When Rudolph Giuliani first became Mayor of New York City and decreed the implementation of the “broken window theory”-based policing practices that eventually recivilized the Big Apple, left-wing politicians and commentators throughout the world of journalism mocked and derided him for it. The general attitude of those detractors was that Giuliani didn’t know what he was talking about – worse, that his new policies would squander scarce police resources while simultaneously alienating the “minority” components of the city’s populace.
Seldom have so many with such large audiences gone so wildly wrong. But that’s not the tragedy of the thing.
Michael Bloomberg succeeded Giuliani largely on the strength of his promise to maintain Giuliani’s policing and crime-prevention policies. (It didn’t hurt Bloomberg at all that his opponent, Mark Green, is a hard-left asshole, but de mortuis nil nisi bonum, and if anyone is “politically dead,” it’s surely Mark Green.) However, Bloomberg’s adoption of nannyism as his guiding principle soon eclipsed the Giuliani legacy. After Bloomberg had spent three terms in Gracie Mansion, perpetually striving to make us sit up straight, keep our collars buttoned, and eat our brussels’ sprouts, New Yorkers were glad to see him go.
What they might not have “appreciated” was the groundwork Bloomberg laid for his successor, the Dishonorable Bill de Blasio.
Bloomberg’s meddlings in national politics were almost exclusively to the left of center. He’s probably best known for his interminable and highly expensive campaign against Second Amendment rights, but his participation in No Labels, nominally a non-partisan alliance that trends leftward in practice, has had equally large and equally pernicious effects. For some time he appeared to be positioning himself for a run at the presidency. To the relief of us in the Right, that failed to materialize. However, the worst of all Bloomberg’s misguided moves was his coddling of the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators.
The kid-glove treatment Bloomberg’s administration bestowed on the Occupiers gave a tremendous boost to the political fortunes of the Left in New York City. Among other things, it reinforced in many minds the conviction that American authorities (and Americans generally) can be intimidated into accepting that sort of disruption, and that it might be politically profitable to ramify and export it. The “children of Occupy” swiftly spread to other cities in coastal America, though they gained no purchase of significance elsewhere. The disaffection of New Yorkers with the Bloomberg administration, and with a nannyism they identified with the Right, grew in concert.
As Bloomberg’s third term entered its final year, it became clear that New York would not elect a Republican as his successor.
Bill de Blasio’s resume makes plain that he’s no great fan of the police, or of public order as traditionally understood. His fatally misconceived statements after the death of Eric Garner merely confirmed that attitude. That they alienated the New York Police Department should have surprised no one...but it appeared to surprise De Blasio.
However, the Garner / police-alienation fracas serves best as a grace note to De Blasio’s larger problem. He inherited a city that was edging away from Giuliani’s policing policies, largely because Bloomberg’s focus was elsewhere. The consequences of the “Occupy protests,” De Blasio’s pandering to his political base, his blatant cronyism, and his immediate moves to suspend or abolish various components of the Giuliani policies have already begun to bear fruit. America’s greatest city is once again descending into chaos:
The Squeegee Man was the personification of old, dysfunctional, pre-Giuliani New York City. These guys were extortion artists, who would “help” motorists stuck in clogged automotive arteries, such as those leading to the Lincoln Tunnel, by forcing their unsolicited windshield-cleaning services on them and then demanding payment, the demand generally being accompanied by verbal abuse or the threat of violence — and, occasionally, with actual violence. Squeegee Man symbolized the disorder and lawlessness of New York life — not a murderer or a rapist, just one of the many lower-level hassles and terrors that made the city so unbearable back in what some insist on remembering as the good ol’ days of crack addicts and hookers on Times Square.
Squeegee Man is making a comeback, both in his traditional form — as documented by the New York Post — and in a new, mutant form: Sunday Hijacker. Sunday Hijacker is cleverer and more cynical than his predecessor, and his modus operandi is to make a scene inside a church during worship until somebody pays him to go away. Screaming, knocking over furnishings, and threatening violence are his shtick.
Kevin Williamson has a front-row seat to the rising tide:
The Sunday Hijacker is emblematic of a city reverting to chaos. He is not the only emblem. My own experience attests that places such as the 33rd Street subway station, the City Hall station, and Penn Station have become noticeably more disorderly over the course of the past year — more vagrancy, more filth, more people using them as camp sites. Shootings are up across the city.
And Squeegee Man is back on the job, just down the street from National Review’s offices, as it turns out. And Mayor Bill de Blasio? His main interest in office so far is trying to kill the city’s charter schools. His attention to police matters at the moment is dominated by an insurgency on his left in the wake of a homicide involving a police officer using a chokehold against NYPD regulations. Lucky for New York, the Reverend Al Sharpton is on the scene, in case anybody needs a riot incited.
Tolerate disorder and lawlessness, get more of them. Imagine that!
How many times must Ralph Waldo Emerson (and I) say it?
Justice is not postponed.
Every secret is told,
every crime is punished,
every virtue rewarded,
every wrong redressed,
in silence and certainty.
Denigrate the forces of order, and as their work is both difficult and dangerous, they will lay down their tools.
Tolerate the forces of disorder, and as their pastime offers its own peculiar rewards, they will grow jubilant and vigorous.
Encourage disruption and extortion, and as their practitioners are doubly rewarded, they will be emulated by multitudes.
It’s not cosmological physics, people. Chaos is the natural state of things. Order takes work, self-restraint, and unflagging attention to the punishment of its violators. Scamp those duties and order will vanish. It’s vanishing in New York City as we speak.
Most persons can see what’s going on there. What many can’t see – or refuse to acknowledge – is the causal connection to left-wing politics and policies. That which we subsidize will wax; that which we penalize will wane. But there, too, repetition has done little good. Too many persons are too attached to their belief that their “compassion” is a mark of superior morality and wisdom.
Urban coastal America is in crisis. Its politicians have made too many “deals with the Devil:” compromises on the maintenance of public order to placate the Left, plus panderings to those who have threatened disruption and destruction if their demands are not met. And as a moderately well-known writer has told us, “When you deal with [the Devil], notes come due in brimstone.”
Verbum sat sapienti.