Reading Shawn King’s “Soul Snatchers How the NYPD’s 42nd Precinct, the Bronx DA’s Office, and the City of New York Conspired to Destroy Black and Brown Lives” it struck me as ironic that such things are going on in a bastion of progressivism like New York City. But then you see much the same thing in other such bastions, e.g. Chicago. I’m tolerably familiar with that city, having lived and worked there for seven years. The Chicago Police Department, of course, has long been notorious for corruption and misconduct, and it’s notable that “diversity” hasn’t changed things much. Just short of 50% of CPD officers are now black, Hispanic or Asian, though admittedly white officers are over-represented: 51% in a city that’s about 32% white overall.
As for gentrification, it’s an old story in Chicago. I lived in Hyde Park, whose well-to-do residents, white and black, are engaged in a tacit conspiracy to bar out the People of the Abyss. Just south of Hyde Park are some very tough, crime-ridden black minority neighborhoods—not to mention the Rev. Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam HQ on Stony Island Avenue. But Hyde Park? Expensive, but not a terribly bad place to live. And the people who do live there have—and use—the political clout to keep it that way.
As I said, Chicago is a progressive bastion and politically it dominates an otherwise not-very-progressive state. A Republican mayor and city council seems an historical impossibility, like a Jacobite restoration. Yet Chicago city government is irredeemably corrupt, besides being paralyzed by identity politics: The racial spoils system by which perks and perquisites are distributed is all but openly admitted to exist. But the city’s finances are a shambles and it seems to be incapable of dealing with the violent, frequently homicidal, crime that plagues so many minority neighborhoods. To see and hear Chicago’s hapless mayor, Rahm Emanuel, respond to the latest drive-by shooting, which perhaps claimed the life of a little girl, with a gun buy-back program or some such idiocy, is to sicken at the mendacity and pusillanimity of our political leaders. It was a relief for me when I retired and returned to the South Bend area of northwest Indiana, where life still makes a certain amount of sense.
Mr. King’s account of NYPD misconduct is indeed shocking but, after all, a fish rots from the head down. NYC’s movers and shakers flourish their progressive bona fides and would no doubt throw up their hands in horror at charges or racial profiling or tactics like stop and frisk. They want it both ways, however: their comfort and privileges protected; their collective consciousness soothed. Hence the duplicitous behavior of their agents, the leaders of the NYPD. Whatever one may think of stop and frisk, it was an openly proclaimed policy that did reduce crime. Once it was quashed, something else had to take its place—something underhanded, indeed clandestine, that would get the job done without provoking an outcry from the city’s progressive elite. That something, it seems, is arrest quotas.
But police misconduct is merely a symptom. I think that what is wrong in cities like New York and Chicago goes far beyond the police departments: At bottom it’s the fallout from sheer hypocrisy or, perhaps, from the doublethink to which anyone might succumb when his sense of privileged entitlement collides with his sense of right and wrong. Am I saying that the problem is not political, economic or social but spiritual? Perhaps I am.
Update (1.2.2018): Today I happened upon this story from National Review, pointing out that despite the quashing of stop and frisk, violent crime in NYC has continued to decline. Which raises the question: Why has violent crime continued to decline?