Sunday, April 02, 2006

Know history to avoid being surprised!

Chairman and Publisher H. Brandt Ayers of The Anniston Star once again provides our region with rare insights into real concerns. Not perfectly crafted, which I'll address later, but surely close enough to where I hope folks will read and ponder, although most of the people that can and will do that sort of thing aren't really the concern I'd suggest. Mr. Ayers, in his "End of the rich man’s era?" jumps rather quickly into an idea that

We may be about to turn sharply on socio-political hinges to the urgent concerns of the average citizen, much like a similar swing in the decade and a half following the turn of the last century.
Sharp swings are often where lots of people are harmed so I would hate to see that occur. Yet, given the direction of the GOP Rubber Stamp Congress and the Bu$hCo cabal plus organizations like ALEC prepared to bring even more Big Mule Protections into the states, I fear it may very well take a crumbling before Joe and Jill Sixpack will wake up. And even then will it be too late? Mr. Ayers knows his history and weaves his understanding nicely into this and other work. I know we often tell our youth that studying history is to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past but I'm becoming more accepting of the idea that learning it really is so you'll not be as surprised when the inevitable occurs.

Mr. Ayers continues with

Middle-class Americans today tighten their belts, hope they don’t get laid off by merger or outsourcing and shake their heads in resignation as ExxonMobil swims in profits of $36.1 billion and awaits a share of $7 billion in tax breaks.

Small-town merchants, the core of Main Street values, watch with the resigned calm of men facing a firing squad as Godzilla-Mart approaches to swallow them, starving local radio stations and newspapers dependent on locally owned advertisers.
True enough for the middle class squeeze plus I've also blogged on the damage deregulation has caused local media. The one area where I was concerned about Mr. Ayers' editorial, not based on what he thinks as I know he's an enlightened man, follows, the emphasis being supplied by this blogger, when he writes

It is tempting to believe that the weight of the war and the real-world, street-level worries of working and middle-income citizens could be resolved in a burst of reform brought on by a new Congress and president.

Modern life, however, is more complicated. The old monopoly trusts could be broken up, freeing competitors and adding jobs, but we don’t know how to regulate the global marketplace of our time or how to find a productive place for its victims.

Our homes, our neighborhoods and especially clerks in gas station grub marts —combat soldiers of the retail world — are under constant threat by what seems a permanent black male underclass drawn to crime and drugs. Even such eminent black scholars as Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson think there may be a cultural reason for so many young black criminals, but the point is that no one knows.

The current leadership doesn’t seem to care about the victims of the global economy or the pathology of young black males. It is fixed on war, vaporous "family values" and tax breaks for Big Oil and the rich.

Much of the above is indeed dead on yet his venture into Professor Patterson's work, a recent NY Times editorial of his perhaps stoking Mr. Ayers' fire (unfortunately now probably locked behind their damned Select feature), gave me cause for pause. I often fear the neo-confederates that seem to often take offense to The Star's tolerance, plus others lacking in refinement on race, such as many of The Freepers, could use portions of writing such as "constant threat by what seems a permanent black male underclass drawn to crime and drugs." in less that ideal ways. Having the anti-intellectual racist or even worse pseudo-educated neo-con actually cite a scholar at Harvard, that bastion of liberal elitism, might however be an especially tasty irony. I am admittedly learning as I continue to blog how difficult clear and concise writing can be. I have an eternity to go before I am even close to the quality of most authentic journalists.

Further commentary on Dr. Patterson's work(For the record I found his NYT op-ed very rewarding and also rather frustrating!) may be found at TPMcafe.

Kudos to Mr. Ayers for his work and his The Anniston Star! Peace ... or War!