By the time you read this, through the magic of the InterWebs, I will be on the road, headed to Wisconsin for a visi and to eat cream puffs at the Stair Fair. I bet you thought that as a GenXer I couldn’t figure out things like time-delayed blog postings, did you? I figured out all the other bloggy stuff, now didn’t I? So ha, ha on you. I bet the Millenials don’t even get the reference in the title. Double ha, ha.
So, the creeping international news story of the week—which even reaches my cream puffs—is mob violence. Mostly by young people of African ancestry in Western cities, organized through handhelds, emails, texts and Twitter. This is the flash mob phenomenon gone bad. I’ve personally always thought flash mobs were the product of a generation that had too much leisure time and not enough responsibility, kind of like 50’s college student packing themselves into phone booths. Don’t you have a library card? I would think a college student would have a library card and something better to do.
This high tech Wilding has apparently has been going on in various places for some time. It’s been happening off and on in Philly since last year, and it exploded in London, spreading throughout England, this week. A Twitterverse initiated Wilding incident in Silver Spring, Maryland, last month led the County Board to consider instituting a curfew for under 18s—the first curfew in Montgomery County and the last jurisdiction in the area to adopt one. Unfortunately, easy regional transportation for all through the MetroRail system has been implicated in how the MoCo incident got so out of control so fast.
And several mobs of African-American teenagers attacked mostly White attendees at the Wisconsin State Fair on Opening Day and spilled out into the surrounding community, following on a Wilding incident in Central Milwaukee the night of the Independence Day Fireworks. The State Fair responded immediately by instituting a chaperone requirement for under 18s. A big switch, as State Fair has long been perceived as a safe environment, a first taste of independence for young people, with kids as young as 12 walking the Fair by themselves. (Probably a natural for the rural attendees who don’t think so much about letting their kids have independence, and a breath of fresh air for the Milwaukee kids who are usually much more closely monitored.)
I went to college in Michigan in the early 90s. At that time, there were some actually pretty together people who were working on revitalizing Detroit, but it seemed like every time there were more than three people in one place in Detroit, a group of Wilding teenagers would “go nuts” for lack of a better description and destroy the event. There were similar issues and events in New York and Chicago that also hampered revitalization attempts (with less success) in those cities as well in the mid-90s. New York and Chicago beat it back; Detroit? Well, we’re still working on Detroit. The impression I was left with is some people just prefer chaos.
So, Milwaukee—particularly the city itself—has taken some hits in recent years, economically, socially. There has been talk of relocating the State Fair. Like it or not, Superior/Ashland/Marinette crowd, you’re all in it together. The more Milwaukee rebounds, the more tax dollars roll in and free up for other stuff, like rural and agricultural programs. Having State Fair on the fringe of the state’s largest city and spitting distance from the Capital brings agriculture and rural life into the urban heart once a year for 10 days and builds a constituency for your issues as well. You might be surprised at how quickly migrants to the Milwaukee area become Dairy Loyalists. And let’s keep in mind this was a just a handful of kids, in a metropolitan area with plenty of stable middle class, of all races. In other words, it wasn’t everybody.
It was a few trying to spoil it for everyone. Don’t let them. I can guarantee that it won’t in other places. So, I’ll be walking the midway in my Wisconsin State Fair—Since 1851 t-shirt, checking out the Livestock competitions, eating brats and doing a face plant into cream puffs later this week. So will a lot of other people. And we’ll be back in West Allis again next year.