Ground That Needs Standing

Talking about “the politics of fear” is kind of redundant. If our two parties were big box stores row after row would stock that commodity to the ceiling. But being scared of what government finds best for you isn’t always misguided — Democrats and Republicans tend to be fearless in those cases. It took political outsiders to warn us how bad “civil” asset forfeiture larceny would get. Both parties dug in heels insisting on keeping the crime legal.

Nearly 80 years on FDR is still the poster boy for Democrats. He got to his feet delivering his most famous line: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Maybe headquarters should send out a memo? Latoya Cantrell is the mayor of New Orleans. That city’s crime rate, which has never been low comparatively, has gone through the roof in two years. In March of this one, Linda Frickey was pummeled and carjacked, as the four under aged teens drove off the 73-year-old grandmother’s arm was caught in the seatbelt. It got severed and she bled out in the middle of a Big Easy thoroughfare. The grisly mayhem made news far and wide.

Five months after that sickly event the mayor sat with the family of a 14-year-old boy who was being sentenced for five armed carjackings. Two of them were on the very same day by the very same offender. Her honor was quoted explaining her presence in court saying she “didn’t pick sides.” Pay no attention to the one she was sitting on. The kid was sentenced to three years probation.

This sounds like a lady who does not scare easy. That conclusion doesn’t quite pan out. While grandmothers lose arms and die on NOLA roadways, she’s too careful to fly coach.  If any of Linda Frickey’s relatives sit in the back for air travel that worry might be legit. The mayor is going round with city administration over travel expense upgrades, to first class, they rule unjustified.

This is how she explains herself:

“My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not of luxury. As all women know, our health and safety are often disregarded and we are left to navigate alone.”

“As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be. Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in.”

Who knew that macadamias and Grey Goose over peanuts and Tito’s were potentially life or death choices? Latoya could add to our understanding by citing the source of stats evincing that women of color have higher flight survivability where accommodations are cushiest. Who wouldn’t be surprised if she could find a single case? Cantrell’s defense for the necessity of riding high would be mighty brazen in any circumstances. With her city in its present condition, it sounds like lines from a character out of Evelyn Waugh or Jonathan Swift.  This should be all over op-eds and in at least one SNL skit. But it might subtract from lines that come at Donald Trump’s expense.

In the meantime, The Washington Times,  Wall Street Journal and New York Post are reporting that New Orleans just took the title of champ as city with the highest per capita murder rate. Still, the peril of enduring plebes lacking leg room cannot be underestimated.

Fifty-five murders happen every day in the United States. But it is crucial to a columnist’s career to pick and choose which ones get his ink. It can be risky pointing out a threat is overblown. Joe Biden made a speech September 15 about the threat of white supremacist terrorism. There’s no doubt it is out there. But when the ADL tells us that in 2021 it accounted for 13 dead – isn’t something awry if it is dangerous to point out that that’s a yearly total amounting to less than one fourth of the daily corpse count?

Can anyone be given benefit of the doubt that they don’t support the Aryan nation or the KKK noting they are low on the list of legit reasons for insomnia? If fear and loathing must be ever present in our political preferences – that’s a major media priority, not my own – isn’t it deranged not to rank these concerns rationally and scientifically? A go at that kind of reckoning will get your post drowned in accusations of “hate” on social media. Enthusiastic agreement that Jan 6 upheavalers must face the music is no defense. If white kooks don’t top the list of your anxiety you get lumped in with them.

Skepticism of legacy media is decried as destructive radicalism frequently. If that institution’s advocates would like to go down that road they should have no qualm scrutinizing the particulars. Whimsically subjective treatment of media frenzies and trends requires daily confrontation. The amount of discussion over airways and in print that isn’t held to any account is overwhelming. Trump, of course, wasn’t helpful; he went off the rails with the regularity of the worst in media. Can we please get an informing class that can stand aside or above hyperbole, frenetic emotion, oblivion to detail, disregard for citation and the grip of political and academic trends?

If academia and their acolytes in media can bring up a time in history when political fear wasn’t misdirected they should be on it. I don’t know of one. Pamphleteers sparking the Gordon Riots in 1780 London didn’t sell copies claiming Catholics were harmless. Protestants in 1572 Paris were sold out as equally threatening when mobs reacted on St. Bartholomew’s Day. If a writer wants to focus on violence, danger and insidious threats, it isn’t much to ask that he get the story straight. Selling the unpopular down the river never loses its edge.

If the mayor of an American city – with worldwide renown — can practically advertise hospitality for one of our country’s most notorious criminal trends – and not get major media attention in the process – institutional media fears can be safely ruled misplaced.