In the Grateful Dead song “Scarlet Begonias,” Jerry Garcia sang these words penned by his songwriting partner Robert Hunter: “Once in a while you get shown the light / In the strangest of places if you look at it right.” The trick, of course, is you have to look. This comes to mind when reading an SF Gate story about San Francisco’s image problem and how two of the three people interviewed firmly believe the problem isn’t rampant crime or rampant homelessness or drug abuse/mental health issues or city government incompetence. It’s … you, gentle readers of broadcasts emanating from the Good Pirate Ship RedState.
The individuals in question, namely UC Berkeley media studies professor Ian Davis and San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness executive director Jennifer Friedenbach, don’t namecheck RedState or anyone reading the site by name. It is not your fault, however. San Francisco has everything you need! You just need to be careful about where you go and forget that your property is actually yours.
First, Mr. Davis’ take on things. While he doesn’t qualify as a “geezer”, he feels nostalgic about days past when all the media marched in unison and had no other option.
Davis said that until the 1980s, “Americans lived in a low-choice media environment,” which “had the benefit of putting Americans on the same page about the major problems we faced as a nation.”
“Scholars and journalists could identify something like a unified, mainstream public debate,” he explained.
Ah, the good ol’ days before those meddling kids … er, bloggers started sticking their nose into things. Davis makes a good point.
“Americans increasingly use news as a way to endorse a common ideological faith,” he said. “Conservatives look to Tucker Carlson to confirm the evils of Nancy Pelosi and commiserate about the dangers of ‘creeping socialism.’ MSNBC viewers tune in to see if Trump will be indicted for his role in the Capitol riots following Biden’s election.”
“In many ways, our choice of news is a choice of world view,” he continued. “The faithful don’t go to church to learn something new about what happened to Jesus. They go to participate in a community of shared values.”
This is a valid point. This is a valid point. If each word that we take in is nothing but a repeat of our beliefs, then we do not grow in knowledge or wisdom. It is worthwhile to repeat a point that was made before. Because we believe in the truth of our beliefs, and want to spread them to others to combat leftist groupthink and propaganda, We need to know what’s happening in the rest of the world, so we can engage people with common goals.
Moving on, we move to Ms. Friedenbach. Reacting to a third person interviewed for the story, whom we’ll be getting to in a bit, she harrumphs:
“Homelessness is not a PR issue,” she told SFGATE. “It’s an issue of poverty. It’s an issue of racism. And it’s an issue of disablism and homophobia. These are huge systemic issues that need correcting.”
All right. Tents on sidewalks and streets aren’t the problem. The problem is not rampant drug use or mental disorders. It’s RACISM! Statistics indicate that the black population is more homeless than it is in the country. But, those suffering from addiction or mental illness could be less concerned about the color of the skin. As to the rest of her rant … homophobia? In San Francisco?
Ah, but there’s more:
“I think San Francisco is getting used as a symbol of a progressive left city by conservative interests, who are greatly exaggerating the situation here,” she said.
It appears that Ms. Friedenbach is managing the neat trick of “combating” homelessness in San Francisco without having ever actually visited the city in the past ten years.
The article also quotes Sam Singer who is a well-respected PR professional with an impeccable track record. Amazingly enough (okay, I’m being a little sarcastic there), he makes the most sense:
“You’re looking at a city that is beyond the pandemic, that has a pandemic of mental health, drug abuse, crime and corruption issues. And the city needs to start to address those issues or it will fall further and further behind,” he said
He said he would call for the mayor to “declare a crisis not just on San Francisco’s streets, but on theft and petty crime.”
In Singer’s opinion, the city also needs to increase “accountability for results from city agencies and nonprofits as well,” and devise not just a better communications plan but an operational plan.
Yes, it might. But that could be blamed on someone else than middle-class families trying to lead peaceful and secure lives. It’ll never fly.
So there it is, people. San Francisco is not to blame for letting what was one of the world’s great cities deteriorate to where it makes those who loved and still try to love it cry. It’s their fault for getting tears in their eyes.