2008-02-22 / Letters

Know Your History

Dear Editor,

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment upon your commentary entitled: "Snitches Get Stitches and Wind Up in Ditches" (02/18/08), that you translated into English to mean: "Everybody should keep their mouth shut if they witness a crime, or transgression," particularly in the Black Community throughout the Rockaways.

How interesting how you and Google had trouble coming up with the origin, or history of this "maxim, or mantra" as you call it. Might I remind you that this saying did not originate with the hip-hop community, nor has it been taken seriously by them as you claimed, or anyone else in the Black community. Contrary to your flawed hypothesis, that "maxim or mantra" in question has only been revised by the hip-hop generation in rap and rhymes. Its origins on the other hand started in some of your well known white communities, and so did drive-by shooting. That is, in the Italian, Irish, and Jewish communities (though not necessarily in that order). In those well known communities, people who cooperated with police were referred to as stool pigeons, canaries, rats and informers… and those white gang bangers that evolved into organized crime figures took these maxims seriously. Oh how times have changed from those days. Because instead of white gangs terrorizing and extorting white merchants, and storekeepers as was the case back then, now they terrorize black families who dare to move into a white community, or try to protect their families as in the case of John White of Suffolk County, who was convicted for trying to protect his family from those white thugs who showed up at his home looking to do harm to Mr. White and his son. Just for the record "snitches" that cooperate with law enforcement in the black community are hardly ever heard of being "stitched" up or "ditched" down. Not even in the hip-hop generation is the maxim taken seriously as documented by the cooperation with police by the likes of LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Junior Mafia (Lil Caesar) and Filthy Sense… that is, 50 cents. Not to mention friends of OJ Simpson in his present legal woes. On the other hand, any snitches that do wind up with stitches, and end up in ditches in the black community should be viewed by the black community as a problem that the white community influenced.

To retired Senior Court Officer K.J. Burton (letter 02/08/08), what does my incarceration or age have to do with the question of "why Rockaway Police confronted Ronnie Smalls in November 2007?" Let's not deviate from the question.

CLIFFORD HOWARD

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