Law & the Courts

Don’t Let Them Turn Back the Clock on Law and Order

Rioters throw back tear-gas canisters fired by federal law-enforcement officers in Portland, Ore., July 29, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)
Crime is back. And across the country, a new breed of progressive prosecutor is restoring policies that will make the problem worse.

The most consequential societal achievement of the last generation was the suppression of crime, in particular violent crime. It ushered in an era of domestic tranquility and economic prosperity unknown in history.

Sadly, though, we must say that crime reduction was an unparalleled triumph because crime is back again. No, it is not at 1970s levels, not yet. But it is patently trending in the wrong direction. That is because nothing matters like ideas matter, and our society is choosing to turn a blind eye to the ideas — conservative ideas about ordered liberty, about rights and obligations in a free, pluralistic society — that, for a long time, seemed to have won the battle against lawlessness and its attendant social dysfunctions.

Alas, there are no final victories. There are principles that separate right from wrong, and if we don’t tend to the former, the latter will seize the day.

National Review Institute is here to embrace that struggle with wisdom, zeal, and good cheer — just as our founder, William F. Buckley Jr., would have it. That’s why I’m proud to ask you to support NRI.

The struggle for right to persevere has not been this urgent since those bad old high-crime days of the 1970s, when I was growing up in the Bronx. Back then, the radical Left was just rolling out a newfangled approach to justice and policing. It prioritized the interests of lawbreakers over the rights of the communities on which they preyed, to the point, notoriously, that the criminals were already back prowling the streets while the cops were still filling out paperwork about the last futile arrest. As a young federal prosecutor, I experienced those frustrating years up close, as well as the revolution in law-enforcement strategies that reversed them.

The difference between then and now is that, well, we have then. We have that experience, and we have learned what works — and what doesn’t. Yet, across the country, a new breed of progressive prosecutor is mulishly reinstalling the policies of a dystopian past that we know are certain, if not turned back, to turbo-charge crime.

We must always remember that it’s not enough to be right. We have to preach what’s right — write it, speak it, and teach the practical importance of living it, day in and day out.

That is what National Review Institute does. As the nonprofit journalistic think tank that supports the NR mission, its exclusive vocation is promotion of the conservative ideas and principles that undergird Edmund Burke’s ideal of ordered liberty — freedom coupled with personal responsibility, free markets that allow real community to thrive, gratitude for the legacy we’ve inherited and the duty to the future it instills.

To carry this mission forward, NRI does not merely amplify the journalism of National Review, as important as that is in countering the forces arrayed against ordered liberty. We incubate conservative ideas through such initiatives as Capital Matters and journalism fellowships (including my own). We carry conservative ideas and principles across the country in programs and course instruction.

This was a tough year for all of us, with the COVID lockdowns restricting our travel and our opportunities to come together in person. I remained fortunate, though, not only to enjoy the support of NRI — which means, your generous support — but to participate in NRI webinar programs that keep us connected. We were able to engage on the perils of rising crime, and the threat to civil and economic liberty posed by opportunistic statists under the guise of pandemic lockdowns.

The work does not stop. Ideas, even the right ideas, cannot flourish sitting on a shelf. They need to be articulated and defended every day. Otherwise, bad ideas fill the void.

Please help NRI promote right ideas by making a tax-deductible donation before June 30. NRI is wrapping up its fiscal year and could use your philanthropic support. It is essential to our work. And we are so grateful — and ever mindful that you make our mission possible.

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