Where’s Groucho Marx when We Need Him?
While Portland, OR remains under siege, Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler recently intoned, “a federal presence in his city is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.”
Regardless one’s politics, who isn’t sickened to see what is happening to any U.S. city? “… mobs hammering and burning buildings along Portland’s streets and then a carbon-copy mob battering Seattle,” questions Daniel Henninger in the WSJ.
I did not watch the video Henninger refers to of the two groups of police beaten bloody on the Brooklyn Bridge, but it was hard to miss the reports of 15 people wounded in a gun battle at a Chicago funeral for the victim of a drive-by gang shooting.
Cities Undone by Permanent Protests
This serious matter of civil disorder portends something more than mayhem, adds Mr. Henninger: “something else quite sad is happening.”
The irrepressible vitality of these cities—their reason for being—is disappearing, undone by pandemic, lockdowns and a new culture of permanent protest.
For years, Daniel Henninger tells readers, he has been on the email list of the owner-founder of “two jewel-like jazz clubs” in New York’s Greenwich Village—Small’s and Mezzrow. Spike Wilner’s “weekly paeans to jazz and the people who play it are always a good, diverting read.”
This week’s email was different. Here is a chunk of it, because he’s got the city exactly right:
From Spike Wilner:
It’s hard to describe but the feeling is gone, the vibe absent. The thing that made New York, New York is missing. What’s it like now?
It’s very tense. People are very anxious and angry. Everything is closed or, if open, listless. There is no nightlife. If you leave your apartment after 9 p.m. it’s a complete ghost town inhabited by wraiths and zombies, dangerous people. . . . In certain parts of town you have a mob of folks partying outside, like a street fair. Other folks keep their masks tightly on and live in fear.
The only place I’ve found some civility and warmth is the city playgrounds where I take my daughter each day. The children are oblivious to the pandemic and just play and climb.
Endless Protests Breaking Cities
The enforced pandemic closures and isolation were bad enough, continues Mr. Henninger. “But the endless protests—with their instinct to violence and atmosphere of dread—have broken the spirit of many cities.”
A new political division may be taking place now in big cities—between progressive elites and working-class residents, primarily the people who own or work for the storefront businesses that are the lifeblood of these cities.
People living and working in these cities, most of whom consider themselves liberal, are being sold out by progressive politicians and activists blinded by politics to the quality of daily life.
Bronx Unemployment Rate 24.7% – Depression Level
The progressive ruin of major cities inhabited by liberals is a significant political event. Consequences that might have emerged over years have been compressed into months by the pandemic and protests.
It’s doubtful many liberals will vote for Donald Trump come November. But the alternative? Joe Biden?
Never mind that the protesters are armed with metal pipes, hammers, slingshots with ball bearings and hand-held lasers to flash in the eyes of police, here’s Joe Biden’s comment on the urban chaos after nearly eight weeks of nightly disruptions in Portland:
“There is no reason for the president to send federal troops into a city where people are demanding change peacefully and respectfully.”
As Mr. Henninger asks, which city is Joe looking at?
Rioters carrying shields rush back to the Portland federal courthouse after law enforcement return inside. Rioters cheer and celebrate, claiming it to be a battle victory. #PortlandRiots #antifa pic.twitter.com/UORcZiuOBW
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 22, 2020