Matt Forney
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Jim Crow By Any Other Name: Interstate 81 and Black Crime in Syracuse

Since Friday’s article on the hate murder in Syracuse’s South Side went viral thanks to WND’s Colin Flaherty, I figured I’d shed a little more light on the biggest racial issue in my hometown right now: the Interstate 81 debate.

Syracuse lies near the intersection of Interstates 81 and 90, two of the most important highways in the U.S. I-90 is the longest Interstate in the country, running from Boston to Seattle, while I-81 runs from the Canadian border near Kingston to Nashville. I-81 runs directly through the city, quadrisecting it along with Interstate 690, and the southern half of the Interstate is an elevated overpass separating University Hill—home of Syracuse University as well as most of the city’s hospitals—from the predominantly black South Side.

The I-81 overpass is nearing the end of its lifespan, but construction has been halted because no one can decide whether to rebuild it or tear it down in favor of a street-level boulevard. Proponents of getting rid of the overpass, such as Syracuse Common Council President Van Robinson, argue that tearing down 81 would rejuvenate the run-down ghetto that is the South Side:

Syracuse Common Council President Van Robinson says replacing the viaduct with a street-level boulevard would breathe life into the city’s withered urban core. He has long seen the viaduct as a barrier that separates the haves from the have-nots.

“It’s not a question of if it should be torn down. The question is when will it be torn down,” he says.

Robinson, who founded the local chapter of the NAACP, has wanted to remove I-81 since he first arrived in Syracuse decades ago.

“It was a city divided,” he says. “In fact, I immediately, at that time… called it the ‘Berlin Wall.'”

Robinson and company are right that I-81 was in part constructed to wall off Syracuse’s blacks from the rest of the city. This is nothing new: ever since the Interstate system came into being in the 50’s, mayors and state governments have used them as a means of isolating black communities. The most famous example is Chicago, where Richard Daley specifically had the Dan Ryan Expressway laid out in the 1960’s to cut blacks in the South Side off from white areas. New Orleans, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Atlanta and countless other cities also had their Interstates laid out in a racially-motivated fashion. In fact, when 81 was being constructed in the 1960’s, Syracuse politicians approvingly referred to it as “slum control.”

Where the anti-81 people go wrong is assuming that there’s no good reason for this.

Here are the facts. Blacks comprise 13 percent of the U.S.’ population but are responsible for over half of its homicides. They are far more dependent on welfare programs then any other racial group. 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock. All of these problems are caused and exacerbated by blacks’ culture of dependency and scapegoating. Blacks today are told by the media and government that nothing is their fault and that white racism is the sole reason why they are poor and disenfranchised. Add in feminism’s destruction of the family and the ghetto’s “us against the world” mentality—exemplified by “snitches get stitches”—and you have a recipe for social collapse.

At the same time, any white person who points any of this out is pilloried as an EVIL! RACIST!, fired from their jobs and harassed to death by leftist witch-burners. Look at what happened to John Derbyshire. It doesn’t matter how polite or neutral you are or how many facts you bring to the table: if you deviate so much as one inch from the accepted narrative of “Everything Wrong with Black America is White America’s Fault,” you become a non-person in this country.

If you subsidize something, you get more of it. For the past fifty years, laziness, fatherlessness and excuse-making have been subsidized and encouraged in the black community. The end result? Black teenagers roaming the streets of Chicago, St. Louis and Syracuse in packs, beating down white people for fun. And when they get caught, police chiefs soft-pedal the charges and the local newspapers omit the graphic details of their crimes.

But just because “racism” is a dirty word doesn’t mean that politicians—both conservative and liberal—will let underclass blacks get away with raping and robbing in their streets.

As the Dan Ryan Expressway, Interstate 81 and countless other highway projects show, politicians across the country are more than happy to contain black crime in passive-aggressive ways. Gun control and the War on Drugs are probably the biggest nationwide examples. Liberals aren’t stupid; for all their self-righteous chest-beating over spree shootings like Sandy Hook, they know that most gun crime in America, particularly in urban areas, is committed by blacks or Latinos. But because no one has the guts to articulate this, slimeballs like Andrew Cuomo have to pretend that the real issue is keeping “assault rifles” out of the hands of white, rural deer hunters.

And the War on Drugs is really a War on Blacks, with the occasional skinny white pothead offered up as a sacrifice to keep the Jesse Jacksons of the world placated. The crack cocaine sentencing disparity, popular bugaboo of naive anti-racist liberals, exists because black crackheads and crack dealers are far more of a threat to law and order than white Wall Street traders snorting eight balls off their bathroom mirrors. White liberals can cry and scream about how “racist” a statement like that is, but their own actions put the lie to their preening; they choose to live in lily-white enclaves like Seattle, Manhattan and Marin County rather than Detroit, the Bronx or Oakland.

Every time you hear a politician brag about being “tough on crime,” you should read it as “tough on blacks.” Case in point: Michael Bloomberg. Rudy Giuliani gets a bad rap for the approach to crime he took while in office, but few realize that Bloomberg’s administration has continued and worsened Giuliani’s “tough on crime” policies. For example, shortly after taking office ten years ago, Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to institute a policy called “stop-and-frisk,” whereby cops are empowered to interrogate and search anyone they so much as suspect of being a violent criminal. Unsurprisingly, the vast bulk of people getting stopped and frisked are black or Latino men.

But despite every civil liberties organization in the country pointing this out, the liberal, progressive citizenry of New York re-elected Bloomberg twice—the same citizenry who supported Barack Obama in overwhelming numbers—and whoever succeeds him next year is all but certain to keep stop-and-frisk in place. Other big cities such as Philadelphia have implemented the policy as well.

Even the New York Times, that bastion of polite progressivism, is in favor of stop-and-frisk.

That’s the sad, sick reality: the civil rights movement wasn’t about ending racism, it was about ending overt racism. “Whites Only” drinking fountains, poll taxes and lynchings? How déclasse. Those ignorant Southerners should do what the enlightened New Yorkers do: loudly proclaim how tolerant they are while having the police pounce on any black person who wanders into their 99.9% white zip codes. Vote for a black president and snottily denounce those evil right-wing racist homophobes while supporting a mayor who implements Bull Connor-esque measures to keep those people from sullying their streets.

And by encouraging dependency and scapegoating, the black cognoscenti is bringing this torment upon themselves.

The South Side isn’t a slum because of I-81, it’s a slum because of the people who live there. More specifically, it’s a slum because the blacks there are encouraged to wallow in their own filth, getting knocked up at age 14, subsisting off of EBT cards and expecting Evil Whitey to solve all their problems for them. Thinking that removing the overpass will suddenly make the projects habitable is the definition of magical thinking.

Like Cleveland, Buffalo and every other Rust Belt city, whites have been fleeing Syracuse in droves; the city went from being 64 percent white in 2000 to 56 percent in 2010. If the 81 overpass is torn down, it will only accelerate white flight to the suburbs as black criminals maunder into University Hill looking for fresh prey, assuming that Mayor Miner doesn’t grow a spine and implement her own version of stop-and-frisk before then. There’s already a mini-ghetto on that side of the tracks: the area directly north of SU, centered on Fayette St. and bounded by 690, Westcott, Genesee and Crouse is a no-go zone of burned-out houses, metal detectors and sagging pants.

You want to make it even easier for the Michael Daniels’ of the world to get beaten to death in racist attacks?

Van Robinson and the anti-Interstate 81 brigade want it both ways: they want to keep encouraging the status quo of dysfunction in the black community while expecting whites to give blacks the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t work that way. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Crack Wars, the Crown Heights riot and Knockout King have bequeathed to us our current police state, where three strikes laws are a necessity to maintain public order, Charles Murray is considered a great intellectual and ostensible “progressives” line up behind racist police policies so they can drive to work without getting assaulted by squeegee men.

Put simply, the black intelligentsia—and their white liberal enablers—have to choose.

If they want blacks to be treated as equals in America, they need to stop encouraging fatherlessness, welfare dependency and crime and integrate with white society. If not, they’re just going to have to get used to living under Jim Crow, whether it comes in the form of stop-and-frisk, crack cocaine sentencing disparities, or highway overpasses.

Read Next: Murdering Black Mobs Come to Syracuse, Local Media and City Officials Run Interference for Them