We’re talking about the building of highways is one of the hidden racial histories in the US, and much more.
The NYTimes Daily Briefing started off this morning, as it should, with talk about the violent unrest that is gripping another American city in dying days of this red and vicious summer. It’s Charlotte this time, and the normal suspects will be arguing about whether or not Keith Scott had a gun, and if he had a record, and all that. And he may have! I know nothing about him, and it could turn out that this was defensible police work.
The problem then is that these normal suspects will use any potential flaws in his character to gloss over the real issue, which isn’t just police violence, but the culture from which it springs. Tongues will be clucked over the defense of the dubious, and the question will be not “why are they angry”, but “how dare they be so angry. This one guy wasn’t a saint!”
It’s the normal dodge– that Mike Brown may have committed petty larceny means the sins of Ferguson don’t count, and that no one should have been mad. History is erased by a couple of cheap cigars.
The briefing ended, as it does, with a delightful “back story” about the Four Level Exchange in Los Angeles, which opened on this day in 1953. It mentioned that nearly 4000 people were displaced to create it, which was worth it, since LA hasn’t had any traffic problems since. The briefing didn’t go into whose homes were destroyed, whose neighborhoods ceased to vanish, but it didn’t have to, did it?
That reminded me of a WBEZ Curious City piece on the making of the Eisenhower in Chicago, the 290. It’s a sprawling and deeply-reported piece on the displaced, those whose homes were destroyed to make room for the highway. They were who you’d expect: the underclass, the poor, ethnic white, Hispanics, and blacks. Neighborhoods were torn apart. And of course, in Chicago as in other cities, the expressways were built purposefully to segregate growing black communities from the rest of the city.
If you want to look at the angry history that had led to the last couple of years, look at highways. They are one of those hidden histories that reveal the whole.
2) On hidden histories, RIP Curtis Hanson. LA Confidential remains one of my favorite movies. THe whole undercurrent of how vicious the building of even something ostensibly as beautiful as LA is is the story of the country. The way it handles race is not subtle, but surface enough to show how it was just part of life, of keeping the town “clean”. And of course it is a gorgeously shot, incredibly well-acted and tightly-scripted mystery. Go watch it again.
3) Mylan– they of the expensive EpiPen– had their day in Congress yesterday. Heather Bresch as grilled about price increases, and in her opening statement, laid bare the core of modern capitalism.
“It troubles me greatly that the EpiPen product has become a source of controversy,” she said in her opening remarks.
“Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance,” she said.
It’s basically nature, man. Who could possibly do anything about it?
4) Congress in the last couple of days has:
- Furiously is furiously fighting to override a Presidential veto so that US victims of the September 11th attacks could sue Saudi Arabia, and
- Blocked a bill that would ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia, since they are being used to kill thousands of civilians and create a vast humanitarian disaster in Yemen.
Not very subtle about whose lives matter.