May 22, 2015

"By the way, is anyone asking about the family makeup of the bikers in Waco?"

"No? Exactly."

68 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I understand the point, but it's clumsy, as the bikers' fathers -- if they're even still alive -- are ancient things.

The Godfather said...

The word “thug” while pejorative to some, still evokes a certain romanticism in the American ethos. It conjures an image of individualism, adventure and virility. There’s an endless list of thug movies. (If they've made a thug Viagra ad I've missed it - maybe Cialis?)

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It was a commonplace, back in the day, that I heard from people in South Philly about the mob: "Yes but they only kill their own."

I think some neighborhoods could count on free turkeys every Thanksgiving.

In any event, I think a lot of it had to do with gratitude for keeping out the blacks.

Michael K said...

If I try to read anything by Blow, I can feel IQ points slipping away.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

By "anyone" he means the media.

chickelit said...

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the Blow winds.

Mr. Colby said...

Has anyone put together a canonical list of all the times in the past week this same exact piece has been written? Could be interesting to trace it back to wherever it was originally conceived.

David said...

Sorry. Mr. Blow, nobody may be asking these questions in New York, but I can assure you they are being asked elsewhere, though apparently not by your pal Obama and the media elite.

Families and neighborhoods create culture and they transmit culture. It's true for whites and hispanics as well as blacks. The fact that the "right people" did not ask these questions in the print you happen to read does not mean that troubled black families and communities are not transmitters of a culture of violence.

Blow is another example of failed black leadership. A primary technique in resolving difficult situations is to control what you can. There are a lot of things within their own communities that blacks could control, but d0 not. (Hint: they need the police to help them in this.)

Unfortunately one of these is schools, where the society is badly failing poor black kids, and poor kids in general. These kids are trapped in part because their parents lack school choice. The "power structure' (which notably includes teachers unions) is a big part of that overall educational failure.

Yet Charles Blow has been a consistent opponent of school choice and charter schools. In other words he opposes making choices available to otherwise trapped minority children.

dix said...

170 arrests with the potential for being charged with capital murder (in Texas, where they mean it). Maybe not the best example of white privilege he could have chosen

MayBee said...

Is anyone defending their actions as the cry of an oppressed people?
Would anybody be upset if the bikers were called "thugs"?
Is anyone protesting the idea that the police might have shot first and asked questions later?

No? Exactly.

Connie said...

Is there anyone that thinks that the bikers are not part of a violent organized criminal gang, or anyone trying to justify their actions? No. There appear to be those, however, that are trying to justify the criminal behavior of rioters/looters. It shouldn't be surprising that when people try to justify obviously criminal activity that the backgrounds of the perpetrators are examined in more detail.

Paul Mac said...

Yeah family issues and dysfunction weren't something that were a key focus of the latest Hollywood glamorization of murderous thugs (thugs is from Thuggee the Indian murder cult that was wiped out at great effort by the British in the 1800s after centuries of claiming countless lives)

Having gone through the Mafia and Baltimore gangs, Sons of Anarchy largely focuses on the protaganists screwed up family situation and how it was begat by and begets incredible turmoil and violence.

chickelit said...

Blow doesn't seem to realize that people do care about the causes of the bikers' rampage and will not hesitate to point fingers. He also misrepresents how widespread biker unrest is. He doesn't seem to care that Sonny Barger isn't out there making bail for each biker and that our biker POTUS isn't weighing in.

acm said...

No one is calling the bikers "kids" or using their 8th grade photos to identify them, either. Funny how when people past their late teens behave badly, we hold them accountable, while minors/young adults' bad behavior is typically seen as an indictment of their upbringing.

MayBee said...

A lot of these guys are ex-Military.

I'm disappointed in the left for trying to make this a racial thing, when they could easily make it an anti-war thing.

garage mahal said...

These gangbanger thugs more than likely grew up without a father figure.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Questions about family makeup are a response to statements from the likes of Blow that society as a whole is to blame for the fate of the poor sweet child who died committing some violent act.

Is anyone blaming society as a whole for the fate of these bikers?

No? Exactly.

AJ Lynch said...

He is one dumb mofo [can I say that about a black pundit?].

Dan Hossley said...

I must have missed it, but did riots ensue following the arrest of the bikers? I think not.

It isn't the press that acted differently, it is people living in the community that did.

BDNYC said...

Most of these guys are older than 35, with many being on the wrong side of 50. Why would anyone wonder about their fathers?

SteveR said...

The problem with being a writer who writes about racial issues is you have to look for things to write about, even when they don't really fit. Plus there's a problem of not being a good writer.

tim maguire said...

I can't believe you linked to Charles Blow. What intelligent discussion could possibly come from that?

Michael K said...

"These gangbanger thugs more than likely grew up without a father figure."

Since the Great Society was passed, the culture has changed. The blacks were the first to be affected but whites are coming along pretty quickly. Only the elite white society and the traditional white groups in flyover country are avoiding it.

Mission Accomplished, garage !

Xmas said...

It is a totally unfair comparison. If we were comparing "Bikers" to anyone, it would be Crips, Bloods and Latin Kings.

And if we were comparing that Biker shootout to anything, it would be a normal weekend in Chicago.

Scott said...

It's Charles Blow. Hard.

And after he finished the piece, he said to himself, "Well, I got my 1200 words in for the day. Time to go to lunch."

PDM said...

How is comparison of the original criminal outbreak of warring motorcycle gangs, to spontaneous riots, a reasonable comparison -- unless I am to believe (or someone assumes I believe) that that street riots by unknown collections of citizens are the same as gang wars? Isn't the more valid point that there weren't protests at all, by blacks or whites, after the arrest of more than 100 mostly white men, and the killing of nine of them? So that there was no need or ability by the media or me to hyper-examine the motivations of the protesting crowds?

I think Connie makes the same point; we all know that motorcycle gangs (or at least these two) are criminal enterprises. No one cares, other than the general concern for why such criminal gangs emerge in the first place, about the reasons these gangsters became gangsters. Frankly, I don't care or know how many of them were white, hispanic, black, or asian. They're just criminals. If I cared about the rioters, it's only because I didn't make the initial assumption that they were all gangsters or criminals, and might therefore wonder what societal failings led to the aberration. With the motorcycle gangs, I didn't view this as an aberration; it was an expected activity of their enterprise.

Unknown said...

I wonder what would the response have been of there was rioting in Waco supporting the bikers?

I would have called the rioters "thugs." And the bikers in the gun fight "criminals." Like I think of the dead black people who attacked police as "criminals" and the rioters who exploited the deaths as "thugs."

The ones who got paid to protest in Ferguson by the Acorn derivative (or at least were promised payment), http://news.investors.com/blogs-capital-hill/052015-753642-ferguson-protesters-complain-about-not-getting-paid.htm, I don't know what to call them. Except reprehensible.

Jim in St Louis said...

Charles Blow’s central point is:

“But there is something about black violence that makes some people leap to a racialized conclusion that the violence is about our fraying culture — that it’s not simply about people behaving violently, but about the entirety of the environment from which they sprang. Black violence stops being about individual people, and starts being about the whole of a people.”

I agree! And I think the principaled conservative point of view supports that people should be responsible for their own actions. I don’t know why so-called conservatives keep repeating that the riots in my home town and elsewhere are the fault of: “LBJ/ liberal welfare rules/no fault divorce/breakdown of the family/ premarital sex etc etc” I’d buy that if we are talking general policy and how it impacts society. But life choices of people are their own. Dammit!
The looters and the bikers both are where they are because that is exactly where they wanted to be. They looked at the benefits and risks and choose this path. Yeah, I’m sure the bikers had a lousy childhood, so did lots of people- not everyone joins a criminal enterprise.

EMD said...

I'm disappointed in the left for trying to make this a racial thing

I don't get that point at all when some of the biker thugs were black and hispanic or mixed races.



kcom said...

"Plus there's a problem of not being a good writer."

If he blows too many more columns like that people are going to think he sucks.

Terry said...

"But the tone and tenor of the rhetoric the media used to describe this event — particularly early on — were in stark contrast to the language used to describe the protests over the killings of black men by the police."

What is it about liberalism that destroys the ability to use reason or form an effective argument? No wonder they hate free speech. They aren't good at using it.

Skeptical Voter said...

Blow can usually be counted on to "blow chunks" of arrant nonsense. The only thing that stops Blow from being the dumbest op ed writer at the New York Times is the presence of Paul Krugman (and maybe Maureen Dow).

So he's not at the bottom of the barrel---but then again it's a very deep barrel

As for biker gangs in a shooutout? Meh, so what? 9 bikers dead is a good start. And you can bet--being Texas, that at least a few of the 170 bikers arrested will be riding a needle in Huntsville sometime soon.

jr565 said...

It's funny how the media, which is largely white, is excoriating white people over white privilege because THE MEDIA, when reporting on the biker gangs doesn't mention race. As if to suggest there is some inherent bias there.
Well then media, why aren't you bringing up the biker gangs race? Clearly the fault belongs to the media, since they are the ones covering the story. Maybe the Sally Kohns of the world can address her cohorts and find out why they are such racists.
By the way, we saw the same thing during Ktrina coverage when THE MEDIA covered those looting stores who happened to be black.
To which Kanye west had this to say:
"West: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food."
Now, the media was showing the black looters, beciase it was blacks that were doing the looting, primarily. And carrying a TV is different than carrying actual food.but, if there was an issue with the coverage, it's a gain an issue with the media coverage.
White society gets pegged as not caring for black people because th media keeps framing the narrative that way. Or are themselves q bunch of racists.

jr565 said...

I assumed that the gangs were largely white, since most biker gangs are. And I assumed they were thugs since they usually are. And I assumed they were shooting each other, because, as Charles Cooke tweeted, that's what they do.
There will be no riots by whites, (unless they are in biker gangs) because one may have been killed by a cop. Because most law abiding people view white thugs as white thugs.

kcom said...

"The looters and the bikers both are where they are because that is exactly where they wanted to be. They looked at the benefits and risks and choose this path. Yeah, I’m sure the bikers had a lousy childhood, so did lots of people- not everyone joins a criminal enterprise."

The bikers aren't fighting for a noble outcome or to right a wrong. They're just in it for the money, drugs, outlaw life, whatever. They know they're doing wrong and they don't care.

So the question is, if people think there is a problem with the police, why do they protest by acting like biker gangs? Why are they so stupid that these questions even come up? How does burning something down advance the cause of creating fairness? We know biker gangs don't care. Why do people who supposedly care act like people who don't? And how do people ever expect to be taken seriously when they defend thugs as if they were innocent naifs. One reason crime remains a problem is that people who should be trying to eliminate it are instead looking the other way, or even abetting the criminals, putting the entire burden on the police. The outcome of that dynamic shouldn't be surprising. Please watch one episode of "The First 48" to see the tawdriness of it all.

tim in vermont said...

I didn't realize that the biker gangs were heavily comprised of (I just did that to set you off) young people.

grackle said...

Unfortunately one of these is schools, where the society is badly failing poor black kids, and poor kids in general.

I totally agree. Except I would substitute "failed Democrat policies" for "society." It's way too late to try to correct the Democrat policies that led to the breakup of black(and white) families. But we can at least allow them access to a good education. Reforming the schools is all but impossible since the Democrat teacher unions have a stranglehold on the school districts. Charter schools is the answer but the unions and Democrat politicians will fight them to their last breath.

That the authorities have not used that word[thugs] to describe the far worse violence in Waco makes the contrast all the more glaring.

Let's compare:

Black violence: Rioting over a period of several nights, looting and burning down businesses in their own neighborhood, injuring several police officers.

Biker violence: Gunfight in one restaurant between bikers from all ethnic groups(except perhaps Asian). No rioting. No businesses or neighborhoods looted or burned. No cops injured. The only folks hurt were the bikers themselves.

Doesn't seem the same to me.

dbp said...

It takes a special kind of stupidity to utterly miss the obvious differences between events in Waco and places like Ferguson and Baltimore. Charles Blow is in full possession of the powers needed for this kind of work.

The Waco situation was not caused by actions of the police and was not aimed at them. It was criminal gangs fighting amongst themselves. Frightening that it got so out of hand but it was encouraging that a huge number of arrests were made and people have confidence that the forces for order are in control.

The other situations are more fraught since there appears to be a crisis of confidence in the social order itself. We need police and we need protection from criminals and yet some factions openly defend lawlessness. At the same time we need confidence that the police themselves are subject to the law. The elected representatives have job which would be tough for statesmen: Reform the police departments and inspire confidence in the populace. Too bad they are demagogues elected by a populace that hates the police and does not seem to see any need for law enforcement.

tim in vermont said...

Weren't most of them killed by cops? Shouldn't the left be down there protesting? Has anybody blamed the shootout on Limbaugh yet? And if not, why not?

Rocketeer said...

So if I'm understanding Blow correctly, we shouldn't expect more of the black community than we do of biker gangs.

I gotta say, that sounds condescendingly racist.

Richard Dolan said...

As it happens, back in the day when teen gangs were a major concern -- the sort of thing that West Side Story used for different purposes -- people did ask about the 'family makeup' of gang members. Some of the better song-and-dance pieces in WSS did that explicitly -- 'depraved because you're deprived' was a good line mocking the social worker approach to such things, with a lot of not so subtle digs about ethnicity, mom's wearing army boots, etc., thrown in as the show went along.

What was a concern in the 1950s has been displaced over the years, and (not surprisingly) the conversation today is about today's concerns.

gerry said...

To Blow, if a turd floats incorrectly in a toilet, it symbolizes racism, depending upon, of course, its color. That's why the article's logic is so racialistically convoluted.

Roger Sweeny said...

We should love, but because you disagree with me, you are a hateful racist and I hate you.

Mr. Blow, you have written a bigoted, hateful piece.

Jim in St Louis said...

Kcom said: if people think there is a problem with the police, why do they protest by acting like biker gangs?

I’m not convinced that the people really do think there is a problem with the police. I’m not seeing that the protestors against police violence really care about it at all. Black people in the communities that I know love to see cop cars, they are tired of living in gang land, they want safe streets too. They want to sit on the stoop and drink a beer without getting shot, they want the hookers to go work somewhere else. They want the drug violence out. Everyone admits that the cops can be jerks and they can go too far. But the loudmouth protestors are after something else- revolution?- destruction of capitalism?- hell I don’t know, but I do know that there are millions of black folks who are scared by the ‘snitches get stiches’ crowd. And the protestors are not making the streets safer.

Darcy said...

I felt he made a good point comparing the use of "thug" to "biker gang" or "outlaw (anything)". I think it is at least partially race related, but I disagree with where it comes from. Not hatred. Conditioning. Reflex. Something to ponder, but the "hatred" charge may get in the way of that. Not helpful, Mr. Blow.

jr565 said...

Darcy, biker gangs are gangs. Fans are comprised of thugs. Don't see how that is the least bit controversial. The sons of anarchy were a bunch of thugs. The only thing separating them form the black gangs and the Latinos were that they drove motorcycles.
Biker gangs are no different than crips or bloods.
I fully expect many of them to get into violent altercations with cops, and I fully expect cops,to go after them for committing crimes. If the cops,shoot them, I'd be willing to bet that 85% of the time the cops are in the right.

Gusty Winds said...

Why don't we just refer to both groups as assholes and be done with it?

Basil said...

Did I miss the rioting and burning of businesses in Waco? These two events were not remotely the same. One was a hooligan brawl, one was a riot.

Also, we should look at the family make up of the bikers. I am confident they are victims of the disintegration of the nuclear family, as well.

The Great Society did not only destroy black families. It destroyed millions of white ones, too.

stan said...

Is anyone trying to claim that the bikers are violent because the govt isn't giving them enough money?

Darcy said...

I'm not disputing that they should be interchangeable labels, jr565; however, from what I've seen of coverage/social media conversation, the label "thugs" was applied predominantly to black actors. The idea that biker gang and outlaw motorcycle gang have been romanticized at least somewhat, and therefore are not entirely pejorative, resonated with me. Why did we not reach for the label "biker thugs"?

Unknown said...

Dear Darcy:

"Thug is now inextricably embedded in rap, and has been for quite some time. Just off the top of my head, I can come up with plenty of examples: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (who made “Thug Love” and “Notorious Thugs”); Trick Daddy’s seven albums including Thug in the title; Kool G Rap’s “Thug For Life” and “Thug Chronicles”; Jeezy’s Thug Motivation trilogy; Houston’s Slim Thug; YG’s “I’m A Thug”; and the aforementioned Young Thug. A search for “thug” on Spotify yields over 100 artists with the word in their moniker. Genius (formerly Rap Genius) retrieves 14,660 results for “thug” in lyrics, songs, and artist names."

http://www.stereogum.com/1801799/thug-life-rap-music-and-the-word-thug/franchises/essay/

Like the word "gay," the word "thug" has been adopted by a group as a label. The group is (predominantly black) rappers. That does not keep me from using it for whatever group I think it applies to, but that does not mean I accept the use of it as a badge that only applies to the group.

Anonymous said...

Blowhard.

Rick said...

By the way, is anyone asking about the family makeup of the bikers in Waco?"

Is anyone trying to use biker dysfunction as a justification to reorder society?

gerry said...

Why did we not reach for the label "biker thugs"?

Who is "we"? Residents of Waco? Althouse commenters? Vegetable-soup network media talking hacks? Rush Limbaugh?

(Pssst. "Biker" = "Thug". They are synonyms, which means words that mean approximately the same thing.

Michael said...

this conscription of the word "thug" bothers me. I am embarrassed for the blacks who think it fits them and for literate people who seem to be accepting this sudden transference of meaning of a word that has been in use for quite a while to describe a person, of any color, whose behavior is, well, thuggish. I use it all the time to describe some of the less enlightened rednecks that reside in the area.

gerry said...

Is anyone trying to use biker dysfunction as a justification to reorder society?

Is anyone trying to use biker dysfunction as a justification to reorder society, raise taxes, or give Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton air time?

hombre said...

Really? These situations are analogous, Mr. Blow?

The bikers prolonged the violence for days? Weeks? The bikers burned businesses in their community? The bikers whined about how the police discriminated against them? (BTW, anybody who thinks the police don't target bikers is remarkably ignorant.) The bikers blamed their economic circumstances for the violence? The bikers blamed the police? Everybody else? Etc., etc.

The only things dumber than Blow's column are the NYT's decision to publish it and the agreement expressed by the mentally challenged commenters that infest the Times pages.

Scott said...

"I don't get that point at all when some of the biker thugs were black and hispanic or mixed races."

Yeah, it was like a bad Hollywood movie where the gangs all have to be composed of white, black, asian, and Mexcan guys in equal proportion.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

The words “outlaw” and “biker” while pejorative to some, still evoke a certain romanticism in the American ethos.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the Hip-Hop community been romanticizing "thug life" for the past couple of decades?

Gahrie said...

Most of these guys are older than 35, with many being on the wrong side of 50. Why would anyone wonder about their fathers?

To make a lame attempt at a lame point.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"By the way, is anyone asking about the family makeup of the bikers in Waco? No?"

Well, maybe. Mr. Blow seems impliedly to be asking.

But, Hammond posits, if the inquiry were made it is likely those actually involved in committing mayhem in Baltimore and in Waco would have come from broken homes.

Hammond posits the common factor not to be a "racial" thing but rather a "Government" thing. The Government can, and does, make promises which it then fails to fulfill, and for which there is no recourse available to the damaged.

That aside, there are some differences between the recent spate of central city riots and the Waco mayhem, e.g.:
..in the central city riots the intent was to damage local property owners, the mayhem and theft being committed either by local residents or imported rent-a-mobs;
..in Waco, local property damage was collateral to gang-on-gang myahem (altho it may develop that most deaths were caused by Police).

As to Mr. Blow's contention that nobody is calling the Waco perpetrators "thugs"; the Waco PD public information guy, in all the network video I've seen, is at great pains to describe the perpetrators as "criminal," "law-breakers." etc. as distinguished from those folks just out for a sunny Saturday run.

Hammond leaves you with this question: should the Federal Government enforce affirmative action quotas to ensure representative racial representation in motorcycle clubs?

Freeman Hunt said...

Weren't they members of biker gangs? People generally assume that biker gang members are thugs from difficult family situations. There's no alternative narrative that would lead to the question.

Freeman Hunt said...

I am only locally familiar with "thug" being used to describe a criminal or person involved with criminal elements. I've mainly heard it voiced in reference to white men involved with selling drugs or white men who try to physically intimidate others. In fact, I heard a white man described with that term just the other day, "That guy's a thug." When did "thug" become a racial term? Or is it only a racial term in some areas of the country?

lane ranger said...

The term "thug" isn't limited to blacks, but refers, at least in part, to a person who threatens civilians, such as the business owners whose stores were looted and destroyed. Biker gangs may shoot and kill each other, but they rarely target civilians. Thus, biker gangs, whatever else they may be, are not really thugs, in common parlance. Further, "thug culture" encompasses a vast swath of the black community, while biker gangs are a vanishingly small percentage of the population, and there is no indication that bikers' proclivities are causing a significant segment of the population to abandon middle class behavior and virtues. "thug culture", on the other hand, is associated with a significant segment of the population abandoning middle class behavior and virtues, in favor of something "more authentic", a cover for behavior likely to lead to the kind of bad outcomes that others have identified. Moreover, we don't have significant portions of the media and the general population arguing in defense of bad behavior by bikers. "Thug culture", on the other hand, receives significant support from the media and at least some significant portion of the population, and is therefore deserving of some vocal push back that is unnecessary as to bikers.

Krumhorn said...

Let's be clear. The bikers fought each other. Not innocent by-standers Every casualty of the conflict was another biker.

The same cannot be said of black rioters who terrorized folks who weren't their fellow thugs. In my mind, while the bikers may very well also be thugs, a thug is some snarly and surly fuck who loots your business and then burns it down just for the hell of it so as to make your life miserable.....and then whines and complains because, years later, they have to go cross town to find a CVS or a 7-11.

It's generally not the bikers who lurk in the shadows waiting to pounce on a luckless stranger who happens by.

- Krumhorn

JamesB.BKK said...

@ Paul Mac: Thanks for that reference to the thankfully extinct (one hopes) Thuggee. Shocking information previously unknown to me. Thanks goes to the British for pacifying what must have been such an ugly and frightful place and people. Methinks it is too bad they and others have apparently given up on taming or even trying to tame cruel people.

fivewheels said...

"Thug" is commonly used to refer to anyone using intimidation, regardless of race. Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, you can find a long-running series of posts about anti-free speech "thugs" who shout down campus speakers or try to get them disinvited. It's a very widely applied word.

To answer Freeman, it becomes a racial thing when racial grievance warriors wish to make the claim that their race is stereotyped as thugs. They believe objection to the word acts as a sort of shield against criticism of the perps.

The intermediate step of other people using it in a racially exclusive manner can be skipped, because the validity of the claim is just really not considered important by racial grievance warriors.

ken in tx said...

Thug became a racial term when teenage black gangster-wannabes started wearing the word on the back and front of their hoodys. The first one I saw said, "Thug Life"