It seems like "Summer" starts earlier and earlier these days. Normally, I'd blame climate change -- that's what we liberals do, right? But unless rising levels of atmospheric carbon now cause humans to lose IQ points, I don't think that global warming can explain the arrival in Philadelphia of the so-called "Summer of Rage," a roving band of idiots that broke windows, spray-painted lefty slogans, smashed in cars, hurled Christmas ornaments filled with paint, and generally terrorized a rapidly gentrifying sliver of North Philadelphia on Monday night.
May Day! May Day! The sacking of North Philly by the vandals -- which has dominated the local news, because who doesn't love a band of ragtag revolutionaries with a snazzy name? -- managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for those who are actually working hard for a more just and progressive Philadelphia. That included more than 1,000 teachers who protested about going four years without either a union contract or a raise while teaching kids in some of America's grittiest neighborhoods, as well as about 2,000 immigrants and black and brown activists who joined together for a first-of-its-kind rally against like racial profiling and the stepped-up raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Their pleas for justice are now largely forgotten as the media chases a bunch of cafones wearing bandanas and firing high-powered marbles at BMWs.
I can just imagine Fox News' Sean Hannity -- whose career seems to be winding down as all his pals are forced out over their long history of sexual harassment -- now staying on the air for the next three years so he can connect the dots between "The Summer of Rage" and similar outrages like working-class folks getting affordable health care. Because that's the kind of thing that's already been happening since Nov. 8 -- right-wing media insisting that literally millions of law-abiding everyday citizens resisting a know-nothing government in Washington can all be explained away by 75 dudes in Portland wearing masks and hurling rocks.
The real face of resistance is the sea of more than 200,000 people who marched peacefully through the streets of Washington this past Saturday, disgusted by President Trump's sell-out of the planet to satisfy his billionaire Big Oil golfing buddies. It took hard work for people to organize that climate march. It also took hard work for scores of Delaware County residents to protest regularly outside the offices of GOP U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan -- work that certainly has helped convince Meehan to reject the latest, lamest health care proposals to come out of Trumpworld. In contrast, vandalism isn't just immoral, but downright lazy.
It's a shame because the issue that the anarchist-y "Summer" protesters claim to be raising -- the impact of gentrification on poor and working-class neighborhoods in Philadelphia -- certainly deserves airing. Gentrification is a topic that seems to inspire lazy thinking -- "This place used to be a drug-infested (bleep)hole and now with these new lofts it looks better than ever, so why are those people are complaining?" Dude, they're complaining because those lofts with granite-counter kitchens and burrito bars don't bring factory jobs, sensible housing policies, or the things that make what you call a "(bleep)hole" viable for the folks who already live there.
But then smashing in a Mercedes-Benz windshield doesn't solve that problem, does it? Nor did the two folks have been arrested and identified as group members even come from the affected neighborhood. The whole thing is stupid. And counterproductive. And hurtful to all the real progressive types who right now are frantically calling their Congress member and pleading to save affordable health care. I know it's only early May, but I can't wait for this "Summer" to be over.
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