Politics & Policy

To the People of Baltimore: Stop Making Things Worse

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

We condemn in the strongest terms the violence and looting that has been inflicted on the people of Baltimore. Whatever the zigzags of thought among those who perversely call themselves “liberals” while condoning the most illiberal of social mechanisms — freelance violence — there is no reasonable path leading from “I am angry at the police” to “I must rob this convenience store.” If anything, the so-called intellectuals who countenance that preposterous moral illiteracy are in the long term a greater threat to the people of Baltimore — and every other American city — than are the thugs of the “loot crew.”

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The people of Baltimore have every right to be disappointed in their municipal institutions — the condition of the city would be shocking if it had not been in a state of decline and disorder for decades now. But the people of Baltimore have the vote, freedom of speech, and right to petition their government for redress of grievances; that the people of Baltimore have failed to make use of the democratic remedies available to them is evidence of the inefficacy of the political culture of Baltimore, not of the democratic remedies.

That being said, there is evidence to suggest that something untoward — negligence at least, possibly worse — happened to Freddie Gray while in police custody, and there is reason to doubt the forthrightness and competence of the police department and of the city government under Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Baltimore is a badly governed city; like a great many other Democrat-dominated cities, it is a victim of serial and catastrophic institutional failure. That these cascades of dysfunction afflict cities under purportedly progressive governance is not coincidental — a swollen public sector tends toward arrogance, and an arrogant public sector tends toward abuse.

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#related#But neither the Baltimore police department nor the mayor’s office is — or ever was to be — the final word in the matter. If there was a lesson to be taken from the mess in Ferguson, Mo., it is that prudence dictates waiting until the investigation is concluded and the evidence is available. The Ferguson dispute was shaped by an outright lie — “hands up, don’t shoot” — and the situation in Baltimore is at present much richer with impression than with fact.

The restive people of Baltimore are right to be angry about the condition of their city, though few seem to truly understand the sources of its dysfunction. There are remedies to be had, and the first step is: For God’s sake, stop making it worse.

SLIDESHOW: Baltimore Riots

 

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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