Judging from the recent Gingrich and Santorum statements about the blahs, race-baiting is alive and well in the Republican Party. But, unlike the golden age of strapping young bucks with their welfare-financed t-bones, one of the key ingredients of Nixon-era racial fear mongering is absent:
Twenty years ago, a reporter tallying crime stats for our newspaper’s weekly blotter might sift through dozens of killings on a single weekend. There were more than 1,000 homicides a year. Last year, there were fewer than 300 homicides — and many weekends with no killings.
Ten years ago, reporters working the streets kept mental lists of neighborhoods considered too dangerous to visit alone. Now, no neighborhood is off-limits. That sense of ambient criminal menace is gone.
Los Angeles —- like other big cities around the country — is in the midst of a crime drop so steep and profound, it has experts scratching their heads. Crime fell in 2011 for the ninth year in a row, to levels not seen in Los Angeles since half a century ago.
Whether its because of more prisons and police, or less lead, there’s a hell of a lot less crime, so the danger to the Republican voters from scary minorities is mostly limited to their pocketbooks.
Considering how openly racist the GOP is now–they’re not even trying to hide it anymore–I’m utterly confounded at the (admittedly small) % of African-Americans who will nevertheless vote Republican in 2012.
I mean, what’s behind that? Can belief in economic policies be so strong that you’d still support a party that hates you for your skin color?
The Daily Show just did a segment the other night about a Muslim who is Republican, and how the Florida GOP is smearing him because he’s Muslim–yet he still calls himself a Republican! I mean, what the hell is that about?
I really am getting to the point where I believe calling yourself a Republican is a form of mental illness.
I miss the good old days of juvenile superpredators.
Just because it isn’t there doesn’t mean the GOP can’t make an issue of it.
Why are we so focus Gingrich and Santorum when they don’t even have a chance in winning the nomination? Instead we should focus on Mitt Romney who has also been engaging in race baiting (i.e.,”keep America American).
c u n d gulag
Maybe it’s because we’re all nearly so piss-poor now that nobody around us has got anything worth robbing and stealing anymore?
Or that people are finally starting to figure it out that we need to focus UP the economic food chain, and not steal from those on our own, or lower, levels.
Now, THAT’S something for the rich to worry about:
Those scumbags have been robbing and stealing from the poor and middle class for decades (well, forever, really).
And they’re worried about us reciprocating and coming for their money the way they went after getting ours – except we won’t have fancy tax attorneys and lobbyists to do our bidding and dirty work.
We’ll have to do it ourselves.
And payback’s gonna be a bitch, MFers!
Crime is down drastically overall: violent crimes, hate crimes, all crimes. The exception: Credit card fraud and identity theft are UP.
This is why when my stupid Corporate ass-sucking Governor who when TN-based Corrections Corp says jump responds “how high?” talks about “overhauling crime” in the state, I am naturally calling bullshit. The only thing worse than this obvious pandering to CCA and the know-nothing electorate with this stupid conventional wisdom about crime being out of control is the fact that the Tennesseean, which ran this shit on the front page Friday, didn’t even bother to cite statistics proving the governor was full of shit.
Sorry for the run-on sentence. I have not been fully caffeinated yet.
Here’s the link to 2007 WaPost story on lead and its correlation with crime. (Link embedded within earlier Kevin Drum posts.)
I think there’s something to the Freakanomics hypothesis (more accessible abortion = fewer unwanted children born to those who can’t or won’t raise them and thus fewer criminals in the long run)
In other news, a Georgia man claims Al Qaeda hid secret messages in his porn.
Clearly he must read MORE porn to find out what they’re up to: it’s his patriotic duty!
Imaginary crimes committed on white, real American, Republicans by strapping young bucks, is exactly like their belief in the fire and brimstone awaiting all sinners in hell. It’s an article of faith.
It’s because of video games.
@Joey Maloney: And I find it amusing that wingnut web sites frequently claim liberalism is a mental illness. Just another projection, I suppose.
I read a long time ago (sorry no cite) that crime statistics would naturally decline with the overall aging of the population as the boomers aged and the subsequent generations were proportionately smaller. I think it was a rebuttle to the Feakonomics theory.
The Ancient Randonneur
Attribute the falling crime rate to the rise of rap music; it’s the ONLY logical correlation. Snoop Dogg for Prezschizzle!
Post racial? There was an incident here two days ago where a large group of African Americans were in a “near riot”. Reading the comments on the article tells me just how far we have not come.
That’s an interesting theory. I have daughters who are in their twenties and we never had video games through the jr. high and high school years, but their stories of the boys they went to school with spending all of their time playing games at each other’s houses instead of getting into mischief is a data point for that theory.
ETA: or porn
B W Smith
@Raven: This is why I quit reading the comments in “on-line Athens” a long time ago. The amount of racism, sexism, and over the top commentary can only be matched by the comments on Paul Broun’s Facebook page.
@rob!: There was a thread that went on for years on Salon’s Table Talk called C=MI, which stood for Conservatism=Mental Illness.
Hardly a new concept.
@mistermix – Is there a link to the blockquoted article in the post? It’s early, so it is entirely likely that I’m just not seeing it.
@Elizabelle: It’s lead. I think the Freakotwerps are just being marketable contrarians with their hypothesis.
I’m also sure the handling of pot as an issue has a little to do with a falling crime rate in LA as well. I mean honestly, moving the most popular illegal drug from the street corner into the corner market is bound to cut out some of the related crime as well.
When you think about it, is it really that different from the white, middle and working class, Southern Strategy/What’s The Matter With Kansas voters who vote for a party that robs them blind, openly calls them worms and parasites because they’re not part of the 1%, and demands that they kiss the 1%’s boots again and again if they want to keep even the little that they already have?
Yeah, it’s more blatant when it’s black Republicans, or gay Republicans (let alone Muslim Republicans), but still, anyone who’s less than a millionaire and still votes Republican is a masochist whatever his race/religion is.
@bin Lurkin’: A trait that was more functional centuries ago, when change moved at an oxcart pace. Modern life pushes them off the ledge, maybe?
Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason
@PeakVT: Just clicked on your link. The graphs tracking lead and homicide rates are uncanny. The discussion of the failure of Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago due to atmospheric lead from the adjacent expressway is also an eye-opener. Wow.
Maybe crime went down because crack is whack and people are mellowing out on medicinal marijuana.
I don’t think there’s a single reason why crime has plummeted so much, so it’s probably a combination of all of the above, especially the banning of lead and the Baby Boomers getting past their statistical prime crime-committing years. Fewer people = less crime.
Villago Delenda Est
Yet, thanks to “if it bleeds, it leads!” local television news, the perception is still that crime is running rampant.
Because you see it in your living room.
On the idiot box.
I am likewise at that point.
Crime may be way down, but in the fantasy land of the rightwing teabaggers there’s a scary black man hiding behind every bush . . . they imagine an Arab terrorist sneaking around every back alley to plant a bomb. . . every brown skinned person is an illegal immigrant out to take their job.
It’s to the advantage of the Rethuglicans to keep their sheeple fearful. Without this fear, the goobers of the GOP have nothing.
Baron Jrod of Keeblershire
And yet, most Americans still believe that crime is getting worse. Mere facts can never dissuade an American who has decided on a belief.
My fellow Americans are self-destructive idiots. Yes, give more tax-cuts to the billionaires so they’ll create jobs, even though they never do. Militarize the police so they can fight the non-existent crime waves. Blacks receive all the welfare, even though whites are the biggest beneficiary group.
And if you ever try to spoil their fun with your boring facts, they double down on being wrong. Studies have shown that when exposed to facts that contradict a person’s belief, it tends to strengthen that person’s false belief.
We are fucked. Bring on the meteors. It would be deeply unfair to the rest of the universe should humanity ever escape the confines of our doomed planet.
I’ve been at that point since the post-2008 teabagger backlash brought it into full focus… and if I’d been around longer I think I’d have been there long ago already.
I may have posted this before, but it’s at the point where it reminds me of fascism not because of the racism, not because of the national-security obsession, but just because of the Orwellian-level madness and disconnect with reality. Any fool could hate the Jews, but it took a different class of mental disorder to believe that the Jews controlled society. And that’s more or less the point that conservative discourse is at today.
@Rosali: That comment makes me think of a time many years ago now when me and my young dope buddies shared a joint with an older guy(older than us we were teenagers) on the steps of the Art Museum in Philly one summer night. He told us how “this” used to be a safe neighborhood when everybody used to just smoke the “good ‘lumbo” and chill out with a beer. Then he explained that “now” it wasn’t really safe since everyone was doing coke and looking for trouble.
The biggest failure of the drug war really was the way it drove up marijuana prices and drove down coke prices. When I started smoking weed in 1977 it was 40 dollars and ounce and coke was 100 to 125 a gram. By the time I quit smoking weed in 1990 it was 300-350 an ounce and coke was 50-75 a gram and crack was cheaper than candy canes.
Way to go CAMP.
@Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: I said wow the first time, too.
@Mnemosyne: You’re right, there are multiple factors. But I think declining lead exposure is the main one, followed by general population aging.
Crime is way down in Canada, too, but what does the right wing government want to do, with a tight budget, no less? Fight crime! And keep out the brown folks!
Fascists are so darn predictable.
@Jerzy Russian: Been there for years.
@Elizabelle: Yes, both of these have had a major impact on crime – the Pb removal is one of the biggee’s if I choose just one. Also, having a black as President won’t hurt for current and future rates, I bet. Hard to believe but a Raygun EPA guy was the first to pass/manidate the Pb removal – strange that would be the Admin to address such a critical inner city health reg. Having a dem congress at the time, helped – today, those dirt bag thugs would try and close the EPA for doing that – the oil companies would get enough blue dogs to bark on command as well. Sick bastards everyone.
That is interesting.
So is the falling crime rate actually a symptom of something bad, youth and lives passing in artificial worlds, designed to keep one addicted to continual distraction, missing the vibrant external world?
Villago Delenda Est
What vibrant external world?
The suburbs are a wasteland. Only slightly less depressing than the ghetto.
@wrb: But at least those kids will live to see their 21st birthday, and will work-after all getting new games requires a job of some kind.
One thing I noticed-since 1990 there are more things to enjoy being indoors rather than being restless and bored and going outside. Cable, Satellite, and Internet are far more enticing than going outside to gray urban streets where nothing is open and there’s nothing to really do. Indeed, I recall parents using those things to keep their kids away from gangs and off the street. Fewer people, fewer opportunities.
In John Cole’s above post “Is It Just Me?” on Michelle Obama, FridayNext wrote an astute comment that I think bears directly on the issue of why crime stories, particularly violent crimes committed by racial minorities, remain so prominent in the MSM even after years of declining crime statistics. (I’m poaching and reposting here, with apologies and thanks to FridayNext.)
Here in New York City, for one example, the once-tolerable main cable channel, Time Warner’s NY1, has devolved into little other than crime reporting, leading each broadcast with “Today’s crime committed by a person of color.” (only a slight exaggeration)
There’s also the related point of why crime coverage so often focuses upon incidents alleged to have been committed by persons of color. Like welfare and food stamps, crime seems to be recurrently associated by the MSM and their political benefactors with a brown or black face.
“You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers. The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the Revolution. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong.”
You could just as well ask why gheys, women, Latinos or anyone who is not in the one percent votes Republican. I doubt that it has anything to do with mental illness.
The supposed war on drugs has had little impact on the price of drugs. Both drugs are widely available. The expansion and exploitation of new markets, and the shift from powder to crack cocaine did more to lower the price compared to marijuana. And many states have lowered the penalties related to marijuana use, which also tends to stabilize prices.
Heck, synthetic marijuana is becoming a big problem, especially in the military. And as always, the most abused drugs are alcohol and prescription drugs.
@handsmile: Do you know the trick of putting a double underscore all by itself on each of the “blank” lines between paragraphs? That allows them all the paragraphs to show up within a single block quote.
There is in fact a theory that the decline in crime has to do with a decline in the street price of drugs: More Drugs, Less Crime?
Thanks much for the tip! I know less than a thimbleful about all about the wiles and whims of WordPress. Frankly, given my Luddite nature, I consider it a near miracle when I manage to copy or link successfully to articles. (and btw, thanks for replying at all; I’ve been feeling even more invisible than usual here of late.)
If you’re rich enough to know that you and yours will never be adversely affected by the social policies of those who are pledged to help you get even richer, why *wouldn’t* you give them your vote?
Assuming, of course, that you and yours are the only people whose welfare you can be bothered to give a flying fuck about.
@handsmile: You are very welcome. I would credit the person who first came up with the solution, but i can’t remember who it was!
I know what you mean, I think, about feeling invisible. I always appreciate your comments, even though I don’t often reply.
Dudes, it is certainly another sign of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, man. Peace out.
This isn’t the place to complain about Balloon-Juice.
Does anybody have any idea as to the number of cameras currently installed in police cars?
They used to be pretty rare.
The actual danger of ‘minority crime’ was never anywhere near the political fearmongering about it for the vast majority of Repukes, but that never stopped them. These are the lizard-brains who wet their pants about the impending threat of Sharia Law in the US, for pete’s sake.
The fear isn’t based on reality, so pointing out that reality has changed is very unlikely to cure The Stupid.
Check the vacants!!!
That kind of nails the left/right difference in a nutshell, actually.
When left wing movements are fearful or angry, it’s because of something, y’know, real, like slavery, segregation, economic oppression. And if you’re the establishment, you can deal with that anger simply by addressing the problem, (abolition, desegregation, the welfare state).
The fact that the right’s anger is directed at things that don’t really exist outside of their own minds makes it impossible to deal with them the same way – as you can tell from the fact that the fall in crime rates hasn’t made them less afraid of the people they see as criminals, or the fall in al-Qaeda popularity in the Muslim world hasn’t made them less afraid of Muslims (in both cases, if anything, it’s the opposite).
There’s no policy you can enact, no gesture you can make, really nothing you can do to address the source of their anger/fear. Their fundamental problem is that for some reason, they’ve decided that they don’t like you, and trying to change their minds only makes them madder.
I’m still not sure how you’re supposed to react to that.
Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy)
@owlbear1: Owlbear, in all the discussions of this topic I’ve read, that’s the first time I’ve heard anybody mention that potential factor, but it certainly resonates with me.
@c u n d gulag: I keep putting this quote from Al Franken out there hoping it will go viral:
“In her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her.
That is class warfare.
Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.”
–Lies: and the lying liars who tell them : a fair and balanced look at the Right By Al Franken
I firmly believe the reason FDR was able to get the New Deal through was because the 0.1% back then saw credible threats to their status quo. People forgot after WWII. We had at least two versions of Communism, many varieties of Socialism, with passionate believers, Huey Long’s program, a number of different social reform programs throughout the middle west. Even more, you had thousands of desperate men roaming the land looking for work and spreading ideas around. The current corporate media try to obscure the existence of these threats by ignoring them, but they exist and are growing (e.g., OWS). There are a lot of dumb people at the bottom, but a lot are not so dumb. And I don’t think the genie is going back in the bottle even when we finally get out of this depression 5 or 10 years from now.