In the Spectator, John R. MacArthur calls Bill de Blasio’s New York City “increasingly ragged.” MacArthur worries about the rising violence and disfunction in NYC, writing (abridged):
In grim times such as these, New Yorkers tend to flatter themselves for possessing special reserves of moxie, an outdated word that connotes courage, brio and a kind of raffish know-how.
Think of Humphrey Bogart as Rick, a nightclub owner in the film Casablanca, when he jousts with Major Strasser, the German bully who thinks he can outsmart and intimidate him. Pressed to reveal his background and political beliefs, the poker-faced Rick replies: ‘I was born in New York City, if that’ll help you any.’ Asked if he could imagine the Germans occupying New York, Rick retorts, with a little extra moxie, ‘There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I would not advise you to try to invade.’
I turn to fictional Rick for inspiration because it’s hard for me (a real-life Rick) to imagine the Occupation by COVID-19 ever ending.
Things are very bad in New York, despite the steep decline in new cases: the unemployment rate is nearly 20 percent, and the city’s stores and restaurants, already decimated before the pandemic by Amazon and extortionate rents, are closing at an alarming rate.
In August, shootings increased 166 percent compared with 2019, while murders and burglaries were also substantially up. As the hapless mayor, Bill de Blasio, threatens mass layoffs of government workers, the city looks increasingly ragged.
I haven’t seen so many overflowing garbage cans or homeless people since the 1970s. It doesn’t help that great numbers of New Yorkers are still afraid to return to their offices. In our 12-story building, Harper’s Magazine is the only business that has reopened, which at least makes for a faster elevator ride.
John R. MacArthur