It was definitely not business as usual this afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, 73 degrees at game time when the Orioles took the field. Three outs later, the home team came to the plate, batted around en route to a six run inning and an ultimate 8-2 vanquishing of the Chicago White Sox.
Yet there was no one there to “root, root, root, for the home team,” as the song goes. For while Mighty Casey had not struck out, the City of Baltimore certainly has.
The City of Baltimore caved in to the cravenness of the animalistic behavior that has crippled parts of the city. Yet after a one day reprieve from classes, the Baltimore City Public Schools reopened. If it is safe enough to dispatch children around the city to their schools, the ballpark should have been open for business. While Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Orioles organization, and no doubt Major League Baseball put their heads together out of concern for the fans, and so as not to deplete resources from whence they are needed, the 45,971 seats at Camden Yards masqueraded as fans.
Check the box score on Thursday, it will show zero in the attendance category. This is disgraceful. To allow a group of thugs and miscreants to dictate to the city, the team, and the fans – in effect holding them hostage is demonstrative of the paucity of leadership that has plagued this city for years, even decades.
And to make matters worse, the Orioles have literally been driven from town. This weekend’s three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays has been moved down to Tampa where the Orioles will be designated the home team. This is idiotic as the Orioles will lose three games worth of revenue, need to issue ticket exchanges with the fans already holding tickets for those games, and the vendors, both inside and outside Camden Yards will suffer financially – and they can least afford the loss of a week’s pay – two games against the White Sox earlier in the week were postponed and then today’s debacle.
The right solution would have been to have the Orioles host the Rays at Nationals Park in Washington, DC while the Nationals are in New York playing the Mets. If the Orioles had to play in Tampa, the league should have authorized a swap of series as the Orioles will see the Rays several more times throughout the season. Thus the next meeting would be in Baltimore. The only good thing is that the Orioles won the game, which is really secondary behind the reasoning for this conflagration in the first place.
The death of Freddie Gray on April 19 was merely a symptom of a greater disease that inflicts Baltimore. That disease is willful ignorance coupled with a lack of discipline. This is not about race, although the professional race hustlers Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will spout otherwise, nor is this about the police, in spite of there being members of law enforcement reliant too often on force rather than law. But for the most part members of the law enforcement community would prefer to do their jobs in total anonymity without ever firing their sidearm and retiring with a nice pension. Yes, the bad apples need be weeded out and punished appropriately – as should be done in every profession.
What happened to Gray, still under an investigation that should not be hasty, is unfortunate, but there should not be a rush to judgment. Rumors are swirling around like a Phoenix windstorm. Until facts are known and the investigation complete all else is purely speculative. What is known, is that Freddie Gray, 25, had an arrest record as long as Yao Ming’s arms, ran from police, was apprehended, and died in their custody.
This became a call from the wild to loot, pillage, and commit arson, violence against police and property – in other words, an opportunity to be an opportunist. These recalcitrant criminals have a sense of entitlement that if “one of their own” is maligned in any way, it gives them license to upend the city. This was not a peaceful demonstration as per the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. These law-breaking delinquents cannot rob, loot, burn, assault and then demand justice in the same breath. The rioters cost the honest protesters any sympathy and capital they may have garnered with their felonious behavior.
While there are some honest brokers involved here, and they could be seen in the light of day with brooms, trash bags and other tools required to help clean up their neighborhood and restore some semblance of peace and dignity as well as work with police, they are few and far between. My vote for mother of the year goes to Toya Graham who took her 16-year-old son to task for getting involved with the illegal acts occurring in her city. (http://www.teapartycrusaders.com/u-s-news/video-watch-angry-baltimore-mom-publicly-disciplines-her-son-for-rioting/) She simply wishes to protect her son – her only son – she has five daughters – from ending up in prison, or worse – like Gray – in a pine box. If more parents behaved like this, there would be fewer delinquents on the streets.
But leadership starts from above, and it clearly was not on display in the form of Rawlings-Blake. Numerous sources noted she gave a stand down order to police and to give the thugs room to conduct their miscreant behavior. Rawlings-Blake was actually quoted as saying, “We give those who wished to destroy, space to do that,” regarding the activities of protesters and the expected spillover. She later denied ever saying those words and chastised the media for reporting that she had. (http://fusion.net/story/126587/the-odd-tactic-of-giving-baltimore-protesters-space-to-destroy-property/)
Rawlings-Blake and many other people referred to the looters and other criminals as “thugs,” then recanted and apologized for using that word that some suggest is akin to using the “N” word. This is absurd, as a thug is a miscreant, a criminal, a ne’er do well, and has absolutely nothing to do with the race of the thug. This is another example of race baiting in an unwarranted circumstance. This is simply linguistic tap dancing – semantics to draw focus away from the real problems – lack of leadership at the top and lack of education and discipline from the rank and file. But if thugs is too offensive, how about marauders? Or will that invoke a picture of Barbary pirates and also be condemned? Such a waste of time.
Rawlings-Blake continued to do herself a disservice when suggesting that the “activists” should be allowed to loot, as “it’s only property.” More than 150 businesses were destroyed or damaged. Who does the mayor expect will pay for the cleanup and rebuilding. And what will become of the employees now out of work? More government largesse? Perhaps businesses will not rebuild or reopen. Perhaps owners will decide it simply isn’t worth the investment of time, money, and sweat equity. The mayor is terribly cavalier and capricious in both words and deeds. After all, she imposed a curfew on Monday night, but it was not to begin until Tuesday night. Why not that very night? She took far too long to ask for help from Governor Larry Hogan (R) and bring the National Guard on board. This is a mayor slow to make decisions and then, not terribly good ones. If she does not resign, she should either be recalled or impeached.
For those who suggest I should put my money where my mouth is, I have – by running for Baltimore City Council in 1999 when there were six council districts and each district was represented by three councilmen. I ran against three Democrat incumbents – one of whom was Stephanie Rawlings. In a city that, at the time, had eight percent registered Republicans, I never woke up with any delusions that I actually had a snowball’s chance in Guam of unseating an incumbent. But I was asked to run by the party and knew the opportunity would be exciting and educational as well as giving me an opportunity to share my views with the people and hear from them as well. Sparing all the suspense, I did not emerge victorious on Election Day 1999.
But back to the National Guard and the good work they do. Apparently the Mt. Washington Whole Foods market also knows the National Guard are upstanding folks and that store supplied the Guard with turkey and cheese sandwiches. Mt. Washington is an upper middle class neighborhood not too far from the Park Heights neighborhood where I once resided. There were messages of condemnation that Whole Foods was wrong for serving “the oppressors,” or “the enemy,” and worse language.
More critics thought Whole Foods should have provided the poor neighborhoods’ children with food for they did not get their “free,” read – taxpayer expensed – breakfast and lunch on Tuesday because the public schools were closed due to the civil unrest. A friend living not too far from the epicenter of the rioting, looting, and burning of stores and homes said her children attend a Jewish day school, open on Tuesday, but was keeping them home because she thought it too dangerous to send them out. The reason most of these children did not get their city-provided breakfast and lunch is because an overwhelming number of the marauders were, in fact, young people. Biological age should not matter – arson is arson, looting is looting, assaulting police officers is assault, cutting fire hoses being used to douse arson fires is destruction of property.
These young people belong is school, paying attention to their teachers, doing their homework, garnering themselves the education that will lift them from the poverty in which they are mired, and have better lives than the previous generation. Sadly this disease of poverty is generational. But it is not the fault of the police as Barack Obama would have people believe. In his press conference Tuesday, Obama all but blamed police for the scourge of poverty, drug use, lack of education and single parent families.
Police do not force people to use drugs and become addicts. Police do not force children to misbehave in school and not get the education to which they are so richly entitled. Police do not force girls/women to have unprotected sex, or sex at all, and become teen mothers. And where the word entitlement is concerned, an education should be the entitlement parents seek for their children; not substandard government housing, not welfare or food stamps, but good, dependable, safe schools where their children can learn and rise above the muck of an impoverished lifestyle and become productive members of society.
This is most certainly not about race, for if it is, as liberals subscribe, then it is the liberal who is the real racist. Just as liberals endorse affirmative action as beneficial to minority communities, which in the long run it is not, to suggest the riots are about race is to suggest that blacks cannot control themselves and that blacks have no sense of discipline, as opposed to people who are impoverished, uneducated, and perhaps have substance issues. These are issues of education, personal responsibility, and discipline – and people, regardless of race or ethnicity have the capacity to learn and be educated, have the capacity to be personally responsible, and have the capacity to be disciplined and avoid harmful substances and irresponsible physical relations.
Poverty rates among blacks under Obama, the nation’s first black president, have risen from 24.7 percent in 2008 to 27.2 percent in 2014. Unemployment in Gray’s neighborhood is 51 percent with 60 percent failing to earn a high school diploma. (www.foxnews.com)
Urban plight is due to liberalism, progressive political planning and it is spreading to the suburbs and exurbs. A lack of discipline at home, where one parent is typically not enough for raising children, where parents are too busy trying to be their children’s friends is where the deleteriousness of a child’s life commences. Fewer and fewer parents read to their children. They park their children in front of a television or send them to substandard day care centers to save money in order to work outside the home and earn money. Children who do not have reading in the home start school already behind those who do.
Liberalism in the public schools consists of assuming minority children can’t do and shouldn’t be challenged. That only hurts them more. As someone who taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools I know from firsthand experience what so-called leaders of schools would expect from their staffs. If these schools can be run by black principals who have Masters degrees and PhDs, why should the level of challenge and expectation be diminished for the children for whom they are responsible? Masters degrees and PhDs are not handed out like tissues at a chick flick. They are earned.
This is why affirmative action is deleterious to minorities. It suggests that certain groups can’t achieve, and therefore must be given something they haven’t earned in order to maintain some sort of statistical equilibrium. The numbers prove otherwise. While affirmative action helps more minorities get into college, it does not help them graduate. In fact once in college, it is sink or swim as it is for all students, and minority graduation rates are considerably lower than non-minority graduation rates.
The problem is, that this is a worsening crisis that can’t be turned around as quickly as making a U-turn on the road. Entitlements must be curtailed to able bodied people and welfare should be limited and be valued at lower than a minimum wage job. Stop incentivizing people to not work, to not get an education, and encourage them to strive for betterment that they can achieve with discipline, education, and hard work. Nothing good comes easily.
Get government out of education. Elected government officials rely upon the votes of those to whom the most is given. They rely upon the votes of the uneducated to which politicians promise the world as part of continued dependency. There is no incentive for politicians to improve the lot of the uneducated, and therefore no incentive to improve the failing public schools.
Education is power and when those need it most garner it, then they will have real power, and more than that, they will have given themselves real freedom out from under the yoke of government and dependency.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. In a previous lifetime he taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools as well as ran for the Baltimore City Council – unsuccessfully.