Megan McArdle wonders when rioting works. In the process she states:
But what’s really striking about the riots is how little they changed. They made things much worse in the neighborhoods they devastated, of course. And they did produce some moderate change at the municipal political level, particularly in DC, where the operations of the city had often been controlled by old-school southern senators whose priorities, to put it mildly, were not the liberty and economic advancement of the city’s black residents. But despite what some of the black and white radical leaders of the era thought, there was never even a modest chance that the widespread rioting that followed King’s assassination was going to trigger a change in the overall government of the country.
I’ve written before about the areas in DC that were destroyed by rioting following the assassination of MLK. In short, they’ve sat as burned out monuments to self-destruction, until recently when they’ve been re-civilized by an influx of white people.
Ms McArdles states that the pre-rioting DC government was not focused on the advancement of the city’s black residents.
Presumably, this means that the post-rioting DC government was focused on the advancement of the city’s black residents. Certainly, the post-rioting government was controlled by blacks as monolithically (if not more so) than the pre-rioting government was controlled by "old-school southern senators."
I would not like to defend either system of government, but it’s worth pointing out that in the old days, blacks in DC were much less likely to be murdered and they could obtain a decent education. They could also safely walk through most, if not all, areas of the city. They also advanced at a faster rate under the old government.
The new government, on the other hand, is perhaps perfectly embodied by Marion Barry. Has there ever been a politician so perfectly matched with a political climate? When control of the DC government was turned over to locally-elected officials, opponents of the transfer of power said that the mayor would end up being someone . . . less than spectacularly competent. Was any group ever proved more correct? When you think of Marion Barry do you think of someone "focused on the advancement of the city’s black residents?" I do not.