City Journal Winter 2016

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Winter 2016
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By Myron Magnet

The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817

Edited with an Introduction by Myron Magnet

Modern Sex: Liberation and Its Discontents.

Eye on the News

Myron Magnet
London’s Crime Wave
. . . and why it’s surging.
February 20, 2002

London’s astonishing 40 percent jump in street crime comes upon what was already, by anyone’s standards, a crime wave. For over two years, the overall serious crime rate—excluding murder—in the one-time capital of the Rule of Law has outstripped Gotham’s crime rate in the most anarchic years of the Dinkins administration, when New Yorkers believed their city to be out of control and were fleeing by the thousands.

So shocking a deterioration of an already bad situation is a pretty clear sign that whatever London has been doing to address its crime problem is exactly the wrong medicine. Guided, as Theodore Dalrymple points out above, by its perennially befuddled chattering classes, the British government, which runs the London police force, has gotten the proper relation between race and crime completely backward. In a city now filled with racial minorities, the London police have taken racial sensitivity, and fighting racism, as their Number One priority. Does this mean making sure, as in New York, that minority neighborhoods are as well policed as any other neighborhood, so that law-abiding, tax-paying blacks, Indians, and Pakistanis can enjoy the safety that is the principal boon civilized governments were created to provide? Far from it. The authentic minority person, in the PC-dazed mind of the British government, seems to be the criminal, who has responded appropriately to his supposedly oppressive and racist British environment by manly misbehavior. And it would be a further oppression were the police to hold minorities to a single, universal standard of behavior, along with everyone else: do they not have their own different but equally valid customs? If these include using and selling drugs . . .well . . . .

In this climate, the most career-stopping thing a cop can do is bring down a charge of racism upon his head. Little wonder that London’s undermanned Metropolitan Police Force, completely demoralized, simply looks the other way at virtually any minority crime (which constitutes a disproportionate share of street crime) short of murder. And now, the crime that has festered out of control in poor and minority neighborhoods is cascading into the rest of the city.

Much better the New York idea: find out where crime and disorder is happening and stop it, regardless of the race of the criminal or the neighborhood he marauds. But of course it took crime of city-killing proportions to bring about the change in government that brought Gotham its new-model policing—and that may be what London will have to undergo, as well.

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