Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fake News? How the Washington Post Went Off the Deep End

The Washington Post was always a left-leaning newspaper.  Since it was acquired by ultra-capitalist Jeff Bezos, it has gone full-on communist.  What is up with that?

New owners of a paper often claim they will keep their mitts off the editorial content.   But when Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal, it wasn't long before that right-leaning newspaper went into full Hillary-hate mode, becoming a mouthpiece of the far-right.   Sadly, the same seems to be happening to the Washington Post as of late - the paper has abandoned all pretense of journalistic neutrality in favor of becoming the Pravda of the Left.

Consider this piece about the blackout of 1977.   We had a huge blackout on the East Coast back in 1965, and it was memorable for the way that New Yorkers came together and soldiered on without power.  I was there at the time, and remember it clearly, even though I was very young.  Crime and looting were not significantly worse than in non-blackout conditions.   But by 1977, something had changed.   People became like animals once the power went off, going on a rampage of looting and crime.   Ordinary citizens were disgusted.

And of course, it was all the fault of the rich and the whites, at least according to the Washington Post.  Consider this innocuous sentence slipped in under-the-radar:
"Not everyone thought the solution to blackout looting was simply locking up those who had taken food, diapers, and consumer goods."
Now look at the image above - do you see anyone stealing food or diapers?  Or "consumer goods" whatever those are?  Oh, right, jewelry and money.   Disposable diapers were not that popular in 1977, by the way.  The Non-woven spun fabrics that made them popular in the marketplace were not introduced until 1980.

But the author of the piece was an infant at that time, so she wouldn't know.  I do know.  I remember these things.  And New York City in 1977 was indeed a dangerous place - with rampant crime and subways that were little more than graffiti-covered urinals.  To her, Pampers have always existed and bottle deposit laws are a new thing, not the default mode of operation until the mid-1960's.   Kids today - sheesh!

But the author doesn't stop there.   The fault for these riots wasn't that some people had no moral compunction about stealing or that the soft-on-crime approach of the post-Miranda era had made criminality more attractive, but that white people and rich people were to blame by cutting the city budget.
"In 1977, New York was still reeling under the impact of the steep budget cuts of the previous few years, as the city government closed hospitals, fire stations, health clinics, and schools. The city university began to charge tuition for the first time. Public employment — long a path to greater economic stability, especially for African American and Latino New Yorkers [cite? source?  made up?]— shriveled by tens of thousands of jobs — more than 20 percent — over the five years that followed the 1975 fiscal crisis. Even before the blackout, the mounting anger toward austerity was palpable [how does she know? cite? source? shitty journalism?]. Over 1975 and 1976, neighborhoods from Williamsburg to the South Bronx were rocked by community protests against the cuts."
New York was teetering on bankruptcy in the 1970's and had to cut back on spending.   Thousands of superfluous city jobs were eliminated.  The author argues that these government jobs were the only path for minorities to move up to the middle-class.    Cut those jobs, and well, you can't blame people for raping, looting, mugging, and murdering.   It's not their fault, it's yours!

Consider this not-too-subtle bit of propaganda from the piece:
"The experience of the blackout helped to legitimate a tough-on-crime conservatism in New York, one that leveraged fear to build support for policies such as stop-and-frisk and “broken windows” policing, while also insisting that poverty primarily reflected the bad choices of poor people [and this isn't true because?]. The road to Rudolph W. Giuliani’s New York [which of course is a bad thing, it goes without saying, right?], in other words, begins at the 1977 blackout."
In other words, enforcing laws is a bad thing.  The broken window policing technique (in quotes here, to disparage it) is just bad policy - never mind that the crime rate in New York City is at all-time lows.  Never mind that Time Square back then was a seedy place of porn theaters and routine muggings and today is a place people bring their children to see the Lion King.

Never mind all that, because the author wasn't alive back then, and thus pines for a time-gone-by that was in reality, a horror.   Again, pining for the "Good Old Days" - on either the Left or Right is a bad idea.

What is so sad about this piece, is that it was written by someone who is writing a "History of New York in the 1970's" but wasn't even alive during that time period.   This would not seem so unusual if she were writing about the 1800's or the 1700's - there are no people from that time period who remember it first-hand.   And instead of going to live sources of information, she seems to be more content to selectively quote from newspaper articles that favor her preconceived notion that the fault of crime lies not with criminals but society.

If this premise is true, then explain why crime rates across America are at all-time lows compared to the dark days of 1977.   Are we that much better a society today?   If so, then maybe we should be studying why our society is so much better than New York City, circa 1977.   "Giuliani's New York" is a better place that Abraham Beame's was.

In 1977, I drove to New York to see the Talking Heads at CBGB's.   She wasn't there.  She was shitting her non-disposable diapers that her parents didn't loot.   Yet she has the balls to tell us who were there what was "wrong" with New York City back then - or even what it was like.    Go rent a cop movie from that era, such as The French Connection or Serpico.   Yes, that is what New York was like - gritty, dirty, covered with filth, graffitti, and crime running rampant in the street.   Abandoned and stripped cars littered the streets.  I recall seeing an early 1970's Ford LTD wagon, on its roof, stripped of all usable parts, in the median on the FDR drive beneath the UN Building.

Crime wasn't just in the South Bronx or Harlem - it was everywhere.  And Brooklyn wasn't some hipster yuppie enclave, it was a fucking ghetto where you could get killed.  No one wanted to live in Park Slope, which is why my Grandfather left, selling the family home for a pittance.

That was New York in the 1970's.   And no, it wasn't that people were restive and upset, but that they felt they could get away with looting in an era where the police were often corrupt, and when not corrupt, ineffectual.  And often they were ineffectual because our country started feeling sorry for criminals and not for their victims.

We don't need to go back to those bad-old-days.   I only wish I could put the author of this piece into a time machine and send her back to Times Square, July 13, 1977 at 9:30 PM.  If she were to came back at all, maybe her perspective would be different.

Sorry, but no sale.  It is liberal racism to posit that crime is "just what black people do" or that it is "justified" by social injustices.   This is what keeps minorities down - when you tell them that criminality is expected of them.   And in particular it is what keeps black people down, as we don't send other minorities the same message.

Shame on the Washington Post and the author of that article!