There’s a drive-by shooting near my house. A few days later there’s a drive-by shooting near the mayor’s house. After that, there’s a small riot. Things are getting weird out in the neighborhoods, out on the side streets, where no one is pushing any kind of “revitalization plan.”
There’s a drive-by shooting near my house. A few days later there’s a drive-by shooting near the mayor’s house. After that, there’s a small riot.
Things are getting weird out in the neighborhoods, out on the side streets, where no one is pushing any kind of “revitalization plan.”
It is tempting to cruelly chortle over a shooting happening on the doorstep of a mayor who lays off cops. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard a lot of people do that very thing.
I’m less inclined to laugh, if only because the recent drive-by near my Fall River house has knocked some of the humor out of my loud mouth.
First of all, other than their mothers (your mother is the last one to stop loving you), no one is going to miss a lot of the guys getting killed. That’s an awful thing to write, but the notion of half the gangbanging losers in town killing the other half does not make me want to sob uncontrollably.
And please do not offer me a big plate of, “He was a good kid who just made some bad choices.” By the time you’re standing on a street corner with a pistol in your hand, you’re not a “kid” anymore, nor do you want to be.
And it’s easy to say, “Let ‘em kill each other.” It’ll keep being easy to say until one of these six-fingered gunslingers fires wide and kills a kid or somebody’s grandmother walking to church.
It isn’t impossible that a bullet could crash through the window of a house, killing an elected official or you ... or me.
And don’t tell me, “It’s because these thugs aren’t FROM here.” Maybe these guys weren’t born here, but they live here now.
Besides, a lot of shooting is fueled by the drug trade. Even if you could convince me that all of the drug-dealing gangbangers came from Boston or Brockton, I’d have to ask you if you thought they only sold drugs to other people who moved here from Brockton or Boston. Whoever is selling the stuff, a lot of needles are going into the arms of a lot of people who were born in the Fall River area.
Blaming the problem on some “other people” from “away” lifts the weight off a lot of shoulders, from the Mayuh on down to the guy who drives a truck, but it doesn’t urge a solution.
Gunfire is a problem, but it’s not THE problem. Gunfire is just a loud exclamation point to bigger problems, from the loss of manufacturing jobs to insufficient education to the gradual disappearance of stable families in poor neighborhoods.
The bullet that cuts the air in Fall River does not represent a local political problem. It represents a national problem that cannot be solved by a local political establishment that, in general, is white, over 50 and, being elected at large instead of by ward, magnificently unconcerned about trouble in neighborhoods whose residents do not resemble, in language or in color, the town of 30 years ago.
There are lots of places in this country that used to make yarn or clothes or shoes or cars or steel and the jobs went and the unions went and the wages went. Marriage went and a lot of religion went and whatever you think of either one, both kept a lot of people in line.
You can tell a kid to finish high school and stay off drugs, but what do you promise the kid if he does those things?
If the kid’s got an uncle with a $17 an hour factory job, then you tell the kid, “Keep your nose clean and Uncle Bob will get you a job down at the plant.”
What do we promise that kid now?
“Keep your nose clean, kid, and you can get the same no benefit, lousy wage, no union job your Uncle Bob has.”
That motivates a kid?
Not so far.
Contact Marc Munroe Dion at firstname.lastname@example.org.