In 1993, Rudy Giuliani defeated incumbent Mayor David Dinkins on a tough crime-fighting and welfare-to-work platform. The life-long New York intellectual Norman Podhoretz, reflecting on this moment in 1999, wrote that “neither I nor anyone else ever dreamed that the new mayor — or any other person occupying that office — would be able to turn the city around, let alone that he would do so almost overnight. How wrong we were!”
Giuliani made good on his promises. His welfare-to-work program resulted in a “58.37% Decrease In Number Of Welfare Recipients, From 1.1 Million In January 1994 To 462,595 In December 2001.” At the same time, Giuliani discarded the liberal soft-on-crime policies of his predecessors and implemented the “broken windows” crime-fighting strategy developed by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson, resulting in a “66% Decline In Murders.”
By 1999, the results were showing, but that February came the tragedy of the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. Suddenly, all the proponents of discredited anti-cop liberalism came out of hiding and seized the moment to start a campaign to undo all of Giuliani’s accomplishments. Podhoretz writes:
Here, finally, I come to the reason I think that “evil” is not too strong a word to describe what is going on in New York. To quote Kelling again, this time on what might be characterized as the multiplier effect of the 1,600 lives saved by Giuliani’s crime-fighting policies: “Calculate the . . . families spared grief, youths not imprisoned, and we are talking about thousands of New Yorkers whose lives have been immeasurably improved . . .” I contend that “evil” is precisely the right word for a campaign whose purpose is to undo so much good in order to resurrect a discredited ideological position and to reap a crassly partisan political advantage.
But will this evil drive succeed? Will New Yorkers once again allow themselves to be intimidated into tolerating the intolerable? I would guess not, and I hope not, if only because the taste of a better city is still fresh in their mouths.
Now, less than two decades later, we have the answer. A little over one year into Mayor Bill De Blasio’s first term, murder is up 20 percent (NYPD), shootings are up 20 percent (New York Daily News), and welfare roles have increased 4 percent (Manhattan Institute) in New York City.
The first statistic is not surprising. De Blasio has waged an all-out ideological offensive against the NYPD, and it has ruined morale.
According to Heather Mac Donald, De Blasio’s comments about the “dangers” his bi-racial son Dante faced from the NYPD due to his race became a source of “visceral rage” after the assassinations of two NYPD officers, “as they fed the atmosphere of escalating cop hatred that led to the killings.”
They were also the last straw in a series of insulting actions de Blasio had taken since gaining office on a platform of bashing the NYPD. De Blasio’s fawning praise of Al Sharpton as a “blessing for this city [and] a blessing for this nation”; his elevation of Sharpton to City Hall policing adviser; his hiring of Sharpton’s press agent as his wife’s chief of staff, and his stubborn defense of that hire despite her lies on her background check and the “off the pigs” rhetoric spewed by both her convicted-murderer boyfriend and her son — these and other alliances with the anti-police Left convinced officers that the mayor would not support them when they were forced to make controversial split-second decisions on the streets. Better, then, to walk by low-level offenses, especially public-order violations, than to risk their careers and possibly their lives making a discretionary arrest that could be opportunistically turned into a racial flashpoint.
In the weeks after the assassinations, the number of summonses written for misdemeanor and traffic offenses dropped nearly 95 percent citywide and 100 percent in many precincts. A former precinct commander who now works at police headquarters explains what was going on: “We do not want to put ourselves at risk for a City Hall we perceive as illegitimate. Why deliver a [public-safety] utopia to an ingrate who does not support us?”
Without cops on the beat enforcing the small offenses, “broken windows” breaks down, thus giving criminals a green light to commit major offenses, such as murder. And if the cops are always having to look over their shoulder for the next lunatic inspired by a leftist-manufactured anti-cop environment to attack, then they do not have time to watch the public’s back.
As if morale weren’t low enough, the new, PC-friendly rules imposed on the NYPD are so restrictive and confusing that, according to police union president Pat Lynch, “Police officers are going to have to travel with an attorney just to interpret” them.
Meanwhile, as reported in the New York Post, “Enrollment in the city’s cash assistance program swelled by 4 percent in 2014 to 352,596 — one of the biggest increases in more than a decade, the Manhattan Institute found.”
The Post continued:
The surprising uptick, reformers say, is partly by design. De Blasio’s pick to head the $10 billion Human Resources Administration, Steven Banks, is a proponent of loosening welfare restrictions…
“The city will be more helpful to poor New Yorkers if it sticks with the policies that made clear that welfare recipients need to move rapidly into a job. More welfare combined with less work will surely lead to more poverty and nobody should want that,” added [Robert Doar, an HRA commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and] a Resident Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
If Podhoretz is right to call the undermining of New Yorkers’s safety and harming the well-being of the city, all for the sake of some discredited political ideology, evil, then what is happening to New York under Bill De Blasio is in fact evil.