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.
The Bronx is the part of New York City voted most likely to be Detroit. An ironic fate for a borough that built the city's biggest zoo and botanical garden as a way of keeping the riffraff out of what was once an exclusive area. It's the place where you are mostly likely to shoot or be shot at. The Bronx is one of the smallest borough of the five, but it's number one in murders, rapes and robberies.
New York's Finest 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 policework and gentrification. The aggressive policework wasn't pretty, but it made the gentrification possible and kept New York City from turning into Newark or Chicago.
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. It's one of those programs that upsets people on both sides of the aisle, but it happens to work because it lets police stop gangbangers before they bang and lowers the murder rate to something you can actually live through.
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. For the 40th Precinct, civil rights group statistics show that 17,690 stops were made, and of those stopped, 9.200 were black, 6,039 were Hispanic, 119 were white, 63 were Asian and 15 were American Indians. Considering the lack of major tribes in the five boroughs, it is a testament to the NYPD's dedication to diversity that they were able to find and frisk that many Native Americans.
Since the only white people in the 40th are hipsters who think Williamsburg is over and went looking for somewhere edgier to set up their metal working studios, these numbers are not too surprising. But to professional civil rights activists who wake up in the morning to the soothing sounds of WBAI's hosts screaming about racism and drones (and racist drones) in between commercials for send us money, this, like everything else, including the sun rising in the morning (followed by Al Jazeera English News on WBAI 5:30 to 6 AM Monday through Friday, on Sunday stay tuned instead for Cosmik Debris), is proof of racism.
Water dripping down eventually bores a hole in a rock. Civil rights lawyers suing and screaming long enough eventually dismantles a police force. Crime is rising again in New York City, which makes it more dangerous to move to some formerly dilapidated part of the city and set up shop in an abandoned warehouse while constructing giant jagged metal figurines as a protest against capitalism that will one day decorate the lawn of a corporate office park.
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.
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 Diane 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.
Liberals cannot come to terms with what happened in New York City, because it would force them to acknowledge that their lifestyle is made possible by either right wing suburban cops violating civil rights or by fleeing to sheltered cities with low minority populations. And with a new Carter in office, the cycle of the seventies is coming full circle again, not just militarily or economically, but also when it comes to crime rates.
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.
The rural area is protected by the 2nd Amendment and the urban area by the police state. The liberal, who is only interested in enforcing laws against real criminals like people who fill in swamps or make politically incorrect jokes, would like to take away the firearms of the rural gun owner and dismantle the law enforcement defenses of the urban area. Taking away the guns will not fix the problem. All it will do is allow the gangs, who will always have the guns, to dominate urban and rural areas.
The old urban lesson of the seventies is that the difference between civilization and the jungle is security. And there is no substitute for security, whether it's the security of one man with a gun, or a very expensive police department of men with guns carrying out the marching orders of statistical analysts.
The political left has forgotten the lesson of Willie Horton in its arrogance and its base of metal working artists in converted warehouses has forgotten the lessons of that old Times Square that they never visited, but still nostalgically pine for. And as they work to disarm the people and dismantle police forces, it is inevitable that it is a lesson that they will be forced to learn again.