Posted on January 13, 2020

The New Bigotry

Abraham H. Miller, American Thinker, January 12, 2020

In the summer of 1951, Harvey E. Clark, Jr., a black man, rented an apartment in all-white Cicero, a Chicago suburb. Attempting to move into his apartment, Clark was stopped by 20 Cicero police officers who threatened to kill him if he returned.

The NAACP filed suit against the Cicero police, and Clark and his family moved into their apartment.

On July 11, thousands of White thugs, many of them teenagers, gathered outside the Clark apartment, fomented a riot that lasted four days, and did thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to the building.

The riot was stopped when Governor Adlai E. Stevenson brought in the Illinois National Guard. Even so the rioters continued to fight against the National Guard and had to be dispersed with tear gas, fixed bayonets, and rifle butts.

The Cook County Grand Jury did not indict any of the rioters. In an action and mentality foretelling the voices raised by of some blacks to blame Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jersey City, in 2019, for their own murders, the grand jury blamed the lawyer for the NAACP, the building’s owner, rental agent, and lawyer. They were indicted.

In an Alice-in-Wonderland decision, the Cook County Grand Jury, like some black community influentials in Jersey City, blamed the riots on its victims, not its perpetrators.

Fortunately, even in 1951, there were lines of sanity, especially since this riot had been televised for the world to see. Public outrage caused the indictments to be later dropped. George N. Leighton, the attorney for the NAACP, took the indictment so seriously that he secured the services of Thurgood Marshall as his defense attorney.

I grew up less than a mile from the Cicero border. In my neighborhood, Lawndale, the riots were very real, not just items in the daily paper or something to be seen on television. So, too was the issue of a changing neighborhood.

Chicago was a destination point on the Illinois Central for blacks fleeing the Jim Crow South. After WWII, thousands came each day. Their increasing numbers threatened the political dominance of the Irish Catholic political machine. Through redlining and massive public housing construction, the Democratic Machine hoped to confine Blacks to “super blocks” in certain wards. This was designed to keep the city white and dilute black political power.

Meeting opposition on the South and Southwest side, Blacks found Jewish neighborhoods like Lawndale were the path of least resistance. But in contrast to the textbook analysis of neighborhood change, initially there was almost no white flight. Neither the Interstate highway nor the FHA had much to do with eventual white flight from working-class communities like Jewish Lawndale.

Working-class people in the 1950s worked in the city, were by nature apartment dwellers, and few middle-aged and older people owned a car or desired to do so.  An FHA loan and a commute from suburbia to downtown, the stockyards, or the mills on the southside were not on many people’s wish list.

In addition, with important exceptions, Chicago had rent control until 1953. Giving up a rent-controlled apartment for a working-class generation that suffered through the Great Depression was not considered desirable.

Two mutually antagonistic groups would find a confluence of interest to bring the period of racial integration to an end. Unscrupulous investors who could “buy” permits to convert apartment buildings to residence hotels, which were exempt from rent control, and black advocacy groups.

The former was motivated by greed, the latter by the quest for political power. Neither was interested in integration.

The black advocacy groups needed to create housing for Southern blacks and for poor blacks who were discriminated against from obtaining public housing in white areas by the Chicago Housing Authority.

With housing came votes, and with votes came a path to changing the system of white alderman running wards that had strong black minorities. With black majorities, the city could transition to a black power base.

The investors and the black advocacy groups needed the whites to flee. A rising and violent crime rate that came with the changing neighborhood and black harassment of whites who were too stubborn to leave enhanced the motivation for white flight.

Within a matter of four or five years, Lawndale had — by the confluence of greed and the quest for a black power base — become a black neighborhood.

In Jersey City, Jews moved into a black neighborhood, not causing a rising crime rate or a surge in communal violence, and are condemned by some blacks for the victimization that as befallen them as was the Clark family that tried to move into Cicero, Illinois back in 1951.

As a white power structure tried to blame Clark and the NAACP for the riots back IN 1951, some black leaders have tried to blame Jews for their own deaths in Jersey City, even hailing their murderers as heroes.

The parallels are as offensive as they are outrageous, and the terrible lesson is that if we are all tribal, then the multicultural society we aspire to is nothing more than a useful myth to be exploited by minorities for convenient political and economic ends.

If it is justified for blacks to rise up against Jews moving into their neighborhoods, then it was equally justified for whites to riot against blacks moving into theirs. If that is the world we want to create, it will be a tragic one indeed.