March 10, 2021


By the time I came of age and started reading about the New Left, nearly all of Haut California assumed that the whole ordeal was behind us—an interesting subject for KQED documentaries but otherwise confined to the past. At that time, the state’s former conservative Republican governor was president of the United States. He would be succeeded by his own vice president, who would in turn be succeeded by a “New” (read: centrist) Democrat. “The Sixties,” or at least their most radical aspects, were well and truly behind us.

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Nordlinger’s piece is historical, so it might seem unfair to judge it by its failure to look the present (and future) squarely in the face. But when the past bears so directly on the here-and-now, I don’t see how the criticism can reasonably be avoided.

A telling fact Nordlinger does not mention is that the biological son of one of the villains of his story, Kathy Boudin, and the adopted son of two others, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, is now the elected District Attorney of San Francisco County. It may be reserved to God to visit the sins of the fathers unto the sons, but what of those sons who, like Michael Corleone, enthusiastically embrace the family business—and then expand it into the corridors of power à la Damien Thorn?

Chesa Boudin differs from his parents, biological and adoptive, in one respect only: rather than fighting the system to inflict harm, create chaos, and do evil, he puts the system to work toward those ends. It’s not just that Boudin works to make everyday life more awful by refusing to enforce what he dismisses as mere “quality of life” (e.g., open drug use and public defecation) and “victimless” (e.g., burglary and auto theft) crimes, so that San Francisco now has the highest property crime rates and arguably the worst quality of life of any big city in the nation. Boudin is also against using the powers of his office to go after what even he is forced to admit are non-trivial offenses.

On his second day in office, the brand new radical-chic DA fired his seven most-experienced prosecutors because they were too good at their jobs. Two weeks later, he ordered his office never again to request cash bail for any offense, guaranteeing that dangerous criminals would roam the streets and that many would never face trial for their crimes. Earlier this year, a parolee plowed a stolen car into two pedestrians, killing both. The “driver”—Troy Ramon McAllister—had been arrested by the SFPD five times in the prior eight months, only to be released without charges on Boudin’s orders every single time.

As Boudin has redefined his role, it is no longer to convict criminals but to further “social justice.” He favors babying the violent with so-called “restorative justice.” It’s unclear what, exactly, “restorative justice” entails; it’s easier to say what it’s not: punishment or deterrence. Early in Boudin’s tenure, after two (nonwhite) young men assaulted an elderly man (also nonwhite) who was collecting cans to recycle, the SFPD did its job and arrested the assailants. The DA, though, declined to press charges. This pattern has since been repeated enough times—including, most recently, the homicide of an 84-year-old—that local media and the intelligentsia realize they can no longer ignore it. And so, to cope, they blame … “white supremacy” and Trump.

Read the whole thing.

Related: In Tinseltown, a Glimmer of Hope on Law and Order. “A recently launched effort to recall Los Angeles district attorney George Gascón might represent the first encouraging sign for opponents of the ‘progressive-prosecutor’ movement in American cities—among the most consequential developments in criminal-justice policy in recent years. From Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Boston to Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas, cities have handed the job of representing victims and holding criminals accountable to self-styled ‘reformers’ and former defense attorneys who campaigned on promises to restructure our nation’s criminal-justice system.”

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