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Why is Baltimore burning?

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I was a teenager when the riots occurred in Washington, D.C., following Martin Luther King's assassination... it was inevitable. Angry mobs tore up 14th Street and the surrounding area, burning and looting businesses in their own neighborhoods...but why?

Many of the rioters were there for material gain, robbing the very stores they had patronized for years. But the black community had no real stake in these businesses other than to be overcharged for the goods they sold. Their anger became focused on Asian and mostly white business owners because they were handy. But in the looting and burning they hurt themselves since many business owners did not rebuild and the services were lost to the community. The situation in Baltimore is not too different.

I worked in the city for years and well understood the demographics of the city and it's neighborhoods. The current riot is on Baltimore's west side, a poor neighborhood where a CVS Pharmacy was a leg up for the needs of the community and now it is gone. Should these people be so angry? I say yes because the death of Freddie Gray is nothing new in that city, it just received more attention by the media.

Years ago the city chose to rehabilitate the Inner Harbor downtown and turn it into a tourist attraction while just a few blocks away the blight of poverty was ignored. Yes, that angered many and still does because the poor population had no say in these decisions, just the very political businessmen who control the city.

The state stepped in and tried to boost employment. Government contracts dictated that even the lowliest worker on a job site had to be paid to their scale. That meant a man pushing a shovel was being paid thirteen or fourteen dollars an hour. Contractors dropped out right and left, they could not afford the demands.

When desegregation laws went into effect and mixed the neighborhoods in schools many of the white population took their kids out of public school. This was a poor decision since many of these kids never went back and the level of illiteracy was staggering...and still is. Government did a poor job of social engineering and didn't solve the problems.

There has never been a good relationship between the authorities and the inner city population. There is mistrust at many levels and the city has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country of black men in the prison system. Poverty breeds contempt, lack of education seems to assure this will continue. Look at the images of the Baltimore riots and the kids throwing rocks and looting. This is an old and all too familiar pattern of life in this city.

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Any group within a society that does not have a voice in that society will eventually turn to acts of violence. The fact that the violence in question may hurt them more than it does others is immaterial, they just want to be heard and do not care what the cost of being heard is. Unfortunately modern western politics is marginalizing more and more groups within society. Unless we can do something to bring them back into the mainstream of politics we can look towards more and more situation like we saw in the UK a couple of years ago and are seeing now in the cities of the USA.

The problem is that in both much of the western world politics has been taken over by interest groups of the left or the right which have no interest in the voice of the center. Unless we can move the main body of politics back towards the center ground and the principles of western liberalism things are just going to get worse.

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You can't help but agree with that. If you tried to condense it to a one word solution, that word would be education. Educating the disenfranchised minorities on the effects of their participation in the political process would make all the difference iin the world.

In California, there are now more Hispanic and black people than there are whites. Yet the political system is mostly run by whites. Things would certainly change, and from my viewpoint change for the better, if the brown and black voices were heard, and their votes counted, in future elections.

Today's politicos know this. Hence more and more we're seeing efforts to disallow minority voting!


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Not to ignore the rioting and looting in Baltimore, but from the audio files of yesterday's SCOTUS hearing on same sex marriage, it is obvious that the justices are well aware of reactions turning, if not violent, then at least disruptive over any decision that they make over marriage equality. Taking the astute analysis and comments in this thread of the Baltimore situation, it is not difficult to expand the concerns to include either of the two major interests in the result of the SCOTUS marriage decision, reacting with violence.

Would we see Christians or LGBT persons running riot, looting and burning? We can only say that it's possible, especially when you consider that several individuals have called for civil disobedience and the death penalty for homosexuality; whilst LGBT individuals have stated with much concern and rage that they are not going back into the closet because someone has traded their regard for the human right to marry the person they love, merely to satisfy Christian beliefs.

The fact that the justices, by their questioning, have shown concern over the outcome of the ruling, whatever it may be, may well mean that they are searching for a ruling that will end in pleasing no one, leaving the Constitution and its Amendments tattered and torn, burning in the streets of the nation.

Still, it is early in the process, and the justices may well only be seeking to be seen as aware of the ramifications of their deliberations.

However, it is of concern that there is more than a hint of religion influencing the marriage arguments, replacing the civil status of the marriage contract with a poor understanding of the history of marriage over the centuries from tribal ceremonies to public celebrations.

To pair with the person who consents and reciprocates your love is what is being claimed as a civic contract, an individual right, and a path to pursuing happiness without being told that it is a sin against a god's religious laws.

When so-called, "religious freedom laws" are used as an excuse to discriminate in order to limit equal participation in the benefits of secular society we risk retaliation to what some, quite correctly in my opinion, would see as the true violation of individual human rights.

To return to the burning and looting subject of this thread, it is only to be hoped that cooler, more informed heads will prevail.

However, if we lack the education, the reasoning and rational introspection to understand the nature of the freedoms that the secular Constitution provides for us, then we will likely lose those Enlightenment freedoms to the whims, constrictions and persecutions of a tyrannical theocracy for a profit by the looting of the most valuable First Amendment to the Constitution.

There is much more than simple rulings to be realised here, and considerably more work to be done if the human species is to survive beyond outmoded social and limiting, tribal taboos.

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You can't help but agree with that. If you tried to condense it to a one word solution, that word would be education. Educating the disenfranchised minorities on the effects of their participation in the political process would make all the difference in the world.

Education is important but it is also important to have a system that allows the voices of the minorities, whoever they are, to be heard but which prevents any minority from obtaining a controlling interest in the political system. Unfortunately the political systems of derived from the Anglo-Saxon tradition tend to favor a two party winner takes all approach. Unless we can change the fundamental way in which politics works we are going to find ourselves increasingly facing more and more conflict, until we come to the day when the disenfranchised become the majority and we find ourselves to be a minority without a voice. Then no doubt it will be our turn to make use of violence.

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