I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way.
I have nothing but love and respect for the people who trudge through the streets of their neighborhood, singing and chanting and praying for peace.
I also feel sorrow, because they are wasting their time.
“It’s too much, it must stop,” as they chanted last week, last year, last decade.
The other night it was Germantown neighbors, in a march sponsored by the state rep. If it isn’t a politician, it’s a church, or a civic association. Police usually provide an escort and try to proselytize some of the neighbors watching from the sidewalk.
The only successful protest marches I can recall were the civil rights and the anti-war movements. But those were national in scope and were like shampoo — march, rinse, repeat.
I don’t think sporadic neighborhood efforts achieve anything other than serving as a relief valve for the afflicted.
Almost every day presents a new murder for comment, many of them quite similar. Most are drug- or grievance-related, settling a score for a real or imagined insult.
When more than a dozen bullets are pumped into the victim, you can bet this is payback of some kind, not a random shooting. These don’t grip the imagination, and the headlines.
What does? The beating-to-death of a 73-year-old African-American gentleman by a handful of Black kids, the eldest being 14 as far as I can tell.
His name was James Lambert Jr., and he was viciously beaten with an orange traffic cone and other objects on the streets of North Philadelphia around 2:30 a.m., according to press reports.
The brutal murder generated sympathy for the victim by progressive commentators, of course, who also spread exoneraring goo for the sociopaths who committed the crime.
As usual, blame was heaped on “society,” meaning you and I. One columnist quoted an “expert” who specifically said, “I don’t blame parents.”
I do, among others.
Many trotted out the blame-shifting hoary anecdote about “it takes a village.”
The ancient anecdote comes straight outta Africa, which had villages.
So when someone dredges up the village metaphor, I want to know the boundaries of a village.
Is it the street where you live?
The postal zone?
The city-recognized neighborhood?
Me, Stu Bykofsky, is responsible, to some extent, for what my children do. I am in no way responsible for what happens in neighborhoods that are on the life support of my tax dollars, which also fund the schools. Not complaining, just saying.
Where does my responsibility end?
The village anecdote means that the family is joined by friends and neighbors in helping socialize the children. It happened to me, and some other columnists, who reported neighbors would rat them out to their parents if they misbehaved, or would interfere themselves.
That’s reportedly what Lambert did, when he asked the kids what they were doing out so late, or adm them, like the elder of a village.
And they beat him to death.
Then, in a revolting turn in the story, some of Lambert’s relatives reported being harassed in their homes by presumed friends and relatives of the accused. Kids again.
So, please let’s put this version of the village metaphor to sleep. But there is another one that might fit: The jungle tom-tom.
Philadelphia police solve (they call it “clear”) only one-third of homicides, which is shockingly low.
One reason for the low clearance rate is lack of community cooperation.
Particularly in drug and revenge shootings, the cops know that the neighbors know who did it.
Few come forward, partly due to fear of cooperating with police — snitches get stitches, goes the saying.
So here’s where the village comes in. If lots of people come forward, there is little fear of retaliation.
Here’s where it is up to the elders to show courage and leadership.
Arresting and jailing the shooters will do far more than any march.