One’s views will often depend upon one’s time horizon. If yours is short, you’re likely to have a different conception of normality than your neighbor, whose horizon is many years deep. The continuity of an individual’s experiences is decisive in determining what he regards as normal.
Consider the lot of the “military brat:” the child whose father is in one of the armed services, and thus whose family is subject to frequent uprooting as Dad’s assignments move him around. There’s nothing a child can do about this; he simply has to cope. Despite the ultra-tender regard shown for children’s feelings in our time, children are about as good at coping with changes of residence as their parents require them to be. But it gives the child a “normality” he doesn’t share with the children of fathers in other occupations.
One man’s normality can be another’s nightmare of intolerable abnormality. The same is true for locales and generations.
Time was – and you can take this on faith or you can do your own research – American cities were regarded as safer places to be than America’s rural areas. Older Americans would often retire into the cities, rather than away from them as is the norm today. Many things contributed to that perception of better safety, including better paid, better staffed police forces, more copious medical facilities, and greater resources of all kinds. But things have changed. Indeed, the rise of the suburbs was fueled in part by the declining quality of city life, including the safety factor.
And now we have this:
You may have noticed a trend among Democrats, particularly in Washington, suggesting that they really do want to fundamentally change how the world works. (And not for the better.) It boils down to the establishment of a “new normal” and how you are supposed to view the world and set your expectations. We’ve seen that recently when people complaining about rising crime rates and a crisis on the southern border were waved away by liberals assuring them that “it’s always been this way.” Now the Free Beacon has documented yet another instance of this. Out in San Francisco, the tech CEO of Horizon3, Snehal Antani, tweeted about how two of his staffers were distressed when they were robbed on the street of thousands of dollars of computer equipment, presumably by the usual homeless drug addicts that populate the city. In response, John Hamasaki, the Democrat who tried (and failed) to replace Chesa Boudin, told Hamasaki that he had lived in the suburbs for too long and was unable to handle a “basic city life experience.”
This is just a textbook example of the phenomenon I was describing above. If you live in a Democrat-run blue city and you are one of the more than 50% of residents (at least in San Francisco) who have been impacted by crime, you’re supposed to simply shrug it off. That’s just a basic fact of city life. It’s always been this way.
To someone of my years, that “it’s always been this way” rings flatly false. Perhaps it can be sold to younger Americans, to whom cities have always appeared more dangerous than what lies outside them. The sale will be easier to close as those of us with longer time horizons die off, or are alienated from their posterity by other means.
Many things have factored into the deterioration of cities’ safety. I could name several discrete factors that would get my Gentle Readers’ heads nodding. But I think all the individual contributors look back at one giant one that I’ve harped upon at other times:
The great predators of the jungles watch watering holes for the arrival of prey. The great predators of Mankind tend to go toward the cities, especially those cities in which enterprise has resulted in wealth for their denizens. It’s just a generalization of Sutton’s Law:
In a famous apocryphal story, Sutton was asked by reporter Mitch Ohnstad why he robbed banks. According to Ohnstad, he replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”
(Yes, Sutton denied ever having said it. The fool! He should have copyrighted it and sold the right to use it for a fat license fee.)
Mankind is afflicted by several species of predators. The low-level thug who mugs inattentive citizens is at the bottom of the hierarchy. The political predator, who seeks and gains power over a great city with intent to fatten himself on it, is at the top. What might shock the naïve reader is the ease with which the several kinds of predators collaborate with one another. It’s plainly in their mutual interest to do so.
Viewed from a height, the low-level predators, who target individual citizens or organizations, assist the high-level or political predators in creating a climate of fear. The innocents who must bear that fear all too easily turn to the political predators for relief…which the politicians promise them, in exchange for more money and / or power. The money and power are reliably tendered; the relief of fear never arrives.
Note that this pattern explains Republican non-performance when in power better than any alternative thesis. Really fighting crime is dangerous. Pandering to large corporations and allied interest groups is relatively safe. And the money flows in more reliably, too.
There have been some changes to this pattern in recent years, as one gang of political predators has sensed that it need no longer worry about popular opinion. That gang now aids the low-level predators openly by grading down the offenses for which a lawbreaker can be prosecuted, and by refraining ever more often from issuing custodial sentences for those who are prosecuted and convicted. Felonies become misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are waved aside with dismissals such as “We don’t have the resources” or “Why sentence these young folks to life as a known felon?” Convicts are released into the streets despite not having served their sentences, to “reduce crowding in the system.” Meanwhile, political power focuses ever more narrowly on mulcting and subjugating the law-abiding, who typically put up little resistance to such measures.
That this pattern now prevails in America’s largest cities should surprise no one. What target would aspiring predators of either kind favor over those cities?
Eventually the cancer will spread. First it will penetrate the suburbs, to which frightened and disgusted city dwellers have the first recourse. But it cannot be contained there, for the predator’s hunger for more never slackens. It will reach out into the rural areas.
It can only be contained by men who will have no more of it. Men who must decide that it’s time to do something about it, regardless of the cost. Men with homes, loved ones, and peaceful neighborhoods to protect. Men with guns. Men who want only to be left alone.