The Corner

Film & TV

‘What if Seattle Is Dying, and We Don’t Even Know It?’

Skyline of Seattle, Wash., in 2017. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Last month, KOMO-TV broadcast reporter Eric Johnson ran an hour-long segment, Seattle Is Dying, and if you’ve heard tell that the Emerald City — along with San Francisco — seems to be deteriorating, you’ve heard tell right.

I’ve had the increasing displeasure of visiting these places frequently over the last few years. With each visit, the intensifying Mad Max vibe gets madder, the streets dirtier (really, filthier), and that fear — not felt since the early ’70s riding the 4 Train through the South Bronx — of becoming a crime statistic has come out of its long hibernation.

Watch the KOMO documentary and you’ll think twice about paying a visit.

Early in the documentary, Johnson’s reporting shows that the one urban social policy of any kind of the last generation that seemed to have real consequence — “broken windows” policing — is nowhere to be found in Seattle. It isn’t addressed or condemned, but it seems like it has been declared anathema. Figures bear this out. Per the FBI’s 2017 statistics, New York City today has a property-crime rate of 1,448 per 100,000 citizens while Seattle’s is 5,258 per 100,000 people — that’s 363 percent higher. The only major city with a worse record is, of course, San Francisco (6,168 property crimes per 100,000 residents) That makes Chicago look like Hooterville.

The political hacks who have let this beautiful city plunge into anarchy finger homelessness as the core the problem, but as Johnson’s reporting makes clear, it is rampant and untreated and unprosecuted drug use — which sets off the chain reaction of widespread crime and intense degradation of public places (upset yourself and check out the Facebook page Seattle Looks Like Sh**) — that is the core of Seattle’s decline.

Rush Limbaugh went to town on the town last week, focusing on how the media has played a role in enabling the decline, and on the local elites’ response (vilification) to Johnson’s documentary. He dubbed the segment “Seattle Is What Happens When Liberals Run Things.” From his remarks:

Rather than address the problem, liberals in the city are literally creating a process to discredit the reporting in that documentary and not fix the problem. “According to leaked documents, the City of Seattle and its allies have retained a crisis-communications firm to discredit,” the reporter, Eric Johnson, and insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that “Seattle is making progress to end homelessness, and proven solutions are working.”

It’s like Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. “It’s quite a strategy: Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan is using taxpayer resources to attack a respected local journalist and convince taxpayers that they shouldn’t trust their own experience,” with homelessness and addiction and piles of human feces on the streets.

“After dictating homelessness policy for a generation,” like 25 years, “the activist class is losing the narrative—and this accounts for its increasingly desperate counterattacks. As their support among voters erodes and principled journalists,” like this one guy, Eric Johnson, “break the silence about homelessness, they fall back on branding their concerned neighbors ‘bigots,’ ‘fascists,’ and ‘white supremacists.’”

So in Seattle, the activist class is referring to left-wing uber-leftist citizens, ’cause that’s who lives there, who dare to mention the homeless and addiction problem, they are being called bigots, fascists, and white supremacists.

Look. What’s the point? What happens next is people are gonna start leaving Seattle. It may not be imminent, but with crime and homelessness worse than Los Angeles and New York, the only thing keeping people there is the climate. Well, and their careers. But once people start leaving, the point is they take the exact stuff with them that elected people that run the place now, and transfer it to wherever they move to and corrupt that place wherever it happens to be.

What’s needed? Enforcement and intervention, says Johnson towards the end of “Seattle Is Dying.” Good luck with the city’s current crop of civic leaders, elected and elite, buying into that. In fact, they have organized a #SeattleForAll “counternarrative” (on Twitter, one of the rebuttal’s most active participants is Gates Foundation official David Bley) that doubles down on the total failure of casting the city’s problem as one of homelessness. They care! And they even have a signed Open Letter to Our Community to prove it.

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