March 20, 2023

Conservatives can congratulate themselves for not giving up hope in the wake of the 2020 George Floyd imbroglio and Republican defeat at the polls. The attacks on police funding all over the country became epidemic. Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists were successful in reducing police funding in many of the bluest cities in the nation. Places like Minneapolis, Baltimore, Chicago, and San Francisco saw reform efforts go out of control. These included replacing cops with mental health specialists, reducing sentencing guidelines, and generally treating criminals as victims of perceived police abuses. These reforms coincided with a progressive blue wave of social justice issues in the wake of Joe Biden’s election on an increasingly leftist platform, but conservatives fought back. We kept hammering away at dinner-table issues such as BLM propaganda in schools, LBGT overreach in education, and other cultural causes that alarm mainstream middle-of-the-road Americans.

The counterattack has paid off. President Biden joined Republicans in rejecting the Washington, D.C. crime bill that would have further crippled the capital’s police. Chicago rejected its “soft on crime” mayor Lori Lightfoot. Baltimore canceled its ultraliberal prosecutor Marilyn Mosby. Even firmly progressive San Francisco voters have revolted against seeing their city descend into third-world chaos. To the dismay of radical reformists, the ever-flexible Biden is drifting once again toward the center.

What conservatives have finally convinced many swing voters of is that, without a “fear factor,” criminals multiply like prey animals in wildlife areas where predators have been eliminated from the food chain. As the prey animals overeat, they destroy the environment around them. Naturalists have had much success in reintroducing predators back into areas where they have long been missing. The PBS Nature program has documented their success in restoring the natural balance. PBS is much loved by progressives, but most fail to understand the analogy of using the fear factor to reduce crime.

Traditionally, the public has viewed criminals as predators and law-abiding citizens as prey animals. That is the wrong way of looking at things. Most criminals are more like wildebeests than lions or wolves. Law-abiding citizens more closely resemble the ecosystem undermined by the prey animals. Like prey animals, criminals tend to be not very bright but will multiply exponentially, polluting the urban environment that they inhabit absent solid, hands-on community policing. (READ MORE by Gary Anderson: For Progressives, There Are No Good Guys With Guns)

Good policing introduces a fear factor into the criminal population by culling their numbers off the street. Natural selection will admittedly force the surviving members of the criminal element to become smarter in their selection of victims, but it will reduce crime in aggregate. If done properly, good policing forces criminals to attack each other rather than the general public. Most gun violence in urban areas is a result of internecine warfare among criminal gangs competing for the drug trade.

New York City’s Giuliani-era stop-and-frisk methods resembled the natural balance. Like nature, they could sometimes seem cruel, but they were successful in turning the Big Apple from the cesspool it had become in the 1970s into an environment safe for law-abiding citizens and tourists in the ’80s and ’90s.

When naturalists allow predators loose in the wild where the ecology is out of balance, they pick healthy specimens that will eventually flourish. It takes a while to restore the natural balance, but naturalists notice a near-immediate change in the behavior of the prey animals. They become much more cautious and less overt in exploiting the environment they occupy. The same thing happens with street thugs as they see their herd thinned by aggressive community policing.

In Mozambique, naturalists released wild dogs to control small grazers. No naturalist in his or her right mind would release rabid dogs, but some metropolitan governments that have neglected their police for too long are not so discerning. Memphis recently decided to reinstitute community policing, but years of neglect had left the force short-handed and desperate for recruits. The city fathers resorted to reducing standards at the police academy. The result was the horrific death of Tyre Nichols.

The police forces of deep blue cities such as San Francisco, Memphis, Baltimore, and Chicago can be rebuilt. However, to do so will take a real effort to respect cops, support them, and properly train them. It is not clear that the progressives who run these cities are really committed to the task. Moderate voters are the swing factor that may cause real counterreform. The job of conservatives is to remind rank-and-file voters how corrosive BLM and other progressive anti-cop movements have become. Nothing clears the liberal mind so much as the threat of an imminent recall.

Gary Anderson lectures on Alternative Analysis at George Washington University.

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