Bad policy, poor policing led to Baltimore eruption

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

Excerpts from editorials and columns:

You’re not supposed to say this in polite company, but what went up in flames in Baltimore Monday night was not merely a senior center, small businesses and police cars. Burning down was also the blue-city model of urban governance.

Nothing excuses the violence of rampaging students or the failure of city officials to stop it before Maryland’s Governor called in the National Guard. But as order starts to return to the streets, and the usual political suspects lament the lack of economic prospects for the young men who rioted, let’s not forget who has run Baltimore and Maryland for nearly all of the last 40 years.

The men and women in charge have been Democrats, and their governing ideas are “progressive.” This model, with its reliance on government and public unions, has dominated urban America as once-vibrant cities such as Baltimore became shells of their former selves. In 1960 Baltimore was America’s sixth largest city with 940,000 people. It has since shed nearly a third of its population and today isn’t in the top 25.

The dysfunctions of the blue-city model are many, but the main failures are three: high crime, low economic growth and failing public schools that serve primarily as jobs programs for teachers and administrators rather than places of learning.

— Wall Street Journal

Smart, aggressive policing tamed New York, and the “peace dividend” … was earned by the leadership of Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg over 20 years and the brave men and women of the NYPD.

Those mayors and cops changed the culture of New York by recognizing that, just as nature abhors a vacuum, criminals and opportunists will take advantage when society drops its guard.

So the NYPD kept up its guard, making Gotham the safest big city in America.

Of course there were mistakes and tragedies that, in a perfect world, could have been avoided. But those are individual cases, and using a relative handful of incidents to smear all police is a dishonesty born of ideological zealotry. Besides, policing will not get better if pols and cops shrink from their duty to keep people safe from predator thugs.

What America is witnessing in Baltimore is what happens every day in neighborhoods that are under-policed. Violence spirals out of control and doesn’t stop until someone stops it.

— Michael Goodwin,

New York Post

If the Ferguson protesters were responding to a majority-black town being oppressively run by a white minority—which is the implicit argument of the Justice Department and the explicit argument of the liberal commentariat—what explains Baltimore?

Tensions between the police and low-income black communities stem from high crime rates in those areas. The sharp rise in violent crime in our inner cities, which dates to the 1970s and 1980s, happened to coincide with an increase in the number of black leaders in many of those very same cities. What can be said of Baltimore is also true of Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., where black mayors and police chiefs and aldermen and school superintendents have held sway for decades.

Might the bigger problem be racial disparities in antisocial behavior, not the composition of law-enforcement agencies?

— Jason L. Riley

Wall Street Journal

It is the columnist’s curse to entertain such thoughts about disparate events that seemingly share only coincidental timing — President Obama’s comedic speech at Saturday’s black-tie White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and the growing unrest in Baltimore 40 miles away.

Both reveal in their own way our increasing powerlessness to express what is real and true before the intimidating power of political correctness. We can’t call a fool a fool because we might need his vote. We remain mum in the face of horror or incompetence lest we offend someone and enter that particular digital hell where Internet mobs rule.

Comedians are fast becoming the only people who can lampoon the emperor or call out the idiot without tempting the guillotine.

— Kathleen Parker

Washington Post