It is often said that Detroit’s slow spiral into economic and social devastation began with the riot of 1967, but in truth it began when the first infectious strains of late-20th century liberalism incubated in 1962, the year in which the last Republican mayor in Detroit’s history lost his office to a young Democrat named Jerome (Jerry) Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh was so dumb he once attempted to introduce his children at a campaign stop and forgot their names, but he instinctively anticipated modern liberalism’s descent into manipulative partisanship, and displayed a natural flair for the tactics of “divide and pander.”
While his decision to join Martin Luther King’s “Freedom Walk” down Woodward Avenue in 1963 was objectively laudable despite his clearly political motives, Cavanaugh’s next moves were not. Intuiting the enormous political value of federal largesse as a means of imposing mass dependency and solidifying Democratic power, the Mayor welcomed Lyndon Johnson’s “Great-Society” initiatives, and particularly that ambitious experiment in social engineering called “The Model Cities Program.” Johnson’s idealistic plan to transform blighted urban areas into model metropolitan Utopias was, in praxis, a nightmare of increased taxation, exploitation, mismanaged funds, corruption, favoritism, and state and federal intrusions into private enterprise. The impact of these centrally planned, locally devastating projects was an economic body blow that drove more than 22,000 middle-and-upper-class residents from the city long before the violent summer of ’67, while setting the stage for the turbulence to follow.
The 1967 riot killed 40 people and rendered 5,000 more instantly homeless in what was almost exclusively a Black-on-Black tragedy. Countless Black-owned businesses were burned to the ground. Desperate store owners put signs in their windows reading “SOUL BROTHER” to ward off the hordes, but to no avail. Mayor Cavanaugh seemed stupefied by events and took no action, subsequently claiming that a more aggressive police response would have fed the rioters’ hysteria. After 5 days of unrelenting mob violence and citywide arson, President Johnson sent in the 101st Airborne and the riot stopped abruptly. In its aftermath, another 140,000 upper-and-middle-class residents left town.
Faced with such ghastly policy failures, Democrats naturally reasoned that more government controls were in order. They promptly implemented the disastrous Community Development Block Grant Program and Detroit entered the ‘70s poorer, more violent, and less capable of self governance than ever before. To make matters worse, the auto unions picked this moment to become excruciatingly extortive of the American automobile industry, reducing profits and depriving the city of anything resembling an actual tax base given that most large and small businesses had already pulled up stakes.
Even today, Detroit’s liberal administrators maintain the country’s highest property taxes on homes, the largest commercial property tax, and an industrial property tax second only to Columbia, South Carolina—(how’d that happen?) Of course, nobody in Detroit can pay taxes at this point, so their level is arguably academic.
The once-exemplary Detroit Public Schools became a hellbroth of disorganization, drugs, crime and violence, thus only half of the city’s population can read and write. Only half the city’s streetlights work and less than half of the municipal ambulances are running. In the face of mounting crime as the new century matured, 40% of the police were let go. If you needed a cop in Detroit, the average wait was one hour. Predictably, the only growth industry was government since the politicians who presided over the chaos still received their extravagant salaries and lavish perquisites. Why not? Detroit voters largely maintained these incumbents in office; speaking of which, 98% of Detroit’s voters marked their ballots for President Obama in 2012, slightly up from 2008!
The murder capital of the world?
Detroit has been called the “murder capital of the world” by its critics (and, with a certain chauvinistic élan, by many of its residents) for decades, but this is nonsense. Internationally, Detroit can’t hold a candle to Caracas, Venezuela; Acapulco Mexico; or Honduras’s Distrito Central, to name only a few competitors, but homicide has always raged out of control in Motown, which frequently qualifies it as the murder capital of America. The year 2012 began with the motor city well out in front of other contenders with a murder and non-negligent homicide rate of 55 per 1000 people despite 2012 being the year Barack Obama announced he had saved Detroit from bankruptcy (and, coincidentally, the same year Detroit went bankrupt). Jonathon S. Tobin, writing in Commentary, opined that “Detroit isn’t just the most spectacular example of urban blight. It’s the poster child for the consequences of liberal governance.” Liberals, of course, know what to do about a high murder rate. They have policies to deal with such matters.
The city’s administrators favored massive, highly publicized “gun buybacks” on the assumption, familiar to students of liberalism, that guns themselves are the problem, and that melting enough of them would satisfy justice. These buy-back operations have a consistent record of achievement in violence-torn urban communities, which is to say, they never work; but since they are high-profile affairs that make civic leaders look engaged, they are a perennial favorite. Traditionally, homicides continue unabated during buy-backs, while break-ins skyrocket as enterprising criminals set about ransacking homes in search of guns they can fence to the city for cash.
President Obama, (fresh from rescuing Detroit fiscally, as we may have mentioned once or twice), now focused his genius on rescuing it bodily by emphasizing his support for the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, (part of his six-city strategy to contain urban violence). This amounted to city officials, such as Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. woodenly reciting platitudes to a conference room filled with youthful Detroiters. Annie Ellington, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Initiative, hailed the community’s response as “overwhelming,” which it may or may not have been, depending on how one measures overwhelmingness. The city’s violent crime rate never wavered despite Miss Ellington’s assurances that “other cities in the national initiative have praised and emulated Detroit’s youth engagement model.” At the same time, polls showed that more than half of all Detroiters, oblivious, seemingly, of their many emulators, wanted out of town but lacked the means to relocate.
What may prove Detroit’s last-ever marathon buyback of guns began on August 30th, 2011. It was, as almost everybody except the media knew perfectly well, a politically correct but practically moronic beau geste. First, gun buybacks require something Detroit doesn’t have—money. Thus, only $20,000 was allocated to the cause. The going rates were: non-operational guns, $25 (why?), operational guns, $50, and as much as $100 for an “assault rifle,” which, as loyal readers are already aware, WOOF eliminated in 2013 [read the incredible truth here], but that’s not important now. The distinctions may have been lost in any case on Detroit’s police force given its demonstrable lack of familiarity with its own firearms. Consider that at the height of the buyback effort, police were checking out a suspected “chop shop” on Detroit’s east side when they realized the establishment was guarded by pit bulls and summoned Animal Control in accordance with protocol. When one of the pit bulls unexpectedly bounded from the targeted premises, an alert officer drew her .40 caliber Smith & Wesson and fired at the dog 12 times, hitting one arriving Animal Control officer in the leg, and another in the foot. The pit bull escaped uninjured in the ensuing frenzy, and remains at large.
Meanwhile, back at the gun buyout, Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr., a passionate proponent of gun control, announced that it was going so well the money was gone, but insisted that the city would issue vouchers tobe honored at a later date. Godbee emphasized that gun buyouts were particularly useful because,”We know that there are too many firearms that end up in the wrong hands [and] every gun turned in helps because that’s one less gun that could potentially be stolen if there is a home invasion,” which last sentiment seemed odd (although true, in a grim sort of way) given that so many of the guns exchanged for municipal vouchers were freshly acquired in precisely that fashion. “The goal,” Godbee assured the media, “is to get guns out of circulation.”
In Godbee’s defense, his obtuseness is endemic to the entire species of new-wave police commissioners and chiefs, who, unlike cops on the beat, tend to be political appointees who rose to prominence by osculating the establishment’s fundament. Such men are apparatchiks of the metropolitan Left who resemble TV cops of the old Hill Street Blues variety—the ones who wept in each other’s arms when executions took place and went into paroxysms of sanctimony whenever firearms showed up in civilian hands. But in fairness to Godbee, he was also the Detroit version of this—and so his was a rather advanced case.
Chief Godbee was flying high at the time of the anti-gun campaign. He liked to recall his conversation with Barack Obama during a presidential visit to the city (made, you will recall, in the course of saving it from bankruptcy) during which Obama made a point of seeking Godbee, telling him, “Chief, you have a really tough job,'” to which Godbee, not one to be bested in urbane colloquy, replied, ‘Mr. President, you have a really tough job.’ Who could have predicted at that moment how much tougher both men’s jobs were soon to become! (Besides WOOF, that is.)
Guns, girls, and Twitter pics!
Guns, it should be noted, played a conspicuous role in the sad tale of Chief Godbee’s spiral into ignominy. The first such gun belonged to Officer Joseph Weekley who claimed it discharged of its own volition during a raid on the home of a murder suspect, taking the life of a sleeping seven year old girl. Chief Godbee did his best to portray a silver lining, telling the press “we must use this difficult moment to continue bringing our community and police department together,” but charges of perjury, evidence suppression and a lack of departmental transparency quickly ensued. In other words, it transpired that Weekley, not his gun, was culpable of misconduct.
A second renegade handgun struck on September 9, 2012, when a 24-year-old Detroit woman named Adaisha Miller embraced off-duty police officer Isaac Parrish from behind while dancing with him at a fish fry on Detroit’s west side. No sooner had Miss Miller effected this gesture than the holstered weapon discharged whereupon Miss Miller fell to the floor mortally wounded. According to Chief Godbee, Parrish’s holstered pistol discharged for no apparent reason, striking Miss Miller in the chest, which in and of itself seemed to defy the laws of physics. Subsequent versions had Miller manipulating the trigger by accident, and finally, manipulating the trigger by accident while performing what was politely described as an ‘exotic dance’ thereby placing herself in the holstered weapon’s trajectory. The story was not held to much scrutiny by local media—the Detroit Free Press, for example, contented itself with asking,” Why was the officer’s gun loaded?” Only Adaisha’s aggrieved mother seemed to make sense, declaring that she had been told so many stories she found it hard to believe any of them.
But Chief Godbee’s bad gun karma was only beginning. He was away at a national chiefs’ meeting in San Diego when his subordinate, Detroit Internal Affairs officer Angelica Robinson, went public with claims she was enmeshed in a steamy affair with Godbee, he having filed for divorce from his wife only two months earlier. But Officer Robinson was convinced Godbee had escorted yet a third woman to San Diego (as in fact he had) and elected to express her disapproval by posting a picture of herself on Twitter with the barrel of her city-issued Glock thrust ominously into her mouth. The depiction went immediately viral causing a national sensation even as it put quite the damper, one supposes, on Chief Godbee’s San Diego rumpus.
Godbee was, at least, in the process of becoming divorced; whereas Officer Robinson turned out to be thoroughly married despite her evident enthusiasm for Internal Affairs (sorry!) and yet Robinson managed to negotiate the incident and its aftermath far better than the unfortunate Godbee, who was unceremoniously cashiered. It is perhaps a tribute to the impact and pervasiveness of feminism in Detroit’s political bureaucracy, (or perhaps simply evidence of unfettered incompetence), that Robinson was not only reinstated at her former rank and pay, but also handed back her Glock.
Evidently aware that embattled liberals are often forgiven their excesses once they enfold themselves in the protective embrace of victimhood, Chief Godbee made the timely admission that he had been molested as a child, but when Godbee was found to have promoted a number of attractive young ladies in exchange for sex, Mayor Dave Bing canned him anyway and appointed his replacement, Chester Logan, who lasted only until he was caught misappropriating undercover personnel to spy on Police Commissioner Jerome Warfield, no less, presumably in an effort to sabotage what Logan suspected were the Commissioner’s efforts to locate a more suitable permanent police chief. Thus, in a stunning display of sophoclean irony, Logan became the artificer of his own demise.
The new breed…
You may be wondering in the course of all this, how America moved from a country of hard-bitten law-and-order types, chafing against the restraints placed upon their policies by bleeding hearts of the jurisprudential left, to the other extreme—an extreme at which the “top cop” in nearly every major city is prepared to shred the 2nd amendment and lock arms with the anti-gun politicians and the liberal media simpletons who cheer them on. Examples?
In Boston, Police Commissioner William B. Evans rants against legislators voting to make it easier for honest citizens to obtain firearm IDs. He predicts a bloodbath if such criteria are softened even as New York City’s police commissioner, Ray Kelly, retires, leaving a career of dedicated opposition to the 2nd amendment. In retirement, Kelly will enjoy the protection of six heavily armed bodyguards to protect him from the City’s dangerous criminal element.
Charles Ramsey, police commissioner of Philadelphia, teamed up recently with the nation’s top gun-runner, Eric Holder, and “Shotgun” Joe Biden to announce that national gun legislation as stringent as New York’s will be needed “everywhere” to stop urban violence, despite the fact that such legislation has not even stopped urban violence in New York.
…and earlier this August, Missouri voters flocked to the polls and by a majority of 66% approved a ballot measure obligating Missouri to affirm the right to keep and bear arms. True, it’s alarming that only 66% of voting Missourians think the 2nd amendment merits continuance, but even that was too much for St. Louis Police Chief Samuel Dotson who immediately filed a lawsuit attempting to block the amendment affirming the amendment. To hear chief Dotson on the matter one might conclude that reaffirming the right of Missourians to keep and bear arms constitutes an irrational invitation to mass slaughter.
We refuse to bore you with case after case in which exemplars of this new breed swear to uphold the Constitution only to work in blatant opposition to its clear intent. Suffice it that we could fill the remainder of this article with examples. Some gun authors like Mark Chestnut have opined that America’s police chiefs go along with this sort of idiocy to get along, echoing their political masters’ philosophies despite their better angels. This is too kind. These chiefs, almost to a man, want to abolish the 2nd amendment just as badly as do the statist poltroons they serve. Resplendent in blue, braid, and sparkling stars, they customarily explain massive levels of urban violence as the inevitable result of too few progressive programs, too little funding, and, of course, too many guns. But in reality, gun buy-backs, citizen “initiatives,” and frantically constructed community basketball courts have never lowered municipal gun crime a single tick, but who cares? They are the kind of liberal theater that makes for feel-good politics in connivance with “journalists” who gush over the projects without ever bothering to examine the results. Readers, you cannot name a large, crime-ridden American metropolis that is not governed by a liberal democrat backed by a gun-grabbing political flunky in charge of the city’s constabulary! Oh wait, yes you can….because there is now a single, glorious exception to our dictum: Detroit!
Return of the native…
It may be recalled that immediately after Detroit was bailed out and saved from bankruptcy by the inspired intercession of Our Beloved Helmsman, it tumbled immediately into receivership and thus a city Emergency Manager, one Kevyn Orr, was appointed to handle the city’s financial mess. It was therefore Orr’s decision to hire a police chief who did not correspond to the normative metropolitan archetype. Oops! The result of Orr’s independent outreach campaign was a game changer. Rather than fill the opening left by Godbee’s and Logan’s discomfitures with another sycophantic hack, Orr seized the moment and commandeered the police chief of Portland, Maine, one James Craig—a Detroiter by birth and a realist by disposition.
At first, Craig’s hiring caused nary a ripple. Craig is satisfactorily Black, so no eyebrows rose on that account. And when Orr explained that “Chief Craig is a decorated law enforcement officer with more than 30 years on the job [and] completely qualified to be chief in Detroit,” nobody thought twice about it, because, of course, nobody really took it seriously. The city’s political class had no cause to suspect that anything useful, or even unusual was in the offing—its denizens sat back to await the next citywide gun buy-back, or the latest call for an outraged citizenry to rid itself of the 2nd amendment at the ballot box the better to feel good about itself while its children were mown down like wheat and police sirens mourned the harvest—is this not the way of American city governance? Just ask Comrades Emanuel and de Blasio!
To be fair, a few alert liberals saw signs of trouble almost as soon as Craig reported for duty. He didn’t want to legalize marijuana, for one thing, insisting it was a major cause of criminal activity in the city quite apart from its simple possession or sale. He was an outspoken critic of imported cars, preferring his Pontiac GTO. True enough, Detroit is a good echo chamber for such preferences, but the upper echelons of liberalism’s oligarchy, even in the Motor City, abide by the broader canons of progressivism—and setting aside the holy precepts of internationalism to tool around in a home-grown muscle car is not cool, comrades—not cool at all.
It takes a keen eye to pinpoint individualism amid the vast wasteland of conformist orthodoxy on the Left, but progressivism routinely fields paladins whose sensibilities are a match for the task. Labor activist Robert Davis, for instance, was quick to smell the taint of authenticity wafting from Craig and attempted to have him removed from office early on, arguing that because Craig was appointed, rather than elected, his position was illegitimate. This was patently absurd, but Davis might have gained some momentum given his shrillness had he not been caught stealing over $125,000 from the Highland Park school district just then, requiring him to refocus on slithering out of his own mess. Craig, meanwhile, broached the fact that he was “pro life” in an interview, but before the usual consortium of pouty establishmentarians could pounce on that unpardonable enormity, he unleashed his Sunday punch.
Shortly after Craig’s installation as Chief, members of the press felt bound by convention to ask him the usual questions about firearm violence, allowing ample opportunity for any expatiative banalities the new man might choose to insert related to the inherent dangers of widespread gun ownership. Any police official in any municipality in America could have sleep-walked his way through the approved answers to such chestnuts, and nobody expected variations from the prescribed themes, but Craig refused to play. Instead, he made national headlines when he assured the assembled reporters that armed citizens could best deter crime — a pronouncement that might fairly be characterized as the shot heard ‘round the national news cycle.
Immediately, torrents of virulent criticism poured forth from all the predictable liberal outlets, designed to alert the poor bumpkin from Maine to his misstep while firmly placing him back on message. Chief Craig, whose obtuseness clearly knew no bounds, doubled down. He assured his political and media adversaries that he too had once been as benighted as they, admitting that he was as resolute a gun grabber at the outset of his career. He told The Detroit News that “Coming from California [where he served on the Los Angeles force for 28 years], where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of carrying concealed weapon permits, and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation.” But Maine provoked a kind of epiphany in its newly arrived police chief. Craig began to drink in the 2nd amendment ethos and, as he told the News, “I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”
In keeping with his newly established insights, Craig called on Detroiters to arm themselves against the city’s criminal element. In so doing he acknowledged simple truths that no other police chief had been willing to address, including the fact that police officers could not arrive at crime scenes fast enough to provide deterrence and insisting that in emergencies, that deterrence must come from an armed and resolute citizenry.
Detroiters who lived through decades of ultra liberal administrators (mostly because they kept voting for them, but that’s not important now) suddenly realized the city’s main law enforcement official was advocating gunfire as the most practical solution to the Motor City’s runaway crime rate. If Joe Arpaio had parachuted into Grand Circus Park with a bullhorn and a case of Mini 14s, the message could not have been any clearer—or driven liberals any crazier: The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun was still a good guy with a gun. This lesson was not lost on the predominantly black citizenry of Detroit, at least in part because Black liberalism is in many respects different from White liberalism. Here’s how:
Forty-three percent of Democrats oppose abortion, but fifty one percent of Blacks view abortion as morally wrong. Sixty-eight percent of America’s Black adults support school vouchers (against which liberals traditionally inveigh demagogically). Seventy percent consider energy taxes too high and oppose a carbon tax. Even a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll acknowledged that 73% of the Black population stands in staunch opposition to illegal immigration and supports stricter border control. A Pew survey found that Black Americans are most likely to report a formal religious affiliation, with fully 87% affiliated with some religious group, the majority of them Christian. Even 72% of Blacks who do not report a formal religious affiliation say that religion plays “at least a somewhat important role in their lives,” while 52% of all liberals polled by CNN insist that they never or almost never attend church.
Even a cursory examination of the volumes of survey data available on line will quickly confirm that American Blacks harbor some profoundly conservative views setting them starkly apart from their brie-and-Chablis counterparts on the Caucasian Left. The illogic of Blacks repeatedly voting Democrat by overwhelming percentages has engaged our attention previously [click here]. But one sad fact cannot be denied, and that is that only about 30% of Black Americans firmly support the 2nd amendment. Polls suggest that Blacks are (naturally) sensitive to the role illegal guns play in the murder rates of Black young people and the sky-high prevalence of urban crime while almost no Blacks retain any cognizance of the role legal gun ownership played in fighting the KKK and other racist cadres in their cultural past, nor do they grasp to what extent such groups led the fight against gun ownership among blacks in attempts to disarm them, thus rendering them helpless. The impressive histories of Black defense alliances such as the storied “Deacons of Defense” (read about them here) and other Black groups that armed themselves to confront the likes of the Klan and various American Nazi nutcases go untold for the most part nowadays, but in Detroit, at least, it may be that a healthy rebirth of this spirit is at hand as Detroit’s Blacks relearn the lesson preached by the mid ‘60s anti-Klan activist Charles Sims who declared, “Let’s back up the Constitution of the United States and say we can bear arms. We have a right to defend ourselves.”
And indeed, Detroiters have precisely that right regardless of race or ethnicity, and hold an especially strong card since the 2006 passage of the Michigan’s stand-your-ground-law, which eliminated the necessity of yielding ground or otherwise catering to armed aggressors when acting in self-defense. Detroiters didn’t pay it much attention until 18-year-old Michael Evans walked up to a 36-year-old resident as the latter was getting into his vehicle. The vehicle, incidentally, happened to be parked directly in front of police headquarters but this did nothing to deter Mr. Evans who gamely brandished a pistol in the driver’s face, demanding that he relinquish his keys or meet his Maker. Instead, the driver drew a legally-registered handgun and shot Evans dead. The shooting was ruled a justifiable homicide. Liberals, of course, were beside themselves with outrage. After all, Detroit’s hundreds of carjackings routinely ended with somebody dead, but never the perpetrator! The city’s predominantly Black inhabitants, on the other hand, could take a hint: Proactive measures stopped crooks better than left wing polemics—every time!
Things seemed even more desperate from the liberal standpoint when shortly after the thwarted carjacking, Damontae Moorer was shot to death while attempting to break into a Detroit home. Mr. Moorer was accompanied by a 19-year-old female accomplice, (who chose the better part of valor) but he himself was only 15 when he was detected smashing his way into an armed citizen’s home. The homeowner filled his hand, and Damontae stopped four bullets. And the Left went utterly berserk. Now the city’s youths were being mown down by crazed vigilante citizens—what next? Naturally, the media and the local politicos endeavored to evoke the cult of the angelic youth, as they invariably do when police shootings occur or whenever citizens defend themselves with firearms [see previous WOOF contemplations of this phenomenon here] but Damontae’s mom proved hopelessly out of step with the effort, telling reporters that her son “was easily influenced” and insisting that his female accomplice probably manipulated him into breaking into the home. Meaning no disrespect whatever to Mrs. Moorer, whose candor is refreshing, but a team player would have insisted that her son was Christmas Caroling and produced a photo of him at around age 7, hugging Santa. Some people just can’t get with the program.
Before even a decent candle-light vigil could be arranged, a 50-year-old homeowner dialed 911 at 12:30 AM and informed Detroit police that a truck was parked suspiciously outside her house. She then reported that someone got out and was trying to break into her home. The stranger initially tried to pry the bars from several windows but failing that, broke the glass on the one rear window that lacked bars and climbed through. The homeowner shouted a warning that she was armed, but the intruder was undeterred and proceeded toward her. “He’s coming into my home,” the woman told 911, “I really do not want to shoot him. He’s coming in; I can see him in my house!” The 911 dispatcher, who had obviously gotten Chief Craig’s memo, replied ‘You have the right to protect yourself.” When police arrived, 24-year-old James Roundtree was crumpled in the the front yard with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was transported to a local hospital where he was declared stable. His 16-year-old female “wheel man” was also taken into custody.
Shortly afterward, two Detroiters were playing video games in their basement when they heard a commotion upstairs. Investigating, they discovered three intruders in the process of robbing their home. Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody told reporters the homeowner armed himself and fired a shot, whereupon the intruders toppled over one another trying to flee the scene. This proved difficult because the smashed window by which they’d entered would not accommodate them in simultaneous retreat. Kicking through an emergency door, the three felons fled to their getaway car, but the dauntless homeowner pursued them. Two men escaped on foot, but the third jumped into the car from which he fired several shots of his own before shifting into reverse and backing toward the defenders. The homeowner returned fire, striking the suspect through the rear windshield whereupon he ran over a street sign and crashed into an adjacent house. WOOF cannot help wondering if that constituted two B&Es in one night, but since the driver was pronounced dead at the scene, it probably doesn’t matter.
Liberalism never quits—and as evidence, the news networks trotted out John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, who shrilled, “I think it’s a disaster. How do you grow a city when you say to people who are thinking about moving there: ‘When you move here, bring a weapon.’ Who’s going to want to move there?” Evidently Mr. Roman believes the likely prospect of being shot, stabbed, raped, robbed, or bludgeoned by unrestrained criminals roaming a city whose motto in Roman’s view should be “and if you move here, we’ll disarm you,” will attract residents like flies to butter. As we are in the habit of saying from time to time, it is mean-spirited to confront the delusional.
Chief Craig’s opponents next claimed that stand-your-ground laws habitually and unjustly favor Whites, which is conjecturable on a statistical basis but which, in any case, seemed an absurd concern in a city that is 82% Black. Failing this point, the Left produced Mark Fancher, a “racial justice staff attorney” at Michigan’s ACLU, who explained that the very absence of white abuse was also bad—because Black Detroiters shooting Black Detroiters would surely “be fulfilling a stigma of armed Black people, rather than trying to dismantle it.” Mr. Fancher did not say where, other than in his febrile imagination and the bygone culture of the Jim Crow south, such a stigma existed, nor did he explain why no “stigma of armed Black people” was likely to arise so long as only lawless Blacks shot honest Blacks with illegally-obtained firearms —and the press, predictably, did not enquire.
Meanwhile, Detroiters were taking charge of their city to an impressive degree. Justifiable homicide in the city shot up 79 percent from 2010 to 2011. Detroit’s rate of self defense killings has been calculated as 2,200 percent above the national average. Police response time under Craig has moved from about an hour to about 25 minutes. Still, as Sgt. Erin Stephens points out, “It’s not about police response time because often the act has already taken place by the time the police are called. Police can‘t be on every corner in front of every home. And we know that there are citizens who will do what they have to do to protect themselves.”
Especially exasperating for dismayed leftists was the sharp drop in reports of police brutality, attributable first to attitudes like Sergeant Stephens’s which gave Detroiters the sense that the force was with them, so to speak, and also because the increased reliance on self-defense limited the necessity of police interventions of the sort that compulsive race baiters like Al Sharpton or Barack Obama might characterize as “acting stupidly.” As 73-year-old Detroit resident James “Jackrabbit” Jackson put it, “It’s like the militiamen who stepped up way back when. That’s where the neighborhood folks are. They’re ready to fight. We don’t hardly see police anymore.”
While leftist “experts” explained on CNN and MSNBC that Craig’s advocacy of widespread gun ownership would do nothing to curtail crime, robbery fell 37% in Detroit while businesses reported 22% fewer break-ins, and the city recorded a 30% drop in carjackings. Police also reported that nonfatal shootings, aggravated assaults, and sexual assaults were all markedly reduced. The city’s homicide rate peaked as Craig entered the scene but fell 14% by the end of 2013 and is expected to finish 2014 considerably lower.
Space prohibits a thorough account of Detroiters fighting criminals with lawfully obtained firearms, doing so would run longer than our infamous Hillary piece (our longest column ever, as several critics were kind enough to note). But a search of the Detroit papers for 2014 reveals instance after instance. Just one week’s reportage from February should suffice to demonstrate:
■At 2 a.m. Feb. 22, two men broke into a house on the city’s southwest side; the homeowner shot both men. A 21-year-old man died and the other man escaped.
■Earlier on Feb. 22, at 12:30 a.m., a woman who was surprised by a gunman when she pulled her car into the garage was able to reach for her own gun and fatally shot the man.
■A woman on Feb. 17 opened fire on three teens who kicked in her door. The alleged intruders, ages 14, 14 and 15, were caught by police and charged with home invasion.”
Chief Craig likes to insist, “we’re not advocating violence. We’re advocates of not being victims.” But WOOF asks rhetorically, what is the Left to do without victims? Scowling media flaks began to report each new triumph of law and order as “another example of a story becoming all too familiar in the Motor City,” doing their utmost to portray each new act of self defense as another shocking case of indiscriminate bloodletting.
The media drumbeat became relentless, driven by an endless chain of news stories. Two men attempted to crush a citizen’s head with a tire iron and were gunned down in their tracks. A mother warned three alleged home invaders that she was armed and when the threesome kicked her door in anyway, she blasted them with her Hi-Point Carbine—“an assault weapon!” cried the talking heads. And as if this weren’t horrible enough, later that very same week, another woman stopped an alleged invasion of her 8 Mile residence with a 38 special. The media were beside themselves—would this animalistic brutality never cease? They carped and caterwauled until it seemed the abhorrent Craig must surely be on the verge of capitulation, and then…
Craig called a press conference. In the face of so much pressure to walk back his call to arms, to declare vigilantism an unacceptable means of policing a major metropolitan community, and to seek a truce with the city’s hard-pressed criminal element, it seemed obvious the moment had come. With the national media huddled in giddy anticipation of what they assumed would amount to an apologetic volte face, Craig began by saying that in his 37-year career he’d never seen so many homeowners defending themselves by shooting intruders. That sounded promising, as though Craig were building up to a call for a cease fire—for renewed tolerance—for a more enlightened means of confronting the city’s gun problem…maybe another nice gun buy-back, or perhaps a photogenic series of candlelight vigils?
“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” he announced. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides. It’s interesting that these incidents go across gender lines.” The media emitted a collective gasp. This wasn’t going well at all, and on top of that, this crazy fascist Police Chief was playing the gender equality card—one of their cards—and talking empowerment, one of their buzz words! At long last, had James Craig left no sense of decency?
Craig had too much decency, in fact, to reverse course when he knew he was leading his native city to unprecedented victories over violent and invasive crime. His message was unchanged: Detroiters could rely on themselves to battle the bad guys and win. Armed citizens could turn the tide of metropolitan decay, and rely on the support of their police while doing so.
Two intended victims…
Our concern here is that Craig—an authentic American hero– is fast approaching his limit with the liberal establishment, or with what we here at WOOF persist in calling the Worldwide Socialist Totalitarian Conspiracy that Governs Us (even though WSTCGU is a hopelessly uncatchy acronym). The clock is ticking. Vast resources are being committed to his professional–and very possibly to his personal–destruction.We have said before [mainly here] that no one possibility so terrifies the political Left as that of America’s Blacks shifting their allegiance to the right—and while we are not so sanguine as to presume that a single Black voter in Detroit has cast off the bonds of liberalism as a result of Chief Craig’s renaissance, we nevertheless assert that liberty cannot take root without deliverance from servitude—and without masses cast into servitude, there can be no socialism. Chief Craig may have no idea how dangerous his stance is to the Leftist agenda, but the setters of that agenda are emphatically aware. Quite apart from the legions of vassals to whom they preach victimhood, the leftist establishment unhesitatingly strives to victimize any whom it fears, be it Palin, Chambers, Goldwater, O’Donnell, Bachmann, Cruz, Reagan, Limbaugh, McCarthy, Paul, Bork, or Joe the Plumber. James Craig is now an intended victim. The time will arrive when he will need our support, gentle readers, and it must be unabashedly given!
The second intended victim now in the cross hairs of the establishment is the idea into which Craig quite innocently tapped: the idea of free Americans, each armed, each outspoken, each committed to the commonweal. The closest the Left can come to replicating this idea is the Occupy Movement (forgive us a cruel chuckle). Only the Right can manifest this ethos authentically, and thus all who manifest these ideals are inexorably drawn to the Right. For this very reason, the Left will target Detroit’s newfound freedom from fear with a predictable barrage of calumnies; all cunningly disguised as humanitarian aims, pleas for compassion, and cries for peace. And as always, many will be deceived. But it isn’t likely to work in Detroit where almost 100,000 concealed carry permits are now in circulation in Wayne County alone. Freedom is heady wine, and Detroiters have sampled it in tantalizing measure.
Our favorite Detroiter
So here’s one last story. Steve Utash was driving down Morang road in Detroit, when a ten year old boy darted from a line of parked vehicles. Utash slammed on his brakes, but could not avoid contact. The boy caromed off his bumper and toppled to the ground. Sitting by the window of her living room, retired nurse Deborah Hughes observed the accident and hastened to the scene. The driver was beside himself, stammering frantically, “Oh my God, did I do this?” Hughes explained she was a nurse and was there to render assistance. But while she comforted the stunned child, whose injuries proved minor, a crowd of angry passersby gathered. It didn’t help that Utash was White and the young man was Black. Someone shouted “let’s get him!” and the crowd became a mob, throwing Utash to the pavement and assaulting him with fists and lashing feet.
Deborah Hughes now dashed over to the scene of this fresh crisis. She confronted the mob single handedly, shouting, “Don’t kick him anymore, don’t hit him anymore, get back.” The attackers paused to size her up, a single Black woman of retirement age in a hastily tossed on coat. Hughes sensed their momentary incertitude and repeated, “’Don’t nobody hit him anymore, don’t kick him anymore, get back,'” and miraculously, the mob obeyed.
Naturally, the media went universally nuts over the saintly nurse who turned back a violent mob by sheer force of character, but most newscasters ignored the rest of the story. “Spiked” was the footage containing Hughes’s revelation that, “I had a gun in my pocket, I was ready to do some damage if I had to.” Following the incident, Chief James Craig declared Hughes a “Detroit hero.” WOOF considers her an American hero, cut from the same cloth as Craig. And as Hughes explained it “You have to carry a gun around here, this neighborhood is terrible. I don’t walk around without my gun.”
But remember, Hughes never drew the gun—it remained in her pocket throughout the confrontation, concealed, but available. Its presence vouchsafed Hughes the command she needed to disperse a crazed mob and save a man’s life. And that detail invests the encounter with a uniquely second-amendment ethos… a testament to the power of the quiescent .38 that proved unnecessary in the event, because as its owner later told WXYZ TV, “I was willing to shoot anybody who hit that man again.”
One remaining point
What accounts for the apparent illogic of a leftist philosophy that professes dismay when citizens shoot bad guys in self defense, but cares not a farthing when criminals shoot at citizens? Are they mad? Well, Max Eastman came close to saying so when he explained communism (a philosophy he formerly espoused) by pointing out that it was akin to mental disease. “You can’t know what it’s like until you’ve got it,” Eastman explained, “and then you can’t know what it’s like, because you’ve got it!”
Simply stated, Marx saw crime as a result of alienation resulting from unfair labor demands placed upon the proletariat. He considered laws and property rights invalid because they protect “the ruling class,” thus deviant reactions against them (i.e., crime) are not criminal at all, but legitimate reactions against unequal divisions of power necessitated by the evils of the capitalist system. Few liberals wade through Marx’s Kapital, but most have imbibed his toxins from the spigots of academe, media, Hollywood, and many mainstream churches. The doctrine is peddled today as social justice, but the root is communism. The Marxists who pull the strings know the pure doctrine—your liberal uncle just got the simpleminded version–but the left’s veneration of criminals and its comparative hostility toward decent Americans (the despised bourgeoisie) is easily understood once the source of the infection is revealed.
This is the power James Craig has engaged in battle—and he very probably has no idea of its wellsprings or its history. That said, he clearly senses its wrongness, and we brought it up because we think our readers should clearly sense it as well. As for social justice, well, WOOF believes in that too, but our version is less Marxian and rather more “Callahanian”—that is to say, derived from the sayings of “Dirty Harry” Callahan who perfectly summed up the argument for Detroit’s crusade against crime when, in the film Magnum Force, he rebutted an archetypically progressive police commissioner by asserting: “There’s nothing wrong with shooting, as long as the right people get shot.”
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