Politics

Sympathy for The Jungle

Seattle under the Freeway of Greed Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times
Seattle under the Freeway of Greed
Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

“Drugs, guns, death find home in The Jungle.”

Such was the front-page above-the-fold headline of the print edition of The Seattle Times this morning, sensationalistically advertising that newspaper’s coverage of the Tuesday night shooting deaths at The Jungle, Seattle’s infamous longtime homeless encampment below Interstate 5, just south of downtown.

While the content of that coverage was much more balanced and nuanced than that politically telegraphic headline, anyone who knows the recent demographic history of Seattle should clearly see the message that The Blethen Times was broadcasting across the city by framing their account of the Jungle murders in that obviously provocative way.

Seattle’s recent political history clearly shows a pattern of demonization of the city’s underclass by the city’s political establishment. The recent teapot tempest over homeless RV camping expressed by apocryphally oppressed wealthy and wealth-aspirational NIMBYs in Ballard and Magnolia has deep historical roots in the moral and legal war that was waged against Seattle’s homeless population during the 1990s, when Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran proudly wore the wig of classist hatred of the homeless while several of City Hall’s other official government denizens disingenuously claimed to care about the city’s underclass while rolling out the de facto red carpet for real-estate developers and crybaby pro sports teams and their corporate owners.

Same as it ever was, indeed: here circa 2016, The Amazonia Times accompanied its dog-whistle headline with a widescreen photograph showing the subterranean squalor that surely strikes fear into the hearts of the world-class-aspirational Times readers who currently reside and/or work in Ballard, Magnolia, South Lake Union, and other such local enclaves of wine, cheese, and historical obliviousness.

Readers of The Seattle Star should not shun the Times this morning, especially since their coverage of this week’s Jungle tragedy includes a sympathetic introduction to The Jungle’s history by the excellent longtime local journalist Nina Shapiro. Nevertheless, let’s all be mindful of the Times‘s longtime local role as a willing apologist and enabler for the city’s political establishment. As that establishment continues to welcome greed within our city while attempting to eliminate our city’s radical political history, remembering that history — Hooverville, Nickelsville, and Murraysville especially — will be crucial for preventing Seattle from becoming the latest economically monochromatic municipal playground for global capital.

Ain’t that so?