“Redistricting” (The D.C. Plan)

Developing a Plan

Many conspiracy theories are completely whacked. Last week, I engaged with a woman who opposed Brett Kavanaugh not because of his rulings or the allegations against him, but because she was convinced he was being propped up by the Illuminati. Flat Earthers insist that the most powerful persons on our plane planet have conspired for millenniums to keep its shape a secret.  

Then there are theories that are slightly more plausible on the surface, but which lack supporting evidence and which are unnecessary to concoct since reality is terrifying enough. For example, there is very strong proof that the Chechen government is engaged in a genocidal crackdown on homosexuals. One truly concerned about government overreach should be trying to stop this atrocity instead of raising alarms about governments orchestrating a plot to spread AIDS. Likewise, it is highly probable that Saudi monarchs ordered a hit on journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yet INFO Wars, which purports to expose government misdeeds, labels the extrajudicial execution a false flag meant to somehow help the Democrats in upcoming mid-terms.

Persons who engage in such speculation don’t want crimes or corruption exposed by mainstream media; they want it done by conspiracy theory websites they prefer, so the narrative has to be changed to meet that script. But again, if genuinely wanting to root out malfeasance, one need only concentrate on what is actually happening.

Consider the history of blacks in the United States. It features a chronology of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments, voter suppression, and a recent trend of being killed by law enforcement officers who normally go unpunished. With a storyline that tormented, there’s no reason to fabricate anything. Yet that has happened with a notion called simply as The Plan, which holds that wealthy whites are out to take over historically black neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

In the undocumented tale, real estate developers collude with construction companies to neglect and tear down affordable homes in poor neighborhoods and replace them with expensive apartments and opulent residences. Also, black mom-and-pop shops will be uprooted for luxury stores and fine cuisine establishments. Legislators friendly to the destitute will be removed from office through fabricated scandals. Government officials in on the fix offer strategic tax breaks and craft zoning laws so that blacks are shoved aside for wealthy whites.

The idea germinated after the passing of the Home Rule Law in 1973, which transferred some congressional powers to a D.C. mayor and council. This enabled the District’s blacks to vote in those who supported their interests, which led to speculation that whites would rise up and move back in following their 1950s exodus.

In a 1979 column, Washington Afro American’s Lillian Wiggins wrote, “Many residents believe that the Marion Barry era may be the last time Washington will have a black mayor. There is a strong possibility of the ‘master plan’ which I have so often spoken about maturing in the 1980s.”

Since then, four blacks have been elected DC mayor, including Barry again, but belief in The Plan remains strong in certain circles. This is typical of the “eternal tomorrow” present in some conspiracy theories, where the fruition is imminent, yet never quite arrives. This keeps the theorist interested and invested in the idea. If the culmination is to take place 100 years from now, they would no longer care and if it took place yesterday, there would be nothing left to expose or prep for.

Believers in The Plan note that the Federal City Council, a group of civic-minded business owners that forecast redevelopment and construction projects, comprises mostly white leaders. Moreover, since it is not a government entity, it can meet in secret, presumably to plot the purge of blacks and ascendance of whites.

This is similar to the Bohemian Grove conspiracy theory. It is true that powerful persons are meeting, but the assertion that it is for nefarious purposes is an evidence-free non sequitur with plenty of post hoc reasoning.

For instance, Barry’s fall from power was ascribed to The Plan, yet no evidence emerged that this involved anything other than his involvement with drugs. His eventual return to the mayor’s office made the idea of his ouster being due to The Plan untenable at best.

In another example of post hoc reasoning, efforts to improve D.C. schools were tied to The Plan since such upgrades increased the enrollment of white children. And rising real estate values, increased business, and a more festive night life were likewise considered evidence of the conspiracy. So is the fact that DC is now just half black, down from a high of 71 percent in 1970.

Certainly, the idea of white government officials and business executives further kicking blacks to the socioeconomic curb would seem plausible. But a closer look reveals that the key factor in DC’s changing demographics has been was the free market, not a furtive plot to segregate our capital.

According to Skeptoid’s Mike Rothschild, “In the late 1990’s, gentrification came to DC and was associated with The Plan. Developers started buying run-down buildings, left vacant because of crime, poverty and foreclosure, and turned them into condos and lofts. These new homes were too expensive for the historically poor residents of Washington’s more poverty-stricken areas.” This came during a 20-year period where DC’s white population increased by 11 percent while the black population dropped 15 percent. 

However, many other metropolitan areas in this time were seeing rich young couples and families moving into revitalized neighborhoods that previously housed impoverished minorities. While poignant, this represents the free market in action and demonstrates the divide that exists between black and white America.

Folks wish to buy housing they can afford and real estate developers exist to take advantage of that, whether than means a price increase or decrease. The changes to DC demographics are the result of capitalism, gentrification, and the racial differences in circumstances at birth. Again, there’s no need to make stuff up when the reality is bad enough for Chechen gays, Saudi journalists, and impoverished minorities.




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