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Dems abandoned all principle by signaling approval of some rioting

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Dems abandoned all principle by signaling approval of some rioting

Are some riots good and others unacceptable? Surely not. Those who destroy property and commit assaults, whether against law enforcers or civilians, ought to be punished, no matter the cause they claim to support.

But today’s liberals reject this fair, universal standard. Some riots deserve legal protection, they insist, while others must be harshly repressed. It all depends on the politics of the rioters.

Some, such as the excitable Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), are cheering the prospect of another round of Black Lives Matter riots, er, “peaceful protests,” if the Derek Chauvin trial doesn’t go their way. They’re also up in arms about a new Florida law that strengthens punishment for those who take to the streets to commit violence.

Yet some of the same progressives are also demanding that authorities throw the book at Trump supporters who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. They’re also on board with the DC authorities stonewalling demands for more information on the officer who shot and killed one of those entering the US Capitol.

The double standard is overt and infuriating: One group of demonstrators, the left says, should be permitted to commit mayhem. Another group deserves to be locked up as seditious insurrectionists, and the police-involved killing of one of them can and must be brushed aside.

It’s the clearest indication that the modern left subordinates all principles to the distinction between political friend and enemy: The Democratic Party sees itself allied with one group of violent demonstrators. That group’s excesses must be tolerated as an understandable reaction to racial injustice; the enemy must be punished.

Innocent Americans will pay the price for this cynicism and irresponsibility. As the Chauvin trial comes to a close, the situation in Minneapolis is especially febrile. Yet encouraging more explosive rioting of the kind we saw last year seems to be a priority for some Democrats. Waters was just in Minnesota protesting the police shooting of Daunte Wright, which set off violent protests around the country.

Waters told demonstrators to “get more confrontational” with law enforcement if the Chauvin jurors decide wrongly (by her political lights). Not long after she uttered those words, some “mostly peaceful” protesters committed a drive-by shooting of National Guardsmen, there to protect against riots.

The Florida bill, then, is necessary. The law makes it easier for authorities to prosecute rioters while still preserving the right to protest peacefully. It’s a smart response to the fact that when rioters burned businesses, attacked public buildings and generally created mayhem last summer, the police were often ordered to stand down.

Even when arrests were made, the rioters were often quickly released, reinforcing the impression that those committing violence on behalf of a fashionable cause like BLM shouldn’t be held to account. Some were quickly bailed out by funds promoted by then-Sen. Kamala Harris, now vice president of the United States.

It’s nonsense to claim that the Florida measure will have a chilling effect on the exercise of the First Amendment. So, too, is the American Civil Liberties Union’s claim that anti-rioting laws are “racist.”

But somehow the harsh treatment meted out to the Capitol rioters — who are no less deserving of punishment than BLM and antifa hooligans where they broke the law — doesn’t bother anyone on the left. Indeed, Waters and some of her Democratic colleagues in the House are suing ex-President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting a riot — even as they seem to encourage the very same activity in Minnesota.

They can’t have it both ways. Florida is right to crack down on politically inspired violence, and the rest of the country would do well to do the same. Those who grant immunity to one group of rioters while harshly prosecuting another aren’t just hypocrites. They’re doing exactly what they accused Trump of doing in January: trashing the rule of law.

Once political and cultural elites wink at rioting, illegal behavior once universally condemned, the rioting won’t stay limited to their preferred causes. Telegraphing approval to one group may well inspire other groups to do the same. The peril to the civic fabric is incalculable.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org. Twitter: @JonathanS_Tobin

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Opinion

Expert rates the winners and losers of first televised NYC mayoral debate

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Expert rates the winners and losers of first televised NYC mayoral debate

Last night’s mayoral debate was, if nothing else, a good forum for some of​ ​the candidates who many voters haven’t had much chance to get to know.

That​ ​meant it was particularly good for Kathryn Garcia and Ray McGuire who were​ ​able to get across the who, what, where and how of where exactly they stand.

Maya Wiley, wasn’t at her finest. As a TV veteran, she should have known​ ​better and instead broke all the rules by acting as though the rules didn’t apply to her. She ran over her time, wouldn’t stop talking when the moderator asked her to, and interrupted other speakers and overall showed a breathtaking lack of respect for the process.

Scott S​​tringer? He was classic Scott Stringer, the guy who always seems to​ ​need a carton of Red Bull and who, aside from a couple of good lines, was as​ ​unemotional as your tax attorney. That’s great for the city’s fiscal watchdog, but I​ ​just don’t think this comes across well when the public is looking for a strong​ ​presence.

And there was Andrew Yang once again trying the election trick that​ ​knocked him out of the presidential race: The offer of a thousand bucks to​ ​everyone who believes that Andrew Yang will give them a thousand bucks. 

Again.​ ​Been there, done that. 

He was particularly weak in answering to the fact that he’s never even voted for a mayoral candidate or a citywide referendum.

Eric Adams owned, as expected, the public safety issue. His lack of energy​ ​however was somewhat surprising for the candidate who knows the streets, the​ ​racial situation and the problems with the police so well.​ ​

The couple of exchanges he with Wiley and Dianne Morales were too polite,​ ​too softball, when he should have given as good as he got.​ ​

And speaking of Morales, she definitely has some important ideas on racial​ ​inequality and homelessness, but I’m not convinced that she came close to​ ​explaining how we’re supposed to pay for it with a city heading to an estimated​ ​$3 billion budget deficit in 2022-23.

Shaun Donovan, who seemed to start every sentence with “When I was in​ ​the Obama administration…” or “When I was City Housing Commissioner,” was​ ​unnecessarily repetitive. OK, we got the idea, but repetition doesn’t make for an​ ​interesting or even informative debate tactic.​ 

​Bottom line? As in most first debates, nothing much will have changed. No​ ​moments that blew anyone away. Probably the undecided needles won’t move too much.

Next time? Fire the media trainers and be yourselves, because what we saw sure won’t be what we get.

Sid Davidoff is Founding Partner of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, a New York-based law and public affairs firm, and former aide to New York Mayor John Lindsay.

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Saturday’s Times Square shooting may mark a crossroads for NYC

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Saturday’s Times Square shooting may mark a crossroads for NYC

Last year in New York City, murders rose 45 percent and shootings 97 percent, numbers that have continued to rise in 2021. But New Yorkers don’t need statistics to understand that the city’s descent into chaos is accelerating. Saturday’s brazen shooting in Times Square — in which three innocent bystanders were shot, including a 4-year-old girl — may well mark a crossroads.

During New York’s bad old days, the Crossroads of the World and its pornographic theaters attracted “an unsavory and increasingly criminal crowd,” as William J. Stern, former head of the Urban Development Corporation, observed. “By the eighties, things got worse still, with an amazing 2,300 crimes on the block in 1984 alone, 20 percent of them serious felonies such as murder or rape,” he noted. Times Square’s situation suggested a city spinning out of control.

The condition of Times Square today similarly reveals the city’s social, moral and civic health. The president of the Times Square Alliance, Tim Tompkins, understands this. In 2016, he explained that “the area then — and has always been — representative of what was working or not working in New York City as a whole. . . . Throughout New York City, crime was a huge issue that was making people stay away, and . . . that overshadowed everything else.” Thus, he reasoned, “Times Square was this symbol of whether the government had either the will or the capacity to make a city safe.”

Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s commitment to tame Times Square helped Gotham restore civic normalcy. Giuliani brought Disney in to take over and renovate the New Amsterdam Theatre, which “led to the resurrection of 42nd Street and Times Square,” in the words of The New York Times.

Giuliani also targeted smut shops for legal assault in court and had his NYPD proactively arrest quality-of-life offenders: drug dealers, junkies, pimps, prostitutes, hustlers, thieves and con artists. What followed was the revitalization of Times Square — and New York’s rebirth as the safest big city in America.

New York’s reversal of fortune is no accident. Mayor Bill de Blasio cites the pandemic and closed schools as excuses for the rise in violent crime. He conveniently overlooks four culprits: catch-and-release bail reform; the abandoning of broken-windows policing; the elimination of plainclothes anti-crime units that spent their nights hunting illegal gun carriers; and the movement to “defund” the police.

Proactive police officers have no incentive to respond to non-emergency crimes when the mayor has told them to stand down, when they know perps will be swiftly released and when they worry their faces could be the next ones plastered on screens across the country if an arrest goes wrong.

Which brings us back to Saturday’s shooting. We should be grateful for the heroic police officers who responded, including Alyssa Vogel, who ran nonstop with the 4-year-old victim to the ambulance. The alleged shooter was identified as Farrakhan Muhammad, a 31-year-old CD-pushing pest with a long arrest record who intended to shoot his brother.

When New York City had a quality-of-life policing regime, CD peddlers who crossed the line from protected First Amendment activity to misdemeanor “aggravated harassment” were routinely arrested and removed from Times Square and possibly locked away. But we live in a different city now.

In 1975, the Council for Public Safety issued an infamous pamphlet titled: “Welcome to Fear City: A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York.” It advised tourists, among other things, to stay off the streets after 6 p.m., protect their property and safeguard their handbags and “never ride the subway for any reason whatsoever.”

The city is still better off than in 1975 — but that’s far from the standard to which a great city should aspire. De Blasio has assured New Yorkers that “we’re not going back to the bad old days when there was so much violence in this city.” Three innocents shot in Times Square over the weekend might have a different view.

Craig Trainor is a criminal-defense and civil-rights attorney in New York. Adapted from City Journal.

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Opinion

President Biden’s charter-school dis

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President Biden’s charter-school dis

In a fresh sign of teacher-union sway over President Joe Biden, this is the first Charter School Week in 30 years not to be marked by a presidential proclamation.

That’s right: Every president going back to Bill Clinton saw fit to recognize these alternative public schools and the work they do in uplifting poor and minority students across the nation. And Biden’s old boss, President Barack Obama, was instrumental in supporting the growth of charters, even shooting down bogus teacher-union attacks.

Charters are laboratories of innovation that operate largely without union interference; their successes regularly show up the failure of union-dominated schools, especially in high-poverty minority neighborhoods. That’s why teachers’ unions despise them. But what’s Biden’s excuse?

Well, American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten and National Education Association head Becky Pringle were among the Biden administration’s first and most frequent White House guests. And pressure from the top is the only explanation for how Weingarten was able to literally dictate language to the Centers for Disease Control for its “scientific” guidance on school reopenings.

In short, this president stands with his teacher-union allies against the principles of Barack Obama, the best interests of children and even good public-health policy amid the pandemic.

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