Is the American Street
Although the Skins make good copy . . . the real threat is the gangs, [which] have effective organization and money, as well as strength of purpose to protect their own families and property.
Marie Douglas, "Auslander Raus! Nazi Raus! An Observation
of German Skins and Jugendgangen"
Representative Joseph Kennedy, the former president's nephew, visited Berlin in late 1992 following a series of vicious skinhead attacks on ethnic minorities in Germany. Echoing his uncle's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, the younger Kennedy presented his own warning to the German government that had been so slow to respond to these skinhead attacks: "Ich bin ein auslander (foreigner)." Appearing soon after on CNN's Larry King show, Kennedy took a phone call from a listener who asked whether Kennedy didn't think we ought to be working on the control of our own gangs here in the United States first?
The inquiry raised again the question of whether ganging in one form or another is a relatively universal phenomenon or whether the American gang is special to our country. Can we learn from the experiences of other nations? Can they learn from us? On some topics, after all, we Americans have been better at telling other nations how to get their house in order than we are at handling our own social problems.
How might we answer the question of whether or not American street gangs are unique? There are structures called gangs in many, many countries, ranging from the two vicious brothers called a noto-