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I waited over a week for the flames to subside before remarking on my city. After the heinous death of George Floyd sparked protests that devolved into violent riots, lawlessness, and absolute terror-inducing chaos, things have become unsettlingly…settled. The eyes of the nation have shifted from Minneapolis to cities from coast to coast. The names of the streets change, but the scenes are shockingly similar: smashed storefronts, roving bands of looters, brutal violence perpetrated on the streets, shooting flames lighting up the night sky. But it’s the aftermath that brings the conclusion into focus. The last three months have proven what the underclass in America has known for decades: the problem is no longer too much government, but too much bad, self-serving government.
The 2016 election echoed resoundingly within the gated communities of the privileged class and shook the ivory towers of pundits and political elites. The rebellion of the ruled against the rule-makers was partly a result of a growing unrest among Americans living under this two-tiered system. Regurgitated platitudes that only benefitted the growing bureaucracy has two effects on citizens: submissive defeat, or acting for change. Much post-election analysis showed working- and lower-class white Americans opted for the latter. Now the rest of the unheard ignored is coming to the same realization.
I live and grew up in the Minneapolis area. I’ve lived and worked on the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides of the city. I lived close to the University of Minnesota campus while attending college and worked at a Mexican restaurant on Chicago Avenue that has since closed. I worked as an Uber driver between jobs. The Minneapolis communities are distinct and close-knit; the people are proud. But I didn’t have to venture too far to find streets without working street lamps, open drug deals, and prostitution. The most heartbreaking is driving past homes that I would’ve assumed were condemned they were so dilapidated. Yet here were kids running in the yards, jumping between posts missing their chain links – mere skeletons of fences. It is a grim contrast between the pristinely manicured, lakefront homes of the white, liberal neighborhoods only a few miles away. Those homes never have a fence in disrepair and more often than not, have a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign posted prominently in the yard.
The segregation of Minneapolis has been going on for years. Decade after decade of Democrats in office have paid lip service to poor, mostly minority communities. They cater to the upper-class liberals and sell out to political unions and academia. Liberal residents thought they could insulate themselves from responsibility by voting for people like Governor Walz and Mayor Frey, men whose virtue signaling was reflected in their voters’ pursuit of compassion and equality and hope. They believe they use their privilege to save ‘those poor minorities’ (a racist condescension in its own right). And voting for liberal policies creates a dependent underclass is fine, as long as they stayed on the other side of the fence and in the other school districts. They vote for Amy Klobuchar because she self-proclaims a message of inclusivity, pitting herself against people like Donald Trump – except when bad cops come before her like Chauvin, who has a record of police brutality, then the only compassion she shows comes in the form of dismissed charges. What happened to “No justice, no peace”?
Poor minority communities are sacrificed at the altar of political correctness and liberal appeasement. For years, politicians and government officials promised to enact change and foster a community of equality in exchange for more power. Instead, they forced small businesses to close during COVID. Barbershops, restaurants, and independent retail stores that line Lake Street and Chicago Avenue, in addition to those that began to spring up in some of the poorest neighborhoods in North Minneapolis and St. Paul were forced to close. Community pools and beaches – the only respite for many families during the hot, humid summer months will stay closed all summer. No community k-12 school programs. No daycare. And to make certain these communities would be absolutely devastated economically, the Governor and Mayor stood aside while they were burned to the ground. But the wealthy who go lake cabins or backyard pools, who shop at boutiques in the suburbs and have jobs where they work from home needn’t worry about such neighborhood strife. Besides, they have a yard sign that says they care.
Many in the elite political class on the Right perpetuate this two-tiered system as well. It’s no secret they hold themselves in a place of higher moral authority when they lecture Trump about his coarse language. But where is the morality in decades of ignoring working-class Americans of all races when they traded away jobs to China? What’s the message in sending us and our kids to fight in a perpetual war where mission creep is the norm, not the exception? Talk is cheap, and the supply is endless.
What are we to think of a government that locks us down for months on end without a real metric on when we can be free? When the state shuts down family drive-in movie nights and public parks but allows elderly COVID patients to go back to certain death in long-term care facilities? When the Mayor of New York City targets Jews gathering to mourn a beloved community leader but refuses to answer for his own romp in a city park miles from his own mansion? Looters and rioters have free reign of destruction on cities already breaking under the burden of regulation, taxes, and forced COVID shutdowns. Law-abiding citizens are helpless to defend themselves not only against the criminals but also against a suffocating government. This barbershop in Minneapolis was destroyed by fire. Orthodox Jews were scolded for not social distancing while New York City shattered. Gun owners are continually targeted just for exercising their First and Second Amendment rights, but brick-throwing radicals are allowed to ‘express their anger.’
There are too many heartbreaking examples of a government that targets the law-abiding but appeases the lawless. We need to stop being bystanders to our own destruction.Published in