Published on June 28, 2021, by The RF Angle, under an alternative title, here.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) reacted to a recent headline in the New York Times about surging crime rates in a video with Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) on Friday.
AOC downplays the surging crime rates, suggesting they may not be real – existing just as “an idea of crime” perpetuated by media outlets, presumably including the New York Times. She claims:
“Now, I want to say that any amount of harm is unacceptable and too much. But I also want to make sure that this hysteria, you know, that this doesn’t drive a hysteria and that we look at these numbers in context so that we can make responsible decisions about what to allocate in that context… we need to reallocate resources away and that a big, you know, major causes of this — and by the way, I also think it’s important context because we hear on the news and media, they perpetuate this idea of crime wave, crime wave, crime wave, right?… and so this idea that a lot of us are panicked thinking that we are at some unprecedented level that we’ve never seen before.”
Her comments come amidst numerous similar statements by Democrats in the past few days on the formerly hush topic of surging crime. It appears that the left is coalescing around a new narrative; one that downplays the severity of the crime wave, while accusing Republicans of being the ‘anti-law enforcement’ party. This abrupt change is likely fueled, at least in part, by a recent poll showing that Americans on both sides of the aisle are increasingly concerned about the rise in crime.
Last week, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) told the New York Times, “We are the only party in Washington right now funding the police… even as we fight for important reforms and racial justice.”
Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who is gearing up to challenge popular Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the fall, also told the New York Times, “When it came to supporting resources for local communities, including law enforcement, not one Republican voted in favor of that funding… When first responders needed them the most — one of those moments — they just didn’t deliver.”
The Biden Administration held a press conference on Sunday in which they too attempted to frame Republicans as the ‘anti-law enforcement’ party, with senior advisor Cedric Richmond claiming:
“And let’s talk about who defunded the police… When we were in Congress last year trying to pass a rescue plan… it was the Republicans who objected to it. And in fact, they didn’t get funding until the American Rescue Plan, which our plan allowed state and local governments to replenish their police departments and do the other things that are needed… So, look, Republicans are very good at staying on talking points of who says defund the police, but the truth is, they defunded the police, we funded crime intervention and a whole bunch of other things.”
While it’s true that the emergency funding attached to the American Rescue Plan did contain funding appropriated to police departments, that piece of legislation was a $1.9 trillion dollar “wish list” of progressive spending, a tiny fraction of which was earmarked for police departments. When viewed as a whole, it was predictably and properly voted against by Republicans in Congress. Given the nature of that bill, the context of the ‘defund the police’ movement over the past year and the fact that police funding is almost entirely managed on the state and local levels, it is extremely disingenuous to claim that Republicans are attempting to ‘defund the police.’
In that press conference, Richmond went on to tie the recent crime surge to gun control, stating:
“Well, part of [the crime surge] is the plethora of guns that are flooding the streets of this country, and that’s something that the President wants to deal with… look, crime was down in the ’90s when we banned assault weapons, and so, it’s time to ban assault weapons again. The president supports that, he’s asked Congress to do that. And you have to look at access to guns when you talk about fighting violent crime.”
Richmond did not cite any specific change in gun policy to cause the recent surge in crime over the past year, nor does he offer any data to back the claim that an “assault weapon” ban will make a positive impact. In fact, the US Department of Justice conducted a study of the previous “assault weapon” ban, and decided that it had no measurable effect on gun violence, concluding that if it were to be reinstated, “…the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” This study, or any other, was not mentioned by Richmond in the press conference. He also ignores the fact that the decline in crime during the 90s was simultaneous with the Clinton Administration’s Tough on Crime initiative (the source of Hilary Clinton’s now infamous “superpredator” comment) which ultimately gave rise to many of the current police policies and practices that left-wing activists are now protesting.
Thus it appears that Democrat party leadership is shifting to a narrative of downplaying the crime surge, and then insisting, to the extent that it is real, it’s primarily the fault of Republican efforts to ‘defund the police.’ Moreover, they claim the self-created crime surge illustrates the need for more gun control, even as the need to defend oneself from violent crime becomes statistically more acute. Whether or not the party’s typically low-information voter base accepts this argument remains to be seen, but moderate Americans are likely to see this head-spinning shift of narrative for the deceitful deflection of responsibility that it actually is.