Orion's picture

    The Fall of Seattle

    Artappraiser inspired this with her post about "the fall of Seattle" and how the George Floyd protests made them especially harmful for the Pacific Northwest.

    I often heard people express surprise that the death of George Floyd, which happened in Minnesota, would inspire such difficulty in the Northwest. However, in my estimation, the Pacific Northwest had been operating for some time with a lot of unaddressed human suffering and the recognition of suffering elsewhere was the perfect fuse for the city to finally explode. 


    When I was a teenager, I worked at a children's summer camp. A supposedly safe space environment, right? There was another staff member who was being rude and bullying to other staff. I told him that he should stop and he flipped out. He ran over to his backpack and pulled out several knives, yelling that he was doing so. He was blocked from doing anything by a staff member.

    The incident was taken seriously and he was promptly fired. One of the staff members contacted his dad and asked if he had a history of returning on site to threaten people and his dad said, "Nah, he wouldn't do anything like that." The case was closed and I was assured to be at ease. The staff assured me he was a loser who would "end up dead or in jail."

    While at work, the children told me several times that they saw him prowling the camp. He followed and stalked me multiple times. I reported this all over again, as if the whole first process was a big waste of time that just made it worse. It sure felt nicer - there was no violence or aggression - than how it may have been dealt with in someplace like Texas but I had a stalker now.

    I felt unlucky and unfortunate, but at that time, being the product of a broken family, being labeled with disabilities, I found myself in scenarios that were abnormal at the time (it was Bush era America, a pretty conservative time) and that are now very common place up there.

    Seattleites don't really own guns - that's why you hear about all sorts of crimes involving other tools like the guy who killed a sex trafficker with knives and a cinder block. The city's Baby Boomer / old hippie contigent saw the city as a utopia, far away from the problems that lead to gun violence. I remember hearing some of them growing up talking about how the city had no bad side of town like other cities do. Nowadays, it's doubtful that that city even has a good side of town.

    Private security is a booming industry in Seattle now. Downtown Seattle has reportedly become so dangerous that the few people still willing to work have their own private security detail. I have a buddy who works this kind of job, and has told me about drawing guns multiple times.

    The idea of utopia led to confusion and denial. An underbelly of abuse, sex trafficking, and harassment had to at first be denied completely and the idea of utopia had to be doubled down on (CHAZ), then blamed on those who are tasked to deal with it ('Defund the Police"), and then finally facing the grim reality themselves and dealing with it firsthand (a boom in private security, vigilante acts against sex traffickers, offenders and various criminals and a general exodus by its inhabitants).

    Mutual Combat and the Seattle Freeze

    If utopia was the problem to begin with, we have to ask why Seattle, Washington would have been so attractive as a destination for utopians. For many reasons, Seattle, Washington just became a destination point for people who had a hands off approach to other human beings. It's called the "Seattle Freeze." While Seattleites love to have inclusive, progressive messages on their homes, they are largely hostile to nearly anyone who comes by: 

    While some residents dispute the existence of the Seattle Freeze,[8][9] a 2008 peer-reviewed study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science found that among all 50 states, Washington residents ranked 48th in the personality trait extraversion.[10] In 2014, a similar report by the Seattle City Club ranked the population 48th out of 50 similarly sized cities in activities such as "talking with neighbors frequently".[11] The rapid growth of Amazon and its accompanying influx of technology workers who could be considered more introverted than other working professionals may have exacerbated this phenomenon.

    I can attest to this. While it was still a miserable place, Seattle was sort of cool in the 1990s with its grunge music culture, which actually made the homeless/drug culture that was already very much a thing cool instead of threatening as it is now. That nasty underbelly was controlled instead of out of control as it now is. 

    I have brought this up with people I knew up there. The responses were bizarre. One woman literally said to me, "I see people every day and I often interact with them." (OK computer.)

    The reasons why Seattle is like that are beyond me. Asian/Nordic culture, a curse left by the Native Americans on the incoming white settlers, it's possibly all of the above or none of the above. I actually don't know. 

    The social consequences for such a social disease, however, should be obvious. If you are myopic, only pay attention to yourself and don't look around you, then all sorts of rank stuff could happen in your community and no one will intervene. This will reach a maximum point of bad as the myopic selfish people might even have a philosophy in which not caring about the well being of their community is actually a form of tolerance and acceptance of differing people and lifestyles.

    The end result is ugly: 



    This is not the same sort of social problem that you have in an urban warzone like Chicago, Illinois, and so there's less commentary on it or even what to do about it. It's a failure of social perception and of cowardice. People wanted the high perks of civilization - technology, high paying jobs, status, while just pretending that everything difficult was either not happening or the result of some kind of external intrusion or defect. It's not even quite the same issue as Detroit, another progressive utopia that became hell when industry left (although the situation is very similar).

    Ghost Town

    When I last lived up there, I had a landlord who made it rich working for Microsoft for years. By the time I left, he had sold it. When I checked with his friends about him years later, I found that he was living with a pedophile who had to wear an ankle bracelet at all times and was now smoking meth. 

    Unlike Chicago, you're not about to hear about the condition of Seattle chronically for years. Seattle is a flash in the pan. Gang violence like you have in Chicago is awful, likely much more awful than what's in Seattle, but on some level, gangs represent a perverted form of community for the people in them. 

    There's no community in Seattle. The city attracted the country's rejects, who were ecstatic to be able to make all that tech money and then just sneer at anything that could distract them. Without that, it's just people smoking meth. Eventually such a city, with no community setting to keep it intact, will just fade in to oblivion like the ghost towns of old.


    The Dunbar Village housing project where this happened, in 2007, is in West Palm Beach, FL:

    the feral are allover, Orion.

    I just don't buy your argument that Seattle is so different from other urban areas.

    It's not about gangs, the feral look for gangs, not the other way around.

     Lately, they don't get jailed and they don't get locked away, heck there's a lesser chance they are arrested in the first place since BLM 2020

    Cops in places where crime was way down and now has gone up, almost to a one, will blame that we are no longer locking felons up for a long time and let them out to offend again and again.

    I imagine, but don't know for sure, that Seattle, like San Francisco and Portland has long had "progressive" prosecutors so this was around longer in those places. Also, not treating juvie offenders real tough is another famous problem.

    Look, you're big into role models. If the only role models you have are unrepenetant felons let out of prison after a short sentence and you're a kid who idolizes rap culture and you've been arrested and let off easy, it's not going to be a happy healthy urban environment...not the least of which the good people feel like suckers and losers

    p.s didn't you ever see movies like "Taxi Driver?" NYC really was like that (actually worse, I don't believe that they showed a single abandoned burned out car when they were actually allover the highways, would be there for months! You had to be cold and uncaring to survive every day! There really was "wilding", all the time. Yes, you had to be wary of large young males.  People weren't so foolish as to be nice much less kind to one another, you just would get ripped off (Trump is an excellent example of a 70's - 80's New Yorker. We just decided we wanted to change that. And it happened. Its just that we've now had  two terms of backsliding so....

    The difference always seemed like the denial. You know those other places have issues, the people in those places know there are issues, but in Seattle, there's a whole lot of people acting like it's not happening at all.

    I'd say that the best example of this is that someone like Eric Adams became mayor of NY, while Seattle has tried to push aside Carmen Best. Seattle police are actually impeccable - they know who the bad guys really are. The rest of the city wants to believe the bad guys are in Spokane or something, I guess, and as a result, people are shooting up or turning tricks in front of an elementary school.

    BTW that first case damn near made me want to vomit.

    I've been in 2 cities where prostitution areas were quickly cleaned up with a bit of serious effort. "Government isn't the solution" is totally stupid - government cleans it up.

    I'm sure a lot of it is about neighborhoods, like in most cities. but a lot of cities don't have these stats

    as to crime, I see there is lots of disagreement and spin

    I'll just say one thing: from following crime news, it doesn't seem half as bad as like Baltimore or Philadelphia. And Milwaukee is waaay worse, it is total white flight continual for decades where what used to be centers of commerce just collapse and people travel away from the city for their needs in cars instead of towards it, and those without cars are screwed. I'm talking things like dry cleaning, shopping for hardware, getting your taxes done, internet or cell phone or tv service. More and more there is a small gentrified area in the downtown now and then there's the vast wasteland between it and the border twenty miles away where civilization starts again.

    p.s. In Milwaukee, if you have the choice, you're considered a little loony if buy real estate within the city limits rather than outside them., You tell anyone who knows the suburb names around there, you grew up within the city limits and they don't believe you, they keep insisting that if you have the money to fly on an airplane, you must not be from the acutal Milwaukee, they've never met anyone who really lives in the city. (Heck, I'd venture a bet that Kenosha is still considered a better place to buy, despite all the recent ill news. And ya know what, I didn't even think of health care -- all the best health care is more and more outside the city, doctors don't want to do business there.)

    From what I read, I don't think Seattle has reached that level, sort of the opposite.

    Your writing makes it sound worse than like burnt out Detroit of 20 years ago. That's really hard to believe.

    on the other hand, Seattle can climb up agin and be fun laugh

    Latest Comments