Slaughter of Cities, The

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670 pages, 6 1/2 X 9 1/2, introduction, notes, bibliography, index

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Slaughter of Cities, The

Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing

Jones, E. Michael

By now, it should be obvious that the government-sponsored initiative to renew this country’s large cities which began in the 1930s and continued largely unabated in the East and Midwest through the 1960s and beyond has been a profound and devastating failure. More homes were destroyed than were ever built; once-great metropolises like Detroit lay in ruins; once-thriving neighborhoods were overwhelmed with drugs and crime; buildings that were built to last centuries fell to the wrecking ball mere decades after they were built; an entire generation of young people, both those who came to the cities and those who were driven from the cities into the suburbs, have grown up rootless, in a Hobbsian state in which man's life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

The traditional explanation, the one which no one believes anymore, is that all this was done to eliminate “blight.” A more recent explanation, only slightly less implausible, is that it all came about because of faulty design, as if a nation of 260 million people, one which had already produced the Columbian Exhibition of 1893, couldn't come up with anything more inspiring that the average strip mall. The real story, it turns out, is different from both previous explanations. What began as the World War II intelligence community’s attempt to solve America's “nationalities problem” and provide workers for the nation's war industries degenerated by the early post-war period into full-blown ethnic cleansing.

E. Michael Jones has followed the advice of Christopher Wrenn. Looking around, he saw monuments, but monuments to the folly and malice of social engineering and a government that had declared war on large segments of its own people. In his meticulously documented book, he proves that urban renewal had more to do with ethnicity than it ever had to do with design or hygiene or blight. Urban renewal was the last gasp attempt of the WASP ruling class to take control of a country that was slipping out of its grasp for demographic reasons. The largely Catholic ethnics were to be driven out of their neighborhoods into the suburbs, where they were to be “Americanized” according to WASP principles. The neighborhoods they left behind were to be turned over to the sharecroppers from the South or turned into futuristic Bauhaus enclaves for the new government elites. Using political tactics like eminent domain and “integration,” the planners made sure that the ethnic neighborhood got transformed into something more congenial to their dreams of social engineering than the actual communites of people they saw as a threat to their control.

The Slaughter of Cities proposes a new take on familiar territory, e.g., to give just one example, the civil rights movement. Does anyone, for example, really know why Martin Luther King abandoned his southern strategy and came to Chicago during the summer of 1966? Does anyone really know who brought him there? Does anyone know who told him which ethnic neighborhoods he would march through? Hint: it was a religious denomination usually associated with Philadelphia that had been at work trying to “integrate” Chicago's neighborhoods since 1951.

Jones concentrates on four cities – Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago – in a book whose conclusions will be shocking and controversial. The destruction of the ethnic neighborhoods that made up the human, residential heart of these cities was not an unfortunate by-product of a well-intentioned plan that somehow went awry; it was part of the plan itself.