Favorite

Where's the love? 

Bill Clinton not only told people he felt their pain, he made people believe he was sincere. Such empathy is in short supply nowadays.

Take Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee for president. We've learned recently that he assaulted a prep school classmate and cut his hair because it didn't conform to Romney's view of proper appearance. He played cruel tricks on a nearly blind teacher. He threw rocks at his future wife's horse. He donned costumes to frighten others. Think those were youthful indiscretions? What about the man who likes to fire people? Who thinks every college student has a parent at home with money to loan for a business startup?

Barack Obama demonstrated a bit of empathy last week by saying the example of friends and co-workers had persuaded him to change his mind about same-sex marriage. Most voters took it as a calculated political ploy. (That's laughable given that Republicans are rubbing their hands to make hay among anti-gay voters. A local poll found only 6 percent of 4th District of Arkansas Republican voters in support of equal treatment under the law for same-sex domestic partners. Six percent!)

Romney's coldness didn't electrify Republican primary voters, but his money prevailed against the odd lot of opponents. Conformity seems to be the order of the day. And you'll get Republican conformity from Romney — against rights for women and sexual minorities, against welfare, for low taxes for the wealthy. Whatever tenderness he lacks, Romney empathizes with rich men.

We find the urge for conformity in places other than presidential politics. Occupy Little Rock, a small but spunky group demonstrating now for six months as part of a global movement against the influence of big money on public policy, has exasperated city government. Lance Hines, a city director from western Little Rock, finally had all he could take of the site of their tent camp and started the conversation that led to an eviction notice. The very sight of this group irritates the establishment as much as long hair irritated Mitt Romney in the 1960s.

Conformity is really big in Lance Hines' western Little Rock, a Republican enclave. To live in a home in a major portion of it — Chenal Valley, controlled by powerful Deltic Timber — you have to agree to a 17-page list of rules on everything from roof pitch to shrubbery.

You see conformity, too, in the push by the business community to bulldoze a residential neighborhood between UAMS and UALR to build a "technology park" — a taxpayer-financed spec office building in a well-groomed park that is supposed to be the region's ticket to prosperity, a magnet for the next Apple.

The mostly low-income black people who live in the targeted neighborhood include more than a few who value their homes for more than the "fair market value" condemnation likely would bring them. That "fair value" won't be enough to buy them much anywhere else. Businessmen from Chenal Valley and similar environs don't care a fig. They look at this neighborhood and see blight well-removed from their vision. What better replacement than a soulless office building subsidized by a regressive sales tax that was opposed by those targeted for removal.

The people who live in the neighborhood see yards where their kids played, houses where they celebrated Christmas, the neighbors they've long known. In Mitt Romney's world, they're just a parental loan away from prosperity and Chenal Valley. Comfortably rich, they then could join Lance Hines in railing about scruffy hippies in need of haircuts and their unsightly tents.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Baker Kurrus: Opposes Little Rock School District tax proposal

    Baker Kurrus has written a monumental essay explaining why he opposes the proposal in the May 9 special , the Little Rock lawyer and businessman who long served on the Little Rock School Board and spent a year as its superintendent after the state takeover before being fired by Education Commissioner
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • Before the flood

    Twitter is flooded with predictions of sandbag-requiring flash flooding and torrential rains today, particularly in Northwest Arkansas. Keep us posted.
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • Three homicides in Polk County and a continuing search for missing child

    The Polk County Pulse Facebook page has posted this video from Mena of Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer reporting Friday on the discovery of the body of a two-year-old girl in a developing multiple homicide case.
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • The end of democracy in LR

    The state Board of Education was scheduled to talk this week about the Little Rock School District, under state control for two years because six of its 48 schools failed to meet an arbitrary pass rate on a standardized test.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Internet looting continues

    The 2017 legislative session concluded without passage of a bill to encourage internet merchants to collect and remit taxes on sales in Arkansas, though internet giant Amazon has begun doing so voluntarily.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: O'Reilly's fall

    • O'Reilly should run for president. He's already cleared one major hurdle by proving he's a…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • Re: Intracity tourism

    • I love being a tourist in my own backyard. One of the advantages of being…

    • on April 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation