"The lawless gangs of thugs roaming the streets -- we're not going to tolerate that." and "“I assured him (President Obama) we weren’t going to stand by and allow our city of Baltimore to be taken over by thugs.” -- Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.(R)
"Thug" is, of course, a racist dog-whistle term, used with impunity across the political spectrum as the PC substitute for nigger. That a black Democratic mayor should also use it at a press conference about the ongoing rebellion sparked by the fatal spinal cord severing suffered by Freddie Gray while in police custody really should come as no surprise. Rawlings-Blake is a corporate Democrat in the vein of Barack Obama (whose own personal dog-whistle term of choice is the more discreet "knuckleheads").* Her current function includes reassuring white people that she has got this covered. Black heads will roll. She will watch the same TV thug-footage which she purports to despise (for its anti-Chamber of Commerce character) in order to bring charges against people who cut holes in fire hoses and threw rocks at cops.
The Thug Word got a ton of record-shattering use last year when it was applied to Stanford alumnus/Seattle Seahawks football player Richard Sherman after a post-game tirade conducted in the presence of a single white female sideline reporter. According to a Deadspin analysis, "thug" was uttered by shocked and offended TV pundits a grand total of 625 times in the 24 hours following Sherman's rant.
The word "thug" has been used so many times by the same sort of people about the same sort of thing that it's no longer even accurate to call it code—it's really more of a shorthand. It means a black guy who makes white folks a little more uncomfortable than they prefer. On Sunday night, Richard Sherman made a lot of people uncomfortable. Then on Monday, people said thug on TV more often than on any other day in the past three years.The Deadspin analysis revealed that the Thug Word was used mainly by local affiliates, and that the previous most widespread repetition of the word in national media had been when Secretary of State John Kerry used it to berate Bashar al-Assad, aka the Butcher of Damascus.
I am guessing that the Baltimore protests and unrest will probably surpass both football player rants and foreign despotic atrocities to become the new champion Thug Word magnet, attracting use of the pejorative from across the entire media-political complex. I'm still trying to locate CNN transcripts in order to count how many times Wolf Blitzer, Don Lemon, Tom Fuentes and Jeffrey Toobin uttered the Thug Word as they sputtered their amazement that unemployed or underpaid black people would dare loot the CVS pharmacy and steal diapers and soda. Where were the cops? Blitzer inadvertently broadcast the real purpose of urban police forces, which (besides abusing the population) is the defense of free market capitalism and rent-seekers.
He hasn't seen anything like this in exceptional America for a long time. People might even be getting revenge against usurious check-cashing depots which have been ripping them off for years! Just as likely, they're availing themselves of bottled water since the city is now joining Detroit in cutting off tap water to residents behind on their bills.
And here's "legal analyst" Jeffrey Toobin helpfully dog-whistling the sexual predator meme -- specifically, that the rioters are related to a group that once took over a prison and impregnated (white) female guards:
But back to Mayor Rawlings-Blake, who in her other capacity as secretary of the Democratic National Committee, is also a frequent token guest on the Sunday inside-the-Beltway gabfests. In the elite tradition of Chicago's Mayor Rahm "One Percent" Emanuel, she established her neoliberal bona fides early in her term by slashing recreational funding for city youth and increasing funding for the police department. Twenty-four public recreation centers were closed, and another half-dozen were privatized. From The Militant Negro:
Rawlings-Blake credits her reforms to the city pension for saving $64 million yearly, saving the city from an even worse fiscal crisis. The mayor has made extensive cuts to city social welfare programs, with cuts to funding for prisoner reentry programs and the elimination of the city’s offices of Community Development and Community Relations. In 2012, to close the budget deficit, the mayor closed 3 fire stations two of them serving Harlem Park/Sandtown-Winchester and Berea/Clifton are among Baltimore’s poorest communities.So there's the answer to Wolf Blitzer's angst over "Where's the fire trucks? Where's the fire trucks?"
Despite imposing austerity on Baltimore's impoverished citizens, Rawlings-Blake still found the wherewithal to host the city's annual Grand Prix, in which municipal streets are closed and shade trees cut down for the racing pleasure of sports car owners and their multinational corporate backers. The contract for the event was coincidentally awarded to her largest campaign donor. When one city council member questioned her priorities, she promptly cancelled his Ravens box seat season tickets.
And then there's the typical neoliberal push for gentrification of urban areas. Rawlings-Blake awarded a couple of waterside developers $22 million in tax breaks in exchange for a paltry $250,000 contribution to her struggling city.
She also has the dubious distinction of being named the worst mayor in America, or at least having tied with Shrillionaire Mike "Stop & Frisk" Bloomberg in the final vote tally. Like Bloomberg, SRB seems convinced that all that poor cities need to achieve prosperity are gimmicks and developments funded by public money for private profit.
From Boston Streets:
After everything that happened in 2011 (huge losses to the city), SRB and her team worked feverishly to help create a new organization, Race On LLC, and start planning the 2012 Grand Prix. The new organization is led by her largest campaign contributor and made up almost entirely of the same clowns who botched it up the first time. The same people who absolved themselves of their responsibilities are now collecting salaries to do it all over again. With the mayor’s full blessing and encouragement!They even derisively call her Mayor Vroom-Vroom.
This is the true brilliance of SRB’s awfulness. Not only does she aggressively pursue exactly the wrong projects and policies, she employs corrupt and misguided tactics to make sure they happen.
So there's the answer to Wolf Blitzer's anguished question about why all the speeding cop cars.
Baltimore is Le Mans in the ghetto. The real thugs tearing stuff down are the hyper-capitalists extracting profits from poor people at the speed of blight.
* Update: Knuckleheads is so yesterday. As befits his position as chief representative of Plutocrats, Inc. Barack Obama has now gotten with the dog-whistling program. From The Hill:
President Obama on Tuesday blamed "criminals and thugs" for the violence that erupted in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody.More like the propaganda and Al Sharpton are getting lost in the discussion. But anyhoo, now that Obama has made the world safe for Thug-shaming, look for the word to become a gilded super-magnet for color-blind acceptable racist discourse from across the political spectrum -- which in Exceptional America, ranges all the way from A to B.
“There is no excuse for the kind of violence we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive," Obama said. "They’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement. They are stealing.”
Obama said the violent demonstrations undermined the message of peaceful protesters who made "legitimate" complaints about problems in Baltimore. “One burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again and the ... protesters who did it the right way will be lost in the discussion."