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Washington DC is a failed city Congress should exercise its powers and take over


July 15, 2023   8 mins

If you had to pick the exact day when the young, affluent, and oblivious of Washington DC were forced to accept that they live in a failed city, 22 July 2021 would be as good a choice as any. That was the day when swell DC brunchers scurried out the doors of the fashionable French restaurant Le Diplomate near DuPont Circle as gunshots rang out in the streets. The incident was symbolic proof of something many Washington residents had long known but feared to articulate in public: that no matter who they were, where they were, or what time of day, they were no longer safe in their home city.

It is easy for those watching DC’s gratuitous street violence from a safe distance to kibitz that the city’s residents have voted for this. They elected leaders whose policies have led to high crime, short-staffed police, bad schools, and a housing crisis. But such smug dismissal misses a larger problem.

DC is home to nearly 700,000 residents who, since Congress passed the District of Columbia Home Rule Act in 1973, have elected their city council, mayor and public officials in the way Americans do across our nation. But DC is also the seat of our federal system. Since its founding in 1790, the same year as the ratification of the US Constitution, its main purpose has not been residential or commercial, but governmental. It is home to our President and most of the executive agencies, our congressional representatives, and our Supreme Court. Its city government — unlike that of any other state or city — serves at the pleasure of Congress.

DC’s residents, while vital stakeholders in their city government, aren’t its only stakeholders. The widely-reported urban decay in, say, San Francisco, reflects only on San Franciscans. But mismanagement of Washington DC reflects on all Americans. A federal government seeking to project power and moral authority worldwide cannot headquarter itself in a failed city. The fact that our government is currently based in a city where, by the admission of its own City Council Chair, “you can get away with murder”, is not only embarrassing, but threatens our national security. It’s time for Congress to do something about it.

Let’s start with the raw data. As of July 2023, Washington’s homicide rate was the sixth highest of any US city, and the highest rate in a city of its population or greater. DC logged 203 homicides in 2022, and that number is on tack to grow by 20% in 2023. Violent crime more broadly is up 30% this year. A resident’s probability of being the victim of a violent crime in a given year is around 1 in 75, and if property crime is included, that rises to 1 in 17 — among the highest in the nation. There is a stereotype outside of Washington (and even among some in it) that crime in the District is confined to certain “bad neighbourhoods” — particularly the city’s South-East. The implication being that the wealthier residents of the leafy North-West and increasingly fashionable North-East are insulated from it all. This contention, apart from its callous dismissal of much of the city’s population, is flat-out wrong.

Neighbourhood Scout identifies the campus of Catholic University of America, just north of Union Station, as the safest neighbourhood in the city. But just last week, a 25-year-old Kentuckian teacher visiting for a conference was shot and killed there. The same day, Alison Cienfuegos, a 21-year-old college student who wanted to become an anaesthesiologist, was murdered in South-East DC. The day before that, Nasrat Ahmad Yar, a former interpreter for the US Army in Afghanistan who then worked as a Lyft driver, was murdered by a group of passengers in North-East. In May, a 12-year-old girl in South-East was hit in the leg by a stray bullet from a shootout outside as she lay in bed. In February, a man shot several random passengers on a city bus and slaughtered a Metro transit worker near the city’s popular Eastern Market neighbourhood. And last month, we marked one-year since the mass shooting of four people at a Juneteenth party in Northwest.

This crimewave extends beyond gun violence. Since early 2023, North-West DC has increasingly fallen victim to organised shoplifting; nowadays it’s hard to find a tube of toothpaste for sale that isn’t under lock and key. On 30 April, two CVS Pharmacies in North-West were targeted within half hour of each other by the same group of five suspects, who stuffed large trash bags with goods before fleeing in a stolen car. And stolen cars themselves are increasingly easy to come by. In 2022, there were 485 carjackings in DC, up from only 140 four years earlier — an increase The Washington Post described as leaving authorities “baffled”.

And then there are the unclassifiable crimes of civil disorder, chaos and squalor. Three North-East businesses were targeted with explosives last week. There have been eight documented arson attacks in the past six months. And there are the mobs of illegal ATV and dirt bike riders roaring down DC’s main arteries while endangering and verbally abusing pedestrians, who cannot be apprehended due to the city’s “no chase” police laws. Washington also has the biggest per-capita homelessness problem on the East Coast (over 1% of its population), and the third-highest opioid drug mortality rate in the nation. I could go on.

It is unfair, of course, to blame crime and disorder solely on city government. But it is more than fair to expect a crisis of such magnitude to be met with a vigorous, unified and effective government response (particularly since these problems, while currently on the upswing, are far from new). The District’s response has been none of those things.

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is currently understaffed by almost 20% (around 800 officers) and is nearing the lowest number of active officers in its history. According to Police Chief Robert Contee, it is DC’s policy climate that has made the city such an unattractive place to be an officer. Unlike in almost any other city, Contee explains, MPD officers must be able to prove a reasonable belief that no one will be injured as a result of a vehicle pursuit before initiating it — an impossible demand. Other laws, such as a prohibition on officers reviewing their own bodycam footage before writing an incident report, and the removal of time limits on internal conduct investigations — have made it more difficult for officers to defend themselves when accused of misconduct. With a hollowed-out MPD, Contee predicts that the department will be unable to reach necessary staffing levels for “at least a decade”.

But DC’s maladministration of criminal justice does not end with the police. Its mismanagement of corrections bears equal responsibility. A 2022 city report found that out of all homicides committed in the District in 2019 and 2020, 46% were committed by people who had been previously incarcerated, with an additional 29% by people who had spent time on probation or parole. The report also found that a mere 500 individuals already known to the criminal justice system (0.1% of the city’s population) perpetrate 70% of the city’s gun violence.

How did the City Council react to this sobering data? Infamously, they responded by passing a crime bill earlier this year (despite Mayor Muriel Bowser’s opposition), seeking to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and reduce maximum sentences for violent crimes such as robbery and carjacking. In response, the US Senate was forced to exercise its right to veto the Council’s bill.

Interestingly, these self-sabotaging crime policies have been enacted by a City Council that pledges its utmost dedication to the cause of racial equity. It created an equity office in 2020 whose homepage reads: “Everything is a matter of racial equity.” But from the Council’s behaviour, it would seem that “everything” does not include crime. For while the pettier subcategories of DC’s crimewave have become increasingly equitable in their impact over recent years, gun crime has not. In a city with a 45% black population, 95% of the victims of gun violence in DC are black. And somehow, the Council’s instinct is to ask: what about the criminals?

Public safety is the most basic mission of a municipal government, but it is far from the only one. Unfortunately, DC’s performance in other important areas is little better. Its public education system is one of the worst in the nation, with the city’s students scoring in the bottom five of American states and territories in both reading and mathematics. This has not budged in decades. Considering DC’s high poverty rate and the fact that it is one city being compared with entire states, it might be unreasonable to expect these test results to exceed the national average. But nor should residents expect or tolerate zero progress over three decades.

And then there is the housing crisis. DC has a huge home affordability problem and a high homelessness rate, with 20,000 low-income city residents on a waiting list for low-rent or zero-rent public housing from the city Housing Authority (DCHA). And yet, 25% of the DCHA’s 8,000 units lie unoccupied at any given time, and they remain so for an average of two years before the DCHA gets around to renting them to a new tenant (nationally, the average public housing vacancy rate is 5%). According to The Washington Post, vacant housing units not only attract crime, but cost the city $10 million in rent and federal aid per year.

Reading this, one might wonder whether DC is cash-strapped. Far from it. DC’s effective individual tax rate is 12%: the 11th-highest combined state and local tax rate in America. And its tax base is large. Over the past two decades, the city has experienced a huge wave of wealthy immigration for lucrative government, contractor, consulting and lobbying jobs, resulting in a much-bemoaned wave of neighbourhood gentrification. Add to this a healthy 27% of city revenue supported by federal aid (on the high end for combined federal and state aid in other US cities), and DC frequently runs a budget surplus. But what does that federal largesse buy residents? Far less than they would get living somewhere else, which is why Wallethub awarded DC first place in its “worst-run cities in America” in 2022.

Admittedly DC had stiff competition from such formidable foes as New York, Cleveland, and San Francisco, all of which consistently struggle with their own crime, liveability and maladministration problems. But Washington DC, unlike those other cities, is the capital city of a world superpower. By virtue of this, it ought to provide a positive model of how government can serve its citizens, not a negative one. It should provide safe streets for visitors and residents alike, and a police force sufficiently staffed and trained to keep the peace. It should provide public schools to which a struggling single mother and a visiting diplomat alike would be proud to send their children.

And then there are the national security implications of DC’s disorder. In the event of war or national disaster, the federal government must be able to secure the city of Washington and lock it down for the protection of our government officials. Considering this need, the fact that the streets only a mile away from the Capitol Building and White House are essentially uncontrollable, even during peacetime, is unacceptable.

There is, though, a potentially swift solution. Under the 1973 Home Rule law, the Senate has the power to review and veto laws of the DC City Council (as it did with the Crime Bill). But it also has the right under the Constitution to take bigger steps, such as abolishing or suspending Home Rule itself. Article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the right to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” over the federal district — a provision that, according to Georgetown University constitutional law professor Louis Michael Seidman, clearly means that “Congress could abolish the city government and establish whatever governmental system it chose, including direct rule by Congress”. (Indeed, this was how DC was governed before Home Rule.)

Today, Congress should strongly consider exercising that right once again. It should place Washington DC under a temporary federal conservatorship. This would mean suspending the City Council and Mayor and replacing them with federally-appointed city managers, perhaps drawn from more successful municipal governments around the US, until standards for public safety, administration, and education rise to an acceptable level.

Washington DC’s struggles are not unique among American cities. But the solution I propose here is necessarily specific to DC. It would be fundamentally undemocratic and un-American, not to mention unconstitutional, for the federal or state governments to go around disbanding or suspending municipal governments simply for giving their people what they have voted for. But our federal district, as our founders knew, is not a normal city. It represents all of us, which is why the Constitution gives Congress the final say over its affairs.

DC’s officials seem to have forgotten this. Indeed, any effort Congress makes to exercise supervision over the District’s affairs typically elicits hysterical reactions from those city officials whose incompetence has necessitated those interventions. When Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde brought up the possibility of direct federal supervision during a Congressional debate over the idea of DC statehood last year, DC Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton accused him of seeking to turn the city into a “colony”. What Holmes Norton forgets is that, unlike any other city on the American continent, this one belongs to us all, just like the federal government that inhabits it.

Perhaps reading the writing on the wall, Mayor Bowser and Brooke Pinto of the City Council just this week passed an emergency crime bill that would make it easier to track and detain violent criminals. While I applaud the effort, it is too little too late. We have now seen enough to know that the current city government of DC is not capable of providing our nation the safe, orderly and dignified capital it deserves. Perhaps another democratically elected government a decade or two down the line will be — a conservatorship need not be permanent. But right now, Washington DC requires major emergency surgery, not a mere change in diet. Congress — while an imperfect surgeon — is the only one available.


John Masko is a journalist based in Boston, specialising in business and international politics.


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J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

If the Dems are in power they’ll appoint the same type of people who run Democrat-controlled cities with the same result. Even if the Republicans are elected, the federal bureaucracy is now solidly left-wing and if they’re in any way involved in the supervision of DC municipal government they will frustrate a Republican Congress’s efforts at every turn.
Face the uncomfortable truth: the federal bureaucracy is fully captured by the left and will, overtly or covertly, impose a leftist agenda on everything they touch. It’s a generational challenge to eradicate the politicization of the supposedly impartial federal government.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Mission accomplished on the Supreme Court. That is, a near-eradication of politicization that you wouldn’t agree with,

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think people might be reading you wrong. Flesh out what you mean.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I am not permitted to comment at length right now, under the editorial and/or algorithmic structure.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I am not permitted to comment at length right now, under the editorial and/or algorithmic structure.

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think people might be reading you wrong. Flesh out what you mean.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

All true. I’m still left wondering why the residents of the poor, mostly black, neighborhoods keep electing the crazy supervisors who make it impossible to control the criminals and who side with teachers over their children. Is it just ignorance? Or do too many have criminal/teacher relatives?
Insanity is supposedly doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I understand wealthy white NW DC liberals who are full of guilt voting for extreme leftist supervisors (like SF), but I simply can’t understand why DC blacks who experience the results of bad policy don’t reject the status quo on schools and crime. Is there mass insanity in urban black communities?

Last edited 10 months ago by Michael Coleman
Vernon Stradling
Vernon Stradling
10 months ago

I suspect they don’t vote, Michael.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
10 months ago

Michael, I’m totally amazed you can seriously ask this. Do you actually imagine that poor DC residents have insights into the information in this article? Where do they get their information? The media. Schools. Who owns the media and schools? Leftist elites. You don’t actually think that inner city residents are informed, do you? They are enslaved by lies. Who will speak to them? I’ll tell you. Very few. Star Parker and CURE, for one. Candice Owens. That’s about it.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

LOL
funny as if rightness are informed? Guns deter gun crime? False. Vaccines dont work? There is rampant election fraud? Yes , by Republicans. D states are better than R states. Flat out lie. You guys are hilarious.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

LOL
funny as if rightness are informed? Guns deter gun crime? False. Vaccines dont work? There is rampant election fraud? Yes , by Republicans. D states are better than R states. Flat out lie. You guys are hilarious.

Vernon Stradling
Vernon Stradling
10 months ago

I suspect they don’t vote, Michael.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
10 months ago

Michael, I’m totally amazed you can seriously ask this. Do you actually imagine that poor DC residents have insights into the information in this article? Where do they get their information? The media. Schools. Who owns the media and schools? Leftist elites. You don’t actually think that inner city residents are informed, do you? They are enslaved by lies. Who will speak to them? I’ll tell you. Very few. Star Parker and CURE, for one. Candice Owens. That’s about it.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Did you mean biased like SCOTUS?

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The author does not even live in DC but at his young age is an expert and preposterously proposes Federal take over of the city .
Plus no mention of the riots at the capitol ?

Last edited 10 months ago by Mark M Breza
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Then why is it D states fair so much better than R states? 9 out 10 poorest states are R states. 8 out 10 highest violent crime states are R states. Same pattern with Healthcare, education.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Well DC isn’t a state.
And Illinois? New York? Maryland? Sources please

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

https://www.moneygeek.com/living/states-most-reliant-federal-government/
There are others on GDP, etc.
Also after searching through a number of sites with varying stats on red-blue murder rates. None felt quite representative, which years they chose, which cities etc. Some favored blue. Some red but marginally. Most were a muddle.
Then I found this. It focuses on per state and follows for a longer period of time. More importantly, it also hampers blue states in one methodology by taking out cities for red only.
https://www.thirdway.org/report/the-two-decade-red-state-murder-problem
And still red states have more murder. Blue cities spend more on the police as a rule but also on social services, (and I presume education) so that might be the answer.
Congress totally screwed over DC’s education system and then came in and in order to fix it insisted on charter schools which is another way of defunding them for everyone else.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

You right. But it should be. R states suck compared to D states. Furthermore, cities budget, priorities etc are set at the state level.

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

https://www.moneygeek.com/living/states-most-reliant-federal-government/
There are others on GDP, etc.
Also after searching through a number of sites with varying stats on red-blue murder rates. None felt quite representative, which years they chose, which cities etc. Some favored blue. Some red but marginally. Most were a muddle.
Then I found this. It focuses on per state and follows for a longer period of time. More importantly, it also hampers blue states in one methodology by taking out cities for red only.
https://www.thirdway.org/report/the-two-decade-red-state-murder-problem
And still red states have more murder. Blue cities spend more on the police as a rule but also on social services, (and I presume education) so that might be the answer.
Congress totally screwed over DC’s education system and then came in and in order to fix it insisted on charter schools which is another way of defunding them for everyone else.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

You right. But it should be. R states suck compared to D states. Furthermore, cities budget, priorities etc are set at the state level.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Well DC isn’t a state.
And Illinois? New York? Maryland? Sources please

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The problem with DC is congress actually. Congress not DC controls the pursestrings and congress controls the budgets. DC can submit the budget but it must be approved by congress and they must set the budget up to 4 years out. They are completely stymied by congress–so if they want to, let’s say legalize cannabis, they can’t unless it gets through congress (which now requires a supermajority). They are also responsible for some of what states are required to do, and unlike states are again hampered by Congress approval.
Their schools were traditionally underfunded because DC lawmakers did not send their kids to public schools. It goes on. The worst thing that could happen to DC is a federal takeover.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Make their pay linked to their performance.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Mission accomplished on the Supreme Court. That is, a near-eradication of politicization that you wouldn’t agree with,

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

All true. I’m still left wondering why the residents of the poor, mostly black, neighborhoods keep electing the crazy supervisors who make it impossible to control the criminals and who side with teachers over their children. Is it just ignorance? Or do too many have criminal/teacher relatives?
Insanity is supposedly doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I understand wealthy white NW DC liberals who are full of guilt voting for extreme leftist supervisors (like SF), but I simply can’t understand why DC blacks who experience the results of bad policy don’t reject the status quo on schools and crime. Is there mass insanity in urban black communities?

Last edited 10 months ago by Michael Coleman
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Did you mean biased like SCOTUS?

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The author does not even live in DC but at his young age is an expert and preposterously proposes Federal take over of the city .
Plus no mention of the riots at the capitol ?

Last edited 10 months ago by Mark M Breza
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Then why is it D states fair so much better than R states? 9 out 10 poorest states are R states. 8 out 10 highest violent crime states are R states. Same pattern with Healthcare, education.

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The problem with DC is congress actually. Congress not DC controls the pursestrings and congress controls the budgets. DC can submit the budget but it must be approved by congress and they must set the budget up to 4 years out. They are completely stymied by congress–so if they want to, let’s say legalize cannabis, they can’t unless it gets through congress (which now requires a supermajority). They are also responsible for some of what states are required to do, and unlike states are again hampered by Congress approval.
Their schools were traditionally underfunded because DC lawmakers did not send their kids to public schools. It goes on. The worst thing that could happen to DC is a federal takeover.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Make their pay linked to their performance.

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

If the Dems are in power they’ll appoint the same type of people who run Democrat-controlled cities with the same result. Even if the Republicans are elected, the federal bureaucracy is now solidly left-wing and if they’re in any way involved in the supervision of DC municipal government they will frustrate a Republican Congress’s efforts at every turn.
Face the uncomfortable truth: the federal bureaucracy is fully captured by the left and will, overtly or covertly, impose a leftist agenda on everything they touch. It’s a generational challenge to eradicate the politicization of the supposedly impartial federal government.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
10 months ago

I was intrigued at the author’s assertion that saying that the people get what they voted for was ‘smug dismissal’, but it never came.
DC has been run by Democrats since the passing of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act in 1973. Every mayor has been a Democrat, the 8 wards have always voted in a Democrat. The elected mayors have ranged from of out and out crooks (Marion Barry) to general incompetents.
DC’s problems, like those of other Democrat run cities, are the result of the voters repeatedly voting in Democat governance despite its record of abject failure. When voters in Chicago finally booted out the useless,”progressive’ and ridiculous mayor, Lori Lightfoot, they instead voted in Brandon Johnson who, astoundigly, is even worse than Lightfoot.
DC’s voters are predominantly black and Leftist ‘progressives, many of whom are bureacrats and other government workers. These people repeatedly vote Democrat because they are either too stupid, too politically tribal or gain financially The only way these people are going to stop voting Democrat is by making them face the consequences of their choices.

Last edited 10 months ago by Marcus Leach
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

The same pattern exists in UK cities where for generations the populations have voted Labour and wonder why things don’t change. it is third world politics with every new administration focusing as a priority on getting their nose in the trough and seeking out opportunities for corruption

Tony Price
Tony Price
10 months ago

Isn’t it almost all Tory run councils which have sunk into astonishing levels of literal bankruptcy?

Alan Elgey
Alan Elgey
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Bit of a mix really; Croydon? Slough?

Alan Elgey
Alan Elgey
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Bit of a mix really; Croydon? Slough?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago

Aren’t most politians self-serving regardless of affiliation?

Last edited 10 months ago by Clare Knight
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago

It is a rather ridiculous comparison, as usual made by people who can see almost no differences between the US and the UK; both extreme Right and Left insisting there are not.

For one thing, here we can often rely on the supposedly right of centre Conservatives to be cutting police budgets. There is simply no meaningful comparison between Washington DC and any British city, one of which, London, I live in.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

That was rather a ridiculous comment. Look at the history of places such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Sunderland, Stoke-on-Trent that have elected Labour councils for generations

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

That was rather a ridiculous comment. Look at the history of places such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Sunderland, Stoke-on-Trent that have elected Labour councils for generations

Tony Price
Tony Price
10 months ago

Isn’t it almost all Tory run councils which have sunk into astonishing levels of literal bankruptcy?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago

Aren’t most politians self-serving regardless of affiliation?

Last edited 10 months ago by Clare Knight
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago

It is a rather ridiculous comparison, as usual made by people who can see almost no differences between the US and the UK; both extreme Right and Left insisting there are not.

For one thing, here we can often rely on the supposedly right of centre Conservatives to be cutting police budgets. There is simply no meaningful comparison between Washington DC and any British city, one of which, London, I live in.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Rubbish.

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Clare- You can’t run a functioning government with a primarily socialist perspective. You might need 5% socialists to check the rest but you get past that threshold it’s just weaponized government failure.

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Clare- You can’t run a functioning government with a primarily socialist perspective. You might need 5% socialists to check the rest but you get past that threshold it’s just weaponized government failure.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Sure put the blacks in DC under Federal control.
Sounds like a nice white solution.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

The same pattern exists in UK cities where for generations the populations have voted Labour and wonder why things don’t change. it is third world politics with every new administration focusing as a priority on getting their nose in the trough and seeking out opportunities for corruption

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Rubbish.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Sure put the blacks in DC under Federal control.
Sounds like a nice white solution.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
10 months ago

I was intrigued at the author’s assertion that saying that the people get what they voted for was ‘smug dismissal’, but it never came.
DC has been run by Democrats since the passing of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act in 1973. Every mayor has been a Democrat, the 8 wards have always voted in a Democrat. The elected mayors have ranged from of out and out crooks (Marion Barry) to general incompetents.
DC’s problems, like those of other Democrat run cities, are the result of the voters repeatedly voting in Democat governance despite its record of abject failure. When voters in Chicago finally booted out the useless,”progressive’ and ridiculous mayor, Lori Lightfoot, they instead voted in Brandon Johnson who, astoundigly, is even worse than Lightfoot.
DC’s voters are predominantly black and Leftist ‘progressives, many of whom are bureacrats and other government workers. These people repeatedly vote Democrat because they are either too stupid, too politically tribal or gain financially The only way these people are going to stop voting Democrat is by making them face the consequences of their choices.

Last edited 10 months ago by Marcus Leach
N Satori
N Satori
10 months ago

Would it be terribly far-right of me to draw attention to the briefly mentioned fact (13th paragraph) that the population of Washington DC is 45% black? Odd that John Masko mentions this fact merely to draw attention to the number of victims of gun crime. Perpetrators? Read between the lines.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Would it be ever so off-topic of me to mention that San Francisco is 5% black, less than half the nationwide average of 12.5%?

Brian Matthews
Brian Matthews
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Most crime comes to SF from across the bay on BART.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Brian Matthews

That is untrue and I think you know it. While you’ve identified a subset of the problem, more of the crime is committed by very white, if sun-damaged men and often enough women who “happen to be” homeless drug addicts.

N Satori
N Satori
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Your reply to my second comment seems to have disappeared. When I attempted to reply to your reply I was blocked by reCaptcha!
All this IT disruption gets in the way of sensible discussion.

Last edited 10 months ago by N Satori
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Many of mine are currently quarantined/disappeared…and only some of them are confrontational or hastily worded!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

What’s IT? I thought you might say AI.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Many of mine are currently quarantined/disappeared…and only some of them are confrontational or hastily worded!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

What’s IT? I thought you might say AI.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

How do you know that?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It’s happened to me several times. Often when they are heavily downvoted, perhaps flagged by other users. Or with use of certain infamous names or loaded terms from history. Once you’ve had a comment “quarantined”, additional comments on the same board are unlikely to get published right away, during the probationary period. They typically reappear after a 12-hour timeout, but not always.
The editorial policy is opaque, so none of this is certain, but I have seen and been in discussions with many other commenters whose combined input helps flesh out the “unwritten UnHerd charter”. Overall, I think the site runs a good middle path between heavy suppression and abuse-filled free-for-all, but the rules are not made public.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It’s happened to me several times. Often when they are heavily downvoted, perhaps flagged by other users. Or with use of certain infamous names or loaded terms from history. Once you’ve had a comment “quarantined”, additional comments on the same board are unlikely to get published right away, during the probationary period. They typically reappear after a 12-hour timeout, but not always.
The editorial policy is opaque, so none of this is certain, but I have seen and been in discussions with many other commenters whose combined input helps flesh out the “unwritten UnHerd charter”. Overall, I think the site runs a good middle path between heavy suppression and abuse-filled free-for-all, but the rules are not made public.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
N Satori
N Satori
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Your reply to my second comment seems to have disappeared. When I attempted to reply to your reply I was blocked by reCaptcha!
All this IT disruption gets in the way of sensible discussion.

Last edited 10 months ago by N Satori
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

How do you know that?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Brian Matthews

How do you know that? Please name your source of information.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Brian Matthews

That is untrue and I think you know it. While you’ve identified a subset of the problem, more of the crime is committed by very white, if sun-damaged men and often enough women who “happen to be” homeless drug addicts.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Brian Matthews

How do you know that? Please name your source of information.

N Satori
N Satori
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You really think that settles the argument AJ Mac?
Oh well, try this troublesome fact from recent history: back in 2010 The Daily Telegraph used the Freedom of Information act to press the London Metropolitan Police to release crime data it had been withholding. That data showed that for the period 2009-2010, with London’s black population at just over 10% of the total, over 50% of males who committed street crimes, robberies and gun crimes in that period were black. Note: it required an FOI request to have that data made public – presumably because the figures didn’t sit well with the cheery pro-multicultural stance of our establishment. Violent crime in London’s black communities continues to grow.
For some good dissident number crunching on this issue as it applies in the US you might try reading Steve Sailer’s column and blog – or would that jar with your Left-liberal sensibilities?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

How much of that disproportionate criminality is removed by adjusting for income? That is: Don’t poor whites commit far more crime than rich ones, and do prosperous blacks commit a ton of serious crime? I’m not saying that excuses anyone’s crimes, nor that income or background related adjustments would remove ALL disparity.

And of course the argument isn’t settled. I’m just trying to assess how far your racial emphasis extends when it comes to criminality.

I’ll accept your label of Left-liberal as close enough for comment board purposes though I like to think I’m a bit more nuanced and complex than that–many of us are, or insist on believing so. Right now I’d “self-identify as” a centre-left extreme moderate, with too much of a radical contrarian streak. A bit long and self-important, I recognize.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think your observations are defeated by looking to the extremely poor immigrants to New York from 1875-1927. They lived in housing not much better than the favelas outside Rio, their schools were mediocre, discrimination against them was nearly identical to that against blacks and even worse in some fields — and no air conditioning! Yet their crime rates were dramatically below that of any selected black neighborhood in the modern US.
One other thing — oddly, before the Civil Rights laws in the 60s and the literally hundreds of billions invested in blacks, their crime rates were much lower.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

The countries with the highest murder rates in the world are not black, but in fact Hispanic. We might have a lot more crime now than a hundred years ago for all sorts of reasons, the increased availability of stuff to covet and drugs being among them. But I don’t see much attempt to justify some of the sweeping statements on here.

The discrimination against white populations in the US has never been anything like as intense as against the black population, obviously including Jim Crow laws.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

What discrimination against white poulations?

JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

This is simply not true and you are comparing apples and oranges. Black is a racial category, Hispanic is not. Hispanic people may be of any race or a mixture of multiple races. If you look at crime rates in ‘Hispanic’ countries, your comments are easily disproven. Compare predominately white Uruguay to the Dominican Republic, for instance. Or compare the Dominican Republic to neighbouring and more predominately black Haiti. Non-Hispanic but predominately black Guyana and Belize both have higher rates of violent crime than many Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. The same is true for non-Hispanic countries outside the Americas (like South Africa and PNG) and the mostly English-speaking countries of the Caribbean. It is an uncomfortable truth that crime rates in the Americas tend to be higher in areas with larger populations of African descent. Brazil and the countries surrounding the Caribbean basin, where African populations are most concentrated, tend to have much higher rates of violent crime. There are, of course, many reasons and many factors at play. But it is simply dishonest to deny the racial correlation.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

QED then. For a “scientific” racist, that is. Let’s say we were to fully accept your hardline racializations. What then? Putting a million black men in prison didn’t solve things in the States. Will 10 million be enough?

JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

That’s quite a leap! As I said, there are many factors at play. Analysis based on one single data point (such as race) isn’t especially illuminating. For instance, Blacks also have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and end stage renal failure. Those are also complex problems to address with many causes, not all rooted in race. But denying the existence of racial differences and tossing about accusations of racism won’t help anyone. Quite the opposite, it impedes the pursuit of concrete solutions. As for putting people of any colour or sex in prison, that strikes me as entirely appropriate if they have committed the relevant crime.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

It’s not tossed out. It is well-earned. You reveal a deeply racialized worldview. And you propose no solutions, but soul-deep generalities based on skin or phenotype. How is that anything other than racist? You may think your carefully gathered and selected evidence and totalizing, reductive conclusions merely make you a soothsayer, but I don’t. Now I don’t say this is all you are, but I stand by it: You are some version of a hardcore racist. I’d like you to persuade me that I’m wrong if you can.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Reading comprehension failure. Hope you feel better now after your outburst.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Ok. I’ll give you the benefit of the remaining doubt. I note that you did not deny the label.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Ok. I’ll give you the benefit of the remaining doubt. I note that you did not deny the label.

JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Reading comprehension failure. Hope you feel better now after your outburst.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

It’s not tossed out. It is well-earned. You reveal a deeply racialized worldview. And you propose no solutions, but soul-deep generalities based on skin or phenotype. How is that anything other than racist? You may think your carefully gathered and selected evidence and totalizing, reductive conclusions merely make you a soothsayer, but I don’t. Now I don’t say this is all you are, but I stand by it: You are some version of a hardcore racist. I’d like you to persuade me that I’m wrong if you can.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

That’s quite a leap! As I said, there are many factors at play. Analysis based on one single data point (such as race) isn’t especially illuminating. For instance, Blacks also have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and end stage renal failure. Those are also complex problems to address with many causes, not all rooted in race. But denying the existence of racial differences and tossing about accusations of racism won’t help anyone. Quite the opposite, it impedes the pursuit of concrete solutions. As for putting people of any colour or sex in prison, that strikes me as entirely appropriate if they have committed the relevant crime.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

QED then. For a “scientific” racist, that is. Let’s say we were to fully accept your hardline racializations. What then? Putting a million black men in prison didn’t solve things in the States. Will 10 million be enough?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

What discrimination against white poulations?

JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

This is simply not true and you are comparing apples and oranges. Black is a racial category, Hispanic is not. Hispanic people may be of any race or a mixture of multiple races. If you look at crime rates in ‘Hispanic’ countries, your comments are easily disproven. Compare predominately white Uruguay to the Dominican Republic, for instance. Or compare the Dominican Republic to neighbouring and more predominately black Haiti. Non-Hispanic but predominately black Guyana and Belize both have higher rates of violent crime than many Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. The same is true for non-Hispanic countries outside the Americas (like South Africa and PNG) and the mostly English-speaking countries of the Caribbean. It is an uncomfortable truth that crime rates in the Americas tend to be higher in areas with larger populations of African descent. Brazil and the countries surrounding the Caribbean basin, where African populations are most concentrated, tend to have much higher rates of violent crime. There are, of course, many reasons and many factors at play. But it is simply dishonest to deny the racial correlation.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

You can’t compare communities separated by more than 100 years in time.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Aye. Consistently good contributions.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Aye. Consistently good contributions.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

So do you draw any conclusions from that?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

It’s quite ludicrous to claim that lower-class whites or darker southern European groups faced “nearly identical” discrimination to just-emancipated blacks. As a mostly Irish-descended North American, I know my ancestors faced exclusion and bigotry, but not of an equivalent sort.
Your comparison between 100-150 years ago and now–devoid of all context except race–is also an embarrassment. You ought to be embarrassed.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

The countries with the highest murder rates in the world are not black, but in fact Hispanic. We might have a lot more crime now than a hundred years ago for all sorts of reasons, the increased availability of stuff to covet and drugs being among them. But I don’t see much attempt to justify some of the sweeping statements on here.

The discrimination against white populations in the US has never been anything like as intense as against the black population, obviously including Jim Crow laws.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

You can’t compare communities separated by more than 100 years in time.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

So do you draw any conclusions from that?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

It’s quite ludicrous to claim that lower-class whites or darker southern European groups faced “nearly identical” discrimination to just-emancipated blacks. As a mostly Irish-descended North American, I know my ancestors faced exclusion and bigotry, but not of an equivalent sort.
Your comparison between 100-150 years ago and now–devoid of all context except race–is also an embarrassment. You ought to be embarrassed.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“a centre-left extreme moderate”
My kind of guy. But I put it to you brother that it’s time to end the age of Political Correctness. No matter how one slices and dices and spins and massages and trims the data, the fact is that Black criminality is something like 4X that of Whites — taking the broadest view. We hate to say it, don’t we? We want to explain it away. It is outside the Overton Window to mention it. It must be Whitey’s fault! We both wish it was our fault, don’t we? Alas, reality intrudes — it isn’t. Time for frankness, I think. Wishful thinking is nice, but it doesn’t solve problems. The Emperor is naked.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Ok. Let’s say your estimate is accurate (and I think it’s high, look at Appalachia and other very poor and under-schooled white communities). What now? I agree that we should be able to say the numbers and even draw our own conclusions, which should not then be dismissed nor preemptively discredited as bigoted.
But shouldn’t we still avoid racialized generalities, since they are a blunt, messy instrument that misses and wrongly group associates millions of people? I don’t accept a racial, ethnic, or national hierarchy of morality or conduct, though some countries in Europe produce more serious criminals per-thousand than others. Large groups have differing average traits, and while it’s valid to point that out, such averages are not a reliable guide, let alone some window into individual hearts and minds.
I also dislike the hyperbolic claim, for example, that all the Founding Fathers were slave owners or that America is founded only on racist practices or hypocritical principles. Far from it. I also reject “Whitey made me do it” excuses for bad behavior or personal failures. I endorse most of the views I hear Professor Glenn Loury espouse about black America: Yes there is some disadvantage and reduced-but-remaining bigotry, but that is not some insurmountable obstacle, and certainly not any proper excuse to fail or follow a wicked path, especially in today’s America.
However, I plead with those of good or even pretty good heart not to assign a special pathology or lesser humanity to any whole population by their perceived group association or outward characteristics.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Excellent exposition.
There have been attempts in recent days to try to push out of debates those capable of a more nuanced viewpoint. Naturally, that’s not going to happen.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

A nice argument in favor of ignoring reality or ‘splain’ it a-way.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

The countries with the highest murder rates in the world are not black, but in fact Hispanic. We probably have a lot more crime now than a hundred years ago, for many reasons, but I doubt the genetic deficiency of black people is one of them.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/262963/ranking-the-20-countries-with-the-most-murders-per-100-000-inhabitants/#:~:text=World's%20most%20dangerous%20countries%202023%2C%20by%20homicide%20rate&text=El%20Salvador%20saw%20a%20murder,crime%20worldwide%20as%20of%202023.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Which probably suggests that African culture is different – and arguably far worse – in American cities compared to say West Africa.

JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

When I was living in the US, a Nigerian colleague moved from a very posh (central and multiracial neighbourhood) to a more distant, predominately Asian-American suburb. When I questioned her choice (a puzzling downgrade in my view), her reply used language that made me blush. A certain word beginning with ‘n’ was spat out with venom. She simply didn’t want her children growing up around African Americans. In this case, I think class was a major factor. As a wealthy Oxford-educated African, she looked down on Americans and American culture

Last edited 10 months ago by JP Martin
JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

When I was living in the US, a Nigerian colleague moved from a very posh (central and multiracial neighbourhood) to a more distant, predominately Asian-American suburb. When I questioned her choice (a puzzling downgrade in my view), her reply used language that made me blush. A certain word beginning with ‘n’ was spat out with venom. She simply didn’t want her children growing up around African Americans. In this case, I think class was a major factor. As a wealthy Oxford-educated African, she looked down on Americans and American culture

Last edited 10 months ago by JP Martin
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Which probably suggests that African culture is different – and arguably far worse – in American cities compared to say West Africa.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

You got some splainin’ to do Jerry, not me.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

The countries with the highest murder rates in the world are not black, but in fact Hispanic. We probably have a lot more crime now than a hundred years ago, for many reasons, but I doubt the genetic deficiency of black people is one of them.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/262963/ranking-the-20-countries-with-the-most-murders-per-100-000-inhabitants/#:~:text=World's%20most%20dangerous%20countries%202023%2C%20by%20homicide%20rate&text=El%20Salvador%20saw%20a%20murder,crime%20worldwide%20as%20of%202023.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

You got some splainin’ to do Jerry, not me.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“However, I plead with those of good or even pretty good heart not to assign a special pathology or lesser humanity to any whole population by their perceived group association or outward characteristics.”
You’re obviously making a good faith effort here, but this is ridiculous and if you genuinely believe it, you completely misunderstand what you’re arguing against. I seriously doubt any Unherd readers actually believe that there’s something in the melanin that makes one race more or less criminal than another – and even less likely that any such demographic correlations give us any reliable evidence about any specific person in any particular race.
What’s being argued is something else altogether – namely, (a) some cultures are better than others at creating flourishing, healthy societies and (b) there are racial correlations with different cultures. Is it permissible to say “this way of living is better than that way”? And if that is permissible, then which ways we should be promoting? And should we bite our tongues because the ways we should promote are more likely to be found among one racial community than another? Or should we endeavor to make sure they are well represented in all races?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

I strongly disagree with your assessment. The argument you sketch is one I don’t object to in and of itself. Many are taking it much further and I know from previous, detailed exchanges that some here are racial supremacists or ethnic-hierarchy proponents. A matter-of-fact comment that began “white supremacist here” once received dozens of upvotes. Read all of the posts on this board and tell me no one here is arguing for the innate, heightened criminality of black people.
I’m not sure how long you’ve been around these boards, but a sizable minority of the race-related views expressed are less benign or well-meant than your characterization. Which is fine to a degree, people are entitled to those views too, repugnant as they are to most. But sometimes I make an effort to push against the more reasonable or borderline versions of such views, usually to a measure of outrage and sometimes to insults.
I made no argument about numerical demographic hiring by color or other demographic traits nor about attempts to engineer equality of outcome (rather than opportunity) among diverse populations and individuals. I don’t support those things. Please don’t connect me with every view you might think “someone like me” also has when I haven’t expressed that view. And I’ll will continue to try and return the favor.
Sometimes I haven’t honored good conversational ethics, becoming unduly contentious, sarcastic, or presenting a strawman parody of an interlocutor’s perspective. (I did some of that in my first post early this morning, which is now quite deservedly quarantined). But when that happens I make an effort to fess up and do better next time.
Here’s one thing I think nearly all of us here can agree on: The no-forgiveness, no-redemption policy typical of hardline Wokeness is wrongheaded and hardhearted, whether it emerges from the hard left or from elsewhere along the so-called political spectrum, which it sometimes does.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Fair enough – you think more people here are genuine old-fashioned KKK-type racists than I do. I guess we’ll have to keep reading to find out.
That said… it is pretty easy to conflate ‘old fashioned’ racists with people ‘brave enough to call a spade a spade.’ We’d have to look at some specific examples to really figure out who was who.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

While I’m not amused by it, I’m intrigued by the insinuation that “new-fashioned racism” is somehow clever or correct.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

While I’m not amused by it, I’m intrigued by the insinuation that “new-fashioned racism” is somehow clever or correct.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Wokeness is by definition left-wing.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

But ruthless judgment and punitive hardheartedness are not inherently left wing at all.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

But ruthless judgment and punitive hardheartedness are not inherently left wing at all.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Fair enough – you think more people here are genuine old-fashioned KKK-type racists than I do. I guess we’ll have to keep reading to find out.
That said… it is pretty easy to conflate ‘old fashioned’ racists with people ‘brave enough to call a spade a spade.’ We’d have to look at some specific examples to really figure out who was who.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Wokeness is by definition left-wing.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Amazed you have no likes yet. Yes, some problematic cultures are associated with race/ethnicity, however race in and of itself is not predictive of bad culture. Culture comes first.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

It’s baffling that lesser cultures–an objective measurement?–don’t all want to imitate the West. We have so much to teach them. Too bad we haven’t learned our own professed lessons yet. Let’s judge ourselves on our ideals, while judging Them on their shortcomings.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

It’s baffling that lesser cultures–an objective measurement?–don’t all want to imitate the West. We have so much to teach them. Too bad we haven’t learned our own professed lessons yet. Let’s judge ourselves on our ideals, while judging Them on their shortcomings.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

I strongly disagree with your assessment. The argument you sketch is one I don’t object to in and of itself. Many are taking it much further and I know from previous, detailed exchanges that some here are racial supremacists or ethnic-hierarchy proponents. A matter-of-fact comment that began “white supremacist here” once received dozens of upvotes. Read all of the posts on this board and tell me no one here is arguing for the innate, heightened criminality of black people.
I’m not sure how long you’ve been around these boards, but a sizable minority of the race-related views expressed are less benign or well-meant than your characterization. Which is fine to a degree, people are entitled to those views too, repugnant as they are to most. But sometimes I make an effort to push against the more reasonable or borderline versions of such views, usually to a measure of outrage and sometimes to insults.
I made no argument about numerical demographic hiring by color or other demographic traits nor about attempts to engineer equality of outcome (rather than opportunity) among diverse populations and individuals. I don’t support those things. Please don’t connect me with every view you might think “someone like me” also has when I haven’t expressed that view. And I’ll will continue to try and return the favor.
Sometimes I haven’t honored good conversational ethics, becoming unduly contentious, sarcastic, or presenting a strawman parody of an interlocutor’s perspective. (I did some of that in my first post early this morning, which is now quite deservedly quarantined). But when that happens I make an effort to fess up and do better next time.
Here’s one thing I think nearly all of us here can agree on: The no-forgiveness, no-redemption policy typical of hardline Wokeness is wrongheaded and hardhearted, whether it emerges from the hard left or from elsewhere along the so-called political spectrum, which it sometimes does.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Amazed you have no likes yet. Yes, some problematic cultures are associated with race/ethnicity, however race in and of itself is not predictive of bad culture. Culture comes first.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Nice post. IMO people are confusing class issues with racial issues. I’m pretty sure immigrant Nigerians are some of the highest income earners in America. I don’t think there’s a bunch of crime committed by middle class black people. It’s poor people living in crappy neighborhoods committing crimes, whether it’s the south side of Chicago or Appalachia.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Exactly my point, Thanks, Jim.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Exactly my point, Thanks, Jim.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Excellent exposition.
There have been attempts in recent days to try to push out of debates those capable of a more nuanced viewpoint. Naturally, that’s not going to happen.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

A nice argument in favor of ignoring reality or ‘splain’ it a-way.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“However, I plead with those of good or even pretty good heart not to assign a special pathology or lesser humanity to any whole population by their perceived group association or outward characteristics.”
You’re obviously making a good faith effort here, but this is ridiculous and if you genuinely believe it, you completely misunderstand what you’re arguing against. I seriously doubt any Unherd readers actually believe that there’s something in the melanin that makes one race more or less criminal than another – and even less likely that any such demographic correlations give us any reliable evidence about any specific person in any particular race.
What’s being argued is something else altogether – namely, (a) some cultures are better than others at creating flourishing, healthy societies and (b) there are racial correlations with different cultures. Is it permissible to say “this way of living is better than that way”? And if that is permissible, then which ways we should be promoting? And should we bite our tongues because the ways we should promote are more likely to be found among one racial community than another? Or should we endeavor to make sure they are well represented in all races?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Nice post. IMO people are confusing class issues with racial issues. I’m pretty sure immigrant Nigerians are some of the highest income earners in America. I don’t think there’s a bunch of crime committed by middle class black people. It’s poor people living in crappy neighborhoods committing crimes, whether it’s the south side of Chicago or Appalachia.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

More than 7O% of the violent crime committed in the US is by that 4% of the black male population younger than 45 years.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

And I bet that vast majority of that 4% life in awful neighbourhoods.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

And I bet that vast majority of that 4% life in awful neighbourhoods.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

But at the same time the Right often at the same time cite Muslims as perpetrating most crime in Europe eg Sweden. Racial ‘explanations’ are poor explanations.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Well a son of Indian or Pakistani muslim aristocrat whose family has been educated in British public schools, Sandhurst and universities for generations is unlikely to be a criminal or support Islamic Terrorists.
My Father played cricket in Pakistan in the 1960s, the captain was a general who had fought in WW2. He considered the British Army had become sloppy and he said he maintained standards of the pre 1947 Indian Army.
The upper class Arabs whose society produced Omar Sharif; spoke English and French fluently and were educated at the Sorbonne, Oxford and Cambridge.
However, those from North Africa and especially those hardened in the Algerian civil war of 1991 to 2002 are very different.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Well a son of Indian or Pakistani muslim aristocrat whose family has been educated in British public schools, Sandhurst and universities for generations is unlikely to be a criminal or support Islamic Terrorists.
My Father played cricket in Pakistan in the 1960s, the captain was a general who had fought in WW2. He considered the British Army had become sloppy and he said he maintained standards of the pre 1947 Indian Army.
The upper class Arabs whose society produced Omar Sharif; spoke English and French fluently and were educated at the Sorbonne, Oxford and Cambridge.
However, those from North Africa and especially those hardened in the Algerian civil war of 1991 to 2002 are very different.

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

homicide rate is 10x in US; 7 x in UK

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Ok. Let’s say your estimate is accurate (and I think it’s high, look at Appalachia and other very poor and under-schooled white communities). What now? I agree that we should be able to say the numbers and even draw our own conclusions, which should not then be dismissed nor preemptively discredited as bigoted.
But shouldn’t we still avoid racialized generalities, since they are a blunt, messy instrument that misses and wrongly group associates millions of people? I don’t accept a racial, ethnic, or national hierarchy of morality or conduct, though some countries in Europe produce more serious criminals per-thousand than others. Large groups have differing average traits, and while it’s valid to point that out, such averages are not a reliable guide, let alone some window into individual hearts and minds.
I also dislike the hyperbolic claim, for example, that all the Founding Fathers were slave owners or that America is founded only on racist practices or hypocritical principles. Far from it. I also reject “Whitey made me do it” excuses for bad behavior or personal failures. I endorse most of the views I hear Professor Glenn Loury espouse about black America: Yes there is some disadvantage and reduced-but-remaining bigotry, but that is not some insurmountable obstacle, and certainly not any proper excuse to fail or follow a wicked path, especially in today’s America.
However, I plead with those of good or even pretty good heart not to assign a special pathology or lesser humanity to any whole population by their perceived group association or outward characteristics.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

More than 7O% of the violent crime committed in the US is by that 4% of the black male population younger than 45 years.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

But at the same time the Right often at the same time cite Muslims as perpetrating most crime in Europe eg Sweden. Racial ‘explanations’ are poor explanations.

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
10 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

homicide rate is 10x in US; 7 x in UK

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think your observations are defeated by looking to the extremely poor immigrants to New York from 1875-1927. They lived in housing not much better than the favelas outside Rio, their schools were mediocre, discrimination against them was nearly identical to that against blacks and even worse in some fields — and no air conditioning! Yet their crime rates were dramatically below that of any selected black neighborhood in the modern US.
One other thing — oddly, before the Civil Rights laws in the 60s and the literally hundreds of billions invested in blacks, their crime rates were much lower.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“a centre-left extreme moderate”
My kind of guy. But I put it to you brother that it’s time to end the age of Political Correctness. No matter how one slices and dices and spins and massages and trims the data, the fact is that Black criminality is something like 4X that of Whites — taking the broadest view. We hate to say it, don’t we? We want to explain it away. It is outside the Overton Window to mention it. It must be Whitey’s fault! We both wish it was our fault, don’t we? Alas, reality intrudes — it isn’t. Time for frankness, I think. Wishful thinking is nice, but it doesn’t solve problems. The Emperor is naked.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

The common denominator everywhere is men.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

This is true. But also the common denominator in “people who rush into burning buildings to save strangers’ lives” and “people who win Nobel prizes” and “people who write the world’s best operas.” Isn’t it common knowledge that the bell curve for men is flatter than the bell curve for women, so we get more geniuses and heroes, but also more dunces and villains?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Indeed. That has been fully demonstrated to anyone willing to look.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Indeed. That has been fully demonstrated to anyone willing to look.

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

no the common denominator is single mothers.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

This is true. But also the common denominator in “people who rush into burning buildings to save strangers’ lives” and “people who win Nobel prizes” and “people who write the world’s best operas.” Isn’t it common knowledge that the bell curve for men is flatter than the bell curve for women, so we get more geniuses and heroes, but also more dunces and villains?

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
10 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

no the common denominator is single mothers.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

How much of that disproportionate criminality is removed by adjusting for income? That is: Don’t poor whites commit far more crime than rich ones, and do prosperous blacks commit a ton of serious crime? I’m not saying that excuses anyone’s crimes, nor that income or background related adjustments would remove ALL disparity.

And of course the argument isn’t settled. I’m just trying to assess how far your racial emphasis extends when it comes to criminality.

I’ll accept your label of Left-liberal as close enough for comment board purposes though I like to think I’m a bit more nuanced and complex than that–many of us are, or insist on believing so. Right now I’d “self-identify as” a centre-left extreme moderate, with too much of a radical contrarian streak. A bit long and self-important, I recognize.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

The common denominator everywhere is men.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The way to murder rates is the international method of murders per 100,000 of the population.
List of cities by homicide rate – Wikipedia
The next questions are where do wealthy members of the Democrat Party live, how secure are their homes and where do they send their children to school?
Even in inner city areas there can be pockets of affluent very secure homes, a few hundred metres away from violence stricken housing. The Georgian Terraces of Islington are very pleasant and Labour MPs manage to get their children into DAO which used to be in the borough and is now in affluent Potters Bar.
Dame Alice Owen’s School – Founded 1613 (damealiceowens.herts.sch.uk)
The reality is that one can obtain a high salary and pension, paid for by the taxpayer in a city working for the state, yet crime soars and educational standards collapse
I would have more time for Democrat/labour members if they lived in the most violent areas and sent their children to the worse schools.
The murder rate can hide much. Often crime is found within a few blocks. An example is Chicago; there are few murders within the university yet other areas have 7 times more than other areas.
Crime in Chicago – Wikipedia
At Independence, Ceylon was poor, they could not afford to fund health and education. They chose education. The teacher carried a blackboard and cycled between villages. The school was under the large tree, the children were barefoot yet some obtained 7 O Levels including Latin. A similar story for South India( Kerala), Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. The slums created because of rapid industrialisation during the Napoleonic Wars meant that conditions were horrendous. Bradford went from 6,000 in 1800 to120,000 in 1850s yet through the hard work of many conditions were improved.
The issue for the West is that we have turned away from self improvement as supported by Keir Hardie, Booker T Washington, Churchill, J Kennedy and Dr M L King. In the 1960s the Democrat and Labour Party gave up on The Bible, especially Proverbs, as preached by Non Conformist, Methodist and Baptists and took up Cultural Marxism as promoted by the Frankfurt School, Gramsci, Saul Alinsky, Herbert Marcuse and post Modernist Marxists.
If one reads Proverbs, words used frequently are : wisdom, instruction,well- instructed intelligence, righteousness, justice, probity, shrewdness, knowledge, aquire skill, fools scorn wisdom and discipline, avoid criminals, etc.
In the 1960s Motown had a teacher of etiquette now much rap glorifies gang violence and contempt for women. The murders of J Kennedy, Dr M L king and R Kennedy enabled the cultural marxists to take over the Democratic Party and the results are there to be seen.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I usually like your posts, and this one no exception, but you have a consistent blind spot. Nostalgia is not as good as it used to be, The ever-so-better past age you celebrate never quite existed in the way you frame it

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thank you . I never say the past is good: I say lets learn from it. Humans are much the same as they were when Sumer created the first civilisation 5500 years ago and their subsequent rise and fall show similarities which has been noted by Ibn Khaldun, Arnold Toynbee, C Northcote Parkinson and John Glubb.
TOP 24 QUOTES BY IBN KHALDUN | A-Z Quotes (azquotes.com)
The USA shows much similarities to Rome post 350 AD.
There is a phrase in boxing ” Train hard, fight easy”. Since the 1960s the middle and upper class have wanted success by training easy and we can see the results.
Alexander the Great had his mind tempered by Aristotle and his bod tempered in the gymnasium which would have included pankration. What of those who attend the wealthiest universites in the West ?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I respect that. You always have something of substance to offer-wish I could claim that for myself–and some recommendations of interest too. I strongly agree that at some fundamental level we are largely unchanged since Whenever.
I don’t have total faith in your rugby and rough-play approach to social, physical, and mental health, but it certainly could only help. And at least you are proposing a remedy instead of indulging in catastrophe-talk or lamentations about the kids, politicians, etc. these days.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thank you. Reading Orwell was a revelation; he showed character influenced politics. Birds of a feather flock together. or as the feminists say ” The personal is the political “.The Devil provides mischief for idle hands.
When adult politicians are desperate to show their fitness it is absurd; they should be able to point to their ohysical achievements pre thirties.
If young people are pushed physically, mentally and artistically so they are exhausted by the evenings they will not cause mischief. Fit, skilled people who can find interesting and well paid work tend be cheerful and are of benefit to society. I think many of the problems which are written about on Unherd are because people are unfilled on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I mostly agree with that. (Am I through the looking glass now?). Material conditions are often dwarfed in importance by health, purpose, and a sense of belonging. If wholesome belonging is not available, people will find malignant versions of community.
As to physical hardihood–now or then–in a politician? A plus, not a need. Henry VIII was an impressive athlete as a young man, as was Gerald Ford. James Madison was something of a tiny weakling (5″ 3′), but an impressive statesman.
What benefits society is not always apparent to at first glance, or in the short run. I think the writings of Orwell and William Blake provide net social (and other) benefits, but few of their contemporaries would have called them “useful”. Nor is value, as you know, reducible to mere use.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It is not size, it is spirit which manifests through a person being innovative and displaying fortitude by which a person becomes resileint, robust and resolute in body and mind. Nelson being a good example of innovation and fortitude though being small.
Orwell , as did Kipling, respected practical people, who undertook constructive work.
I think there is something which enriches the soul when one can point to constructive work one has achieved and the lack of constructive activity is soul destroying.
Proversb 1.5 the man of understanding will aquire skill.
The ability to undertake hard contact sports so one can thrive on the rough and tumble of life; train one’s mind to aquire knowledge, reason aquire skill; produces a person secure in their knowledge they can support themselves and defend themselves intellectually and physically. This produces a physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually refined, resilient,robust, balanced and grounded person who finds any extremism as rather absurd.
Nazism, Communism, Islamicism and Wokism are attractive to the insecure, inadequate and those with inferiority complexes.
In short the Renaissance Gentleman and Lady can securely smile with amusement on the antics of extremists, who know not to push their luck with them because they can defend themselves.
Since 1945, how much noise and activity is due to people being “Empty vessels?” Name one figure since 1945 who could be said to manifest the Renaissance person ?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Again, I largely agree but you’re overselling it by quite a bit. Some rugby players, boxers, American football players, etc. are quite brutal and dull-witted, I think rather more so for their undue emphasis on “hard contact” and physical dominance. Literal brain injury frequently occurs. And some men of diminutive stature have a so-called Napoleon complex.
Probably unfair of me to call James Madison “a weakling” as he was generally in good health and lived to be 85 (1751-1836). It’s fair to point out that he had about 100 slaves to do his much of the rough and dirty work for him though.
I’m glad to have worked in the family construction business and to have played competitive sports, though not the roughest kind. I was pretty good though I peaked as a competitive athlete around age 12-14, in baseball and what we Americans call “soccer”. I’ve been in several fist fights, both as a child and adult, largely occasioned by running my mouth (imagine that) or getting so enraged that those who aren’t intimidated are sometimes provoked themselves. (As an adult, drinking was often a factor too). I guess those experiences were “character building”, but pointless and regrettable too. I do know that I can take, and sometimes throw, a good punch.
I don’t think Renaissance men were common in any era, but I’d nominate the American songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson (born 1936). He played college rugby and (US) football at a standout level and was an elite pilot in the Army. He also published short stories in the Atlantic as a teen, was a Rhodes Scholar (winning a “Blue” for boxing while at Oxford). All this in addition to his more famous calling as a successful songwriter (“Me and Bobby McGhee, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, “Help Me Make it Through the Night”, etc.), one highly admired by fellow musicians. And, I’ll admit, he’s just an ok film actor. To see him, especially as a younger man, you’d think he was a rugged and plainspoken guy, which for the most part he is.
I certainly think adolescent boys or young men should know how to swing a hammer, kick a ball, and throw a punch (if it comes to that), but there’s no arm wrestling Pulitzer or track-and-field portion of the Nobel Prize.
And where do girls and women fit into this, if at all? I mean this as a real question. I admit it seems wrong for most of them to box, but a more robust physical health wouldn’t hurt, especially among these ever-more-indoor younger generations.
I agree that the worst “isms” attract unfit and neurotic people, but not only. Their ranks are filled out by strong and highly conditioned young people who carry out the commands of the sickly weirdos in charge, with their inferiority complexes that have mutated into megalomania.
There are some kind, courageous, and well-adjusted people who were never well-conditioned or strong in body. And not every physical weakling becomes a basket case or vengeful neurotic. (Please excuse this extra long post. I always appreciate these exchanges).

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago