In Washington D.C., the office of the Honorable Joseph Biden was busy phoning up everyone from Mothers Against Pointy Things to the Gay Communist Gun Club of America to Wal-Mart to invite them down for a serious no-holds-barred discussion about doing to the Bill of Rights what his boss had done to the economy.
Meanwhile over in Chicago, the latest corpse was being scraped off the sidewalk. In just nine days, Obama’s hometown was already 15% ahead of last year’s whopping murder rate. In New York, one of the city’s liberal judges gave civil rights activists a late Christmas present with a verdict against the NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” program in the Bronx.
The Bronx is one of the smallest of the five boroughs, but it’s number one in murders, rapes and robberies. NYPD officers commute to work from Staten Island, where the homicide rate is less than half that of the Bronx. In the 40th Precinct (you may know its neighbor, the 41st Precinct from the movie, Fort Apache, The Bronx) last year there were 12 murders, 21 rapes, 476 robberies, 387 felony assaults, 1,337 misdemeanor assaults, 62 shooting victims and a partridge in a pear tree.
That’s not too bad considering that there were 72 murders there in 1990. In 1998, after 4 years of Giuliani, 72 murders had become 15. The two forces that transformed the 40th from a really bad place to just a bad place were aggressive police work and gentrification.
Stop and Frisk, which is just what it sounds like, allowed police to stop suspects and frisk them just on suspicion that they might be up to something bad. Civil rights groups have been protesting against Stop and Frisk for years because it’s racist, in the sense that it tends to take place outside dilapidated Bronx apartment buildings rather than Upper East Side high rises.
Bronx crime, like most urban crime, is driven by gangs. The Black Assassins, Majestic Warlocks and the Black Muslim Five Percenters are one of the 70 street gangs in New York’s own Detroit. While civil rights activists call for fighting gang violence with peace treaties and afterschool programs, there are really only two things that work. Either a police state of the kind you will find in the Bronx where the cops monitor the Twitter and Facebook postings of gang members, and their text messages, or an armed population that is capable of defending itself against them.
Liberals invariably choose none of the above.
What goes on in the 40th isn’t just a New York issue. It’s nationwide. Even while Obama preps a new nationwide gun ban, as if the rest of the country were Chicago or the Bronx, his Justice Department has waged a private war against local law enforcement. The NYPD and its Stop and Frisk policy was just one of the targets.
In the 90s, the Democrats learned that they could be tough on crime or they wouldn’t even be elected dogcatcher. It was a lesson that the humiliation of Michael Dukakis drove home, and no matter how often Democrats denounced the Willie Horton ad, they took its lesson to heart. At least until now.
While Obama pitches gun control, his Attorney General has undermined local law enforcement at every turn. It would seem that the only crime that Obama wants to fight is the crime of owning the type of rifle that those experienced hunters, Barack Obama and Dianne Feinstein, have decided that no hunter needs. But the idea that gun control is a substitute for law enforcement is laughably insane, even by Chicago standards.
Urban mayors like to believe that cracking down on rural sporting goods stores will end the killing. It won’t. The real gun culture isn’t at gun shows and Wal-Marts, it’s down in the 40th where kids grow up listening to 50 Cent and where pointing your own gun sideways is a rite of passage. There’s no place in the United States where you can legally sell heroin, but heroin use is still off the charts in the Bronx. Gun control nationwide will be just as effective as heroin control in the Bronx.
Gang members go to school, deal drugs, step outside, recover a gun from an underage female groupie, shoot down a rival, and then the process repeats. You can crack down on it with a police state where cops make arrests to keep down reports and match a Compstat quota. Or you can shut down enforcement and hope that terrorizing rural gun owners will somehow fix what’s wrong with the Bronx. That’s Obama’s Plan A. If there’s a Plan B, we haven’t heard it yet.
When you scuttle both law enforcement and gun ownership, then what remains is the hell that the country descended into in the seventies when civil rights lawyers got their way and major cities, including New York City, became unlivable.
In 1965, there were 836 murders in New York at a rate of 4.5 per 100,000 people. In 1976, the number of murders had increased to a grisly 1,969 to a rate of 7.2. By 1993, the last year of David Dinkins, New York City’s first black Democrat mayor, they peaked at 2,420 at a 13.3 rate. Only a little below Chicago’s current 15.65 rate. By Giuliani’s second year in office, the city was down to 1,550 murders, a low that it hadn’t seen since 1970. By the time he left office, there had only been 960 murders at a rate of 5.0 per 100,000 people. Giuliani had taken the city back to 1965 and its murder rate today is, incredibly, at the national average for the northeast.
The New York City success story was the triumph of prosperity and the police state. With enough cops on the street, given a free hand, New York City could have the murder rate of liberal paradises like Austin or Seattle. Giuliani made it safe for liberals to move back to New York City and play artist, uptown banker with social justice commitments, aspiring actress, foodie, tech guru or random trendy urbanite. And once they were there, the golden fountain began to flow, crime rates continued falling and the city could be taken off life support.
Reagan cleaned up the economy and allowed liberals to begin safely getting rich again. Giuliani cleaned up the city and allowed liberals to safely walk its streets. Both men fulfilled the traditional function of the Republican as the paternal figure who steps in when baby makes a mess and cleans it up while allowing baby to believe that it was done by magic.
Urban liberals like to believe that it was unthinking city planners and the automobile that destroyed the city, when it was actually them. The city planners are still unthinking and the automobiles are still motoring, but the cities are back only to the extent that law enforcement has undone some of their worst mistakes. Now with an urban liberal in the White House, the mistakes are being repeated again, backed once again by the power of the Federal government.
Down in the 40th, the boys in blue still walk the streets as they do in so many other cities. The old urban lesson of the seventies is that the difference between civilization and the jungle is security. The political left has forgotten the lessons of Willie Horton and the old Times Square that they never visited, but still nostalgically pine for. As they work to disarm the people and dismantle police forces, it is a lesson that they will be forced to learn again.
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