America, do you ever sense that you are being hustled? Importuned by means not altogether above-board? Faked out? Bamboozled? Gulled? You might have reason to suspect as much, under the circumstances. MSNBC’s Ali Velshi caught the spirit of the hustle last week when he stood before a burning liquor store in Minneapolis and declared, “This is mostly a protest. It is not, generally speaking, unruly.  But fires have been started and this crowd is relishing that.” Yes, fire is a crowd-pleaser, all-right, and probably has been for a hundred thousand years or more. That is how we humans roll. This was just an entertainment-grade fire, set to amuse, to tickle that ancient instinct.

Now, the Democratic Party enjoys proud ownership of the phrase “defund the police” — and all the interesting implications of it. Let’s see which Democrat-controlled city will go first with an actual demonstration project of that policy. So far, it has just amounted to impromptu decrees from the mayors’ offices to stand down or standby while mobs do their thing (“shopping,” minus payment for goods received). Wait until it becomes an overt civic management mandate — call it zero law enforcement policy. The thing is, it will be most appreciated by people who don’t vote; for the voters, maybe not so much.

The scenario is playing out in Atlanta now, where one Rayshard Brooks was shot while violently resisting arrest after passing out in a Wendy’s drive-thru and failing a sobriety test. Mr. Brooks had a long rap sheet for activities such as domestic battery and cruelty to children. He was on probation for a previous driving-under-the-influence conviction. A new one would have sent him to jail, knowledge of which, perhaps, prompted him to assault the two arresting officers and attempt to taser them— a saint in-the-making, for sure

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.