One of the seminal films of the 20th Century was Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” A story of a troubled man (a Vietnam Vet) quite literally driven insane by the insane city around him. The current unrest of a “Long Hot Summer” with outright riots in London and Black “Flash Mobs” in the US is unlikely to produce any reaction other than flight and opt-out from the overwhelming mass of the White middle class public. Because Middle Class people even crazy ones have too much to lose. But opt-out and flight have their own consequences, far more severe than any random act of violence.
Here are a few scenes showing the power of screenwriter Paul Schrader and Director Scorsese’s vision:
In the movie, the sick and dysfunctional city makes Travis Bickle even crazier. Only a quirk of fate leads him to kill people who need killing (the pimps, hustlers, and corrupt cops keeping a 12 year old as a prostitute) instead of the Senatorial candidate. In other words, a Breivik who kills say, vicious pimps instead of school kids on a resort island. Bickle like Breivik is of course quite scary in that his insanity is matched by organizational toughness. A corrupt, lawless city has a thriving black market in guns. Bickle is obsessive about working out. His initial idiotic dry run on the Secret Service leads to a change of plans and a sudden Mohawk (completely changing his appearance). Crazy cities create and nurture crazy people.
But that’s just a movie. And real life is not a movie. In real life, Morgan Freeman is not the voice of God, but a weird guy aiming to marry his (adopted) Grand-daughter. In real life, Woody Allen is not a charmingly neurotic artist but a guy who married his step-daughter. In real life, Whoopi Goldberg is not the Wise Black Woman but a nutty host on “the View.” In real life, we’ve had about fifty plus years of multicultural, PC-driven, “anti-racist” stuff that tolerates the kind of scum that made Bickle wish for a real rain to wash it all away.
And the type of rampages aimed against PC and Multiculturalism amount to just one: Breivik. That’s it. Oh sure there’s the “Beta Male Rampage” (probably not the best word for it) of disturbed guys like Cho, Sodini, and others. The killings of various jihadis, probably including the Beltway Snipers, Lee Boyd Malvo and John Mohammed. But the only guy who even approximates Travis Bickle in the last fifty years is some Norwegian guy who was a Freemason, an organic farmer, and a member of the middle class who spoke another language (English) and could write it as well.
There won’t be any violence against “the Long Hot Summer” of Black Flash Mobs, and various organized lootings/beatings/robberies/arsons (as in London). Because its a LOT easier to simply run away. Opt out. Stay away.
REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) are going to pay a heavy price. All those yuppies wanting to move to city centers to find better mates, are going to re-think and move to the suburbs when their leases are up. New leases and sales will be hard to come by, and heavily discounted, hurting cash flow and rates of return. Thus you’ll see heavy pressure on mayors and such to do what it takes, to suppress the mobs, but likely far after anything effective short of the National Guard remains.
Meanwhile, Amazon looks to reap rewards from people stopping their mall-shopping habits in favor of online shopping. Netflix, Amazon, and other online video folks will benefit as people seek entertainment at home, and online dating places will gain as people shun city centers as mate-market auctions. Bars and restaurants will hurt, and telecom providers win, as the shift to opt-out becomes easier.
No one wants to live in Travis Bickle’s world. Even in the mid 1970’s, it was relatively easy to avoid the hell of NYC for suburban places. Now its even easier. Which has several strategic implications.
First, an opt-out White population is going to want specific subsidies aimed at THEM, and have little patience for the populations that in effect cleansed them out of public spaces. This means no money for Black/Hispanic public schools, and lots of money for online education. The same goes for Welfare, TANF, WIC, and so on. Travis Bickle shooting a pimp and some corrupt cops and johns doesn’t fix a corrupt to the core NYC. But White flight/opt-out changes the funding completely.
Secondly, the “magic” of the First Black President is over. He’s now, Tyrone Willingham. People demand results. A miserable economy, a lost AAA credit rating, a stock market dive, and a “Long Hot Summer” of Black Flash Mobs and possibly, London-style riots/arson/looting won’t cut it. People expect results. Obama had about three years to produce results, and considerable good will, all gone now. Hostility and intimidation is likely to produce, not surrender but opt-out. It is not the 1960’s any more. People are experiencing hard times themselves, have no sympathy for rioters, and are more likely to agree with the basic desires of a Travis Bickle if not the methods.
Third, the impact of Black Flash Mobs has been to harden racial attitudes (basically, the view that Blacks and Hispanics are dead-weight that White America would do well to shed in a desperate economic struggle). A “Long Hot Summer” won’t result in vigilantes, but a ruthless restructuring to regain economic competitiveness and exclusion of non-Whites and non-Asians from most public expenditures and public life. Gone: Affirmative Action (too expensive). Gone: policies investing in urban centers (hostile territory to the White Yuppie/Middle class). Gone: investing in education and in particular physical public schools. Gone: faith in the elite to even tie their own shoelaces, much less order the nation from the food people eat to light bulbs in their homes. Gone: legitimacy or even interest in the media, which has acted to suppress information about the Black Flash Mobs.
The worst thing that would happen for the Liberal Welfare State and the associated NGOs (Ford, Pew, Annenberg, and Gates Foundations), talking heads, permanent governing class, and media hangers on would be a “Long Hot Summer” of most American cities burning down in racially motivated riots. Something like that is impossible to ignore, and will harden attitudes of the pressed White middle and working class immediately. It is not 1968. Whites are not likely to react with buy-off appeasement and guilt. Indeed, 1968 is as distant to us in 2011 as 1925 and the Jazz Age was to 1968 and the original “Long Hot Summer.” Flappers and Al Capone were as relevant to the time of the Watts Riots as Martin Luther King’s assassination is to us today.
Margaret Thatcher said that the problem with Welfare States is that they eventually run out of other people’s money. The problem is far worse, and accelerated, when there is a huge economic dead weight of those with far lower wealth. The Wealth Gap per household is $113,000 for Whites, $6,000 for Hispanics, and $5,000 for Blacks (median net household wealth) according to the Pew Foundation.
Hard pressed White households, watching say Cleveland, Detroit, Philly, and Obama’s hometown of Chicago burn, mostly fueled by Black mobs, in a “Long Hot Summer” are likely to conclude that hey, the money would go a LOT further, and be spent on THEM, if say, those people were included out of the disbursements.
People want results. Notre Dame and Washington have not hired another Black coach since Tyrone Willingham. With the great turn-over in college and pro coaches, Willingham is not coaching currently according to Wikipedia. Obama had a long leash to produce results as the First Black President, but even he had to produce results. His likely play of Chicago-style politics (all he knows) of urging the mobs forward, and then posing as “the one man able to turn off the violence” is likely to only further harden attitudes.
It won’t be a Taxi Driver Summer. No matter what sort of riots and mobs happen. Bickle is a sad, crazy figure because he’s totally alone, and the alienating city only makes that worse (by making nearly impossible any social connections the character wants). But he’s just words on a page and a performance by a gifted actor. He wasn’t and isn’t real. He’s just a character. Real life features not White violence in mobs or vigilantes but massive opting out and a reshaping of the social and political and economic life of America. The challenges are just too great.