May 23 3 2023

Small Mercies

by Dennis, Lehane

In 1974, a U.S. District Court ruled that desegregated schools were the law, even in Boston. That ruling and the bitter opposition it inspired, set the backdrop of this suspenseful novel that appears to be a mystery and isn’t. Not quite.

Lehane is a master of showing how the Boston racists convinced themselves, and tried to convince everyone, that they were simply being reasonable. These arguments continue to dominate politics in my little Boston satellite city, even today. “Why should we be compelled to allow transit-oriented housing, when richer suburbs (that don’t have subways) do not? Why should we obey state laws that burden us, but not neighboring towns that we think get more privileges?”

There are lots of people on Facebook even now who say openly that the city was ruined when the subway opened, because more Black people could live there. They’re campaigning against building new housing because they fear that new apartments would be rented by Asian-Americans.

It never ends.