The Left and Crime

The Left and Crime

I have observed, in the course of my reporting on New York City politics in recent years, the odd phenomenon of liberal Democrats muttering in vague opposition to the fantastic decreases in the city’s crime rate. This is not done openly; certainly no one has set up shop in City Hall Park and hoisted placards reading, “More Homicides!” or “No Auto Theft, No Peace!” Rather it has been a sub rosa and understood sentiment, coursing unspoken through the blood of political conversation. It has not been unusual to hear a progressive activist, say, rebuke the local press for making too much of the crime reduction, or fall back on the obviously true (but certainly no more incisive for being so) cliché that crime reduction is no panacea for the city’s multifarious ills. Besides, the numbers were achieved by the despised Rudolph Giuliani, the current Republican mayor, and therefore must be either not real or puffed up or, most likely, won at far too high a cost to civil liberties. There is a little bit of something at least to the last two of these arguments—a year or so ago, the local papers came close to producing proof of reduction inflation, if you will, in the thirty-fourth precinct in the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, and certainly the number of brutality complaints has risen dramatically.

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Lima