Commentary Magazine


Topic: New York Police Department

The Ridiculous Ruling Against the NYPD

Today Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled against the NYPD’s legal and effective “stop and frisk” program, erroneously finding elements of it unconstitutional. It was nice of her to wait until after the case to release her decision, since it’s doubtful she waited until the end of the trial to construct it. Indeed Scheindlin’s decision, which will put the lives of New York City’s minorities at great risk, was no surprise. She made it clear from the beginning she was going to rule against the NYPD, and her decision to grant the plaintiffs’ request that the trial be jury-free ensured she would have total control over the outcome.

Her lack of remorse in sacrificing the safety of minorities to pursue her activist crusade against the police was only part of the inanity of her decision. In the New York Times’s write-up of the case this morning, the paper–which has been an outspoken opponent of protecting heavily minority neighborhoods in the city–provides a revealing look into Scheindlin’s mindset. First, the Times notes that stop-and-frisk occurrences “soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline.” I eagerly await the moment the Times makes the connection between the drop in the crime rate and stop and frisk (hint: the latter results in the former). Later, the Times summarizes one of Scheindlin’s objections to the practice:

Read More

Today Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled against the NYPD’s legal and effective “stop and frisk” program, erroneously finding elements of it unconstitutional. It was nice of her to wait until after the case to release her decision, since it’s doubtful she waited until the end of the trial to construct it. Indeed Scheindlin’s decision, which will put the lives of New York City’s minorities at great risk, was no surprise. She made it clear from the beginning she was going to rule against the NYPD, and her decision to grant the plaintiffs’ request that the trial be jury-free ensured she would have total control over the outcome.

Her lack of remorse in sacrificing the safety of minorities to pursue her activist crusade against the police was only part of the inanity of her decision. In the New York Times’s write-up of the case this morning, the paper–which has been an outspoken opponent of protecting heavily minority neighborhoods in the city–provides a revealing look into Scheindlin’s mindset. First, the Times notes that stop-and-frisk occurrences “soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline.” I eagerly await the moment the Times makes the connection between the drop in the crime rate and stop and frisk (hint: the latter results in the former). Later, the Times summarizes one of Scheindlin’s objections to the practice:

She noted that about 88 percent of the stops result in the police letting the person go without an arrest or ticket, a percentage so high, she said, that it suggests there was not a credible suspicion to suspect the person of criminality in the first place.

Thus we are now aware that Scheindlin has no idea what she’s talking about–not to mention the fact that her reasoning would suggest the officers would be less suspicious if they made more arrests during the stops. Though all this might tempt readers to skip the text of Scheindlin’s actual written decision, I can assure that anyone who makes the effort will be duly rewarded. For example, in one of the most revealing passages of the text, Scheindlin writes the following, in her introduction:

It is important that this Opinion be read synergistically. Each section of the Opinion is only a piece of the overall picture. Some will quarrel with the findings in one section or another. But, when read as a whole, with an understanding of the interplay between each section, I hope that this Opinion will bring more clarity and less disagreement to this complex and sensitive issue.

In other words, if you simply read the words of her decision, even without legal training you will be shocked by the incompetence. Each section will likely be wrong on the merits, and thus cast doubt on her conclusion. But if you read it “synergistically” it will make sense. This is the Magic Eye book of judicial decisions: if you stare at the page just the right way, its hidden meaning will appear. Of course, the moment you stop staring cross-eyed or change the lighting, it will revert back to its previous form, in which it deceptively appears to be a 200-page humorless New York Times editorial.

The truth is, the best way to understand this trial is to read an early-August piece in the New York Times headlined “More Complaints Than Proposed Solutions at Trial Over Police Searches.” Scheindlin doesn’t argue that stop and frisk is illegal; what she doesn’t like is the frequency with which this legal tactic is utilized. So the story details how the NYPD might reform the practice once she rules against the department. Here is how the story opens:

The judge overseeing the trial examining the constitutionality of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices had a novel idea for how to reduce illegal police stops.  

“What did you think of a body-worn camera?” the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, asked the lawyers assembled before her. It was the last question the judge asked during the trial, which ran from March to May.

“I’m intrigued by it,” she explained, observing how helpful it would be if police officers recorded what transpired during stops, which are frustratingly difficult to reconstruct in the courtroom months or years after the fact.

The topic of body cameras seemed to come out of nowhere; the technology had been mentioned in passing by one witness, but none of the lawyers had suggested that it be employed.

This scene, in which a federal judge is essentially spending the trial talking to herself out loud as lawyers and reporters watch in puzzled amazement, is sadly a pretty accurate description of the trial overall. The same story later notes that “as the trial ended, it seemed that Judge Scheindlin was casting about for ideas on how she might fix the problem.”

It’s a problem she was seeking to create, and she had no earthly idea how the city was going to clean up the mess she was about to make of public safety. Notice a steady line of reasoning through her thought process. She doesn’t like the number of stops being made by the police without additional arrests, which would seem to make any constitutional objection to stop and frisk even more acute. But not to Scheindlin. And she thinks the sheer number of stops erodes the dignity of the civilians involved, so her suggestion for how to alleviate this is… to have the police secretly videotape the stops!

That is, Scheindlin seems to intuitively understand that her anti-NYPD ruling will create problems that can best be solved by more heavyhanded policing. It is a ringing endorsement, paradoxically, of the incredible work the NYPD has done in reducing crime and returning dignity to the streets of New York. That Scheindlin can so blithely attempt to sweep away those gains probably sounds silly. But that is not Scheindlin’s fault. If you aren’t looking at this “synergistically,” you really only have yourself to blame.

Read Less

9/10 Mentality: CIA Blasted for NYPD Help

The most recent installment in the New York Times’s effort to dial America’s security back to a September 10, 2001 mentality came today in the form of an article detailing the latest faux scandal the paper has tried to attach to the New York City Police Department. What did the NYPD do now? Apparently, in an unusual bout of federal-local cooperation, the Central Intelligence Agency allowed four of its staffers to help New York’s police deal with terror threats in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. But rather than applaud this commendable instance of the national security establishment reaching out to reinforce the front lines of defense against terror, the piece was aimed at piling on the NYPD and showing that it had somehow lost its way during the course of a decade in which it managed to ensure that New York would not suffer a single terror death despite numerous plots launched by Islamists that sought to slaughter residents of the Big Apple just as they did on 9/11.

The source of the story was an internal CIA report that raised questions about the legality of having some employees of the spy agency taking part in domestic police work. But while there are obvious legal issues associated with any potential CIA spying on Americans, that doesn’t appear to have been the case here. Instead, the four who worked with the NYPD appear to have merely helped provide much needed background on foreign threats for a department tasked with coping with a myriad of possible threats from foreign and homegrown terrorists. Like the department’s sensible decision to try and get intelligence about key gathering places for Islamists that the Times has wrongly portrayed as a violation of civil rights, the CIA-NYPD relationship appears to be yet another instance in which local and national authorities are being bashed by the Times and other liberals for doing their jobs.

Read More

The most recent installment in the New York Times’s effort to dial America’s security back to a September 10, 2001 mentality came today in the form of an article detailing the latest faux scandal the paper has tried to attach to the New York City Police Department. What did the NYPD do now? Apparently, in an unusual bout of federal-local cooperation, the Central Intelligence Agency allowed four of its staffers to help New York’s police deal with terror threats in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. But rather than applaud this commendable instance of the national security establishment reaching out to reinforce the front lines of defense against terror, the piece was aimed at piling on the NYPD and showing that it had somehow lost its way during the course of a decade in which it managed to ensure that New York would not suffer a single terror death despite numerous plots launched by Islamists that sought to slaughter residents of the Big Apple just as they did on 9/11.

The source of the story was an internal CIA report that raised questions about the legality of having some employees of the spy agency taking part in domestic police work. But while there are obvious legal issues associated with any potential CIA spying on Americans, that doesn’t appear to have been the case here. Instead, the four who worked with the NYPD appear to have merely helped provide much needed background on foreign threats for a department tasked with coping with a myriad of possible threats from foreign and homegrown terrorists. Like the department’s sensible decision to try and get intelligence about key gathering places for Islamists that the Times has wrongly portrayed as a violation of civil rights, the CIA-NYPD relationship appears to be yet another instance in which local and national authorities are being bashed by the Times and other liberals for doing their jobs.

The CIA is prohibited from engaging in domestic surveillance. But nothing here remotely smacks of illegal behavior on the part of the agency or its employees. Of the four CIA personnel who were embedded with the NYPD, one was there on unpaid leave—and was paid by the police—and therefore exempt from any limits as to what he could see or do. Another was, according to the Times’s account, given the thankless and probably futile task of trying to better the always-fractious relationship between the FBI and the NYPD. Two others were analysts who may have seen some “unfiltered files” concerning local suspects but do not appear to have actually engaged in surveillance of any kind.

None of this seems particularly controversial, let alone illegal. But apparently some in the CIA, like the Times, were not comfortable with this much cooperation between anyone connected with the spooks in Langley, Virginia and New York cops. The author of the internal report (which was originally classified but was made available to the Times via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) was particularly unhappy about a CIA officer trying to broker peace between the NYPD and the FBI, since it had “placed the agency in the middle of a contentious relationship.” But the main “concern” of the CIA report critical of the cooperation with New York was that there were “risks” associated with helping the NYPD that were better not run. In other words, some in the spy agency considered themselves better off not doing all they could to prevent attacks on the homeland if it meant possible involvement in controversies.

In a sense, the Times article vindicates that view, since it lumps in the CIA’s help to New York with the paper’s attacks on the NYPD’s surveillance of mosques known to be Islamist hotbeds and other issues that supposedly demonstrate a police department that is out of control and oppressing local Muslims.

The CIA has long held itself aloof from any involvement in police actions and not only because of legal prohibitions. But what happened after 9/11 was a realization that one of the reasons the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon succeeded was the lack of cooperation between the various security agencies that seemed to view their domestic rivals as a greater threat than they did al-Qaeda. What happened on 9/11 was supposed to end that nonsense and it appears in this case, that is exactly what happened. The embedding of CIA analysts at New York’s One Police Plaza was exactly what was needed, and the sterling record the NYPD achieved on terror during the last decade is a tribute to the sort of thinking that would have been considered “outside the box” prior to 9/11.

But that is exactly what the Times and other liberal critics of the NYPD don’t want. As much as the paper pays lip service to the threat from Islamist terror, it seems to wish to demonize every effort made by the NYPD to save the lives of New Yorkers. If the NYPD, the CIA and other agencies are loathe to expose themselves to this sort of abuse in the future, we can look to the Times and other advocates of a 9/10 mentality to find the reason. We only hope New Yorkers and the rest of the nation don’t pay for this folly in blood.

Read Less

Liberal Activists’ Case Against the NYPD Is Falling Apart

In August, after the New York Times published a story accusing the New York Police Department of overtly racist policing, the NYPD responded by noting that: “During the first 10 years of the Bloomberg Administration there were 5,430 murders compared to 11,058 in the 10 years prior, a reduction of 51% or 5,628 lives saved. If history is a guide, the vast majority of those lives saved were young men of color.”

That continued a trend that began during the previous decade, when Rudy Giuliani was mayor. The drop in crime resulted in, for example, a 90-percent reduction in murders in one of Manhattan’s largely Hispanic neighborhoods. Minority communities in New York have been the beneficiaries of a policing revolution that put the city back on its feet in dramatic fashion. But to liberal activists and their judicial allies, the dignity of life is undercut by the supposed indignities inflicted upon the neighborhoods where police use the effective “stop and frisk” tactic.

They have sued to stop the practice, arguing police make their stops based on race. Judge Shira Scheindlin gave the case a boost when she ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to not just sue the city but to challenge the use of the police tactic at all. Though the decision to allow the case to proceed to trial was a blow against efforts to protect minorities, the trial itself has at least had the benefit of weakening the case against the NYPD–as well as Scheindlin’s own decision to approve the plaintiffs’ standing.

Read More

In August, after the New York Times published a story accusing the New York Police Department of overtly racist policing, the NYPD responded by noting that: “During the first 10 years of the Bloomberg Administration there were 5,430 murders compared to 11,058 in the 10 years prior, a reduction of 51% or 5,628 lives saved. If history is a guide, the vast majority of those lives saved were young men of color.”

That continued a trend that began during the previous decade, when Rudy Giuliani was mayor. The drop in crime resulted in, for example, a 90-percent reduction in murders in one of Manhattan’s largely Hispanic neighborhoods. Minority communities in New York have been the beneficiaries of a policing revolution that put the city back on its feet in dramatic fashion. But to liberal activists and their judicial allies, the dignity of life is undercut by the supposed indignities inflicted upon the neighborhoods where police use the effective “stop and frisk” tactic.

They have sued to stop the practice, arguing police make their stops based on race. Judge Shira Scheindlin gave the case a boost when she ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to not just sue the city but to challenge the use of the police tactic at all. Though the decision to allow the case to proceed to trial was a blow against efforts to protect minorities, the trial itself has at least had the benefit of weakening the case against the NYPD–as well as Scheindlin’s own decision to approve the plaintiffs’ standing.

In recent weeks, the courtroom has played host to some extraordinary scenes. In Scheindlin’s decision approving the plaintiffs’ standing, she refers to the NYPD’s own paperwork, which contains the records and recollections of the stops. The records supposedly show the police to have made unnecessary stops in minority neighborhoods. But Scheindlin began to sense, correctly, that it’s quite difficult to fully understand a police stop by its record form. As the New York Daily News notes in an editorial slamming the shoddy judicial activism of the court in letting the case go through, Scheindlin asked former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito the following question: “You really don’t know much about the stop just by looking at the form, do you?”

The Daily News editorial continued:

“Correct,” he answered, as it became crystal clear that Scheindlin had given the go-ahead to a case built on evidence that, by her own statement, is wholly unreliable. Case dismissed, Your Honor.

Perhaps even more remarkable than this exchange was a story buried in the local section of yesterday’s New York Times, the paper that has led the spurious and scandalously dangerous campaign against the NYPD. The headline is “Some Testimony on Police Tactic Undercuts Bias Claim,” and the piece delivers the goods. It opens with this:

One man was stopped and frisked because of his expensive red leather jacket — similar to one that a murder suspect was wearing in a wanted poster. Another man was stopped after a woman complained to the police that he was following her. Still another was stopped by officers who had watched him jostle the door of a home, trying to get in.

Recruited by civil rights lawyers, these men and others have testified about their encounters with the police in a federal trial weighing whether the soaring number of stop-and-frisk encounters has resulted in widespread constitutional violations for hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic men. They were chosen to give voice to the toll that the police’s use of the tactic has inflicted on an entire demographic, their lawyers say.

But over the trial’s first month, some of these men’s accounts seemed to veer away from the straightforward narrative of racial profiling — and may have actually undermined the plaintiffs’ efforts to demonstrate that the police routinely disregard the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable police detentions.

In other words, the police are doing their jobs. Intervening in a possible break-in; responding to a woman’s call that she was in danger; stopping a man wearing the same distinctive clothing as a man pictured in a wanted poster–is this not a clear description of responsible policing? Indeed it is. And yet the attorneys who put these witnesses on the stand thought they were going to describe racial profiling, because the case against the NYPD is based not on facts but on delusional ideological prejudice against the police.

The Times article’s tone is one of surprise. Do the facts of the case comport with the paper’s editorial outlook? Not at all. Will the editors adjust their opinion of the NYPD now that they have been exposed to the truth? That’s anybody’s guess, but it’s an improvement, at the very least, that they are reporting it.

Read Less

The NYPD’s Sky-High Approval Numbers

In April of last year, I mentioned that although former city comptroller Bill Thompson had run a surprisingly close race against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009–despite being vastly underfunded and written off by the national Democratic Party–heading into this year’s race to replace Bloomberg, Thompson quickly found himself the underdog. The presumed frontrunner was (and is) City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

I noted that one major difference between the two was in their respective approaches to the New York City Police Department amid the controversy over the city’s effective “stop and frisk” tactics that helped improve safety in some dangerous neighborhoods. Thompson threatened to fire Police Commissioner Ray Kelly; Quinn recognized the good work of the NYPD, though she expressed modest reservations about “stop and frisk.” I suggested voters would be prepared to punish Thompson and that his position on the NYPD was hurting his poll numbers. Today Quinnipiac released the results of a survey whose findings buttress my argument considerably:

Read More

In April of last year, I mentioned that although former city comptroller Bill Thompson had run a surprisingly close race against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009–despite being vastly underfunded and written off by the national Democratic Party–heading into this year’s race to replace Bloomberg, Thompson quickly found himself the underdog. The presumed frontrunner was (and is) City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

I noted that one major difference between the two was in their respective approaches to the New York City Police Department amid the controversy over the city’s effective “stop and frisk” tactics that helped improve safety in some dangerous neighborhoods. Thompson threatened to fire Police Commissioner Ray Kelly; Quinn recognized the good work of the NYPD, though she expressed modest reservations about “stop and frisk.” I suggested voters would be prepared to punish Thompson and that his position on the NYPD was hurting his poll numbers. Today Quinnipiac released the results of a survey whose findings buttress my argument considerably:

In the wake of the Newtown massacre of the innocents and the growing gun control debate, New York City voters approve 75 – 18 percent of the job Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is doing, his highest approval rating ever, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Voters also approve 70 – 23 percent of the job New York police are doing, the highest score since a 76 – 18 percent approval rating February 7, 2002, in the wake of 9/11, by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll.

Kelly’s approval is 81 – 14 percent among white voters, 63 – 27 percent among black voters and 76 – 18 percent among Hispanic voters. Approval for the police overall is 80 – 14 percent among white voters, 56 – 37 percent among black voters and 67 – 23 percent among Hispanic voters. There is almost no gender gap in approval for Kelly or the police.

Voters disapprove of the police use of the stop-and-frisk tactic 50 – 46 percent.

New York City voters say 63 – 19 percent, including 53 – 31 percent among black voters, that it would positively affect their decision to vote for a candidate for mayor if the candidate promises to ask Kelly to stay as police commissioner.

Voters surely care who their next mayor is, but they seem to care even more who the police commissioner is. This also transcends identity politics, as the results clearly show. Liberals spilled much ink–usually getting the story wrong–in attempts to gin up animosity between the city’s minorities, especially New York’s black population, and the NYPD. Yet black voters overwhelmingly approve of the job Kelly and the NYPD are doing. That may help explain why Thompson, who is black, has gained no traction with voters by trashing the NYPD.

It also explains why Republicans have not stopped trying to convince Kelly to run for mayor. After all, many attributed Bloomberg’s poor showing in the 2009 election to the fact that some New Yorkers were just tired of Bloomberg’s never-ending mayoralty–yet Kelly has been police commissioner for as long as Bloomberg has been mayor, and he’s currently enjoying approval ratings significantly higher than Bloomberg’s. But it also may explain why Kelly keeps resisting the calls to jump in the race. He’s good at his job, New Yorkers agree, and he gets to stay out of the political fray, for the most part. And even though he’s not running in the election, he gets quite the vote of support during the campaign: the more clearly candidates express their approval of the NYPD, the more voters seem inclined to support them. With the mayoral race still wide open, the candidates could do worse than to take Quinnipiac’s free advice.

Read Less

NYPD Responds to the Times’s False Attacks

Though New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg often appears to be leading the charge on some of modern liberalism’s pet governing projects, there is a line that he will absolutely not cross: the sentiment, expressed often by the New York Times, that the city should reverse its successful policing tactics. The most recent controversy centers on the New York Police Department’s so-called “stop and frisk,” in which police step up their search for weapons in high-crime neighborhoods by checking the persons of some residents of these neighborhoods when following leads.

The Times has declared war on the NYPD’s effective policies, but even a May editorial, in which the Times suggested New York follow Philadelphia’s lead, was too much for Bloomberg:

“Why would any rational person want to trade what we have here for situation in Philadelphia?” Bloomberg told NY 1. “More murders, higher crime. Is that what the Times wants?”

The controversy was back in the news yesterday. The Times has written a series of stories accusing the NYPD of racism because they stop minorities so often, and yesterday published the results of the paper’s own poll showing that respondents think the NYPD favors whites. But even within this poll, in which the Times seeks to make and shape news rather than just report it, there is some inconvenient information for opponents of effective policing and lower crime:

But Mr. Bloomberg and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, received high marks on the crime issue: 57 percent of New Yorkers said they approved of the way the mayor was dealing with crime, and 61 percent said they approved of the way the commissioner was handling his job. Even 50 percent of the respondents who said they had been the target of a racially motivated police stop approved of Mr. Kelly’s management.

“I live in Brooklyn, in Coney Island, and everybody has guns; 3-year-old kids have guns! It’s outrageous,” said Johnny Rivera, 52, a former foreman at an aluminum company. As for the stop-and-frisk practice, he said, “the worst thing they could do is stop it.”

Read More

Though New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg often appears to be leading the charge on some of modern liberalism’s pet governing projects, there is a line that he will absolutely not cross: the sentiment, expressed often by the New York Times, that the city should reverse its successful policing tactics. The most recent controversy centers on the New York Police Department’s so-called “stop and frisk,” in which police step up their search for weapons in high-crime neighborhoods by checking the persons of some residents of these neighborhoods when following leads.

The Times has declared war on the NYPD’s effective policies, but even a May editorial, in which the Times suggested New York follow Philadelphia’s lead, was too much for Bloomberg:

“Why would any rational person want to trade what we have here for situation in Philadelphia?” Bloomberg told NY 1. “More murders, higher crime. Is that what the Times wants?”

The controversy was back in the news yesterday. The Times has written a series of stories accusing the NYPD of racism because they stop minorities so often, and yesterday published the results of the paper’s own poll showing that respondents think the NYPD favors whites. But even within this poll, in which the Times seeks to make and shape news rather than just report it, there is some inconvenient information for opponents of effective policing and lower crime:

But Mr. Bloomberg and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, received high marks on the crime issue: 57 percent of New Yorkers said they approved of the way the mayor was dealing with crime, and 61 percent said they approved of the way the commissioner was handling his job. Even 50 percent of the respondents who said they had been the target of a racially motivated police stop approved of Mr. Kelly’s management.

“I live in Brooklyn, in Coney Island, and everybody has guns; 3-year-old kids have guns! It’s outrageous,” said Johnny Rivera, 52, a former foreman at an aluminum company. As for the stop-and-frisk practice, he said, “the worst thing they could do is stop it.”

The NYPD has had enough of the ignorant abuse from the Times, and responded on its Facebook page to the charge: “During the first 10 years of the Bloomberg Administration there were 5,430 murders compared to 11,058 in the 10 years prior, a reduction of 51% or 5,628 lives saved. If history is a guide, the vast majority of those lives saved were young men of color.”

Indeed, history is just such a guide. As Steven Malanga noted in City Journal in 2007, Rudy Giuliani, whose mayoralty led the policing revolution that eventually made New York one of the safest cities in the country, was also accused of such bias. But contrary to those accusations, under Giuliani the NYPD reduced crime while also reducing shootings by police and claims of excessive force dramatically. And guess who benefited the most:

Moreover, Giuliani’s policing success was a boon to minority neighborhoods. For instance, in the city’s 34th Precinct, covering the largely Hispanic Washington Heights section of Manhattan, murders dropped from 76 in 1993, Dinkins’s last year, to only seven by Giuliani’s last year, a decline of more than 90 percent. Far from being the racist that activists claimed, Giuliani had delivered to the city’s minority neighborhoods a true form of equal protection under the law.

The NYPD goes where the danger is. For that, they should be praised—and usually are. The New York Times editorialists have been railing against policing that has saved thousands of lives in New York’s minority neighborhoods. The paper’s reporting has been so inaccurate and agenda-driven it has led Michael Bloomberg to wonder aloud if what the Times wants is more murder in the city. That may sound harsh, but the great breakthrough of Giuliani’s time in office was his realization that you cannot govern effectively unless you ignore the New York Times. Nowhere is that more important, or with higher stakes, than the effort to keep New Yorkers safe.

Read Less

Occupy Wall Street vs. New Yorkers

Jay Nordlinger occasionally writes at National Review Online about conservatives’ desire for cultural “safe zones”–places to experience the arts without liberal politics intruding on what is meant to be an escape from our ubiquitous political skirmishes. Nordlinger publishes his own experiences and those of readers who attend a concert, the theater, a museum, etc. only for it to be turned into a venue for liberal preaching to an assumed choir.

Rock music, of course, is almost by nature activist, and concerts are far from being “safe zones.” Last night, a concert in downtown Manhattan seemed to be heading in that direction, but then took a peculiar turn. After a rock band opened for the headliner, a “special guest” was announced. This guest would introduce the headliner–a Canadian alt-rock band–but first he wanted to deliver some of his spoken-word beat poetry. The crowd, a young New York audience around the corner from Union Square Park’s Occupy Wall Street adjunct, was amenable, and cheered the poet. The poet was energetic, and the crowd continued to applaud at the beginning of the set. But then something strange happened.

Read More

Jay Nordlinger occasionally writes at National Review Online about conservatives’ desire for cultural “safe zones”–places to experience the arts without liberal politics intruding on what is meant to be an escape from our ubiquitous political skirmishes. Nordlinger publishes his own experiences and those of readers who attend a concert, the theater, a museum, etc. only for it to be turned into a venue for liberal preaching to an assumed choir.

Rock music, of course, is almost by nature activist, and concerts are far from being “safe zones.” Last night, a concert in downtown Manhattan seemed to be heading in that direction, but then took a peculiar turn. After a rock band opened for the headliner, a “special guest” was announced. This guest would introduce the headliner–a Canadian alt-rock band–but first he wanted to deliver some of his spoken-word beat poetry. The crowd, a young New York audience around the corner from Union Square Park’s Occupy Wall Street adjunct, was amenable, and cheered the poet. The poet was energetic, and the crowd continued to applaud at the beginning of the set. But then something strange happened.

The poet gave a shoutout to Occupy Wall Street, not far from the movement’s epicenter, certainly thinking he was playing to the home crowd. And he was booed. Loudly. Unrelentingly. The boos began to drown him out, and only got louder when the poet recited a line accusing the U.S. military of being worker bees in a genocide factory. Then he made a rookie mistake: he insulted the New York Police Department.

That was the last you could hear the poet, as the entire venue was booing and jeering him–not playfully, either; someone threw a bottle at him. This was exactly the target audience, one would have thought, for such a performance. But the incident demonstrates how outsiders view New York City from afar–this poet was from Rhode Island by way of Calgary, I believe–and how that clashes with the reality of the city.

Unlike the Tea Party, with Allen West, Marco Rubio, and others (perhaps after last night, Ted Cruz), the Occupy movement is as far from diverse as a political movement can get. The poet would have had a better grasp of this had he taken a walk around nearby Union Square Park, as I did, before the show. There he would have seen a sparsely populated, universally white Occupy camp ten feet away from where a young Hispanic grade-schooler who looked about 8 years old, with his father proudly looking on, was playing chess with an Indian gentleman, graying at the temples.

Such diversity is the norm, not the exception, in New York, and the Occupy movement’s ethnically homogeneous call to class war is both unrepresentative of, and offensive to, the larger New York community. It’s a city full of hard-working immigrants who have no interest in anarchist fantasy camp.

Additionally, the New York Police Department is a major reason the city of New York is now one of the ten safest cities in the country. Insulting the NYPD is a good way to rankle even liberal New Yorkers. And after 9/11, few New Yorkers would put up with this kind of nonsense.

Later in the show, the poet reemerged. The crowd seemed willing to tolerate him at first, having just listened to a great set from the band. But then the poet remarked that the world would be better if New York would rid itself of Wall Street in general, and “bankers” in particular. And the crowd let him have it again. Wall Street’s tax revenue pays for much of the city’s public services; New Yorkers are often liberal, but rarely that stupid. After the show, the band’s lead singer tweeted his disappointment:

interesting NYC show tonite. guess we lost some fans. I’ve always believed INTOLERANCE was the enemy, not each other. #disappointing

Another lesson: good luck telling New Yorkers to keep their opinions to themselves. I doubt the band lost any fans, but they may have stumbled upon a safe zone.

Read Less

A Billion-Dollar Blunder

James Q. Wilson (a COMMENTARY contributor) reminds us of what the New York trial of KSM entails:

To protect the courthouse, the New York Police Department will establish a rigid inner circle bounded by Worth, Madison, Pearl and Centre streets. Vehicles entering the perimeter will be thoroughly screened and searched.

This secure perimeter will encompass several city blocks. Inside it will be a federal courthouse, the city’s police headquarters, a New York State Supreme Court building, other governmental buildings and St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church. Also inside the cordon will be Chatham Towers, two 25-story residential buildings with hundreds of residents and a public parking garage.

This means that everyone who wants to get to the city’s police headquarters, a court building or their homes in Chatham Towers will face road blocks, car searches, radiation monitors and pedestrian checks.

The cost of added personnel deployed year after year as the trial plays out is daunting. We’re talking over $200M per year. Wilson adds: “If the five defendants are found guilty, there will probably be an appeal that will be heard in a courthouse inside the secure area, which would require more months of stepped up security. And these figures do not count what the U.S. marshals, the FBI and other agencies will spend on activities related to the trial.”

You can understand that New York taxpayers might not want to get stuck with the tab. But neither should any American taxpayer. The solution, as Wilson points out, is simple: send KSM and his cohorts back to the military tribunal, where they can plead guilty or not and be dealt with in the safe confines of a military facility.

Cost is not the primary reason to oppose a civilian KSM trial, but neither is it insignificant. We’re talking about a tab approaching a billion dollars if a multiyear trial and subsequent appeal unfolds. It is yet another instance in which liberal elites, with an ideological bent toward expanding constitutional protections beyond any historical or legal necessity, seek to impose burdens on ordinary Americans. In this case, the burdens involve both their safety and their wallets.

James Q. Wilson (a COMMENTARY contributor) reminds us of what the New York trial of KSM entails:

To protect the courthouse, the New York Police Department will establish a rigid inner circle bounded by Worth, Madison, Pearl and Centre streets. Vehicles entering the perimeter will be thoroughly screened and searched.

This secure perimeter will encompass several city blocks. Inside it will be a federal courthouse, the city’s police headquarters, a New York State Supreme Court building, other governmental buildings and St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church. Also inside the cordon will be Chatham Towers, two 25-story residential buildings with hundreds of residents and a public parking garage.

This means that everyone who wants to get to the city’s police headquarters, a court building or their homes in Chatham Towers will face road blocks, car searches, radiation monitors and pedestrian checks.

The cost of added personnel deployed year after year as the trial plays out is daunting. We’re talking over $200M per year. Wilson adds: “If the five defendants are found guilty, there will probably be an appeal that will be heard in a courthouse inside the secure area, which would require more months of stepped up security. And these figures do not count what the U.S. marshals, the FBI and other agencies will spend on activities related to the trial.”

You can understand that New York taxpayers might not want to get stuck with the tab. But neither should any American taxpayer. The solution, as Wilson points out, is simple: send KSM and his cohorts back to the military tribunal, where they can plead guilty or not and be dealt with in the safe confines of a military facility.

Cost is not the primary reason to oppose a civilian KSM trial, but neither is it insignificant. We’re talking about a tab approaching a billion dollars if a multiyear trial and subsequent appeal unfolds. It is yet another instance in which liberal elites, with an ideological bent toward expanding constitutional protections beyond any historical or legal necessity, seek to impose burdens on ordinary Americans. In this case, the burdens involve both their safety and their wallets.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.