Sunday, April 09, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 4 Comments
There's been a lot of talk about the so-called rioting by Orthodox Chassidim after the arrest of an elderly 75 year old man who was manhandled and abused after he asked for a police officer's badge number. Of course most of the 'rioting' consisted of people standing around their own neighborhood and not getting promptly out of the way when told to do so by police officers along with a few incidents of settings cardboard boxes on fire in the street; nevertheless Jewish leaders have hurried to condemn them, the liberal press that would be nodding sympathetically to stories of police abuse and public protest if the community in case had happened to be Black or Latino quickly tacked on lurid headlines to the whole thing. Jewish opinion as a whole leaned strongly towards condemnation, as Jewish opinion usually does.
But let's consider two cases. In 1986 a group of white teenagers chased Michael Griffith, who was black, onto the Belt Parkway where he was struck by a car and killed. The resulting press and racial tension from the Howard Beach case was the talk of the media for months on end, produced widespread condemnation and brought down Mayor Ed Koch and replaced him with David Dinkins who proved all too willing to tolerate racial violence, as long as it was black on white racial violence.
Only a few days ago, an NYU student named Broderick John Hehman, pictured above, handed a dollar to a homeless man in a wheelchair. Shortly thereafter he was chased by a gang of black teenagers shouting 'Get the White Boy' into the path of a car where he was struck and killed. Hehman had been taking a course on 'Urban Violence in America' before he was killed. His death has been a course in and of itself. The New York Times story did not mention either his race or that of the assailants. The case has barely appeared in the media. There has of course been no racial unrest.
The key difference in those cases is that the influence of the noise a community made resulted in justice given rather than justice defered. Under the Guliani era any restraints on the NYPD were lifted, the civilian complaint review board became a joke and most complaints were never even filed. The Bloomberg era hasn't been much different with politicians believing that fighting crime requires throwing away the rules. It is far from clear that the behavior of the police officers involved will be seriously investigated but it is certain that without the 'riots' there would have been no investigation at all and that is genuinely sad.
It is a sad state of affairs when the law doesn't apply to the authorities unless a segment of the public has to engage in dangerous confrontations with the authorities. It is a demonstration that a negative side-effect of the civil rights era is to reward the squeaky wheels while letting everything else fly. Such a situation transforms a civil society into a bantustan where no one trusts the authorities and protection requires belonging to a visible and voiciferous community willing to fight for its members rights. If Chassidim play by the rules that the liberal Jewish elite have forced Americans to play by, whose fault is that really?