Matthew Vadum: The Progressive Crime Wave

fter two decades of falling crime rates nationwide, rising levels of intense cop-hatred across America appear to be contributing to a spike in violent crime in major cities, according to leading scholar Heather Mac Donald.

The “most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months,” writes Mac Donald, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Some of the anger in the streets that has turned into rioting and looting sprees is concocted, bought and paid for by radical anti-American financier George Soros. Much of the rest of it has been inspired by the community organizer in the White House and his minion, the former Attorney General Eric Holder. The mainstream media has been playing a supporting role, turning every police shooting of a person of color into a cause célèbre, regardless of the circumstances leading to the shooting.

“Gun violence in particular is spiraling upward in cities across America,” Mac Donald contends.

“In Baltimore, the most pressing question every morning is how many people were shot the previous night,” she writes. “Gun violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year, according to Baltimore police, with 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend. May has been the most violent month the city has seen in 15 years.”

Mac Donald continued:

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25% … Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%. Those citywide statistics from law-enforcement officials mask even more startling neighborhood-level increases. Shooting incidents are up 500% in an East Harlem precinct compared with last year; in a South Central Los Angeles police division, shooting victims are up 100%.

Many of these murder victims are black Americans, Mac Donald said last week on Sean Hannity’s TV show.

These are the black lives that should matter to the Al Sharptons of the world. When the police back off, innocent black people get killed. And my speculation — and I don’t know this for sure, but we’ve been enduring nine months of really extreme anti-cop hysteria that is premised on the falsehood that the police are the biggest threat facing young black men today.

That police are the greatest threat to young black males is not supported by the evidence but police officers respond to public pressure like members of any other profession. Cops are “hearing the message that when they engage in proactive policing, they are abusing the community,” she said.

“They’re fearful of being caught on a cell phone video that will not show the full engagement with a resisting suspect,” Mac Donald explained. “And I think that they may be backing off on discretionary policing, the low-level misdemeanor offenses. They’re still responding to 9-1-1 calls for violent felonies, but they’re backing off, and criminals are getting emboldened.”

“Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family,” a New York City cop confided in Mac Donald. “Everything has the potential to be recorded. A lot of cops feel that the climate for the next couple of years is going to be nonstop protests.”

This never-ending drumbeat against the police has caused what St. Louis, Mo., police chief Sam Dotson calls the “Ferguson effect.” He was referring to the civil unrest last fall in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, both before and after a grand jury decided not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for killing young black male Michael Brown. Brown, who had just held up a convenience store minutes before,  battered the policeman and tried to grab his handgun. Wilson shot Brown in self-defense but the politically motivated lie that Wilson gunned him down while he was trying to surrender persists. Left-wingers and activists across America accused decorated officer Wilson, without any evidence whatsoever, of being an out-of-control racist intent on slaughtering black people.

So a backlash is in progress. Police officers are laying off of discretionary enforcement activity and the “criminal element is feeling empowered,” Dotson said.

The racist Black Lives Matter movement has also been working hard since the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Fla., to inflame racial tensions. And the Obama administration sent taxpayer-supporter community organizers from within the Department of Justice to Sanford and other racial hotspots across the country to help cause mayhem, Judicial Watch discovered through the Freedom of Information Act.

Mac Donald cautioned that this trend of rising violent crime isn’t rearing its head in every city. “There are cities where crime has not gone up, but I think what we’re seeing is, is the advance,” she told Sean Hannity. “If we continue down this path, I think the 20-year crime decline that the country has benefited from, and above all, inner city communities will be in threat.”

Left-wing journalists wasted no time in accusing Mac Donald of fear-mongering about crime.

The Huffington Post’s holier-than-though Jason Linkins put his own spin on the facts. His chaotic published screed attacking Mac Donald is a case study in media-orchestrated deceit. It also a reminder that whenever you read something written by a left-winger, it is important to read it slowly and carefully so you can be on guard against  deceptive propaganda techniques and rhetorical sleights-of-hand.

Linkins readily concedes that Mac Donald’s statistics are “mostly in the ballpark” but pillories her anyway. This crime wave Mac Donald warns of “is all a load of hot nonsense,” he writes without actually proving it is nonsense, hot or otherwise.

There is no denying “that there are a number of urban police departments that have themselves some problems,” he writes. “But does all of this add up to a ‘new nationwide crime wave’? I’m afraid not. Further examination tells a story of cherry-picking.”

By this point Linkins is phoning it in as he goes into a dry discussion, comparing statistics for murders against those for violent crimes in general, without actually refuting what Mac Donald has presented.

“New York City’s scary stat, to Mac Donald, is the murder rate,” Linkins opines. “I can see why: according to CompStat, homicides thus far this year are up in comparison to the rate over a comparable period of time last year.”

He doesn’t deny that so far in 2015 there have been more homicides in New York City compared to the same date in the previous year, as Mac Donald writes. Instead he engages in misdirection, downplaying the rising homicide rate this year by comparing it to previous years when it was significantly higher.

“And yet, if you just glance over to right of the spreadsheet, you’ll also learn that the homicide rate in New York City is down 32 percent when compared to five years ago, and down 83 percent compared to 22 years ago,” Linkins writes. “All of which indicates that New York City’s darkest days are well in the past, regardless of this year’s slight spike.”

In other words, the slippery Linkins begrudgingly admits that Mac Donald is right about the homicide rate rising in the Big Apple. Mac Donald, of course, never argued that New York’s “darkest days are well in the past” — this is an example of goalpost-shifting by Linkins. He can’t disprove what Mac Donald says so he sets up a straw man, shifting the focus to something she did not say. Linkins self-servingly selected the homicide rate of 22 years ago as a reference point. Of course that was 1993 when Republican Rudy Giuliani ousted pro-criminal liberal Democrat mayor David Dinkins, a move that led to the rebirth of what had long been a troubled city.

Showing that the “darkest days” were some time ago wasn’t the point of Mac Donald’s column, which was about current affairs, not distant history. Mac Donald wanted to let readers know that the homicide rate at the moment is rising and she suspects it is related to the “extreme anti-cop hysteria” of the past nine months. In an example of scholarly humility, something rarely seen in leftist academics, Mac Donald even admitted on TV that she was engaging in “speculation” as to what was driving crime rates that seem to be rising. Linkins ought to know that fear-mongering doesn’t come with caveats.

Mac Donald was transparent; Linkins spent his time scheming and using tricks to make Mac Donald look bad. If things don’t pan out for Linkins at the Huffington Post, he can always get a job writing fiction at the George Soros-funded Media Matters for America.

All of this reminds me of an amusing anecdote I uncovered while researching the work of Marxist agitator-academic Richard Cloward, the late husband of fellow agitator Frances Fox Piven.

As I wrote in Subversion Inc., my book about Barack Obama, Saul Alinsky, and ACORN, in 1965 Cloward argued that America didn’t have a crime problem—it had a law problem.

Laws enforcing an unjust social order were oppressing the poor, he pontificated. “The problems are being greatly exaggerated,” said the criminal-loving professor who spent much of his career making excuses for recidivists. “The American people are more lawful today than ever before.”

A month after the statement, Cloward visited Philadelphia to address a peace corps gathering. After the speech ended around 10 p.m. he visited a bad neighborhood. While there two men bummed a cigarette off him. Cloward was then shot from behind as he walked away.

A 22-caliber bullet was removed from his shoulder at Temple University Hospital. “The fact that I got hurt doesn’t mean we are in the midst of a crime wave,” said Cloward, his appreciation of criminals undiminished. “The vast majority of people are law abiding citizens,” he added, frustrated.

Perhaps Cloward would have shrugged were it not for the fresh bullet hole the poor oppressed victims of American society made in his shoulder.

Heather Mac Donald seems unlikely to do something as reckless as Cloward did in the City of Brotherly Love.

Jason Linkins? I’m not so sure. He has an arsenal of excuses in his quiver to explain away whatever happens.