The ascendance of the inner-city predator
The inner-city predator has been a problem for decades, but never before has the predator received the affirmation of the criminal justice system.
The criminal justice system and the mainstream media have conditioned us to see the predators themselves as victims of social forces. They are people deprived of opportunity and incapable of making decent choices.
The predators are the true victim. The prey is simply collateral damage.
There is no such thing as individuals making choices because choices are functions of opportunities, and opportunities are limited by social forces.
Ask any sociologist, and you will hear a mantra of explanation absent individual volition, responsibility, or decision-making.
As sociologists, progressives, and liberals see it, the predators who come out of the inner city and smash and grab their way through suburban shopping malls for $500 to $1,000 are not thugs, but desperate young people. Their behavior shows not their thuggery, but their limited opportunities. Why else would they take such enormous risks for so little money?
And who is responsible for this? You are because you have not worked to change the social system. It is not the people doing the smashing and grabbing who are at fault, but the people who limited their opportunities.
And the legitimacy of this twisted ideology is underscored by having the police stand in place while the "teens" bash their way through suburbia.
Whether in New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles, progressive prosecutors siding with this ideology will not prosecute criminals for certain crimes.
In San Francisco, an elderly Asian man minding his own business gets kicked in the head by a young thug. The thug sees no incarceration time. Under the policy of prosecutor Chesa Boudin, he gets counseling. This is called "distributive justice." It, however, requires the assent of the victim, and in this case, the elderly victim speaks no English and never consented. No matter — Boudin's concern is for the thug, not the victim.
In Chicago, an elderly white man sleeping on the elevated train is beaten by more than a dozen black teens. Kim Foxx, Chicago's controversial state's attorney, refuses to prosecute the teens. Why? Because the victim suffered brain damage and cannot identify the assailants even though closed-circuit TV clearly shows the thugs beating the man. One wonders: if a dozen or more white teens had beaten up an elderly black man, would the decision have been the same?
Foxx has also refused to prosecute gang members shooting it out in broad daylight on city streets because being in a gang creates certain risks.
Newly appointed Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg said he would not prosecute such criminal offenses as resisting arrest and evading transportation fares. Armed robberies that did not result in injury would be treated as misdemeanor petty larceny, and not as a felony.
Ask yourself, what message is Bragg sending? If the cops arrest you, fight them off and run away because you won't be prosecuted. If you want to ride the subway, just jump the turnstile; it's no longer a crime. And if you rob a store at gunpoint, just make sure you don't shoot anyone. Take the loot and run. If you get caught, it is only petty larceny. You'll probably get a fine that will cost less than what the loot you took is worth.
When the legal system refuses to enforce the law, it invites more criminal behavior. The people who extol the so-called virtues of distributive justice know this.
Their concern is not for the law-abiding citizen, but for the criminal. The criminal is the product of the social system. The criminal is the true victim, in this mentality, and the rest of us need to stand ready to be collateral damage.
Perhaps, the progenitors of distributive justice need to be reminded that there is a long tradition of frontier vigilance in this country. When there was no law or when the law didn't function, community influentials formed committees of vigilance.
Maybe law-abiding citizens need not accept their fate as victims. Maybe police need not accept the threat to life and limb that comes from a person resisting arrest.
We need to resist this insanity as we need to resist any tyranny.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.