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I commend Amanda Ripley (“Ground Zero,” 5/9) for her straightforward article on the impending social impact of implementing the federal welfare law in the ill-prepared District on July 1. It would seem that the city government is intentionally providing the fuse to ignite the smoldering racial animosities in D.C., since race and poverty are synonymous here. Other events are transpiring, however, to make the controlled detonation a toxic and volatile conflagration:
•The lack of a federal payment to date in the federal budget. The D.C. Council twaddles about the presidential Memorandum of Understanding even though no monies have been set aside in the federal budget for October for the District to meet its fiscal-year debt obligations;
•The “white” Congress accords ever more power to an alternate control board bureaucracy (paid for by District taxpayers) to erode home rule, but which has proved unable to tame the loyal Barry city bureaucracy;
•Convention Center foes relying primarily on racial politics against Jack and Nicole “Marie Antoinette Let Them Move to Georgetown” Evans.
•The “zero tolerance” police harassing and pissing off more citizens over minor infractions. (They seem to be leaving the “alternative community enterprise zones” alone, since drugs, prostitution, fencing, etc., constitute the only viable job market for inner-city males, and attacking such a lucrative underground economy would most likely get more police killed.)
•The threatened nationalization of the police in a town where the justice system is perceived as “white.”
•The attempt to disrespect the Mayor-for-Life even more by reducing the size of his Tonton Macoutes personal police force.
Recent public threats by Mayor-for-Life Barry, several councilmembers, and black church leaders concerning profound social altercations assume that one good riot will pump lots of “gummint” guilt money into worthless job and education programs to enrich middle-class black churches and other poverticians.
But this scheme did not work in L.A. Also, unlike in 1968, there is every likelihood that Congress would demand that the National Guard have bullets in its automatic weapons. Small-business owners will also be armed this time.
That worked in L.A. Black nationalist rhetoric increasingly articulated in community meetings and church pulpits citywide would lead one to think that D.C.’s virtual apartheid constitutes a legal birthright, and differs little from the white suburbanite notion of D.C. as a tribal homeland. There is no indigenous population here, but this fact provides no assurance against a long, hot summer in this sick and dying national capital.