Let me commend to you a brilliant essay by Myron Magnet, writing in City Journal — here. He says everything that needs to be said. And he says it with unsurpassed expertise, experience, and power.
What is a New York mayor’s job? he asks. To ensure (to the extent possible) freedom from fear. That is the whole enchilada: freedom from fear. Everything else is trivial, by comparison.
If you’re looking for gurus on New York, look to Myron Magnet and Heather Mac Donald. They know everything. If New York were run according to their lights, it would be an earthly paradise. Under Rudy and Bloomy, it has been pretty damn good . . .
Lately, Democrats have been screaming at Bloomberg for a policing technique known as “stop and frisk.” They are screaming that the technique is racist. Like Giuliani before him, Bloomy is simply taking the abuse. And talking back to it. A Democratic congressman complained, “The mayor has shown no willingness to rein in the NYPD.”
The words “rein in the NYPD” should send a chill down the spine of everyone who lives in New York. There was a time, not very long ago, when the NYPD was good and reined in. And criminals ruled.
It appears that New Yorkers will elect, as our next mayor, the Democratic nominee, Bill de Blasio. He is a true-believing leftist. A supporter of the Communists in Latin America. The whole nine yards.
One reason they will elect him, I think, is that they have no memory of the bad old days. And they have no idea what it took to turn New York into the delight it is today — the delight it has been for 20 years or so.
As Myron says, New York is “always a city of newcomers.” How many voters moved here during the Rudy-Bloomy golden age? Lots, no doubt. They probably think the state of harmony is normal.
Other New Yorkers know better. And some people think that New Yorkers at large will never go back — will never again “tolerate the intolerable,” to use Norman Podhoretz’s phrase. They have seen the lights of Paree: a safe, livable, lovable New York. And they won’t go back to the farm.
I don’t believe it. People can be convinced to tolerate the intolerable. Convinced they have to. After all, it happened before.
And everything Giuliani and Bloomberg have done is reversible. None of their gains is permanent. The barbarians are always at the gate. They are never vanquished, permanently. They may be kept at bay for a while — but they wait to be allowed back in.
What can reverse our reign of peace? A mayor who submits to racial bullying. A government that is complacent, inattentive — that lets New York’s guard down. “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”
There was once a common sign in New York. People put it in their cars, when they left them on the street: “No Radio.” It was a sign of helplessness and hopelessness. As Commissioner Kelly remarked, it said, Don’t break into my car. The one behind me, maybe, or the one in front of me. But not mine, pretty please.
How pathetic. And how utterly accepted it was. I have never seen, personally, a “No Radio” sign. Ever. I moved here in 1998, remember — well into the Giuliani renaissance. Will that sign come back? (I don’t know if cars have radios anymore — as they did pre-Giuliani. But they must have something.)
As I said at the end of my magazine piece, the least important thing about New York is my relation to it. My enjoyment in living here. New York does not exist for my personal amusement. There are 8 million people in the city, all with their own fish to fry.
But everyone has an interest in freedom from fear. And it has been so lovely to live here.
One more thing: I imagine that, if things turn horrible and desperate again, people will turn, once more, to a Rudy — eventually. But it should not have to take that. You could have harmony (relative harmony) all the time, if you wanted to. In a democracy, the people really do rule.