Part 3—More specifically, nobody cares Over Here: Let's start with a blatantly obvious statement:
Nobody cares about Abel Cedeno, age 18, apparently of the Bronx. Also, nobody cared about the late Matthew McCree, who was 15 years old when he died last week.
(An unarmed teen was killed last week? For reasons your lizard brain can explain, you haven't heard the first freaking word about it.)
Cedeno, McCree? Their lives, and their school lives, didn't matter. Few things could be more clear.
Let's get clear on another basic point. When we say that their lives didn't matter, we don't mean that their lives didn't matter to the Very Bad People we love to hate, the very bad racist bigoted people so widely found Over There.
We mean that their lives didn't matter to our own tribe's vaunted corporate TV stars. We mean that, among many others, Rachel, Lawrence, Chris, Chris and Joy don't and didn't care.
Few things could be more obvious. Let's take a look at the record.
Last Wednesday morning, Cedeno allegedly stabbed and killed McCree during a history class at their public high school in the Bronx. The school bears a high-fallutin' name along with some horrible test scores and some other unfortunate indicators of student alienation and disinterest.
Last Thursday amd Friday mornings, the New York Times ran news reports about the killing, reportedly the first inside a New York City school in more than twenty years. In its initial news report, the Times reported the very low passing rates on statewide tests which were being achieved at the high-fallutin' school.
The Times also published the first few allegations about the atmosphere within the school, which is devoted, for reasons unknown, to wildlife conservation.
What was life like inside this school, which shares a building with P.S. 67, an elementary school? We can't answer that question, but we can expose you to the first few facts and allegations the Times reported:
NIR (9/28/17): In the first half of this year, the Police Department recorded 11 public safety episodes at the school, which has 545 students in grades 6 through 12, according to department data. There were two arrests, both for assault.Despite its devotion to conservation, the school appeared to have faced some challenges! As she ended her report, Nir offered an example of what she meant:
Police officials said on Wednesday that metal detectors could have prevented the violence at the Wildlife Conservation school. But some advocates argue that metal detectors create a negative environment and make students feel as though they are under suspicion.
Three years ago, the school changed principals, and it appears to have faced some challenges since: In a school survey conducted last year, just 55 percent of students said that they felt safe in the hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms and cafeteria, down from 74 percent the year before.
On Wednesday, as the school was plunged into a lockdown, the safety felt all the more elusive.
NIR (continuing directly): Lennette Berry's 13-year-old daughter texted her from where she was stranded, in theater class. A boy had attacked two of his classmates, the girl, an eighth grader, wrote in a text message.The bullying meme was dominant in this initial news report. Meanwhile, on the same day McCree was killed, another boy had allegedly attacked two of his classmates in some undefined way.
''Was he being bullied?'' Ms. Berry texted back. ''Yes,'' her daughter replied.
The girl who texted this claim is 13 years old. Does her school life matter?
This school is devoted to saving the tiger, but who has been saving its kids? On Friday morning, the Times ran a longer, front-page report which described conditions at the school. A pair of Times reporters started like this:
MUELLER AND BAKER (9/29/17): A week into his senior year, the 18-year-old student logged onto Amazon and bought a knife: a spring-loaded switchblade, slim enough to stay hidden in his pocket but sturdy enough, at a price of $30, that it could be lethal.Say what? Some parents felt their children were so unprotected that they patrolled the hallways themselves?
The student, Abel Cedeno, told a friend he felt trapped. Classmates were mocking him with racist and homophobic slurs, he said. Under a Facebook video on Sept. 16 in which he popped the knife open, he asked why people thought he was soft. Detectives believe he started taking the knife to school, a five-story brick building on Mohegan Avenue in the Bronx where some parents worried their children were so unprotected that they had, in the past, taken to patrolling the hallways themselves.
Mueller and Baker described the incident which left McCree, age 15, dead. They also described the taunting and bullying which allegedly preceded it.
Eventually, they reported some allegations by parents. We can't evaluate the accuracy of their claims, but the report started with this:
MUELLER AND BAKER: City officials, facing an outcry from parents for not having had metal detectors at the school before, scrambled to put them in place on Thursday. But parents still kept their children home in droves...They suggested she put her daughter's hair in a bun? Long ago and far away, we worked in Baltimore City's schools for thirteen years. That story doesn't sound implausible to us. Nor would we automatically condemn "school officials" for it.
Parents said their fears stemmed from a failure by school officials to deal with complaints of bullying. They described students cursing openly in hallways, taunting teachers and leaving condoms and marijuana blunts in the hallways.
Kayesha McIntosh, 32, said she once told school officials that students were pulling her daughter's hair. They suggested she put her daughter's hair in a bun.
''Like that was going to stop her from being bullied,'' Ms. McIntosh said. ''They knew she was getting bullied and they didn't do anything.''
Is that story accurate? We have no way of knowing. That said, Mueller and Baker described what allegedly happened next:
"Feeling abandoned by teachers, [McIntosh] said she visited the parents of one of the offending students herself."
She visited one of the parents herself! Without suggesting she shouldn't have done so, what could have gone wrong?
Do these children's school lives matter? As the reporters continued, they presented an allegation by another mother. This concerned an alleged incident at the elementary school:
MUELLER AND BAKER: Another mother, Jovana Russell, a former PTA president at P.S. 67, said she pulled her daughter from the elementary school after a high school student exposed himself to her in the stairwell several years ago. After parents' requests for more security were turned down, she said, they started patrolling the hallways themselves.Do those kids' school lives matter? The worst statement of all came next:
Students described feeling as though they had to defend themselves. Some parents said that led to cycles of bullying and violence in which students who were bullied became angry at a lack of action by the school and started threatening other students.
MUELLER AND BAKER (continuing directly): There is little indication that the Wildlife Conservation school is one of the most dangerous in the city. But so routine was the trouble that another mother, Uneek Valentin, 37, said that she was having a meeting with the principal about bullying only to have the principal dash out of the office because a fight had broken out in the school.So ended the Times' front-page report. On the brighter side for parents at the porpoise-loving palladium, "there is little indication that the Wildlife Conservation school is one of the most dangerous in the city!"
Ms. Valentin's son, Dwhy Hoyt, a senior, said bullies curse at teachers, skip class and slap books out of students' hands, ruining the learning environment.
Mr. Hoyt, 17, said he had learned to defend himself, only to be chided by school officials for fighting, and had stopped reporting some incidents.
''I had to fight my own battles and make people into my friend,'' he said.
This week, the jugglers and the clowns have entertained us with the question of whether Rex called Donald a moron. Meanwhile, you haven't seen a single word about these Times reports.
Your multimillionaire corporate stars would literally enter the lions' den before they'd ask you to consider the lives of the non-meritocratic children who attend such schools. Their corporate owners would never let them discuss a topic like that, and they do what they're told.
As you surely know by now, our self-affirming "liberal" tribe pretends that school lives matter in one type of circumstance only. If someone gets killed in a way we find tribally useful, we go into Full Bullshit Mode about that young person's death.
We invent some facts about his death; we may have to disappear others. For purposes of pathos, we emphasize facts which are wholly irrelevant, a practice in which Hillary Clinton engages again in her best-selling book. This makes us feel tribally good.
In this way, we posture and preen. In the end, it must be said: if we're to be judged by behavior alone, we'll be judged as very bad people. We'll be judged as comically bad.
The lives of kids who go to these schools stopped mattering a long time ago. Tomorrow, we'll start with a recent well-known book which portrayed the school lives of such kids, and then we'll turn to those two-year-old test scores—the test scores Rachel, Lawrence, two Chrisses and Joy will simply never discuss.
Tomorrow: A change in a long-standing pattern
The Bronx is full of beautiful kids: Check out this little girl here