It sounds so familiar: A Democratic city with crime rates at historic lows finds itself panicked by an increase in some crimes during the pandemic. Politicians are scrambling to respond with simplistic solutions. Republicans describe each new criminal act as a direct result of Liberal policy. No amount of data can disabuse frightened citizens that things are worse than ever. The scapegoat begins.
San Francisco? No. That’s what’s happening in New York, according to a recent Bloomberg article detailing how the Big Apple finds itself gripped by fear of crime. Anxiety is mounting even though the new mayor, Eric Adams, is a former police officer who campaigned as a fierce crimefighter.
“Perhaps nowhere else has the perception of endemic crime so dominated reality as in New York City,” Bloomberg’s Fola Akinnibi and Raeedah Wahid wrote in an article titled “The Fear of Endemic Crime derails New York’s recovery.”
I do not agree. Nowhere has the politically motivated crime hysteria had more impact than in San Francisco, which recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin due to an unprecedented crime wave that data shows never really happened.
A similar mass illusion is manifesting in New York. If the Republicans have their way, it will soon sweep the nation as part of a strategy to use crime as a political weapon against the Democrats, just as Richard Nixon and other GOP politicians have done to previous eras.
Statistically speaking, however, today’s crime rates are far lower than those of previous decades. In fact, New York is much safer than some small towns in Republican states. Yet a national spike in murders that began in 2020, coupled with consistent media coverage of rare but heinous crimes, has created a feeling that NYC is totally dangerous.
“A series of high-profile incidents at subway stations and tourist hubs — and an outspoken new mayor who has made tackling crime his signature issue — has intensified public safety scrutiny. “, according to Bloomberg. “A generation of young New Yorkers is witnessing a sustained rise in crime, not a decline, for the first time in their lives.”
All crime is bad. Every murder is an inconsolable tragedy. It is important, however, to be aware that no modern society has eradicated crime – and that we are much safer today than in previous decades.
For example: Last year, NYC recorded 488 murders, up 4% from 2020’s 468 murders. How does this compare to previous years?
“The number of murders in 2010 was 536, in 2000 673 and 2,262 in 1990,” according to Reuters.
As in California, some politicians in the Empire State blame the increase in crime on progressive reforms. Mayor Adams and police unions point fingers at bail reform laws in a bid to pass the buck to Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat. His Republican opponent, Lee Zeldin, blames Alvin Bragg, the progressive Manhattan prosecutor. If elected, Zeldin promises to fire Bragg on day one.
New York doesn’t have recall elections, which is why Zeldin has to resort to threats. Legal experts say his promise to fire DA Bragg is somewhat dubious. The same can be said for the claim that New York’s new prosecutor is responsible for a rise in crime that began before he took office.
As Boudin’s recall proved, however, facts don’t always matter. If you can make the blame story stick, you win.
One big difference between SF and NYC: Mayor Adams, the former NYPD officer, pretty much got himself on the hook to get results by exploiting the crime problem in his run for mayor. How it works ?
“Adams bet his town hall on public safety,” read a Politico headline in April. “Crime skyrocketed in his first 100 days in office.”
Now Adams is so desperate for a scapegoat that he blames the media. After a June poll showed voters giving him low ratings and expressing deep concern about crime, Adams slammed the press.
“I don’t know if we realize the role of what explodes every day on our front pages,” Adams said, according to New York news outlet Hell Gate, saying the media’s relentless focus on crime is making people feel bad. comfortable.
Adams is right to point out the media’s unhealthy reliance on grim crime, but he’s also a victim of his own success.
“Media coverage followed Adams’ lead,” Bloomberg reporters wrote. “There were nearly 800 stories per month across all digital and print media about crime in New York after Adams’ inauguration, according to an analysis of data compiled by Media Cloud. That compares to an average of 132 stories per month during former mayor Bill de Blasio’s eight-year term.
Boudin’s critics said his experience as a public defender helped embolden criminals. In New York, it would seem that the criminals have been emboldened by the election of a cop.
In reality, local politicians rarely exercise direct control over crime rates, which tend to mirror national trends and have generally hit historic lows in New York and San Francisco. But the GOP, which excels at using the crime issue as a political weapon against Democrats and has stoked a criminal panic, won’t let pesky facts stand in its way.
Last week, Donald Trump threatened to deploy the “national guard or troops” to “restore order” to Democratic cities if he was re-elected.
Of course, as I wrote before, red states have much higher crime rates than blue states.
“In 2020, murder rates per capita were 40% higher in states won by Donald Trump than in those won by Joe Biden,” according to “The Red State Murder Problem,” a report by Third Way, a think tank from Washington. “Eight of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in 2020 have voted for the Republican candidate for president in every election this century.”
Yes, Republican leaders are the ones seriously lacking in public safety. But you wouldn’t know that by watching some Democratic leaders fidgeting in an apparent effort to make the GOP’s bogus claims seem true.