Hood Ornament

In the early ’80s (which now seems to be as long ago as the High Victorian era seemed to be to those looking backwards from the vantage point of the 1920s) acclaimed literary lion Norman Mailer took up the cause of a life-long convict, Jack Abbott by name … and discovered to his dismay that it was easier and safer to champion a violent felon at a considerable distance, than to actually wrangle the man close up. After being out of prison for a matter of weeks Abbott lost his temper and fatally stabbed another man … thereby demonstrating a certain drawback to an intellectual burnishing their public credit by adopting an edgy cause. It was liable to backfire, and make the adoptee appear to be a gullible prat. At about the same time, Tom Wolfe called it ‘radical chic’ and poured erudite derision on Leonard Bernstein for doing much the same with the Black Panther leadership.

Alas, since then, the politically trendy have taken to adopting more than single individuals and fringe elements as what a current wit termed ‘hood ornaments’ – to the point that an entire criminally-inclined urban underclass has been adopted wholesale by the civic leadership – adopted and excused every failure to be good and responsible members of the community. All this has made it interesting lately – not to mention dangerous – for an urban dweller working in retail, riding the public transport system, walking down the street, or even just living in an apartment building that doesn’t have iron-clad, 24-hour-a-day security. Ordinary people living in cities where defund-the-police and cater-to-the-homeless have become the primary focus of local government are on edge, unhappy, jittery … and in come sad recent cases, dead on a slab in the mortuary. It’s happened too often; an otherwise harmless person attacked for no particular reason by a street crazy. No wonder that Uber driver picking up a takeout order in a mall food court felt sufficiently threatened and shot the guy following him around the mall, shoving a phone in his face playing a nonsensical message. How can any sane person tell the difference these days between a genuine nutcase arguing with the voices in their head, and a prankster doing it for laughs and his Youtube channel? Hood ornaments are now the most valued constituency in just about every blue city.

And then there is the Portland (naturally!) school superintendent, more indignant about the public and parents of students having the nerve to be angry about a male student in a dress bullying and beating up genuinely female students. I definitely get the feeling that school superintendents and administrators across the nation have taken on gender-bending boys-claiming-to-be-girls as their primary hood ornament, such is the apparent enthusiasm for allowing boys in dresses and Maybelline to compete as girls on school-supported sports teams.

Comment and discuss. I should note that last weekend, I had a client meeting at a lovely venue on the edge of downtown San Antonio. We had arranged to meet in front of the Food Hall at the Pearl Brewery – a lovely redeveloped and very upscale reworking of a former 19th Century industrial brewery on the edge of downtown along the extended Riverwalk, which is now adorned with parks, lawns, ornate fountains, a boutique hotel and expensive apartment blocks over boutiques, restaurants and other upmarket retail. On weekends, there is a farmers market, rows of portable pavilions, with venders selling more gourmet groceries, meats, eggs, cheeses and artisan chocolates. People shop with their dogs on a leash or children in strollers; there is a splash fountain by the Food Hall that is very popular with children, especially on days as hot as last Saturday was. The Pearl was crowded with shoppers and their families – it was all very pleasant. And not an urban hood ornament in sight. I wonder why? Then again, this is Texas.

24 thoughts on “Hood Ornament”

  1. I’d argue that hood ornament is what they think they’re getting, while mascot is closer to the truth.

    The distinction, in my mind: a hood ornament (and I always think of those giant Cadillac land-boats or Rolls-Royce limos) has no agency; it goes wherever the driver dictates… and it’s safely isolated from the driver by both the windscreen and the ginormous hood.

    A mascot, on the other hand, still moves around on its own, has its own agency, and sometimes does something horrifying and unpredictable that you really wish it hadn’t. Your mascot takes it into its head to take a dump in public, and you’re stuck with that image in the press, no matter what you do afterward.

  2. The celebrities adopting these specimens are most like the adrenaline addicts that cultivate wolves and wolf hybrids as “pets”. They are and remain wild feral animals. The slightest lapse of concentration, inadvertent gesture, or even unexpected noise is all it takes for them to instantly revert and the human throat is wonderfully vulnerable. Feral humans are even more unpredictable.

  3. The “heist on one’s own petard” contingent of presumably well-intentioned white liberals is long in both numbers and years. David Horowitz and Peter Collier’s Destructive Generation gives some examples.

    Fay Stender (1932-1980) was an attorney who devoted years to defending black radicals, such as George Jackson and Huey Newton. IIRC from the book, she became George Jackson’s lover for a while. She eventually got disillusioned and stopped taking black prisoners/radicals as clients. Some years later, a former prisoner went to her house and shot her, claiming that she had “betrayed” George Jackson. She was paralyzed from the shooting, and committed suicide a year later.

    Another example from the book is a childhood friend of David Horowitz. They grew up together in a neighborhood with other CPUSA families in Queens, NY. She was a high school math teacher who went out of her way to help her black students. She lived in an integrated neighborhood, and, contrary to the acts of her black neighbors, would not lock her home at night. Unfortunately, her not locking her home led to her being killed in her home. From the NYT (June,1975): Friends of Slain Teacher Remember a Kind Woman.

    ENGLEWOOD, June 22 —Friends and neighbors of Ellen Bindman, the high‐school teacher and divorced mother of three children who was murdered in her house here early yesterday morning, talked today about their memories of her, speculated about the crime, wept a little and planned a memorial ceremony.

    Mrs. Bindman, who had been living alone with her three children in the shrub‐enclosed house on Belmont Avenue since her separation from her husband in 1969, was slain between 1:30 and 2 A.M. by a man who the police believe broke in through a window.

    Her 14‐year‐old daughter, Naomi, told the police that she encountered the man, after waking up, as she was going to the bathroom, and that his face was Covered by a stocking mask and that he carried a small gun.

    She told the police that the man had tried to smother her with a pillow and that he had ripped her nightgown but that after she screamed and struggled with him, he fled.

    According to investigators, medical examination indicated that Mrs. Bindman might have been sexually assaulted. Her bedroom, where her children discovered her body, was in disarray, but as of late today, the police had found no evidence of robbery.

    There were about 150 highschool students at an outdoor graduation party behind Mrs. Bindman’s house at the time of the murder. The police are trying to interview all of them. But Detective Lieut. Cono Delia of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office, who is supervising the investigation, said he belived the killer was a stranger to Mrs. Bindman.

    She taught mathematics in the Dwight Morrow High School. which is only a few blocks from her home, and, according to the school’s principal and her neighbors, she was one of the more‐popular teachers in the school.

    Her friends and neighbors spoke this afternoon as if they found it astonishing that anyone would want to harm her.

    “I doubt it I would find anyone like her again,” said Eleanor Foster, one of Mrs. Bindman’s next‐door neighbors. “I don’t have too many white friends. She was the one person in all this world, as far as caring for blacks or social background,” Mrs. Foster said, letting her voice trail off.

    Mrs. Bindman was white. Her neighbors on both sides are black, and the entire grassy development of about 20 houses that make up her immediate neighborhood is integrated. It is a prosperous development of homes averaging $50,000 in value.

    Carol Kaplan, a childhood friend of Mrs. Bindman who lives about a mile away, said Mrs. Bindman moved to Englewood from Queens in 1969 expressly because she knew it was an integrated town with integrated schools.

    “She named her last son Martin, after Martin Luther King,” Alice Twombly, another neighbor of Mrs. Bindman, recalled.

    Mrs. Twombly, who lives a few houses away from the Bindman house, was visiting the Kaplan house to help plan a memorial service in the high school, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, the last day of school, at 2:30.

    Daily Routine Recalled

    She and Mrs. Kaplan, who both fought back tears at times, told story after story of their dead friend’s generosity, warmth and great energy.

    They said she used to rise at 5:30 in the morning and go for a walk or jog. Then she would spend a few quiet hours reading, before her three children awakened.

    After her teaching day was complete, she would come home and begin getting dinner, between frequent interruptions, as students telephoned her for help with their mathematics problems. Later, two or three students might come by her house for tutorial help, they recalled.

    Before she began teaching at the local public high school, Mrs. Bindman taught at Queens College, in the SEEK program For disadvantaged students.

    Her friends said that at one point when she was low on funds, she also taught at DeWitt Clinton High School, while still holding the job at Queens College. In addition, during this period, she took graduate courses at Queens College.

    Her energy had other outlets, too, they said. Two years ago, in the spring, Mrs. Bindman planned a bicycle trip with her children—a trip from her Englewood home to Vermont, where her mother lives.

    “The first thing they did was they went three miles in the wrong direction,” Mrs. Twombly said. “And then her daughter decided she didn’t want to carry her pack. So Ellen took it. She had her son, who weighed 40 pounds, her own pack and her daughter’s pack on the back of the bike. Well, they went 20 miles before they finally turned around to come back.”

    ‘The Ultimate Irony’

    The two women said Mrs., Bindman was fearless and had left her doors unlocked until a rapist began plaguing women in the neighborhood last year, “and then we had to tell her to lock her door.”

    “That something so senseless and brutal should happen to Ellen is the ultimate irony, because it was the antithesis of everything in her life,” Mrs. Kaplan said tearfully.

    On the back terrace of another next‐door neighbor’s house, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen McPherson, they high‐school principal, Charles N. Hall, sat sipping a cool drink and saying that Mrs. Bindman was “probably one of the best teachers that I have ever seen.”

    Byron Foster, Eleanor Foster’s husband, stopped by, and a little later Lieutenant Delia joined the group.

    Other friends of Mrs. Bindman had earlier told of numerous robberies in the neighborhood, most of which occurred in the summertime, when families were away on vacations.

    Mrs. Foster recalled that last July Mrs. Bindman had caught a young man trying to steal a bicycle in her garage and that she had reluctantly pressed charges.

    “She pressed charges, but at the same time she got in touch with his family to see whether he could be rehabilitated. She was like that,” Mrs. Foster said sadly.

  4. When I saw the title and topic sentence of this posting, I was wondering if you were referring to two recent examples this week, one being the murder of activist Josh Kruger in Philadelphia. Who was Josh Kruger ? Tweet from days prior to his death goes viral as local Philadelphia journalist is shot and killed .
    He was killed at his home. Some of his recent tweets downplaying crime in Philadelphia now seem sadly ironic.
    From Andy Ngo:

    Andy Ngo
    Breaking: Leftist journalist and activist Josh Kruger
    has been tragically shot dead at his Philadelphia home. Kruger has long downplayed gun violence in his city and publicly chastised others who spoke about it.

    Straight from the Kruger’s mouth:

    Today, I learned there is apparently a “crippling crime wave destroying all cities” according to Stephen Miller, which includes presumably Philly. My house is not on fire and chaos is not reigning in the street. I saw a man get a parking ticket yesterday. My trash got picked up….

    Some idiot just said you’re more likely to get shot and killed than die of COVID in Philly to make some insensitive rhetorical point for “his side.” Folks, four times as many Philadelphians have died of COVID than gun shots this year. I understand math is hard but do better.”…..
    Kruger wrote: “Look, it’s that lawless land of liberals in Philly where shootings are…dropping to levels not seen in years.

    From Collin Rugg:

    Collin Rugg
    UST IN: Liberal journalist Josh Kruger was shot and killed early this morning in Philadelphia after an intruder entered his home and started shooting.

    Just two days ago, Kruger responded to a tweet from Scott Adams, mocking him for his prediction that “there’s a good chance you will be dead” if Biden is elected.

    “The Dilbert dude is like Nostradamus. Look at this prediction from 2020. Wow. Eerie.”

    At the moment, no arrests have been made.

    Two weeks before his death, Kruger posted on Facebook that someone had showed up to his house, searching for their boyfriend.

    “A man I’ve never met once in my entire life.” The person referred to themselves as “Lady Diabla, the She-Devil of the Streets.”

    Kruger says they even threatened him.

    So much for the City of Brotherly love. Some of my ancestors were Quakers from 17th century Philadelphia.

  5. This is part of the skirmishing in the ongoing war between the separate nations within our former national “borders”. The three [out of a larger number that exist] involved here include first the readers and writers here who are in the main followers of what is considered the traditional American Social Contract. Second are the criminals and sociopaths who are being enabled by the third group, the Leftist Enablers. The three groups are mutually incompatible, have base beliefs that are incompatible, and there is no hope for a peaceful reconciliation. It is what it is.

    Subotai Bahadur

  6. Self-Described ‘COO of Antifa’ Gets ‘Stabbed to Death by Black Male in Brooklyn’ [UPDATED]

    Ryan Carson worked as the senior solid waste campaign director at the nonprofit New York Public Interest Research Group. In 2021, separate from his NYPIRG work, he walked 350 miles across New York State to pressure then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo into legalizing safe drug injection sites throughout New York.

    “One of the rising stars in our organization,” said a shaken Blair Horner, executive director of NYPIRG. “Wonderful person, hardworking, loud boisterous laugh. Everybody loved him.”

    Safe drug injection sites? That’s what a “rising star” advocates for?

    Carson previously described himself on Twitter as the “COO of Antifa” and touted his close friendship with Chuck Schumer. (Carson’s words: “close personal friends…)

    REVEALED: Murdered leftist activist Ryan Carson has history of celebrating death, violence towards conservatives

    Carson’s death received nationwide attention not only because he was a prominent activist, but also because of how his girlfriend, Claudia V. Morales, responded to his death.

    Morales, an Antifa-affiliated anti-police activist, was with Carson during the fatal stabbing and allegedly refused to give the suspect description to police because the assailant was black.

    In addition, friends of Ryan Carson said on Wednesday that Carson would have sympathy for the man who fatally attacked him and that he would want his killing to be used to further left-wing policies in the city.

    New York State Assemblymember Emily Gallagher said, “I’m absolutely positive that he would immediately see that this was a person who was suffering from a lack of resources in our community, who probably needs better mental health support, possibly housing, possibly drug support, drug treatment.”

    “What he would want to avenge his death is for us to fix how broken this city is,” she added.

    Heist, meet petard.

  7. Norman Mailer took up the cause of a life-long convict, Jack Abbott by name

    Must have been something in the water back then, as William Buckley did the same for another thug, with the same outcome.

  8. I’m reminded of something I read in a P.J. O’Rourke book decades ago, about Somalia.

    Someone asked a American soldier- during the occasion when the US was solving a famine problem the inhabitants couldn’t solve without vast sums of American wealth- what should be done about Somalia. The reply was seal the borders and give them better weapons.

    Today when leftists demand fixes for how broken the cities they rule have become it always means more money given to them, to give to their friends. The problems that inspire the river of wealth flowing into these locales never get solved and indeed never even get less worse.

    It’s time to cut them off and let nature take its course. If leftists side with the people who murder their friends over the people who would be prosecuting the murderers, then they deserve their fate.

  9. In California the voter en masse adopted the criminal class – raising the level of felonious theft to over $1000. So now3 we have shoplifters coming in with calculators, and the store won’t even try to stop them.

    I recently came back from a nice driving trip to Victoria Canada – not a homeless tent to be seen. We stopped in Grants Pass OR and I went into a chain drug store to get some shaving cream – Surprise! It was not under lock and key so I bought 4 cans – not wanting to deal with the nonsense in CA for awhile. Like a shopper coming from the 3rd world.

    I think these “adopters” have an idealized view of the criminal class, They ought to ride around with a cop on the midnight shift in your typical big city.

  10. What do we expect when we support these criminals with our tax dollars? We give them welfare money to live off of; They get subsidized housing; They’re patched up at no charge when they shoot each other; The get free cell phone so they can do their drug deals. There’s just no penalty for their criminal behavior. It’s’ time the taxpayers said, “enough”. Let the gang bangers of Chicago bleed to death in the streets.

  11. “Let the gang bangers of Chicago bleed to death in the streets.”
    The gang bangers are not the only ones bleeding in the streets. A lot of women and children and grandmothers too. Their only failing is they don’t pay off the politicians enough to be worth protection.

  12. Same thing with Obama and his clique and the Iranians and Ukrainians, just scaled up, with much larger scale graft on tap.

  13. As a high school sports official here in IL, I was stunned, and pleased, to find that the state has a blanket rule that no boys may play on girls’ sports team, and vice versa. Seems so out of step with the general left wing craziness here.

  14. The newest martyr:

    I am hoping [without any real hope because attorneys have neither loyalty or honor] that her posting gets reprinted as a paid ad by someone in legal journals about the time she is looking for an internship or a job. I know that she will attract the admiration of more than few law firms, but maybe it will convince some that she is too dangerous to hire.

    I’d like to find out that she is working at Starbucks.

    Subotai Bahadur

Comments are closed.