It’s hard to determine from Elissa Silverman’s essay (“Lose-Lose Situation,” 7/28) exactly what is truly wrong with it. Is it that once again the Washington City Paper exhibits its complete lack of journalistic skills and complete ignorance regarding the most critical issues facing the District, or is it simply the same old tired corporate media disinformation song and dance? Having read similar sloppy garbage in this publication—the Fresh Fields “expose”(“You Aren’t What You Eat,” 1/21) and in particular the slop you served up on the World Bank/IMF protests (Puppet Show,” 4/21)—I’d have to go with the former. I just don’t think y’all are clever or proficient enough to play the Official State Sanctioned Propaganda Game.
In its attempt to follow the chronic City Paper tone—sardonic, contemptuous, and just plain nasty—Silverman’s effort at lambasting Homes Not Jails falls on its ass because reality simply doesn’t bend that far off course. I wonder, did Silverman actually interview anyone for this piece? Activists? Neighbors? Anyone at all? Or did she simply dredge up the official-line rhetoric that the Washington Post continuously spews forth, careful to add that acerbic, disparaging City Paper spin to make it hers before regurgitating it for the clueless who actually believe that the City Paper is in some way “independent” or “alternative”?
What’s happening on Sherman Avenue is happening and has been happening all over the city, as it does all over the world. It will continue to happen as long as we all look to scapegoats that allow the rich/powerful/elite to carry on their perverse business as usual, while the media sit, docile and loyal at their feet, waiting for the next cue.
Homelessness, poverty, gentrification, privatization, increasing prison populations…These are the issues—all related to corporate globalization. How dense can we all be not to be able to make the connections? And to see how critical the situation is becoming?
Silverman’s depiction of the activists suggests that she hasn’t done any “extensive research” on any of the complex subjects she summarily dismisses with simplistic statements: “A homeless family remains homeless. An activist group has botched a worthy effort. A neighborhood hasn’t gotten any safer.”
Homes Not Jails recognizes and acknowledges the need for tangible action/change and the appropriateness of reviving one of the best phrases in the English language: “by any means necessary.” If Silverman’s erroneous characterization of the Homes Not Jails folks as “a largely white group of outsiders with an agenda, imposing their we-know-better-than-you-do will” were not enough to prove to those of us who know these folks that she could not possibly have had any contact with them, then her inaccurate statements concerning their “hostile” takeover of the property “without even approaching neighbors on the street” would certainly dismiss any doubt. Not only did Homes Not Jails have extensive contact with the neighbors—most of whom, contrary to what the Post and City Paper reported, supported the action—but group members have pursued/encouraged open dialogue and discussion on related issues. These people deserve our admiration, gratitude, and assistance—not paltry insults from a journalist wannabe.
Silverman ends her attempted slam by suggesting that “[w]ith just a little effort and attentiveness by city agencies, these properties could again be a net gain for both the tax rolls and the communities in which they sit.” How the hell does this benefit the thousands of homeless people in the District? At last count, there were nearly 10,000 people either homeless or in transitional housing in this city. Any action that brings attention to this horrific statistic is miles away from where we started.