Saturday, February 4, 2017

Milton Rakove on politics - 5

I'm reading this wonderful book from 1975: Don't make no waves ... don't back no losers by Milton Rakove. The book is a great mirror for our times. It does not give answers but it puts things in perspective. I like its musings on political philosophy and "Realpolitik". Something resonates with our times. See the quotes below. The earlier parts of this series are 1:Voters, 2:Power, 3:Immigration and 4:Religion.
Milton Rakove (right) interviewing Vito Marzullo (left)
Racial tensions and segregation
In the early 1970's race had replaced nationality as the major cultural and political factor in the life of the city, and the ethnic neighborhoods are changing into racial areas of blacks, browns, and whites. 
The Irish succeeded, at least to date, in pacifying the poor blacks in the city with welfare and jobs, in buying off the most politically able among the blacks with public office and patronage, and in fending off the militant civil rights activists by adding enough police and political power to the other techniques to keep a modicum of order, if not peace, in the black ghettos. 
They pacified the predominantly Catholic, strongly conservative, white ethnics by refusing to use governmental and political power to push integration in the city, especially in the area of housing. Public housing units, in particular, are highly segregated and were always placed in black neighborhoods.
As long as the policy worked, the white ethnics were willing to tolerate, if not support, massive welfare programs which help to keep the black community quiescent, if not happy, although the blacks are becoming increasingly restive and militant over their role in the life of the city.
Discrimination and fear of assimilation
In 1963, when a black family moved into Bridgeport, they found their furniture and belongings piled up on the sidewalk by their newly found unfriendly neighbors. They left and have not come back. 
In 1965 black comedian Dick Gregory led a group of black picketers past Daley's house for several nights, nearly precipitating a race riot. They, too, left, and have not come back. 
But the specter of penetration and inundation by the surrounding black community still hangs over beleaguered and encircled Bridgeport, as well as over the nearby communities of New City and McKinley Park.