City Journal Winter 2014

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Fred Siegel
Unrepentant and Unreflective « Back to Story

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When you talk about the police response to the Crown Height Riots, you neglected to mention the key role played by NYPD Chief of Department Louis Anemone. His tactic of overwhelming response is what finally quelled the riots.

Otherwise, a very good article.
LW: This is what actually happened, as reported by the NY Times, not exactly an anti-Dinkins source:

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/03/nyregion/crime-down-in-92-in-new-york-and-nationwide.html

This is a pittance compared to what Guiliani was able to do. Actually, I can't believe that anyone would argue that Dinkins did anything much to reduce crime. Talk about revisionist history!

Still, nice to hear another point of view, - although on the other hand, my experience is that blogs never change anyone's mind.

Dinkins tripled the manpower committed to anti-gang undercover police operations. Before him and afterward in other cities, this was thought too risky, too likely to get cops killed.

That was what stopped the crime wave. Major crimes declined immediately with the roll-out in the Bronx. What had been a "war zone" through the previous 30 years.

Crime dropped in the last two years in office. Not one. Siegel knows that.
People come to a certain point in their life and they are satisfied with their worldview. You see the problem with Mr. Dinkins. Aesthetically, it is less displeasing than the odyssey of Diane Ravitch.

==

A generation ago, Richard John Neuhaus recalled that the founder of 'situation ethics' was evidently a conventional protestant in his mundane life and seemed to think everyone else was pretty much the same way.

Consider that Dinkins was an agreeable man, a child of the petty bourgeoisie (his father had a liquor store, IIRC), a member of a generation which caused less trouble for the world than any other. With degrees in mathematics and law, granted at a time pre-dating grade inflation and mulligans for mascots, his general intelligence was ample. Is it possible that he never viscerally understood the corruption and the malice abroad in the world, and the necessity to crack heads to contain it?
Whenever Americans confront our own political failures we require – rather we demand - one guilty face to blame for our feelings of personal inadequacy and disappointment. New Yorkers had Dinkins among other designated failures and Detroiters now have a wildly popular former mayor serving a 28 year prison sentence. The Detroit Free Press is doing some intense soul searching at present, asking themselves and anyone else who will listen how they could have been so easily fooled by Kwame Kilpatrick. Yet, not so long ago, they were eager to back Kilpatrick’s election with worshipful editorials and news articles deliberately slanted to portray candidate Kilpatrick in the best possible light.

So, was it the media’s fault that Dinkins and Kilpatrick were given far more responsibility than they could handle or deserved? We could blame the media rather than ourselves for these obvious political mistakes – and there are many of us who will do exactly that. But despite the naïve and gullible journalists employed by the New York Times or the Detroit Free Press, most of the blame rightfully goes to the electorate. The masses swallowed the media’s propaganda but not because the voters were deliberately hoodwinked, the voters desperately wanted to believe in a politician. Dinkins was New York’s first black mayor. In Detroit, only a black man could have been elected mayor but Kwame Kilpatrick possessed far more than that one all important qualification, he had charisma, an abundance of youthful energy and the most important characteristic within Detroit’s politics – a benign father figure aura. And Kilpatrick was a fitting personification of a tribal leader, he was tall, physically powerful and exuded manliness – for Detroiters that’s far more important than an expert’s grasp of municipal financing.

Electing a man whose most compelling qualification is his race is highly self-destructive – we realize that and do it anyway. Electing a man who embodies a powerful tribal leader along the lines of Shaka Zulu rather than a capable and serious public servant is not only self-destructive, it’s downright stupid. Yet our form of government allows, even encourages, such self-destructive behavior. Collectively, we can continue this self-deception by proclaiming our form of government is the most philosophically advanced, most effective self-governing system on this planet – or we can acknowledge the emerging truth that America’s constitutional form of representative self-government is failing as a viable political system.

Condemning the Dinkins or the Kilpatricks of the political class is merely transferring blame to an individual and we find that immensely comforting for reasons we can’t easily describe – our system of government didn’t exactly fail we tell ourselves, we merely put too much faith in the wrong politicians. That’s one certain way of rationalizing ongoing failure and will certainly guarantee an endless supply of Kilpatricks and Dinkins in our future.
When a jury acquitted the murderer of Yankel Rosenbaum, Dinkins said, "I have no doubt that in this case the criminal justice system has operated fairly and openly." Source: NY Magazine 12/2/1992 In his recent memoirs, Dinkins said "I continue to fail to understand that verdict." So, which comment reflects his actual opinion of the verdict? Neither. He doesn't have any actual opinions. He just says whatever he thinks will sound good when he says it.
Dinkins will never admit he was a failure, after all he is democrat. Add to that he is black and any criticism is simply deemed racist.

New York has elected to forget the errors of its liberal past and are now on track to elect another liberal socialist to help destroy new York and all the gains made by Republican leadership.

Let us all hope Parasite Nation grows and consumes New York.
During the Dinkins administration, NYC was in a social policy and law-and-order shambles. Central Park was known more as a potential crime zone than a pleasant getaway. The subways were riddled with graffiti (and scratchiti). Aggressive panhandlers and squeegee parasites were pervasive. Getting violently mugged almost anywhere was an accepted fact of living in the city. Admittedly, many of these problems were in the works long before Dinkins came into office; however, his mayoralty entrenched them to the point of New Yorkers assuming they were everlasting norms. But the most defining feature of Dinkins and his overall governance was vacuity. He lacked leadership skills, inspired no confidence or passion, and often appeared as doddering and ignorant. The media and political establishment hailed him as being New York's first black mayor but couldn't honestly find anything else about him to admire, let alone celebrate. I remember distinctly, one day during his administration, at lunch time at Rockefeller Center, Dinkins was speaking publicly. He was on a podium at a peak pedestrian hour in an incredibly busy part of mid-town. His voice was quite audible through the mike. The potential audience was there, all around, and yet almost nobody stopped to listen to the man. They looked as they walked by, uninterested and uncaring. Distinctly uninspired. They did not stop even briefly. It's inconceivable that a Koch, Giuliani, or Bloomberg would have attracted so little regard in a similar situation. For me, such an image embodies Dinkins the "leader."
The City under Dinkins was a disaster with a capital "D" - losing population, losing business, the City was on a one way ticket to being just another parasitic population center, draining the resources of the areas surrounding it.

Had Dinkins won another term, we would never have learned the importance of leadership, and just how a competent mayor can not only make a difference but single handedly save the City from the downward spiral that means a living death. Remember the days of begging criminals not to rob your car by declaring that there wasn't a radio inside? Remember the squeegees, the prostitutes up and down Times Sq. and 42nd. Street, the subways filled with graffiti, the inevitable burglaries, the masses of homeless people and beggers, having to avoid entire neighborhoods, parks etc. due to crime, remember the sense that the City was falling apart, and not only would never recover, but could never recover? Remember the sense of anarchy - the feeling that no one was in charge, and that decline was inevitable?

I remember all that, and I also remember the attacks on Guiliani, the truly vicious reporting by the so-called "tolerant" Democratic left, that included a book that attempted to tie Rudy's family to the mafia. Yes, in their desperation to do anything possible to detroy Guiliani the Democrats even stooped to the worst kind of steroetypes about his Italian heritage.

And, much later, when Guiliani was trying to run for President, where he could have used the same strategies that were employed to save the City, and likely we could have avoided the disasterous regime we have now, the New York media, including WNYC, even tried to claim that Guiliani's personal life revealed some kind of character flaw. This is the same media that at first refused to report about Bill Clinton and Monica et als, who never reported on Edwards until the National Enquirer of all places, made it impossible not to do so, the very same hypocrites who even now have never forgiven Guiliani for doing what no Democrat came close to doing, that is, being a competent - outstanding - mayor who alone saved the City.

Now this same media is eager to bring back the days of incompetent Democratic Mayors so we can resume the slide that the City was in under Dinkins. How could this be?

Of course, at least now we know what is possible, just how important good leadership is and how much of a difference it can make, and the New York media will never fogive Guiliani for that either. The New York media is incapable of getting beyond its stereotype of Guiliani as evil.

Naturally, the timing of this book on Dinkins is no surprise either, it's a cheap way to trying to bring out the African American vote by rewriting history. The way I see it, if, as seems likely, the voters decide to bring in just another incompetent ideologue who will quickly undue the work of the last twenty odd years then, well, they get what they deserve.

Because, once the City loses the financial industry all it will have left is tourism, the industry of the third world. Of course, if crime comes back, then the City will have nothing - not even tourism.

I remember the Dinkins era well. The NYPD was in check and disorder reigned. We all know the concept- crime has root causes, and cannot be diminished until these root causes(racism and inequality) are resolved. David Dinkins was one of those pols who personified this train of thought (Ruth Messinger was another). It was and is frightening when a chief executive such as a mayor of a major city subscribes to this failed, discredited policy. We now face the possibility of a reversal of the past 20 years of success and a return to the Dinkins/Messinger philosophy, and I fear for the worst.
I suppose it is necessary to note the published works of such persons as Dinkins , but there is a risk that in so doing one allows them a credibility or substance beyond their value . Dinkins is such a figure . David Dinkins is not a serious person . He was a hack and did not even rise to the level of Abe Beame , who at least was a real hack , one who spent a career cooking the books for NYC , only to have the pot blow up in his face . David Dinkins smiled as the city careened from the Happyland arson murders to the Rosenblum murder and stood there smiling . It is hard to know, even now , whether he was that stupid or that apathetic . I realize that given City Journal's mandate that this book must be noted , but as one who lived through his incompetence , I wish he would simply disappear