The one thing that I absolutely believe is: it is immoral to misquote Yogi Berra even if you don’t know who he was
Yesterday, in response to the rioting arising from the death of another black man by white police officers, a liberal friend of mine shook his head and said: “It’s just like déjà vu all over again.”
That quote is not applicable to these killings and protests, even though it may bring to light, unintentionally, our national nightmare.
In July of 1967, Cambridge Maryland was burned and Maryland’s Republican governor, Spiro Agnew, got national attention for blaming the demonstrators for burning down their homes, neighborhoods and destroying property. I know something about this because I was a young boy visiting the Eastern Shore that summer. The experience frightened me out of my youth so much so that years later I wrote a play about it.
President Nixon liked Agnew’s toughness. He needed a “law and order” guy to polarize support for his 1968 election. He chose him as his VP to whip up the masses against the “liberals” in order to rally the “silent majority”. It worked. Nixon won a plurality of the popular vote by a narrow margin but won by a large margin in the electoral college.
Sounds familiar… but still no déjà vu.
Maybe this will help:
Yesterday Fox News reported, “… crews on the scene in SoHo reported hundreds of people stealing from luxury stores —including Chanel and Dior — for hours on Sunday night going into the early hours of Monday morning. The looters were seen piling shoplifted merchandise into vehicles while others rode off with the merchandise in black garbage bags balanced on Citi Bikes.”
Many of the African-Americans who had organized the protests in Cambridge repeatedly said the whites lit the black neighborhoods on fire in Cambridge and then refused to put them out since they controlled the fire trucks. The white press never reported that. Nonetheless, the disturbance was defined as the destruction of “property.”
So maybe we have it wrong and it is about “property” and not “lives.”
Let’s refocus and see if we have a way to save human life by protecting property.
America became rich when it helped to rebuild Europe’s economy after WWII. It wasn’t a “giveaway!” Out of the rubble, we built a trading partner and Europe and the United States have prospered for almost 80 years.
So why can’t we create a 15-year state-sponsored municipal bond to rebuild Baltimore city? Not a “giveaway,” but designed to lower the tax burden on the state as re-development occurs? A long-term commitment to rebuild the city would instantly increase the property values, both commercial and residential and bring in national and international investors.
What a perfect time for Maryland’s present Republican governor to make Baltimore into a trading partner with the rest of the state. It certainly will be easier than unifying nation states that have been at endless war for the previous thousand years.
All he has to do is sell it to white Americans. The rebuilding could be entirely about eliminating the cost to the state of “giveaways” to Baltimore city.
It’s not a “giveaway” or, even better, about “Black Lives Matter” — it’s about property! Wow what a great selfish idea!
Hey! Let’s make Maryland great again! Baltimore was once one of America’s three most prosperous cities.
… But it won’t happen, because the rebuilding of post-war Europe had no black countries or black cities and that was our foreign policy, not our domestic policy.
The Constitution, at a minimum, sidestepped slavery or at worst supported it with the Electoral College. And after all slaves were “property.” Maybe racism is in the American DNA.
So in this case, Yogi Berra and my friend were wrong. You can’t have “Déjà vu all over again.” The situation is not repeating because it has never ended.
Photo by Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun