Author Topic: Hoping Against Hope in Detroit  (Read 691 times)

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Offline laconas

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Hoping Against Hope in Detroit
« on: January 22, 2011, 01:27:49 PM »

Hoping Against Hope in Detroit

by Jim Goad

January 17, 2011

“We’re coming back,” beamed current Detroit mayor and former Detroit Pistons All-Star Dave Bing last Tuesday as he launched a privately funded $10-million ad campaign designed to instill hope, foster confidence, inspire team spirit, and spread a positive message among the waning denizens of what many consider to be America’s most fucked-up city.

Watch out, Motor City. The “I’m a Believer” campaign is ready to bombard your crushed, rusted, rotting infrastructure with billboards, ads, and a logo apparently designed by someone who used to make T-shirts for The Clash.

The campaign’s message, forged in undoubtedly sweaty all-night brainstorming sessions by a decidedly un-Detroitlike marketing firm, is simple: They “believe” in Detroit. Beyond some vague admonitions to stop saying bad things about the city and to start saying nice things about it, and besides some empty bull$h^t about volunteer work and urban gardening, the campaign’s details are extremely sketchy. But they want to make one thing clear: They are absolutely fed-up with the jokes and putdowns and snide remarks and overall bad rap the city gets, and they’re going to stand together, suspend disbelief, and declare themselves believers.
“I, too, believe in Detroit. I believe that it is a metropolitan area of roughly 139 square miles situated on the Detroit River.”

I’m standing with them. I, too, believe in Detroit. I believe that it is a metropolitan area of roughly 139 square miles situated on the Detroit River. I also believe that facts are more helpful than empty rhetoric, especially when you’re trying to lure investors, so I’ve compiled some basic facts about the city. What do the facts say about crime, housing, employment, education, and government in the city that bequeathed us so many gosh-darned great dance records during the mid-1960s?

Last year, a CNN survey selected Detroit as one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Since 1950, Detroit’s homicide and robbery rates increased by about 600 percent. The average teenage male in Detroit is likelier to wind up in prison than to graduate high school. Over the past few decades, Detroit has perennially snatched the crown as the nation’s murder capital, arson mecca, or its overall most dangerous metropolis. It rarely seems to fall out of the top three in any of these categories. Its homicide rate is typically five to six times the national average. A recent investigation revealed the city systematically under-reports violent crime—and STILL shows up at or near the top of every list. The city is also said to have the nation’s highest rate of police suicides. Things are so bad that in 2010, Mayor Dave “The Believer” Bing’s GMC Yukon was stolen. A few days later, Detroit thieves stripped a visiting Reverend Jesse Jackson’s SUV of its wheels.

Detroit used to be known as “The City of Homeowners,” but now a third of its housing units are said to be vacant. Even the dead are leaving Detroit in record numbers. In 2009, the city’s average residential unit sold for $12,439, down from nearly $100,000 in 2003. Thousands of buildings were destroyed in Detroit’s cataclysmic 1967 riots, thousands more have been burned down during the annual pre-Halloween “Devil’s Night” arson fest, and the rest were either neglected or abandoned. Huge swaths of the town represent a post-nuclear nightmare that has spawned a photographic subgenre known as “ruin porn.” An estimated one-quarter of the city’s entire land mass is now abandoned and reverting back to nature, overgrown with rats and weeds but probably too toxin-drenched from industrial sludge to ever sustain farming. Detroiters refer to such literal urban jungles as “feral” areas.

Several decades ago the city was said to have boasted the nation’s highest median household income; these days, it’s close to dead last. Detroit has the highest unemployment rate of any major American metropolitan area. Official city unemployment is around 29 percent; unofficially, it’s said to be 50 to 60 percent. Much of the blame is placed on the auto industry’s decline. Then again, there are no steel mills left in Pittsburgh and not so many meatpacking plants remain in Chicago, yet neither city’s economy is nearly so lifeless as Detroit’s.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called Detroit’s school system “a national disgrace.” Fewer than a third of Detroit’s students graduate high school. In 2009, Detroit students produced the lowest scores in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, even though more is spent per-capita on Detroit students than the national average. A staggering 77 percent of Detroit’s eighth-graders scored “below basic” in math. It is estimated that a mere one percent of males who graduate from Detroit high schools are educationally equipped to handle college.

Until last summer, Detroit’s School Board President was Otis Mathis, whose difficulties with basic language caused him to be placed in special-education classes in fourth grade. Depending on whom you believe, he graduated from high school with a GPA ranging somewhere between .98 to 1.98 (Mathis claims the latter number). A special program through the G.I. Bill allowed Mathis to attend Detroit’s Wayne State University even though he was deemed “academically unqualified.” When emails surfaced in 2010 revealing Mathis to be sub-literate at best, he replied that he’s “capable of reading a lot of information and regurgitation.” A colleague of Mathis insisted he was still the right pick because his job “is to represent the community” and his “lack of writing skills is [sic] prevalent in the community.” Mathis resigned in June 2010 after a coworker filed a letter complaining that he’d touched himself inappropriately during several one-on-one meetings with her.

Detroit officials oversee a population that has dwindled to less than half of its peak during the city’s boom years. The pivotal 1967 riots led to what is perhaps the most significant case of white flight in American history. City government shifted from having a widespread reputation of white bigotry and police brutality to being a hotbed of black-nationalist ideology infused with ghastly levels of corruption and police indifference.

The city’s first black mayor, Coleman Young, assumed power in 1973 and clutched onto it for 20 years. Inner-city blacks tended to love him, while the suburban ring of whites surrounding Detroit viewed him as an arrogant race-baiter determined to make the city all-black. Young, who referred to himself as Detroit’s “Motherfucker in Charge,” saw employment plummet and crime rates soar during his reign.

In 2001, Detroit elected “hip-hop mayor” Kwame Kilpatrick, only to watch him self-destruct in ways which make Coleman Young appear dignified. Kilpatrick apparently spent most of his time as mayor sending text messages to a female coworker that included such bons mots as “I’m HEADED HOME NIGGA….NEXT TIME, JUST TELL ME TO SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, and DO YOUR THING! I’m fucked up now!…I’m GOING TO BE ALL OVER THE BIKINI WAX SECTION OF YOUR BODY. LOL.” Kilpatrick, who now sits in prison, still faces numerous felony corruption charges. There’s also the unsolved matter of the stripper who allegedly performed at his mansion, was reputedly assaulted by his wife, and wound up murdered with a pistol of the same caliber used by the Detroit Police Department.

After Dave Bing recently became mayor, he proposed cutting all services to roughly a fifth of the city’s territory, essentially surrendering it to the homeless, the lawless, and all the public defecators stranded in between.

Nothing I’ve detailed here involves things I “believe” about Detroit; they are all statistical facts. In life, facts tend to be more useful than beliefs.

To help revive a city that was dying under his watch, Mayor Coleman Young once said, “We need to dream big dreams [and] propose grandiose means if we are to recapture the excitement, the vibrancy, and pride we once had.” While he was dreaming big and making grandiose propositions, the city continued falling apart.

Sounds a lot like the new “I’m a Believer” campaign. It seems founded on the old myth that things such as self-esteem—rather than, oh, brains—are what lead to achievement. It also relies on the delusion that when you’re in cancer’s advanced stages, your attitude can make all the difference.

Sorry, believers, but when things degenerate to a certain level, your attitude doesn’t matter; you still gonna die.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 01:33:00 PM by laconas »
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Offline laconas

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Re: Hoping Against Hope in Detroit
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2011, 01:36:46 PM »

Camden, New Jersey: Blueprint for the Destruction of America

December 5, 2010

The announcement by the Camden, NJ, city council that it is to halve its police and firefighters’ force — less than 100 years after becoming the first American city to have mechanized fire engines — illustrates perfectly the destructive path upon which our nation has embarked.

Camden was incorporated as a city on February 13, 1828, and was quickly developed as a manufacturing and industrial center.

Amongst the many achievements of this originally majority white city, were the establishment of one of the U.S.’s first railroads, the Camden and Amboy Railroad, which was chartered in Camden in 1830.

The Camden Fire Department was officially launched in 1869 and is the oldest paid fire department in the state of New Jersey and is among the oldest in the United States.

In 1916, the department was the first in the United States that had an all-motorized fire apparatus fleet.

From 1901 through 1929, Camden was headquarters of the Victor Talking Machine Company, later known as RCA Victor. Many of the world’s first ever commercial recording studios were located there.

From 1899 to 1967, Camden was the home of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, which at its World War II peak was the largest and most productive shipyard in the world.

In 1962, the first commercial nuclear-powered ship, the NS Savannah, was launched in Camden.

At Camden’s peak, 10,000 workers were employed at RCA, while another 40,000 worked at New York Shipbuilding.

The population of Camden rose from a humble 3,371 in 1840 to 79,318 in 2008.

Yet today, Camden is little more than a shell of its former self. Industry has all but vanished, mainly because of the gutting of American industry due to the mania of “outsourcing to the Far East.”

White Americans have also fled the growing nonwhite population, transforming the city into a “Detroit on the East Coast.”

In 2007, only 6.84 percent of the city’s population was officially classified as non-Hispanic white.

Some 50.35 percent of the city was classified black, 2.45 percent Asian, 0.54 percent Native American, 0.07 percent Pacific Islander, 22.83 percent from “other races” while 3.9 percent were from “two or more races.”

Some 42.82 percent of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race, the majority of which are Puerto Ricans.

According to 2006 data from the United States Census Bureau, 52 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, the highest rate in the nation.

Camden is also officially America’s poorest city, with a median household income of $18,007 — this, from its once prized status as one of the leading industrial centers.

No less than three Camden mayors, all nonwhites, have been jailed for corruption.

The nonwhite school system and police department were reduced to a Third World shambles and had to be taken over by the state of New Jersey in 2005.

In 2009, Camden had the highest crime rate in the U.S. with 2,333 violent crimes per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 455 per 100,000.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked Camden as the nation’s most dangerous city in 2004, 2005, and 2009.

The story of Camden represents precisely what has gone wrong in America, in the space of one century. It has been transformed from a prosperous, thriving, and leading edge industrial giant into a Third World slum.

Industry has been sacrificed in the name of “cheaper” (and inferior) Chinese goods, and whites have fled the nonwhite-induced chaos and destruction.

Camden has, within 100 years, gone from a city which had the first mechanized fire engines, to one which now cannot afford to keep a full complement of firefighters.

It is the tale of the Third World destruction of America.

It is a tale which will be repeated up and down this country, unless white Americans act now to stop it.
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Offline laconas

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Re: Hoping Against Hope in Detroit
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 02:22:42 PM »
Nobody censors what they agree with