Ed Driscoll

No, Baltimore Isn't America's Crisis—Yet


The New York Daily News is more populist than its crosstown rivals at the New York Times, which is understandable given its tabloid format, and while it’s usually not as far to the left in its tone, it’s still a left-leaning newspaper. And we’ve seen since the mid-naughts, certainly since January of 2009, Democrats in America lean very far to the left, indeed. But no, Baltimore isn’t America’s crisis, it’s the left’s. As Kevin D. Williamson wrote yesterday at NRO, “Riot-Plagued Baltimore Is a Catastrophe Entirely of the Democratic Party’s Own Making,” particularly given that the city hasn’t had a Republican Mayor in nearly half a century.

Responding to Kevin’s article at the Corner, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If Republicans were responsible for the systemic, intergenerational failure of urban America, liberals would have an easy explanation: racism. That would be unfair to say of Republicans, and it’s unfair to hurl the charge at Democrats, too (Though a certain kind of liberal condescension is a kind of racism, I suppose.). But since they are incapable or unwilling to discuss the obvious explanations  – corruption, cronyism, incompetence etc — liberals must offer an even broader indictment of “the system.”

When you start with a premise that excludes the obvious facts, you can end up saying some impressively stupid things.

David French (welcome aboard, btw) posted this last night. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin seems to believe that the real culprits behind the riots just might be veterans returning home from Bush’s wars. She doesn’t use the phrase “Bush’s wars” but it’s implied (variants of this theory are like catnip for liberals, desperate to turn veterans into either victims or villains). As David rightly notes, the “veterans did it” angle is absurd on its face. The kids jumping up and down on burned-out cop cars clearly didn’t spend two tours in Fallujah or Kandahar. Moreover, the people most “ready for battle” aren’t the veterans of conflicts abroad, but veterans of the Battle of Ferguson. These migratory professional instigators think it’s bold and revolutionary for thugs to burn down middle class black shops and the chain drug stores low income people buy their medicines from.

As Jim Geraghty writes in his daily “Morning Jolt” email today, “No, We Don’t All Need to Do Some ‘Soul Searching’ over Baltimore.” In his speech after his constituents spent Monday “communicating,” as the New Republic would say, with Baltimore drug stores and old people’s homes, Mr. Obama claimed, “I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.” Jim responds, “No, we don’t!”

This is not a time for the usual “Socialism of Blame” where responsibility for what happened gets spread far and wide and equally to everybody.

Why do we have to do some soul searching? We didn’t do anything to Freddie Gray, the man who died after being arrested. The police actions are being investigated. We didn’t set fire to a senior center under construction. We didn’t run into a CVS and grab everything we could. We didn’t set police cruisers on fire, or jump atop smashed police cruisers.

You know who’s responsible for the punctured fire hose? The SOB who reached down with a knife and stabbed the fire hose!

All over Twitter Monday evening, people linked to that video and asked, “Why would he do that?” as if the answer were unimaginable. He did it because he didn’t want the firefighters to put the fire out. He wanted the businesses to burn. He wanted the buildings to burn. He wanted to destroy. This may reflect his inability to create anything of value in his life so far, or it may reflect an anarchic desire to see destruction, which motivates many arsonists. After a while, the “why” stops mattering that much. It pales in comparison to the need to stop a guy like this.

“We, as a country, have to do some soul searching”? I’m sure there’s a significant chunk of you who have never even been to Baltimore.

We can shut down our entire chain of soul stores and do a complete inventory, counting what’s on every shelf, and it’s not going to change one fact on the ground in Baltimore.

But this is all part for the course when a crisis entirely made of “Progressive” policies occurs. As Jonah wrote in Liberal Fascism:

In the liberal telling of America’s story, there are only two perpetrators of official misdeeds: conservatives and “America” writ large. progressives, or modern liberals, are never bigots or tyrants, but conservatives often are. For example, one will virtually never hear that the Palmer Raids, Prohibition, or American eugenics were thoroughly progressive phenomena. These are sins America itself must atone for. Meanwhile, real or alleged “conservative” misdeeds—say, McCarthyism—are always the exclusive fault of conservatives and a sign of the policies they would repeat if given power. The only culpable mistake that liberals make is failing to fight “hard enough” for their principles. Liberals are never responsible for historic misdeeds, because they feel no compulsion to defend the inherent goodness of America. Conservatives, meanwhile, not only take the blame for events not of their own making that they often worked the most assiduously against, but find themselves defending liberal misdeeds in order to defend America herself.

In the first volume of The Age of Reagan, Power Line’s Steve Hayward explored in depth how the liberal-mandated relaxed policing of the 1960s and ’70s led to the collapse of cities as diverse as Detroit, Newark, and New York. As we mentioned back in March, even as the rot was quickly settling in under his watch, New York’s Mayor John Lindsay ran for a second term in 1969 with campaign ads designed to scare the hell out of voters. The ads told them explicitly that if they didn’t reelect him, New York would soon resemble its war-torn neighbor just across the Hudson:

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Over the next five years, Hollywood would crank out a succession of films shot on location in Lindsay’s New York that today serve as inadvertent documentaries to illustrate just much further the city would descend: Death Wish, Taxi Driver, the Panic in Needle Park, etc.

Could New York revert back to that form? On a local level, Bill de Blasio is doing his best to weaken the “Broken Windows” police crime-fighting techniques that allowed Rudy Giuliani reclaim the city from New York more feral elements. On a national level, Hillary Clinton  running on the good memories of the 1990s under her husband’s administration (and ahem, a GOP Congress and Senate to keep his worst excesses in check) and is once again simultaneously running against the reason why the 1990s aren’t looked back on as a total repeat of the 1970s: “Hillary Clinton calls for overhaul of crime policies put in place under Bill Clinton,” the Washington Post notes today.

What could go wrong?

In any case, with Democrats’ attacks on police, on a campaign level, with Molotov cocktails by their more enthusiastic young supporters in places like Ferguson and Baltimore, and by their operatives with bylines and minicams in the media, the next few years could be very ugly indeed for America’s cities, no matter which party wins in 2016.

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