Crime Rises and so Narratives Are Built and Explanations Multiply

July 14, 2021 Updated: July 20, 2021

Commentary

How can Jennifer Psaki and her Democratic acolytes in the media, whose pre-determined narrative she spoon-feeds to them every day, get away with such a shameless lie as claiming that it was really the Republicans who wanted to “defund the police”?

That’s a question absolutely nobody is asking. Everybody knows that there’s no longer any room in the media for a real voice of dissent from the Democrats’ revolutionary project, which depends upon blaming Republicans or Donald Trump for everything that’s wrong with the United States.

Of course, if you really wanted to hear a different point of view, you could go to the right-wing media ghetto that the Democrat media never reads or even acknowledges to exist, apart from their bête noire of Fox News, which they endlessly ridicule and call purveyors of “misinformation.”

But they’re also lying to themselves, and that’s always a ticket to disaster.

Some Democrat apologists seem to have realized this of late and have retained just enough of a tether to political reality to have put their “explanatory journalism” into gear to account for the rise in violent crime, which they previously preferred simply to ignore.

The one thing that these explanations nearly all have in common with Psaki’s, however, is that they exclude or discount the overwhelmingly obvious explanation for the epidemic of murder in our major cities—that it’s a direct result of last summer’s anti-police riots and what has been called “the Minneapolis effect,” which is an echo of “the Ferguson effect” of 2014, following the anti-police riots of that year.

Admittedly, “Defund the Police” was more of a slogan than a reality, though the police budgets in several major cities, including New York, were cut back. But the defunding, proposed or actual, was only a small part of the reason for the demoralization of the police in Minneapolis and other Democrat-run cities that saw large numbers of resignations and retirements of officers.

Do you think that could have had anything to do with the increase in violent crime?

Um, no. Not according to most of the explainers.

As a citizen, I deplore such willful ignorance, which can only ensure that criminal behavior continues to increase. But as a long-time observer of the media, I find it fascinating to watch the spider-like media at work, weaving their webs of rationalization for phenomena that the rest of us find quite easily explainable without them.

That’s what I mean by narrative-building.

At first, when the crime surge became apparent, it was ignored by the media. Then, when it could be ignored no longer, the usual suspects—guns—were rounded up.

When that explanation swiftly began to seem in danger of its own over-familiarity, the spike was blamed on the pandemic.

“It’s clearly related, in part, to the coronavirus and to the fact that people are cooped up,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said back in January. “And it’s certainly related to the fact that the criminal justice system is on pause and that’s causing a lot of problems.”

That explanation fell foul of the fact that, although the pandemic had affected the whole world, only in the United States was there such an increase in the murder rate. And then, as the allegedly “cooped up” criminals began to be de-cooped in the months that followed, the murder rate showed no signs of declining.

By the time that Eric Adams won New York’s Democratic primary election as the party’s candidate to succeed Mayor de Blasio by waging an explicitly anti-crime, pro-police campaign, it must have seemed to be the appropriate time to bring out the left’s big guns—if you’ll pardon the expression—of an explanation.

Some of the rationalizations acknowledged a partial or tentative role for “the Minneapolis effect.”

“We don’t know why violent crime is up,” Aaron Chalfin and John MacDonald wrote in The Washington Post on July 11.

“But we know there’s more than one cause. Simple explanations for the surge are too pat—whatever they are.”

Though “too pat,” the “simple explanation” of a pullback from proactive policing was at least acknowledged as one of the possible causes of the occurrence of more violent crime.

Mostly, however, our “explanatory journalists” had recourse to the old left-wing favorite of “root causes.”

“America’s left can’t afford to be silent on crime,” Ben Davis wrote in The Guardian on July 6. “Here’s how to talk about it and win.”

In looking at discussions about crime in terms of winning, Davis confirmed that, like others who have been firmly anti-police up until now, his purpose in talking about crime isn’t so much to figure how to stop it as it is to determine how to turn the issue into an election winner for his side.

The answer, given in the sub-head to his article, is “root causes.”

I presume that Davis is a young man and so may be unaware that the old “root causes” chestnut have been around for a long time without ever coming close to being rooted up. Poverty and racism, the principal “root causes” in the left’s venerable narrative, have been around forever, and have usually been much worse than they are now.

They may feel worse to some people, but as feelings, they aren’t readily susceptible to measurement and therefore can’t be correlated with the ups and downs in the crime rate, which are measurable.

The lack of such evidence is no problem, however, for the utopian mentality that can’t solve any problem without solving all problems.

“Talking about crime can be a winning issue for the left,” Davis wrote, “if it is explicitly part of an overall program of redistribution of wealth, investment in communities, and guaranteeing a society that provides safety and security for all of its members, not just those at the top. We must emphasize that people have a right to safety, and this is the only program that truly provides that.”

This sounds less like a “program” to me than a vague aspiration, but we have his word for it that, once realized, it won’t just fix crime, but it will fix everything that’s wrong. Just as we have Psaki’s word for it that Republicans are the real defunders of the police.

I guess we’ll find out in next year’s mid-terms whether or not the voters continue to believe them.

James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” Bowman is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for the New Criterion.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Bowman
James Bowman
James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” he is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for The New Criterion.