Friday, December 12, 2014

On Monday, two dozen NY City Council members went into the street in front of City Hall and blocked traffic. Mob rule settles in-Henninger, Wall St. Journal

12/10/14, "Mobs of New York," Daniel Henninger, Wall St. Journal

"How did we get to the point in the United States where street protesters are treated as sainted figures, no matter what they do? 

How did it happen that important public leaders—the American president, the mayor of New York, college presidentsfeel obliged to legitimize these protests, no matter what they do to a city, its citizens or owners of private property? Why is it that the leaders of America’s most important institutions are no longer capable of recognizing a mob when they see one?

On Wednesday last week, the day of the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case on Staten Island, hundreds of people marched through New York City’s main streets and highways, blocked bridges, invaded the crowds of parents and kids gathered for the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and spread themselves on the floor as “die-ins” amid commuters in Grand Central Terminal.

Despite the massive inconvenience, many New Yorkers, who like to think they live in a tolerant city, more or less accepted this venting. Message sent and absorbed. Whatever political course the controversial Garner case would take next, it was time for everyone to resume their lives on Thursday. 

But no. One sensed where this was headed on seeing photos in the morning papers of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, stoically accepting that his face and suit were covered with red paint—“blood” tossed by a professional anarchist. The protesters decided that immobilizing city streets wasn’t enough to make their point. 

They marched into the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. They did it at the huge, crowded Macy’s on Herald Square. They entered an HandM store and blocked the escalators. Inside a Forever 21 store in Times Square, they surrounded a display taxi cab and covered it with a sign: “The system is guilty. Burn it down.” 

H and M, Dec. 7
Where is it written that a city has to put up with this?

It got worse.

In Berkeley, Calif., a mob protesting the grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases broke the window of a Trader Joe ’s supermarket. They wrecked a RadioShack store and smashed ATM machines. 

That still wasn’t enough. 

This Monday, some two dozen New York City Council members went into the street in front of city hall and disrupted traffic. For the people gridlocked in their cars, taxis and delivery trucks, Councilman Andy King explained: “We have a responsibility to wake you up, and the only way people get woken up is if you disrupt their everyday normalcy.” 

That evening, President Obama in an interview gave his approval. Calling violence “counterproductive,” the president nonetheless said, “Power concedes nothing without a fight, that’s true, but it’s also true that a country’s conscience has to be triggered by some inconvenience.” This, he said, was “the value of peaceful protests, activism.” 

Let me rephrase that: The president of the United States is holding the door open for politics by mob rule, the invasion of private property and economic damage to store owners.

Police Commissioner Bratton said he was giving the protesters “breathing room.” New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio , said the effect of the demonstrations was “minimal.” 

What an irony. At the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, two groups—the Yippies (formally, the Youth International Party) and the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam did the same thing. New York’s theatrical protest groups are the progeny of the Yippies and the Mobilization. But now, they are the Democrats’ base.

A city is a fragile exercise in normal daily life. The idea that we are all complicit if we don’t metaphorically “burn down” this normalcy for some cause is false. 

The need to protect civilized urban life from the poison of disorder is the reason George Kelling and the late James Q. Wilson formulated the “broken windows” theory of policing. Some, notably Al Sharpton , are now arguing that “broken windows” is a mistake, that we should absorb minor disorders and police only major violations. 

But disordered city life has already caused one of the greatest social upheavals of our time. The charter-schools and voucher movements exist largely because minority parents in rough neighborhoods wanted to get their children out of chaotic, dangerous public schools, where daily disorder made learning too difficult. That has been a productive protest. 

President Obama created a task force on policing techniques. Good. Maybe we will learn something. But perhaps this task force should extend its writ and have a real “dialogue” with the residents of these neighborhoods about the quality of their daily lives beyond the police. Where is an objective social documentarian when you need one?

If we have learned anything in the past century, it is that when politically approved mobs start invading shopkeepers and smashing their windows in the name of politics, it is a sign that a society is veering off the rails."

Image: "Protesters block an escalator in a New York City HandM store, Dec. 7. Reuters


Comment: How did we get to this point? In part, Mr. Henninger, because of people like your billionaire boss whose first order of business is that we the people shut up. Thus ends discussion of law, order, illegal immigration, scabies, and civil society. When people can't think of anything but their own safety they won't be checking up on politicians and their billionaire pals selling out the country.

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