Concerned about crime, Gentle Reader? Baffled as to why the justice system sits idle as felony crime rates explode? Bemused by the untouchability of the rioters, vandals, and looters that have laid waste to America’s great cities? You’re not alone; according to the polls, it’s one of the top political priorities of our time.
You’d think, given the obsessive data gathering of the day, that we’d know more about crime and its prevention than we did five or six decades ago. Whether or not we know more, we’ve got a lot more crime, especially crimes against life and property, than we did in the Sixties and Seventies. So either what we “know” ain’t so, or we’re misusing the knowledge.
One way to misuse knowledge, of course, is to ignore it in favor of “other factors.”
Consider this: Most felony crimes are committed by repeat offenders. That’s a well-established bit of information. It follows that if a criminal is apprehended and convicted, he will be unable to commit further crimes while incarcerated – and therefore that incarcerating him will remove his “contribution” to the crime rate. Making it a policy to keep convicted criminals in prison, rather than sentencing them to non-custodial penalties or blithely releasing them early, would seem a simple and direct way to act against crime.
If memory serves, in the Seventies the state of Oregon had an administration and a justice system that recognized the facts and their implication. It abolished plea-bargaining for felony crimes, enhanced minimum sentences, and curtailed pro forma parole hearings. The result was a dramatic drop in the crime rate. When a district attorney was interviewed about the policies, he said, quite plainly, that most crimes are committed by repeat offenders. Therefore, if we keep the offenders behind bars, they won’t be able to commit further crimes, and the crime rate will decrease.
The candor exhibited in the interview was as striking as the realism and success of the policy. I can’t imagine why a state that had succeeded so greatly in curtailing felony crimes would have reversed course…but it did.
Why? Moreover, given the failure of virtually every other attack on crime, why hasn’t the rest of the nation tried that approach? It’s one of the most imperative unanswered questions before us.
I’ve written before about the Washington Monument Defense: Punish the citizenry for not conceding what the government has demanded:
It hearkens back to an incident in which, when Congress dared to reduce the rate of increase of the budget for the operation of the District of Columbia, the city’s lower levels of government immediately retaliated by closing down Washington’s most popular tourist attractions — that is, by denying non-residents access to the only features of the city they really enjoy and value. The outcry was so sharp that Congress immediately restored the full amount the bureaucracy had demanded.
Like other items with the WMD acronym, the Washington Monument Defense can bring an opponent to heel with no more than a suggestion. Consider, if you will, this passage from William E. Simon’s A Time For Truth, about the 1975-1976 New York City budget crisis:
When informed that cuts in jobs and in pay were inevitable, the municipal unions ran amok. It is only fair to say that Mayor Beame’s cuts in the summer of 1975, under the supervision of the Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC), were deliberately inflammatory. They were calculated for the purpose of “proving” that the city needed state and federal aid. Beame dismissed nearly 5000 policemen and more than 2000 firemen (closing twenty-six firehouses) and fired nearly 3000 of the city’s 10,000 sanitation workers. The unions understood that this was an act of political blackmail. In June 1975 the firemen’s and policemen’s unions published a four page leaflet which they distributed to tourists. Titled “Welcome to Fear City,” with a lurid skeleton’s head on the cover, the pamphlet advised visitors to New York to stay indoors after 6 P.M., avoid public transportation, and, “until things change, stay away from New York if you possibly can.” In July the sanitation workers went on strike. They threatened to turn “Fear City” into “Stink City” and shouted from picket lines, “Wait till the rats come!”
Anyone familiar with New York City’s monstrously bloated government — no less so in the Seventies than today — will realize at once that Beame and the aforementioned unions were playing the Washington Monument Defense. It worked, by the way.
The Defense is highly relevant to the crime problem: Want more police and greater public safety? You’ll just have to pay more in taxes. And never mind all the bucks we’re squandering on boondoggles and giveaways that purchase the votes of special interests. In certain parts of the country, the Defense has become a continuous thing, an unrelenting pressure on the citizenry to pay more and concede more in the hope of an improvement in public safety. Those hopes continue to go unrealized, as the squeeze rampant crime puts on taxpayers has become too valuable to the politicians for them to contemplate doing without it.
This is certainly one component to the never-ending acceleration of the crime rate. But it’s not the only one. Indeed, it might not be the most important of them.
Special interest groups abound. You can hardly throw a rock into a left-wing demonstration without hitting one. Politicians vie for their allegiance, on the theory that purchasing votes en bloc is cheaper than “buying retail.” In one of the greatest ironies of the degeneration of our Republic, the members of two such interest groups commit the majority of crimes against life and property.
The first group is illegal aliens. It might surprise some Gentle Readers to see me call blatant lawbreakers, illegally here in America, a special interest, yet it is so. One party – any guesses which? – has founded its political hopes upon those aliens. It wants them to see it as their benefactors. Therefore, it cannot afford to penalize illegals in a recognizable fashion. Other illegals would take note and turn against the party.
The second group is American Negroes. It has been established on innumerable occasions that the majority of crimes against life and property are committed by black males under the age of 40. To use this fact as a driver of law enforcement policy would seem a “no-brainer”…but it won’t happen, again because of the Democrat Party’s need to retain the allegiance of black voters. Indeed, the wild success of Rudolph Giuliani’s mayoral administration at curbing crime in New York City was assailed almost entirely on the basis that the criminals Giuliani was taking off New York’s streets were too preponderantly black! (Whether the same effect operated against the aforementioned successful policy in Oregon, I cannot say.)
Is it not clear that when law enforcement refuses to target the lawbreakers, the lawbreaking will continue and increase?
I have one more influence to mention this morning: the tendency of American Negroes to shield their criminals from the weight of their crimes. I’ve commented on this before:
When older, peaceable blacks:
- Choose to accept the preachments of Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Al Sharpton;
- Tolerate irresponsible tomcatting by young black men and the consequent production of illegitimate children by young black women;
- Decline to discipline unruly black youngsters, including those from female-headed households;
- Automatically reject as “racist” the objective evidence that blacks are disproportionately the perpetrators of every kind of violent crime and crime against property;
- Support groups that claim that Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were gunned down in cold blood;
…they shield black predators from the retribution that would make it possible for whites to trust and accept them.
More to the current point, they thwart the efforts of law enforcement to enforce the law. Politicians hungry for black votes exacerbate the effect.
For yet another irony, go here:
During the city council meeting last week, a patriot from Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, criticized Durham officials for lacking leadership and courage to do what’s right.
The city of Durham conducted a public hearing for the city manager’s proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022-2023, and fiscal year 2023-2028 Capital Improvement Plan.
One of the people who shared his grievances was former mayoral candidate Jahnmaud Lane….
According to Lane, white supremacy and segregation are not the problems. The real problem is in the black community.
“We have a problem in the black community and you need to address it. Black male, black police chief, black chair, black district attorney, and who are the ones laying on the street bleeding down and getting shot? Black folk!” Lane rebuked.
As Mr. Lane said quite plainly, there is “a problem in the black community.” But to whom did he repair for redress? The Durham city council, politicians highly unlikely to shift law enforcement resources in the direction Mr. Lane demands. It could cost them votes.
The political dynamics are simple: predominantly white districts, where crime rates are more tolerable, are unlikely to change their voting patterns because of problems in black districts. The votes most likely to be affected are those in the black districts…but in which direction? Given the prevalence of the belief among American blacks that “The Man is out to get us,” how could those politicians be confident that any changes in the voting patterns would be in their favor?
American blacks like Jahnmaud Lane, desperate for relief from the crime that tortures them, must accept that the job is theirs. The political Establishment will not help them.
There are other factors, of course. The increasing reluctance of police nationwide to risk their own well-being for the sake of the citizenry has been widely remarked. The increase in black racism against whites doesn’t help either. But the critical elements of the siege are easily understood:
- Prosecutorial and judicial coddling of criminals for political reasons;
- The Washington Monument Defense and its political dynamics;
- Blacks “circling the wagons” around black criminals;
- Reliance on political solutions.
How much more will the nation tolerate before the return of the vigilance committees? No one can say with assurance. Ponder that possibility in light of the Left’s intensified push for the elimination of the right to keep and bear arms. It makes for a gloomy picture, doesn’t it?