The Mayor of New York Gets Mugged by Reality

A few decades ago, there used to be a saying that a law-and-order conservative was a formerly soft-on-crime liberal — who had recently been mugged. The idea was that the tendency to not hold criminals responsible for their actions disappeared as soon as one was confronted with the hard reality of a gun in one’s face.

I can’t help but think of this as I watch the hapless mayor of New York City respond to the latest attack on police (again in Brooklyn, just last night.)

“Thank God these officers are doing well,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference at the hospital early Tuesday. “These officers did something that was extraordinarily brave. They did it as part of their commitment. These officers had just come off their shift and upon hearing this call went back out in search of these criminals. The work they do is so profoundly important in this instance where they went above and beyond the call to protect their fellow New Yorkers.”

He says some pretty eloquent and accurate things about police now. But not long ago he had very different things to say.

For example:

As N.Y.C. Public Advocate, I released a report that showed that stop-and-frisks of African Americans in 2012 were barely half as likely to yield a weapon as those of white New Yorkers – and a third less likely to yield contraband. Despite this evidence, the vast majority of those stopped are young black and Latino men.

The implication: Most NYC police officers are racist. What else could he mean to imply when essentially saying that the “vast majority” of arrests made by NYC police are racist in nature? Now he wants us to believe that he believes the work these otherwise racist police do is “profoundly important.”

Ideas have consequences. Words imply ideas, and even if most politicians don’t mean what they say, those words can still have an impact. You can’t run around disparaging a group like the police and then feeling shocked, surprised and horrified when criminals start to act on your words, even in ways you can claim you never intended. Imagine if the President of the United States, in World War II, had denounced the military as a racist and sexist organization whose actions were inherently unfair. Would this have strengthened or weakened the capability of the military to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese?

I recognize that individual instances of police wrongdoing exist, and have to be identified and punished. Bad police are worse than bad citizens for the same reason that criminals who attack good police are evil and dangerous. But applying justice to bad police officers isn’t the same as applying a broad brush stroke — in one fell swoop — against an entire group or organization, as de Blasio did right up to the time the recent attacks on NYC police began.

If de Blasio was right in 2012 and 2013, and most NYC cops are racist, then maybe it’s good to be done with them. Not that they should be killed, of course. But maybe he should simply fire all of them and start over with people he considers more suited to the job, based upon the social goals which (at least until now) he considered more important than the more basic role of police to keep innocent individuals safe from murderers, rapists and thieves.

Keep in mind that as recently as early December, Mayor de Blasio met with race-baiting / hoax-setting Al Sharpton in Washington D.C., at the White House. On 12/2/14 the New York Post reported:

He never leaves home without him. Bill de Blasio and “Co-Mayor” Al Sharpton are joined at the hip in New York, so why not in Washington.

De Blasio and the race-baiting Rev met with President Obama and other clergy, cops and pols Monday about “simmering” tensions between the police and minorities across the United States.

Afterward, when a small group of the leaders spoke to reporters, Sharpton hustled to get to the mike to speak second — elbowing his way in after de Blasio tried to turn things over to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

“We live in a country that we must support law enforcement, but law enforcement must support justice,” Sharpton bellowed.

What happens next, he said, “will determine whether we just had a feel-good session or whether we’re moving toward change.  I believe we’re moving toward change.”

Many critics, including Thomas A. Reppetto, ex-president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York, have ridiculed de Blasio for giving the architect of the infamous Tawana Brawley hoax undue sway over the NYPD.

Al Sharpton delivering a lecture on the virtue of justice to the police, with the mayor’s approval? And they wonder why police wish to turn their backs on the mayor at the funeral of fallen police officers?

It would be humorous if it weren’t so sad — and so dangerous. De Blasio really is the living caricature of the righteous intellectual “social activist” who sees racism behind every action and implied in every word. Yet when push comes to shove, he still needs these very police he so routinely condemned.

Again: Ideas, words and actions have consequences. When the mayor of New York City elevates someone like Al Sharpton — a literal caricature himself — to the status of lecturing the police force, what kind of impact do you expect this to have? What does it say about the police if they actually need a lecture from someone like Al Sharpton? It suggests they’re far worse than de Blasio ever implied. And if they don’t need a lecture from such a person, it can only serve to harm the morale and good will between mayor and police that’s desperately necessary if the dominant peace and civility we take for granted on the streets is to remain intact.

This is the sort of dilemma now facing the mayor of one of the world’s greatest cities. He richly deserves it, because his own attitudes, words and actions over the years brought it on himself. But do the people who live in the New York area deserve it? They’ll be the ones who ultimately answer this question, by either doing what’s necessary to remove this man from office or simply let things keep falling apart.

In and outside of New York, we keep expecting the government to somehow fix things that government cannot fix or change: Racist attitudes (alleged or actual), income inequality, the ability to buy a house, the ability to get college cheap (or free), the capacity to live comfortably from cradle to grave, without any emotional discomfort, and just about everything else under the sun. Yet the reality remains: The only thing government can be rationally expected to do is keep us physically safe from criminals.

In New York right now, people are getting a good taste of what it might look like if we lost that one valid function of government, the only one that really matters, in the end.


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