How to Make Enemies and Lose Influence with People

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Photo credit: Times-Dispatch

The traveling radical minstrel show has moved from Charlottesville to Richmond, it appears. Last night, a group of activists paraded through City Council chambers beating drums and making a series of demands, from stronger citizen oversight of police, care for the homeless, more money for schools and public transit, ending mass incarceration and “respect for black life,” according to the Times-Dispatch.

The crowd also threatened to “disrupt” the world championship bicycle races in Richmond next year if their demands were not met.

Forced to take a 15-minute recess, Council postponed action on many of the issues on its agenda.

If Richmond’s village radicals want “respect for black life,” perhaps they should start showing respect to others. Try playing by the same political rules everyone else abides by and working for change by presenting evidence, disseminating information, lobbying and getting sympathetic people elected. Issuing threats and disrupting the business of government accomplishes nothing good. Indeed, it just ticks people off — especially people like me. My reaction to threats is, “Bite me.”

Does this crowd have anything to offer other than ignorance and belligerence? Let’s see the evidence that the City of Richmond — a black majority city with a black mayor, black commonwealth attorney, black sheriff and (on again/off again) a black police chief — lacks respect for black life. I’m open to hearing about it. But present me evidence, not chants, drum beating and disruption. If you act like a mob, people are inclined to think that you think like a mob and deserve to be treated like a mob. They will write off your concerns as ill-informed demogoguery.

— JAB

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24 responses to “How to Make Enemies and Lose Influence with People

  1. HAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAA. This is self-parody, correct?

    No, no, you’re right, you’re right. It’s only a valid disruption of government business if it’s lead by a quarrelsome narcissist mad at the governor for being left out of the inner circle who gets liquored up farmers to agree the state isn’t doing enough massacring of Indians and lowering of taxes.

    • Gee, LOFL, we’ve missed you. Where have you been?

      • Hanging out with my wife! Enjoying the holiday season! I hope you, the Missus Bacon and the Bacon bits have enjoyed whatever secular and/or religious festivities in which you take part!

        Reading a couple books which may be of interest to you:
        “Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City”
        “The City in the Greek and Roman World”

        I also tried to finish “A People’s History of the United States,” but got halfway through (again) before tapping out (again).

  2. I think you probably don’t understand the attitude of the disruptive folks. They believe they are being screwed by the system – like the folks who are acting up over the police killings.

    They do not agree with you that they are equal in the way they are treated.

    they live in their enclaves often poor… often with crappy schools and often arrested and sent to prison for dealing petty street drugs and blame for the poor performance of their kids in school, etc…

    what’s most important – is not that you’d not agree but that guys like you don’t agree with guys like them – and what is the solution to that very differing perspective?

    Disruption of govt meetings is pretty tame compared to the alternatives .. that we do see..

    Can we have a peaceful – society if large numbers think they have been wronged at the hands of the others?

    we see the complaints as separate and not directly connected to the issue. They see them as central.

    not really about ideology or partisan politics.. it’s simpler than that. It’s a very practical issue.. is there justice and equity for these folks?

  3. Thanks for posting this.

    larryg, you echo some of my thoughts on this matter. I know some of the folks at the Charlottesville meeting. I don’t know that they’re a traveling minstrel show.

    It’s tough to look at a neighborhood with high crime rates, really bad schools, high unemployment, and high incarceration rates and then (same in Cville and Richmond) look a few miles over and see almost no crime, great public schools, low unemployment, high salaries, and people who almost never go to jail…….

    Now, we can type on this very intellectual blog and list out a litany of rational reasons for why from both a left and right perspective….but not everyone’s going to be into high minded policy discussions. A lot of people can’t understand why those same neighborhoods exist in the same cities…..except when you look at the skin complexion of one v. the other…..that’s the conclusion that a lot of people draw. I’m not saying it’s the correct conclusion, but it’s certainly the easiest to grasp.

  4. Actually I do not like ANYONE disrupting council meeting including those yahoos that think they are owed more than 3 minutes.

    I don’t equate the Tea Party types as disaffected in the same way that folks who feel they are treated unfairly by the system.

    The Tea Party folks tend to NOT be folks who are at the economic margins .. and whose agenda and focus are not on how people grow up in poverty – and stay in poverty.

    The Tea Party folks – for instance, want their Medicare and Employer-provided health care and their K12 education but they’ll argue against health care and Community College for economically disadvantaged making it about – the makers paying for the takers.. etc..

    I don’t like the disruptive tactics -but I think if you think that it’s just about being boorish -you’re mistaken – because it runs deep and we have a huge problem with many people who think the system is racist and arrayed against them.

    You can disagree – but I’m telling you that’s how they feel.. and they take actions based on that belief…

    • It’s a free country. The village radicals can feel anyway they want. But I feel the way I feel, too, and I don’t respond well to threats and disruptions. If they want to take my money to fund their programs, they’d darn well better play by the same rules I have to abide by and make an intelligible case.

      • you’re funny! they don’t buy the rules nor the system … they think both are designed to benefit the folks on top and keep the disaffected under control.

        you have to think about how American felt about the King of England.

        that’s the way the disaffected feel about our current system.

        I’m sure you have heard in the news about the concept of “no go” zones in France and how that has played into the thinking of those who live in the “no go ” zones.

        are you familiar with the “no go” zones?

        we have them here in this country… but we don’t call them that.

        when those folks show up at council meetings – they don’t abide the “rules”.

      • Here are their list of demands, I’ll let you parse out how much of the changes in Richmond will require your Henrico taxes:

        ist of Demands
        1) Engage in respect for Black life in this upcoming year as they vote and pass resolutions, approve budgets, and appropriate tax payer funds
        2) Provide full funding for Richmond Public Schools
        3) Require that the Monroe Park Conservancy Deal is written such that homeless residents are respected
        4) Expand funding for the Department of Social Services
        5) Adhere to the recommendations of the Food Policy Task Force
        6) Allow for greater representation of citizens without the administrations involvement in the Monroe Park conservancy Deal
        7) Require that anyone condemned from their mobile home through the code enforcement be offered relocation assistance
        8) Stop CARE VAN increases
        9) Protect Shockoe Bottom as a historic park
        10) Have council boards.commissions appear in public before being appointed
        11) dedicated funding source for GRTC with reciprocal funding for the counties
        12) implement a more accessible citizens watch board for the Richmond City Police and Richmond City Jail
        13) Support for rehabilitation and restorative justice and ending mass incarceration
        14) Opposition of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and support and investment in renewable energy

        • Demands? Why demands?

          • LifeOnTheFallLine

            Because that’s how you open up negotiations.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            The difficulty with this sort of behavior that Jim describes in his article above is that too often it builds and deepens bad habits in the ways people try to participate in government. Habits that can ultimately reap very poor and counter-productive results and unintended consequences for all concerned, no matter how noble the cause. A new and informative book “Massacre: The life and death of the Paris Commune,” by John Merriman is useful here. It is well worth reading.

          • LifeOnTheFallLine

            No, I don’t think the story of a localized revolution put down by the national military is applicable here.

  5. Is this really their list of demands? It reads like a plagiarized list from a U of R political science professor’s lesson plan.

    • Oh, cool, so you didn’t read the list of demands and you’ve never seen a lesson plan.

      • You miss the point completely. You might try again.

        • This goes to my earlier comment that you missed completely. And that is telling because what you asserted with glee before, you refuse to acknowledge now. Why?

          • LifeOnTheFallLine

            Mostly because I have a life and don’t have time to respond every 20 minutes to a website that doesn’t pay me for my contributions.

            But a distant second is the fact that you didn’t offer a refutation and since I don’t care about you enough to “try again” I had nothing else to say.

        • You are not a serous person. You are unable to address my arguments. You don’t even dodge or weave. Instead you are blind, flippant, and grossly uninformed. Your are nothing more substantive than an ideologue.

          So try to redeem yourself and address what I said. Here is your opportunity. Here is the comment again:

          “The difficulty with this sort of behavior that Jim describes in his article above is that too often it builds and deepens bad habits in the ways people try to participate in government. Habits that can ultimately reap very poor and counter-productive results and unintended consequences for all concerned, no matter how noble the cause. A new and informative book “Massacre: The life and death of the Paris Commune,” by John Merriman is useful here. It is well worth reading.”

          Give it another try. Based on your comments to date, I doubt you are up to the task.

  6. Calling this a ‘traveling minstrel show’ is neither accurate nor informed. Civil disruptions like these don’t exist in a vacuum. People act out when they’ve been marginalized by the political process. It’s basically happened to all of us, now that money is ‘speech’, but most of us are well off enough to not really care.

  7. Shouldn’t they be punished? You asked that of the Cville folks.

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