So a funny thing happened on the way to writing a comment here. I ended up writing this whole post about the issue of homelessness on the West Coast, and how political posturing on all sides tends to make us ignore the central issue.
People can click or go below for the intro which was essentially part of a first draft response to your piece that my friend posted.
Why Virtue Signaling Doesn't Solve the Problem: Volume IX (Homelessness Issue)
A Sinclair Media Documentary in Seattle Might Not Actually Be a Hate-Fest Against the Poor. It Might Just Be a Solution.
Today, I’m finding my Seattle and Pacific Northwest friends split on an issue you’d wish there was some sensible civic unity. I’ve seen it occur regularly in Chicago, too, and this feels like the 8th or 9th time, only a different hand-wringing social issue — or IX if we’re going all “Fall of the Roman Empire” on this. Given the title of the documentary causing the ruckus — “Seattle is Dying” — Roman history intonations may be appropriate.
I have some friends posting on social media Medium articles that smack of a lot of straw-man arguments I’ve seen hundreds of times filled with “don’t the conservatives suck” sentiments for daring to shine an unvarnished light on the homelessness crisis in Seattle. Yes, everyone is supposed to hate on the right-wing Sinclair Media who produced KOMO News’ “Seattle is Dying” documentary — so let’s completely ignore its content. Look away, nothing to see here except bourgeois bigotry. It is currently being Tweeted about negatively and dismissed by the city’s intelligentsia, like The Stranger’s longtime writer Charles Mudede. Indeed, I have other friends who posted Mudede’s column and agree with his Noam Chomsky-infused argument that this is part of a capitalistic America’s continued hate-mongering of the poor. To him, the real criminals are the corporations.
Which, I get. We live in the real-life movie Trump Times: End of Days. (Or is it Trump Days: End of Times with Kirk Cameron starring?) Many of us didn’t relish his victory. But some of us took different insights from his win.
I have other friends who read The Stranger and Medium articles, and they’re absolutely pissed at the obfuscation. They don’t hate the poor, they just want a solution.
When one Seattle friend I know read the Medium article titled, “Our Local Media Is Broken And Homeless People Are Paying The Price,” she responded: “I could just puke. What I hear from her writing is that she doesn’t like that a lot of people don’t like the homeless/street crime crisis and she’s upset that the media is reflecting that instead of pushing HER agenda. If Seattle is getting a lot of negative attention and the media is reporting on it and it’s resonating with the people, maybe that’s because a majority of the people are in agreement with the reporting!! Ughhjnhhbbbbbbhhhhh.”
The frustration is palpable. She recently moved to the suburb of Bellevue, partly to get away from legitimate fears for her safety and her family’s well-being. She’s even told a story of being verbally dressed down by a friend for daring to speak anything negative about homeless, especially “in front of the children.” (More juicy details on that story at the bottom of this post.)
How did we get so far apart? The KOMO News special says it wants to give Seattle “a fighting chance” and so do I. So does everyone, I believe.
At the heart of the KOMO/Sinclair Media piece, around the 25-minute mark, you understand the problem straight-on. To quote Seattle’s most famed junkie Kurt Cobain in “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” it’s a “denial.” A woman living on the Seattle streets named Melissa Burns says drugs is at the center of the homelessness crisis, telling the reporter, “100 percent of the people I have met out here are at some level of addiction.” Then there’s a series of talking heads and politicians calling this a “homeless” crisis repeatedly, and not a single person saying it’s a “drug addiction” crisis. A somber narrator voice comes on and asks: “If we won’t even name the thing that is destroying Seattle, what hope do we have of fixing it?” (Later, a longtime Seattle on-the-street reporter says the same thing: Drug addiction is the problem.)