Friday, September 04, 2015

Is blood thicker than water?

A Madison police officer was surrounded and attacked by at least one person when trying to arrest a woman who'd attacked someone else. He apparently was able to keep calm, and backup arrived very rapidly, and nobody was seriously hurt. From the newspaper report:

The incident alarmed and dismayed local police officials, especially because the officer involved, Caleb Johnson, has spent years reaching out to residents in the area as the neighborhood officer.

He’s done tremendous work there with things like youth basketball tournaments and bike repair clinics," said West District Capt. Vic Wahl. "To be treated like that for his contributions to the neighborhood? Everyone should be angry about that."

I know people for whom that kind of work matters, who are grateful for acknowledgement and help and who look to pass it on. But most of them don't live in areas like Prairie Road and Jacobs Way--though they often used to. And I meet preachers and other workers who point to changed lives. Systematic studies asking "How much does this help?" seem to conflict somewhat. Maybe systematic analysis is the wrong paradigm here, and numbers don't tell the proper story. Maybe softening attitudes show up as a difference in the types of threats rather than the number of people threatening.

Or maybe Vic Wahl is being naive, and when a call comes to stand with your tribe, on the whole people stand with their tribe.

Race relations seem worse now than 7 years ago. Whether that's mostly because of persistent aggravation of grievances real or perceived, or because the economic climate has hit blacks hardest (and importing cheap labor can't have helped) is hard to tell--likely each exacerbates the other.

FWIW, I never have spent much time around most of the current high-crime neighborhoods, though I go through South Park often and frat row is, of course, close to the University. I remember some of them as quite peaceful, though. We're not at Milwaukee levels, but violent crime has shot way up. I'd really like to see some analysis of who's who and from where.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

My thought is that it is hard to rise above tribe, and I don't know that practice helps as much as we think (though it can hardly hurt). Historically, expanding one's idea of tribe, even slightly, seems to be the ticket. We add in loyalties to co-religionists, even if they aren't much like us in other ways, or to fellow nationals, even if from another tribe. Neighborhood, profession, I don't know what else.