Mr. Benjamin, in researching for a recent book of his, which he (admirably) does not name and thus avoided pitching in his post, resided in numerous gated communities in the US. His intention was to get an idea of how a Black man, particularly one who did not actually own property in the community, is perceived in these neighborhoods.
Mr. Benjamin looks critically at the "bunker mentality of people who live in gated communities. I too am not particularly crazy about those types of neighborhoods, but Mr. Benjamin and I both seem to have different reasons for our dislike for them.
I will briefly quote his opinion first. Excerpts from his post are below. All italics and bolding are mine:
The perverse, pervasive real-estate speak I heard in these communities champions a bunker mentality. Residents often expressed a fear of crime that was exaggerated beyond the actual criminal threat, as documented by their police department’s statistics......
No matter the label, the product is the same: self-contained, conservative and overzealous in its demands for “safety.” Gated communities churn a vicious cycle by attracting like-minded residents who seek shelter from outsiders and whose physical seclusion then worsens paranoid groupthink against outsiders. These bunker communities remind me of those Matryoshka wooden dolls. A similar-object-within-a-similar-object serves as shelter; from community to subdivision to house, each unit relies on staggered forms of security and comfort, including town authorities, zoning practices, private security systems and personal firearms.
Residents’ palpable satisfaction with their communities’ virtue and their evident readiness to trumpet alarm at any given “threat” create a peculiar atmosphere — an unholy alliance of smugness and insecurity. In this us-versus-them mental landscape, them refers to new immigrants, blacks, young people, renters, non-property-owners and people perceived to be poor.
Another related trend contributed to this shooting: our increasingly privatized criminal justice system. The United States is becoming even more enamored with private ownership and decision making around policing, prisons and probation. Private companies champion private “security” services, alongside the private building and managing of prisons.
In essence, laws nationwide sanction reckless vigilantism in the form of self-defense claims. A bunker mentality is codified by law.
Despite his points, which I will address, the very beginning of Mr. Benjamin's post provides a telling glimpse of his concept of crime and of being a victim:
"AS a black man who has been mugged at gunpoint by a black teenager late at night, I am not naïve: I know firsthand the awkward conundrums surrounding race, fear and crime. Trayvon Martin’s killing at the hands of George Zimmerman baffles this nation. While the youth’s supporters declare in solidarity “We are all Trayvon,” the question is raised, to what extent is the United States also all George Zimmerman?
Under assault, I didn’t dream of harming my teenage assailant, let alone taking his life.
Mr. Zimmerman reacted very differently, taking out his handgun and shooting the youth in cold blood." (Of course we do not yet know if that is the case)