Ed Driscoll

The Breakdown of Civil Society

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“NYC cops preemptively uninvite de Blasio to their funerals,” Jazz Shaw writes at Hot Air. We mentioned this story yesterday, but Jazz’s conclusion to his post is worth highlighting:

What we’re witnessing here is, yet again, the breakdown of civil society and the weakening of the line between order and mayhem. As long as protesters were out there having their voices heard and the city presented a sympathetic, yet unified front which was willing to engage with them in a positive conversation, things could move ahead over this tricky terrain. But the Mayor has sent the message that he is not on the side of the police and sides with their accusers. He has let them know that the executive offices which are charged with leading law enforcement do not stand with the officers on the street and that they view them as the problem rather than the criminals. This will do nothing but embolden responses on the streets where the police already take their lives in their hands by the simple act of suiting up and heading out each day to do their jobs and protect the citizens.

At some point it will not be worth the time of the cops to keep showing up in the highest crime areas. And when they stop, let’s see how much everyone enjoys that civil society with nobody around to enforce the laws.

See also: history of Detroit. And the future of Ferguson.

In the fall of 2013, when my wife and I were in New York to visit family and friends, and Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure was nearing its end, I was well aware walking around the city that I was witnessing the potential end of an era. On the other hand, right around that time, New York-based journalist Fred Siegel was positing in the American Enterprise Institute that “New York After Bloomberg” wasn’t likely to descend back into its Death Wish, Taxi Driver, Panic in Needle Park, Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, bad old days. A period that despite whatever moral uplift beloved Mayor Ed Koch brought the city, stretched for varying degrees from the late 1960s until Rudy Giuliani took office and revolutionized New York’s crime prevention techniques:

By the time the next mayor is forced to face up to the fiscal issues, he or she will likely also have to face the consequences of their support for eliminating stop-and-frisk policing. A somewhat hysterical Bloomberg has warned that New York could become Detroit or Chicago should the policy end for good. That is unlikely. Unlike New York, Detroit and Chicago don’t have professionalized police departments. What will likely change, however, is that Gotham will shift from the active policing first introduced by Giuliani (but overdone by Bloomberg, who pushed arrest quotas on the police in recent years) back to the passive policing of the Dinkins years. Active policing eliminated the sense of menace that once defined the city’s streets. Pre-Giuliani and Bratton (his first police commissioner), just asking for a cup of coffee the wrong way could get you a fat lip.

But then, as Daniel Henninger noted in the Wall Street Journal back in 2005, there’s a certain class of Manhattan intelligentsia and SoHo Bobos who longed for a rerun of the Travis Bickle-era — and with Bill de Blasio, they certainly have the right man for the job to return New York to the Bad Old Days.

In 1968, Richard Nixon was elected president on a platform promising law & order after voters were disgusted by the race riots, assassinations, and leftwing mayhem at the 1968 Democrat Convention, which proved that both words in Lyndon Johnson’s “Great” “Society” to be lies. It’s entirely possible that a Republican could win back the White House in 2016 if voters are sufficiently angry over the violence, corruption, and rampant lawlessness of the eight years of the Obama era. But as the horrors of the 1970s remind us (including Watergate, of course), there’s only so much a president can do to restore order, when the rot in the nation’s leaders and bureaucrats is so systemic.

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