Time was, New York City was the nation’s commercial Mecca. Businesses fought to establish themselves there. Real estate there was considered the most prestigious on Earth. The city’s harbors, its status as the Eastern Seaboard’s transportation and communications hub, and its extraordinary cultural vitality were lures that few firms could resist.
Time was. No longer.
The deterioration of the Big Apple as a desirable place to live, work, and do business began some time after World War II. In the first postwar decades, the city exploded with new arrivals, including many whose lives had begun in places far away. Many of the eleven million soldiers and sailors released from the armed forces took part in the city’s population explosion. The influx was used by the political elite as a rationale for several changes in city law, most notably rent control.
The city government expanded even faster than the population. So did the city’s various assistance programs for the needy. The combination helped to accelerate the influx, especially that of Negro and Hispanic migrants. What had been an overwhelmingly white city gradually darkened. In 1940, the city’s population was approximately 93.6% white; in 2020, that percentage had dropped to 34.1%.
As the white percentage of the city has decreased, the frequency and severity of felony crimes have increased.
Quite recently, some moron who goes by the name of Kai Cenat announced a giveaway of PlayStation 5 consoles and other equipment, to take place in New York City’s Union Square at about 3:30 PM. As Cenat has some 20 million followers on social media, that was the stimulus for a huge gathering of teenagers and young adults. The gathering turned into a riot. There followed violence, destruction, and arrests. Cenat himself was one of the arrestees.
Except for the age distribution of the rioters, the population of the riot appeared demographically close to the city’s own demographics. Here are six of the agitators:
Would any such event have caused a riot among New Yorkers of 1940? Granted that the PlayStation was developed fifty years later, what could have evoked such behavior? How much of the blame should fall on “social media?” Would a promised shower of dollar bills from the clouds have provoked white youths to such disorder and disrespect for the law?
New York City has instituted one of the most permissive law enforcement regimes known to history. The police are under orders not to pursue the perpetrators of property crimes against retail businesses. Bail is almost unknown. Despite the crime wave, the rate of prosecution appears to be at an all-time low. As the expected cost of committing a crime has decreased, crime, both misdemeanor and felonious, has increased.
New York City is under siege by its own residents.
America’s large cities are mostly like this today. Some are worse. The esteemed Maura Dowling has provided some comments:
We have a lot of ill-bred children starting trouble with no one able to address it appropriately. Where are their parents? This doesn’t bode well for the future.
Parents? Quite a number of those rioters haven’t seen their fathers in many years. Their mothers lack the will or the force or both to rein them in.
Maura also supplies several relevant tweets. Please surf over there to view them. The most poignant expression of agony over the affair is this one:
THIS CITY, THIS COUNTRY CRIES OUT FOR SOMEONE TO STOP THIS MADNESS.
“Someone.” A Man on Horseback to ride forth and cleanse America’s cities? How? There is no salvation in politics. Electing the “right” people wouldn’t quell the madness. The thing has grown beyond any possibility of remediation by municipal police departments. We the People – at least, those who live in the great cities – have abdicated the responsibility. Even were we to resume it, where is the will for the task?
We are under siege by savages of our own breeding and importation. Those savages, having realized that the “forces of order” either cannot or will not act against them, are doing what comes naturally. They’re doing the things savages do. And you cannot have public order under those conditions.
But savages will always do savage things. Wrist slaps won’t discourage them. Jail terms won’t do so either. Expulsion from the country — preferably to some savage place where their acting-up is the regular order of things — is the next step. And it had better work, because after that comes violence.
Remember those laudable Sikh store owners? That’s not the terminus of the development. They didn’t try to kill that shoplifter.
When I wrote the short story embedded in this piece, I still harbored substantial hope that the descent into open savagery could be halted and reversed. That hope is down to a fine thread. We are on the verge of losing what order remains and descending into Hobbes’s “war of each against all.”
If the law is too mild, private vengeance comes in. — Ralph Waldo Emerson