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...see no evil...

"'Can I get a witness to all this poverty?' There's no need to, brother. Everybody can see," Joe Strummer sang, but I think he was sadly mistaken.  As I used to argue in non-defense of the G. W. Bush administration, the rich and powerful are so generally and fully ensconced in their rarefied territory, they are mostly unaware of the underclasses. Thus, actions which, with greater understanding, might be seen as intentionally evil, are merely ignorant (though arguably still evil).

This helps to explain Bush's approach to Katrina, black people, the poor, public schools, and those foreigners he tried to help free with two wars in their homes; Catherine the Great's inability to tell that her tours of supposed Russian towns involved the same actors, playing the same roles, and using the same set over and over; Marie Antionette's "Let them eat cake;" the casual cruelty of roving gangs in Fist of the North Star1; and Republican efforts to somehow help the poor by cutting SNAP funds and unemployment benefits. It also helps to explain the way in which those not discriminated against have trouble noticing just how much discrimination there is, why no one cared about (or saw) Bomani Jones' takedown of Donald Sterling's highly evident, and actually harmful racism until after we all got to feel really good about ourselves by calling him a (boorish, but implicitly harmless) racist years later, and why most still don't seem to care about the real problems Sterling represents. It also explains the idiocy of our (mostly) highly intelligent, highly educated, stylishly racist-by-pretending-to-be-colorblind, right-wing Supreme Court members, and their ridiculous decisions regarding voter's rights, affirmative action, and the like. And the fantastical denials of racial politics playing a role in the right's treatment of Obama. And so forth, ad infinitum.

Though Jones never makes a policy prescription in his much deserved, righteous rant about some of the nefarious doings in housing markets that continue (in echo and act) to plague minorities and their communities to this day, you can infer one. If housing discrimination and ghettoization helped cause the violence in Chicago's south end and similar areas, then maybe some social engineering aimed at bringing people of different ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds together (in housing, in schools, and thus in opportunity) might help ease the problems. But, as those who haven't ever suffered from these things will surely tell you, such heavy handed, freedom stifling measures are no longer necessary. And, as those who claim to advocate for poor communities might object, that would be evil, evil gentrification (or lead to it).

So I have an idea. Let's not do anything, or at least nothing worthwhile. Let's all just twiddle our thumbs while we feel good about calling Roger Sterling a bad person because he didn't want his mixed-race mistress to be seen in public with the black guys she was screwing. I like twiddling my thumbs. I'm doing it now.

1. [Not really. I just wanted to mention Fist of the Northstar. That series is at once awesome and hilariously bad. Watatatatatata!]


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