- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2011


From Los Angeles to the District, police officials are investigating bands of marauders; some appear to be racially motivated because the assailants are black and the victims are white, while others are partaking in black-on-black crime.

Character counts, but were shaming ourselves — again.

Wheres our moral compass, people?

Recall the race riots after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., when many of our cities were torn asunder after word spread that King had been killed on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968.

The motivation then was anger, bereavement, even disappointment, that someone had dared to mortally wound the most prominent and beloved Christian warrior of American civil rights, and overwhelmingly black perpetrators destroyed their own neighborhoods and communities.

Flash forward, so to speak, to today, which is afflicted, as then, with unbearably high unemployment rates in major metropolitan areas.

Unlike the 1960s, however, when morality and a keen sense of community were major planks of a burgeoning movement, we have seemingly kicked both to the curb.

In a way, Bill Cosby warned several years ago of the coming of this new expression of civil and racial unrest.

In a speech celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, he said black Americans were not holding up their end of the civil-rights bargain.

But much of black America excoriated him for airing dirty laundry.

He was right then, and he is right now.

What was trending socially and economically then is more pronounced now.

Sagging baggy pants. Bodies pocked with piercings and tattoos. An ingrained sense of entitlement. Timeouts for youths instead of stern tongues and swift hands. Free reign instead of parameters.

The village has practically been dismantled.

Blessed be caretakers like Mr. Cosby and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, who recently got down to the real nitty-gritty after a flash mob ruthlessly attacked bystanders and wreaked havoc in commercial establishments.

“Pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt,” Mr. Nutter sermonized to a black congregation.

“If you walk into somebodys office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody wont hire you? They dont hire you ‘cause you look like youre crazy,” the mayor said. “You have damaged your own race.”

Preach on, Brother Nutter, because heres the real deal.

How can you tell people that you are poor and in need of government entitlements when you can afford cellphones to organize flash mobs and have money for elaborate manicures and pedicures, biweekly hair/barber appointments, expensive tennis shoes and designer handbags and automobiles?

No wonder some parents cant afford to feed or shelter their children, or pay for school supplies and uniforms.

Without a strong sense of community and direction, youths and young adults become wolflike members of a pack and go on the prowl.

It’s on the front end, instilling a sense of family and community, not on the back end, after flash mob perpetrators are locked up, where our messages are falling short.

King, remembered, underscored the content of one’s character.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]



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