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California’s aristocracy of lunatics 'Defund the police' is their motto and mission

'Price has made her sharp turn away from prosecuting criminal offenders when arrows on crime graphs are making a sharp turn towards the sky' (Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

'Price has made her sharp turn away from prosecuting criminal offenders when arrows on crime graphs are making a sharp turn towards the sky' (Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)


December 22, 2023   8 mins

The standard TV image of a district attorney — or, prosecuting attorney — in the US is of a tough government lawyer passionate about putting bad guys behind bars. Or maybe the “DA” is a cynical, striving politician willing to bend or break the law to get a high-profile conviction on a guy who isn’t bad at all. Either way, DAs on TV like to finish the process that begins with the police arresting someone by getting a conviction, setting bars between society and a guy, usually but not always bad. The reality is very different in the smaller details, but fairly similar in the larger ones. Reality has far fewer dramatic trials than TV, for example, and much more plea-bargaining, but on the main thing — prosecutors tending to prosecute people — TV and reality are in rough agreement.

Except where I live. Where I live, in Alameda County, California, the DA is Pamela Price, who says she sees herself as “minister of justice”, not “prosecutor”. Fair enough. America’s DAs could maybe exhibit less single-minded focus on winning convictions (and blocking bad convictions from being overturned), and more interest in simple justice. But Price has made her sharp turn away from prosecuting criminal offenders when crime is making a sharp turn upwards, especially in the county’s largest city, Oakland. For this reason, local groups are working to force a “recall” election, hopeful that crime-weary Oaklanders will vote her out.

This recall threat may have been why she staged a public event called “Know Your District Attorney” in late November. If so, how she staged this is extremely interesting. You’d think a DA under pressure for being soft on crime would make some gesture in the other direction, reassure her constituents that she does care about rising crime and its growing population of victims. Perhaps she’d have a high-ranking police officer on stage with her, a handful of crime victims supporting her as she empathises with them, an American flag somewhere in the background, because doesn’t everyone respect the flag, deep down?

But Price had no police officer enhancing her aura of toughness, nor victims on stage with her. Crime victims were in the building, but they were in the audience, and frowning. Two of them, whom Price made a point of ignoring, wore hoodies bearing an iron-on picture of a young relative who’d been murdered. Nor was there an American flag anywhere visible, which is notable, as American police and prosecutors traditionally have a flag in the frame when they face the public. Instead, as a photographer named Thomas Hawk documented on X: “The event started out with a cultural dance presentation and then a prayer to our ancestors where for some reason a Poinsettia plant was watered in front of the crowd while we bowed our heads in prayer.” Following this, according to Hawk: “We got a panel lecture from some of the non-profits advocating for her brand of progressiveness while complaining about more moderate district attorney’s [sic] in the past.”

This latter detail calls to mind the Oakland teacher’s strike I wrote about last June, when, in a high-stakes political moment, the teachers’ union’s progressive leadership pressed a seemingly impolitic slate of extreme demands having little to do with teacher pay or working conditions. This posture sent a revealing mix of signals into the political environment — close affinity with other progressive organisations and a sort of bold indifference toward school parents, traditionally a key constituency. Like the radical leaders of the teachers’ union, Pamela Price is responding to a moment of political challenge not by looking to the broader electorate for support but by turning to the activist NGOs that sit with her on the ideological fringe.

These cases are symptoms of a political phenomenon that my fellow Californian Matthew Crawford calls the “Party State”, which he describes in a pair of typically trenchant essays from last August. California is a Party State in that it is so dominated by the Democratic Party that political actors worry less about the mass of voters, who will vote Democratic even if they’re ideologically moderate themselves, and more about nodes of influence within the Democratic Party. These tend to be highly organised and ideologically extreme NGOs, issue groups that also exert a mimetic influence on each other that makes them both more similar and more radical. This logic is doubly powerful in those parts of the state — such as Alameda County — where Democratic dominance is even more lopsided and the activist NGOs even more extreme. If officials in a city like Oakland can seem strangely indifferent towards voters, in other words, that’s because they are. Their most valued constituents aren’t voters. They’re well-organised ideologues who staff and lead activist organisations, whose most valued constituents, in turn, are each other, the bunch of them locked in a bidding war of moral purity.

The Party State is a powerful concept. It helps explain why not just conservative but moderate and merely liberal Californians sometimes feel like they’re governed by a tuned-out aristocracy of lunatics. It’s no small thing to gain some insight into such a predicament, but I’d like to examine another aspect of the theatrics of the Pamela Price event — the odd ceremony by which it was baptised, via a a potted pointsettia, from a plastic bottle.

This sort of ad hoc ceremony has become a staple of political theatre in progressive circles in North America. In less official or governmental modes it has the familiar character of the “privilege check”, people securing their authority to work or speak on sensitive matters through an appearance of grovelling. You’re only worthy of having opinions about marginalised communities if you proclaim that you’re not worthy of having opinions about marginalised communities, because of your privilege. After that, you can have opinions (but only some opinions). Likewise, you’re not worthy of living in a house or having a college or running a fancy boutique on land where native tribes once lived unless you post a sign or put some text on a website announcing this fact of pre-colonial history. This is the increasingly popular “land acknowledgment”, which imbues the privilege check with spiritual meaning through the conjuring of other people’s ancestors.

But, as the Pamela Price event shows, this progressive spiritualism shows up in governmental settings as well, and when it does it takes on political meaning that is, in fact, profound and consequential. When Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao was sworn into office in early 2023, this civic event began with an elaborate quasi-indigenous dance ceremony — conducted in Spanish — and of course a land acknowledgement. Such gestures serve the political convenience of progressive officials while conveying a novel message about the broader legitimacy of the authority they’re elected to wield.

Thao has a job that traditionally involves supporting the police in the sometimes violent and controversial conduct of their jobs. Price’s office requires her to use the testimony and evidence police officers provide her to send people to prison for committing felonies. Unavoidably, then, Price and Thao are implicated in some ugly and troubling things. Arrests involving bodily force, even when both the arrest and the force are obviously justified, are un-nerving to see. A citizen being killed by police fire, even a violent citizen holding a gun and threatening others, is a shocking event. Owing in part to the violence of American society, in part to the insular and sometimes lawless culture of American police departments, in part to questionable practices being official procedure throughout American law enforcement, American police forces bear some pretty bad reputations for some pretty good reasons. And the local jails to which DAs ask judges to remand criminal suspects, and the prisons to which they work to send criminal defendants, are typically hideous places. For these reasons, the moral and political legitimacy of the entire apparatus of public safety in America is always unresolved, and, in progressive cities with large black populations, it generally rests on a knife’s edge.

But all DAs and mayors in American cities with volatile racial politics and serious crime face this challenge. They usually handle it by standing up after an incident of police misconduct or a controversial police shooting, often with the Chief of Police at their side and an American flag somewhere in the frame, and conceding that improving police conduct is an ongoing project while also insisting that most cops are good cops and the work they do is indispensable. But the movement Oakland’s Mayor and DA emerged from is deeply rooted in the anti-police protests of the last decade, in which police reform has been largely displaced as an organising focus by police defunding and abolition. This movement has had to invent an entirely new set of crime-fighting methods — often based on the assumption that police cause crime and that social workers, therapists, and other unarmed helpers can do a better job of preventing it. It wants nothing to do with police and policing, in other words, except to agitate against them.

And yet sometimes activists from this movement get elected as mayors and DAs of cities that have not yet conquered crime by defunding and abolishing their police departments. The police are all they have for tackling crime, and crime — especially the wild and brazen daylight crime Oakland has experienced over the last year — is one area where progressive leaders must pay almost as much attention to unhappy voters as they do to progressive NGOs. They have to support the arrest and imprisonment of some people at least, sometimes, but in doing so they are tainted by association with institutions they made their political names by execrating. To remove this taint they enact ceremonies from traditions, real or invented, originating far outside the national traditions to which policing belongs. By publicly blessing themselves with the holy practices of America’s historic victims, they create a hygienic distance between themselves and the dirty institutions of American order they were elected to lead.

They’re also advancing a new mythos, an alternative official story of the American state and American nationhood. And this, potentially, is a big deal. As Benedict Anderson portrays them in Imagined Communities, his magnificent study of nationalism, national stories typically reflect and impose an aggressive presentism. In them the basic legitimacy of the nation-state in its present form is taken as unquestionable, and the history of massive violence and expropriation underlying that form is treated with a sort of useful incoherence — which Anderson calls “memory and forgetting”. The historical parts and constituent groups of a given nation, whose defining encounter may have been conquest or civil war or ethnic cleansing, are remembered in national myth as primordially bound, their bloody encounter the playing out of some deeper, indeed fraternal, unity.

Consider Anderson’s treatment of the “old Norman predator” whom British children learn to call “William the Conqueror”. Hearing this name an impertinent child might ask, “Conqueror of what?” The obvious historical answer is “Conqueror of the English”, but that would put William, whose people stuck around and became an important part of the English nation, in the company of enemies such as Napoleon and Hitler, which won’t do. “Hence”, Anderson writes, “’the Conqueror’ operates as [a] kind of ellipses… to remind one of something which it is immediately obligatory to forget”. The mythic result of this mix of memory and forgetting is that “Norman William and Saxon Harold… meet on the battlefield of Hastings, if not as dancing partners, at least as brothers”.

The American national myth reflects an even more vigorous effort of memory and forgetting, in which America’s vicious Civil War was a “war of brothers”; in which the enslavement of Africans serves as mere prelude to their emancipation into civic brotherhood; and in which indigenous peoples America called “Indians” as it took over their continent are honoured as primordial brothers of the land, fearsome role models for its greatest frontiersmen, and thus worthy of having countless sports teams named after them. Such national stories are obviously ridiculous in their substance, but the fact that they persist despite this merely highlights the gravity of their purpose. Given the feared alternative — in which the fault lines erased in the myth are redrawn, the old hatreds refreshed into new ones, the old violence given new life — tellers and hearers of national stories have adapted themselves to their incoherence, committed themselves to forgetting as they remember. The feared alternative is quite bad enough, and the nation and state in their present workings are just good enough, to justify this strange commitment.

The new generation of governing progressives, and the curators of the new progressive mythos influential in American media and education, are fixing to test these assumptions. They can’t abide the unifying stories of America not just because they’re incoherent and historically dubious but because they’re unifying. The present regime they help justify should not in fact be justified. It is, after all, maintained in its semblance of public order by the police. And the only thing one should do with the police is work to abolish them, and, should one come in contact with their impurities in the course of one’s public duties, use certain prescribed rituals to remove the taint. As a way to reassure one’s progressive friends in the Party State, this effort of political storytelling and moral hygiene should work pretty well. How it works as a way to govern violent cities is different question.


Matt Feeney is an writer based in California and the author of Little Platoons: A defense of family in a competitive age


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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

I enjoyed this essay. The author did a good job of illustrating the absurdity of the progressive movement, and its pandering ceremonies.

“Likewise, you’re not worthy of living in a house or having a college or running a fancy boutique on land where native tribes once lived unless you post a sign or put some text on a website announcing this fact of pre-colonial history.”

Politics is extreme in California, but the state is a microcosm for much of the west. Politicians have a deeper connection with NGOs and activists than voters. Voters are an inconvenient constituency that must cajoled and coerced into adopting the correct beliefs.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes. But we inhabit a Progressive Party State too. We still fail to recognise the depth scale and disastrous impact of the New Order which has changed/ruined the UK since our accession to the EU and Blair’s demolition of our laws, culture and the nation state in the 90s. It is embodied in deranged laws and protected by the power of the Blob and propaganda of State media and the counter revolutuon has failed – Johnson and most of the Tory party bowed deep to the Party State. No doubt our police will be defunded if the madness of us giving power to a pro EU, pro welfarism pro open border pro DEI pro Net Zero and anti wealth creation identitarian/Equality Cultist Labour actually happens.

ben arnulfssen
BA
ben arnulfssen
4 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

The Tories-In-Name-Only circumvented the de-funding of the police. They purged them instead, dismissing 30,000 plus experienced officers and replacing them with 20,000 “fast track” youngsters, every one ideologically vetted…..

Mrs R
Mrs R
3 months ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

This was written by Gramsci in 1915: “Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity. … In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches, and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.”
Most people, falling into line as the Long March reached its goal, are simply useful idiots with absolutely no real understanding of world history or any true perspective on where we are heading as a society. Dumbed down education, hacking at the bedrock of Western culture and traditions, the atomisation of populations into disparate groups divided by some cultural or racial characteristic – all have been used to further the collapse of democracy by ensuring distraction, ie the oldest trick in the book: divide and rule. Unfortunately most people have fallen into line and simply do not think much beyond complying, uttering the virtuous sounding sound bite and caring about being seen to stand for whatever is currently approved of, blissfully unaware that they are helping to place the bricks in the walls of what will one day be our prison.
The West’s citizens will soon be managed along the lines of China unless there is some major wake up call. I can’t see that happening though.

Last edited 3 months ago by Mrs R
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

Putin has also predicted that this is what will happen to the West…

Andrew Vanbarner
AV
Andrew Vanbarner
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

At bottom, progressive ideology, like Marxism, is incompatible with liberal democracy.
Both rely on the us- versus-them model of proletariat versus bourgeoise, with the progressive left simply swapping in women, blacks, gays, or the environment for the oppressed, and the “pale and male” for the cruel, tyrannical bourgeoise capitalist.
This is essentially Political Science 101, or at least it used to be in American universities. (As our societies are very similar, I assume the UK has or recently had analogous curriculi.)
But the majority of voters, at least in the US, have little to no education in civics, or law, or history, beyond “white men built this country on stolen land and stolen labor.” Low information voters who think themselves educated happily go along with this weltanschauung, and radically unwise politicians can now win elections espousing these ideas, and inflict upon us all their “solutions.”
This reinforces deeply held psychological beliefs among the left’s two major constituents, and relieves their emotional pain.
For the upper classes, it assuages their guilt, as it calls our entire economic and legal “superstructures” (to borrow a phrase) into question. Why feel guilty over one’s success if everyone in power is tyrannical, corrupt, and racist?
For the bottom of the economic food chain, it relieves any feelings of failure, assures politicians (as in coastal CA)a large constituency of dependents, and excuses property crimes. It’s not the burglar or the mugger or the narcotics trafficker who’s at fault.
It’s “the system.”
And of course, if “the system” (the rule of law, due process, free markets, two party systems, etc) is rotten to the core, then it can be fixed with a series of changes in policies.
These would then involve indifferent or absent policing, a vaporization of property rights, high taxes, reverse discrimination, and the crushing of the individual.
Apparently utopia will then ensue.

Last edited 4 months ago by Andrew Vanbarner
Christoverre Kohler
CK
Christoverre Kohler
4 months ago

Each and every Berkeley city council meeting opens with a “Land Acknowledgement” that we’ve been assured is a rather traditional and ancient ritual. Yet, so far, the question that raises in my mind is who were the folks that invented it, and whose land were they on and upon what premise?

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
3 months ago

Absolutely true. The hypocrisy of comfortably ensconced academics crusading for the oppressed is readily apparent.
The free market capitalism they decry is the very thing that enabled their comfortable existence.
And the “oppressors” they disparage are often in reality the people who still enable their existence – the construction workers, mechanics, and tradesmen who are nearly the Morlocks to their Eloi, without Wells’ culinary trade offs.
Aboriginal Native Americans of course were hard done by – they were decimated by disease, overwhelmed by huge waves of settlers and immigrants, and severely lacked the resources to mount any sort of defense. Their lifestyles often required large landmasses that settlers would convert to farmland and pastures.
But they were also completely defeated over a century ago. Millions of their descendants are alive today, and are now victimized far more often by their chiefs – their own tribal governments – than by “whites.” Those who leave “the Rez” for universities or even for the trades can do very well.
They also possess considerable liberties other Americans don’t have. They’re generally exempt from fishing and game laws, can open casinos and sell untaxed cigarettes, and receive considerable sums from the Department of the Interior.
The land simply isn’t there anymore in enough quantity to support hunters and gatherers, or even subsistence agrarians. The buffalo are gone, and few aboriginals today have the skills their ancestors had.
Rather than recite “land acknowledgements,” maybe reform tribal governments, and give them alternatives to abysmal public schools?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago

Without being disrespectful, your query assumes ‘logic and rationality’, of which the current Progressive movement is bereft. These people are not wise, smart or educated. Progressives are the ‘poster-children’ of what it is to be ‘dumbed-down’.

Last edited 3 months ago by Cathy Carron
Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
3 months ago

If people had genuine educations in wat you term civics, and what I would call economics, philosophy and history then people like Trump would never be elected; nor would the Tories in the UK because people would easily be able to assess that doing so is against their own interests. In the UK 90% of our Press is owned by 3 companies, 2 of which are the personal playthings of billionaires. Yet people here drivel on about the state owned media that apparently brainwashes everyone; as for Labour being a Marxist body that is as laughable as calling Mickey Mouse Hitler. As for the garbage in this article there are some inconvenient facts and, with the exception of something about a Poinsetta, there is not a single fact quoted in the column, police funding has INCREASED:
https://couragecaliforniainstitute.org/investing-in-public-safety-how-police-are-funded/
Another fact is that California spends THREE times more on the police than they do on housing or social services:
https://couragecaliforniainstitute.org/investing-in-public-safety-how-police-are-funded/
When people call for the defunding of police they are NOT calling for the abolition of police forces but pointing out that it might be a damn sight better for society if a great deal more was spent on housing and social services; now I realise that, in the terms used here, that makes anyone advocating that a “caawmunist” who should be immediately arrested and gaoled, preferably to be executed. The authord does admit that the police have done absolutely horrendous things but then says that regardless they should be supported at all times and steps should be taken to improve policing. The same crap was being spouted in the 1960’s. Not only have there been no improvements but the police in the U.S. are heavily militarized and their entire MO is to treat all poorer citizens, white as well as Black, Latino or Native American, like the conquered subjects of an occupying army. The demented comments posted here make me realise just how much education IS sorely needed.I would wager a fair sum that no one person here has actually read a word that Marx wrote or has any idea what he actually wrote or meant. I am not a Marxist but like it or not he is one of the most important thinkers who ever lived. he got a lot wrong, but he got a lot more things correct.One of the more fatuous stances on the right is that capitalism mmust bring freedom and democracy. I wonder what the Chinese would make of those assertions, or the Russians, or a dozen other countries?

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
3 months ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

“One of the more fatuous stances on the right is that capitalism mmust bring freedom and democracy. I wonder what the Chinese would make of those assertions, or the Russians, or a dozen other countries?”
Blatant straw man. The right’s claim is that capitalism is necessary for freedom and democracy, not sufficient for it. You’re the one who’s being fatuous.

J Bryant
J Bryant
4 months ago

I’m puzzled by this article. The author also wrote the Unherd article titled, “The ‘Segregated’ Playdate That Led To a Bomb Threat.”
https://staging.unherd.com/2023/09/the-segregated-playdate-that-led-to-a-bomb-threat/
In that article he described how his children’s school’s parent organization circulated a flyer about the organization “… hosting a weekend ‘Playdate Social for Black, Brown, and API Families’ on the school’s playground. (API means “Asian and Pacific Islander”.)” There was outrage among some parents, and on the internet, that the playdate excluded white kids, and there was even a bomb threat against the school.
The author downplayed the significance of the flyer and playdate, arguing, among other things, that a flyer advertising a playdate “for Black, Brown, and API Families” was significantly different from a flyer explicitly stating that white kids were not invited to the playdate.
The author asserted, “The playdate, you might say, was the harmless practice of a bad theory.” I disagree. The playdate was one instance of a progressive ideology applied to young people throughout their education, K12 to college. The ideology is normalized by accepting such “harmless” activities as playdates where white kids are, expressly or impliedly, not invited. The end result is a generation brainwashed by this ideology which embraces not just overt racism, but policies such as defund the police. When the kids grow up, there is a straight line between practices such as the racially exclusive playdates and the type of behavior exhibited by the DA the author now complains about.
Indoctrinate kids young enough and they’ll believe just about anything, especially if their parents expressly or implicitly endorse those views.

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
4 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I look forward to remembering and forgetting this article.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago

“the theatrics of the Pamela Price event — the odd ceremony by which it was baptised, via a a potted pointsettia, from a plastic bottle.” What a ritual at cross-purposes: the plant itself has Aztec origins (yay!) but is named for a South Carolina slaveholder (boo!); there is baptism and maybe libation (yay!) but the bottle is: plastic, man (boo!) The priesthood needs to do a little upgrading here: maybe moisten an Agave from a folkloric ceramic chalice? (And since Agaves don’t need much water, this signals that signalling is important for its own sake, rather than for mere worldly efficacy.) C’mon, folx, get on the stick! (Is there perhaps grant money available for this? Maybe the Ministry of Silly Walks has a slush fund that might be diverted Westward to the Californians?)

Hugh Bryant
HB
Hugh Bryant
4 months ago

There’s nothing new about this. Most people think that class war is waged by the rich against the poor or vice versa. In fact it’s just as often waged by an alliance of plutocrat and lumpenproletarian against the middle class.

At times of shortage in Rome the patricians would send agitators into the forum and the wine shops to foment tribal and ethnic conflict in the archetype of ‘divide and rule’.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

This is correct. I would only add that alliance is primarily International. The Left rejects the idea of National boundaries. So while there may be a domestic lumpenproletariat that’s been activated to rebel against traditional western values, the domestic group falls into a larger International group of “oppressed peoples.”

Michael Cavanaugh
MC
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

“an alliance of plutocrat and lumpenproletarian against the middle class.” Well-turned.

ELLIOTT W STEVENS
ELLIOTT W STEVENS
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Exactly. Bertrand de Jouvenel’s concept of “high / low against the middle” is a pattern that he documented in top-down “revolutions” across time and cultures.

Other historians have also done work expanding on his thesis.

It really should be pushed into the mainstream consciousness

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
3 months ago

“High/low vs middle” isn’t peculiar to revolutionary doctrine. It was also “baked into” the foundations of traditional conservatism, which originally saw itself as an alliance of aristocracy and agricultural labour against the mercantile classes, and persists today in the form of the working class tory inveighing against middle class wokery in the Town Hall.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard Craven
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

“the working class tory inveighing against middle class wokery in the Town Hall” …
… as he should.

Stevie K
SK
Stevie K
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Nice classical references Hugh. It’s always instructive to be reminded that who shares fundamental interests with who with who is not always obvious.
I think the current incarnation is several layers more complicated and messed up, as a very large proportion of the middle classes are in on the ecstatic merry-go-round of neo-puritan self hatred and self abnegation. I feel much confusion and chaos in the Anglosphere approaching.

Tony Price
Tony Price
4 months ago

I was expecting at least something on what Ms Price has or hasn’t done in Oakland in her role as DA, but unless I missed it there is nothing. How very strange!

0 0
0
0 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Totally agree. This piece comes across as a bitter hatchet job attempt on Ms Price, by a resentful white male. And we do know by now, that the entitled white male contingent have a disturbing propensity to ‘act out’ !

Will Rolf
Will Rolf
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Weird how black males are 6% of the population yet account for 52% of the murders in this country. Your racial slur has no basis in reality.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
4 months ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

And most of the victims too as I understand…….

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

I’m not sure why 51 of ya’ll down-voted Double-aught’s comment. It obviously a parody of a Bay Area tatooed vegan.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
3 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Flagged for racism.

Stevie K
Stevie K
3 months ago
Reply to  0 0

I’m going to take this as a parody account

Dan Comerford
DC
Dan Comerford
4 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Fair point. I moved out of Oakland in 2012 and the city crime was bad then; based on media reports I’ve seen it sliding towards dystopian. Not all of this mess can be laid at the feet of the current DA, however she seems to be sending a clear signal that criminals will not fully be held to account. Earlier this year the Oakland NAACP has blasted failed local leadership for the significant increase in crime. There have also been controversial instances where the current DA has reduced charges for high level crimes. A recall petition is gathering signatures and is on track to meet the filing deadline to force a recall election in the spring. Here is a link to an article which can provide further info.
https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/08/us/oakland-crime-increase-naacp-residents/index.html

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Price is not the theme of the article. It wasn’t hard to understand.

Su Mac
Su Mac
4 months ago

Nothing makes the ridiculousness of religious ritual so apparent as transposing it into someone elses religion. California reminds me of a mix of Mao era style brainwashing of “new truths”, the French Revolution turmoil and social transformation, overlaid with sacred hocus pocus to enforce the ridiculous.

They are bug@#red. And as they voted Democrat for decades and volunteer to live in the vile place we can watch and learn without pity.

Tony
Tony
4 months ago
Reply to  Su Mac

The trouble is we are heading the same way without realising it. They are the same ones who are using the zero carbon, transgender and vaccine deceptions to bring about a kind of gloabal socialism. That is why the Tories are not a conservative party apart from a few brave stalwarts.

Mrs R
Mrs R
3 months ago
Reply to  Su Mac

This was written by Gramsci in 1915: “Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity. … In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches, and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.”

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago

It is exceedingly difficult to feel bad for people who are experiencing the foreseeable consequences of their electoral decisions.
A citizen being killed by police fire, even a violent citizen holding a gun and threatening others, is a shocking event.
It is shocking right up the point when one looks at facts and numbers and realizes that 75% of those civilians are not black. In other words, the racial element is grossly overdramatized. And for anyone whose response is, “blacks are 13% of the US population,” the correct response is, “and they carry out more than 50% of the murders, usually against other black people.” Black lives only matter when they can be exploited for political gain.
The CA conundrum does not reside in a vacuum. It happened with the full faith and backing of voting majorities who are only realizing that what they wanted is as bad as many of us told them it would be. We’ve read this author before; he’s not some conservative living in leftist-occupied territory. He’s someone who is smart enough to be able to connect the dots between policy ideas and results.
The state, and cities like Oakland, are creatures of their electorates’ making. San Francisco recalled Chesa Boudin as DA but crime hasn’t stopped, nor has the quality of life improved. The only way normalcy will return, and I hate to say this, is for people like Feeny to be personally impacted by the ideas they supported. It’s like the Chicago and NY mayors suddenly aghast to find that sanctuary city status was moronic, and looking for someone to blame other than themselves.

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“The only way normalcy will return, and I hate to say this, is for people like Feeny to be personally impacted by the ideas they supported.”  
Truer words have never been spoken.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

But San Francisco was a world-class city 30 years ago, or close to it. So everyone loses, even those who had no vote in it. And many didn’t vote for those “hands-off” policies and approaches. Hundreds of thousands of current residents didn’t.
Would it be accurate to say that you find it “exceedingly difficult” to feel sorry for anyone under almost any circumstances?
It’s one thing not to feel bad for things you place under the umbrella of Foreseeable Consequences. But be careful of too much schadenfreude.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

my bro is a liberal living in SF who wishes there were some sane dynamic republicans there to attempt some braking of the loony left. The concept of a ‘party state’ is bang on. !

Doug Pingel
DP
Doug Pingel
4 months ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

Best if your Bro stood up as a republican and invited like-minded people to join him. His wishful thinking and inaction seem to border on stupidity and/or cowardice. If that seems too strong then at least foolishness and what I can only describe as LMF.

Nardo Flopsey
Nardo Flopsey
3 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

I tried that myself in 2020. It didn’t go very well. I lost 80% of my friends, many of whom I had known over a decade. It seems people suffer from the sunk cost fallacy in politics as well as investment.

Mrs R
Mrs R
3 months ago
Reply to  Nardo Flopsey

That’s how totalitarianism takes hold. That of course is the plan. For it to be successful ‘they’ ,and there is a ‘they’,needed to ensure there was an and army of useful idiots to unwitting enable the plan to come to full fruition. We are now reaping the harvest of that.
America will fall to Chinese style governance without even realising it.

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
4 months ago

As King James wrote in his Daemonologie (updated to modern spelling):

Yea, he [Satan] will make his scholars to creep in credit with Princes, by foretelling them many great things; part true, part false: For if all were false, he would tyne credit at all hands; but always doubtsome, as his Oracles were. 

The point being: the Luciferian lie always contains a grain of truth. It could never succeed otherwise. And this new generation of Luciferians (make no mistake, that’s what they are) uses the same playbook. They start from an uncontestable, though skewed, position about the injustice of the world, using this as the seed from which their true ambition (declaring themselves gods and tyrants over us all) can grow.
But let it not be forgotten: Satan cannot withstand the power and glory of the risen Christ. If we allow His light to enter in, the forces of darkness WILL melt away, their fatal weakness revealed once and for all. But if we permit Luciferians to continue growing twisted trees from grains of truth, they will drag us down into the bottomless pit they call home. Let it not be so. Let the people come to their senses and see through the wiles of the serpent.
Glory be to God, and Merry Christmas one and all.

Tony
Tony
4 months ago

Sounds like the freemasons to me.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Peace on Earth and good will toward mankind. Love your neighbor as yourself. Judge not, lest you be judged, for according to the measure you mete out it shall be measured unto you again.
Please remember all of the Good News. Merry Christmas.

chris sullivan
CS
chris sullivan
4 months ago

Amen brother – the ‘Father of Lies” indeed – and why is ‘lying’ now called disinformation almost sanitizing it . Lying spreads chaos – another title for the great Satan who is , of course, our primitive inherited nature – that must be contained and challenged whenever its greedy, nasty , violent self emerges………..to overwhelm the more sane members of h.sapiens. Cant help but feel that evil spreading like a virus tho and the’ slow trail crash” of our cilvilization being underway – damn glad i will be gone before it really starts getting underway. Bummer for the kids tho.

Christoverre Kohler
CK
Christoverre Kohler
4 months ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

I’m grateful that my lifespan has landed where I got in some years during a kind apex time. But it really raised the bar for a painful comparison with this plummeting trip down demise.

“We need more writers who remember what freedom was.”
~Ursula LeGuinn

0 0
00
0 0
4 months ago

I wonder how many of these politicians actually believe this nonsense they push or just going along with it because it’s politically beneficial to them. If it’s the letter then it’s much worse. Also the ngos are funded by wealthy donors through charitable foundations they control, both as a means to co-op them in order to reduce them as a threat to their interest as well as use these groups they’ve co-opted to push their interests as well. It also bolster their own status and prestige to boot because being associated with these causes makes them look good in the eyes of their peer group and confers the appearance of moral legitimacy and authority.

Last edited 4 months ago by 0 0
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

I’m sure many of them think it’s silly, but are afraid to object. I don’t blame them really. Any objection would be met with extreme hostility by all the important people.

Tony
Tony
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You are right. One half wants freedom of speech and fairness and the other half wants to cancel the views they don’t agree with. This is destroying nations including Britain which has the same zero carbon deception as it is very convenient to bring on this global socialism..

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

An acquaintance of mine was working at a local college. Her department head called staff to a meeting outdoors and told everyone to bring a blanket. They were to arrange the blankets in a circle on the ground, sit on them, hold hands, and meditate whilst the DH chanted. Everyone, embarrassing and unprofessional as it was, complied except for my acquaintance, who said bluntly that it was ridiculous, had nothing to do with her job, and she went back to her office to get her work done.
She was transferred to a different department, and was d*mn glad of it.
The laughable watering of the poinsettia should have been immediately mocked. But, like my example, most people are shockingly obedient.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Wow. Like some kind of compelled theatre performebce.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Worse still? The DH was a PhD who ran a program in which she worked recruiting potential students from Central and South America who spoke no English. Her husband was a certified moonbat who was on the City Council.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
4 months ago

It sounds like only a prayer to the God of Abraham would have been immediately mocked in this group.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Unless the person first laid down a blanket and wrestled with an angel.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
4 months ago

tis why the proletariat is described as ‘lumpen’ !

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Um – is that not a description of fascism in practice ??

Tony
Tony
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Probably the latter. These are the same people who push the zero carbon deception and covid vaccines. Their motive is political and anti people. Too many of them they say. The want to rewild the whole of the USA. Their motives are not only political but quite mad bordering on vicious. They don’t tell you that of course, but their actions lead to the same endgame.

Last edited 4 months ago by Tony
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
4 months ago

Instead, as a photographer named Thomas Hawk documented on X: “The event started out with a cultural dance presentation and then a prayer to our ancestors where for some reason a Poinsettia plant was watered in front of the crowd while we bowed our heads in prayer.” Following this, according to Hawk: “We got a panel lecture from some of the non-profits advocating for her brand of progressiveness while complaining about more moderate district attorney’s [sic] in the past.”
“Before the tribal ceremony began, a curious religious ritual was carried out: evocative dancing, coupled with ancestor veneration, was followed by invocations of both the gods of the city and the gods of the forest. Once these mysterious supernatural forces had been propitiated, a ritualized denunciation of the ‘enemies of the tribe’, an almost mindless litany, was mouthed in bored tones, devoid of any real fire; one gets the sense that this arcane rite has been practiced for such a length of time that all meaning has been leached from it, almost to the point of incomprehensibility to its participants, much as happened to the Indic Vedas.”

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
4 months ago

No one today, on the Left or Right, believes the fairy tale history they were taught in grammar school and old movies. In America, Progressives and Conservative are locked in a power struggle and neither side cares very much about democracy. The narratives they create about defunding the police on the Left and stolen elections on the Right are nothing more than rallying cries for fanatics.
When these fanatics get elected, as in California, they run smack into the brick wall of reality, and they don’t last long. Chesa Boudin has been recalled in San Francisco and the Pennsylvania legislature has just reigned in Philadelphia’s progressive DA by appointing a special prosecutor to override some of his decisions not to prosecute criminals. Most other progressives who campaigned to defund the police have governed by refunding the police.
I understand Unherd is a conservative publication that caters to conservative readers, but they could just have easily printed a story about Republican politicians who wear silly red baseball caps and bow to the likes of Donald Trump. Both sides of our politics have been captured by extremists, that is the real problem. The majority of Americans are sick of the bad choices they have to make when they cast their vote on election day.
  

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

I agree with much of that. But not all the fanatics, on either side of the horseshoe, get run out of office fast as with Chesa Boudin and the SF school Board members. By the way: How is SF being run now? And in the Bay Area, where I live (San Jose), far-left progressivists are the most prominent extremists, and obvious overall problem when their policies don’t meet enough popular pushback or other “checks and balances”.
It can be hard to breathe with the amount of air, air time, and attention being taken up by fanatics–and the boring, mirror-image sociopolitical thought tribes they belong to–these days. Viable third party now!

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

California doesn’t have a viable second party, and you want a third one? How about just not pursuing ideas that have foreseeable bad consequences?

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Both parties are beholden to extremists and mutual antagonism and you think the current model works?
I’m talking about the national political picture, and our local discourse here in California, in response to Mr. Greco’s remarks along those lines. But thanks for your rather obvious suggestion: “How about just not pursuing ideas that have foreseeable bad consequences?” Something no one here needed reminding of or would disagree with. Fair point even so.
However, as Mr. Greco points out, you would have a hard time cleaning house and implementing your better agenda if you ran for office and got elected. Anyone would.
Viable third part now. Even in California, where the 30-35 percent of voters who are Republican* but never get a state-wide winner anymore could join with center-left people who detest what the Democratic party has become, like me. I thought Arnie the Governator was, in many ways, better than Fulsome Newsome–but we might do better than either.
*Some of them, plus some of the 20+ percent of independents

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I am seriously considering voting for RFK.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

I haven’t officially ruled it out. I sure wish he’d walk back or at least back up some of his more wackadoodle claims.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
4 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

Unherd is a publication that caters to unheard writers: the downside of subscribing to sane, rational, impartial stuff is that you end up in this damnable sane-rational-impartial echo chamber.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

There is nothing as stupid and useless as a “bothsiderism” blather. Equating the incredible damage of a prosecutor like the Soros prosecutors in MULTIPLE cities to the fantasies of the stolen election is monumentally stupid, really. EVERYDAY REALITY of not prosecuting criminals in mutliple cities affects EVERYONE In those cities.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

I guess TRUE stupidity ONLY exists OUTSIDÉ of your own head?
Nice try.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
4 months ago

1) “You’re only worthy of having opinions about marginalised communities if you proclaim that you’re not worthy of having opinions about marginalised communities, because of your privilege”:
A nice encapsulation of this contradictory creed, which goes further left or just more bonkers than even “standard-issue” progressivism. Some rather privileged and insulated folks (folx? fuk that, the overuse of “folks” is silly enough) have risen through the ranks while performing these “sacred dances” of self-effacement.
2) “They can’t abide the unifying stories of America not just because they’re incoherent and historically dubious but because they’re unifying”:
Aye. It’s one thing to “interrogate” or “deconstruct” our national myths and foundational assumptions–I think that can be done in an honest, worthwhile way–but what do you claim to replace it with? Better be something more than disillusionment or a pile of rubble. Also, aspirational or myth-bound ideas about national character are not therefore empty or altogether false. They may serve to simplify and bind. Those of a more questioning habit or subtler understanding can always dig deeper. Heck, even the Average Person gets that there’s some mythologizing and airbrushing involved. And stupid or very credulous people–at times I can be both and don’t fully exempt myself here–need simplifications and re-assurances. If they are destroyed they will just find worse myths to comfort themselves with elsewhere, probably online.
I am an admitted elitist in this sense: I think those who are smarter, better-read people should try not to overcomplicate or cynically dismantle beliefs & assumptions of the dumber and less literate. That won’t help most of them (nor their “instructors”) unless they do a great deal of thinking and read a lot more books that they are unlikely to ever do.
Pointing people of little reading and middling intellect toward Nietzsche, Marx, or Foucault is almost a moral injury. They need to start with the mythos, and stick with (or return to) some of it. I have.
3) My younger brother who is far to the left of me, especially in his “official” views, now lives in Oakland with his wife and one-year-old daughter. They are in the hills and off the mean streets. But my brother, a general contractor and capable builder, hates the regulations he encounters in trying to fix the old house on the property he purchased. They are worried about a lack of community and the level of crime too, now thinking of moving to the relatively sane streets of Santa Rosa, about an hour north. Just some anecdotal info that no one asked me for.
4) I found this to be a forceful and well-argued essay, with a well-supported group of claims that were made without casting aside all nuance and clarification. I’ve found a lot fault with some of Mr. Feeney’s previous contributions here, but I applaud this one.

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Robert
Robert
4 months ago

“Given the feared alternative — in which the fault lines erased in the myth are redrawn, the old hatreds refreshed into new ones, the old violence given new life — tellers and hearers of national stories have adapted themselves to their incoherence, committed themselves to forgetting as they remember.”

When I read this I thought – this is exactly the kind of person who votes for people like Pamela Price! He’s all in on the theory stuff (or, he can certainly sympathize with and regurgitate it) – until it goes just a little too far. I get the sense that any conversation with him that goes deeper than this article (and others he’s written) would quickly start to sound like Judith Butler-speak, stuff found in one of the various *insert aggrieved group* studies classes.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Robert

Wrong. He is a self-reflective and more or less fair-minded dude. Far more plainspoken than Judith Butler. By the way, though I detest her writing and agree with very little that she says, in person Judith Butler sounds more reasonable and uses more normal English

Clive MacDonald
Clive MacDonald
4 months ago

‘Party State’ – this puts me in mind of Bolsover during the 1980’s (Dennis Skinner’s home turf), where all 30 councillors were Labour, and the only activity of political interest was when splits occurred within the Labour group.

James Gray
James Gray
4 months ago

Behold the frightening power of the Echo Chamber to make those within stupid beyond comprehension. It becomes a competition to see who can be more extreme, and more stupid.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
4 months ago

“If officials in a city like Oakland can seem strangely indifferent towards voters, in other words, that’s because they are. Their most valued constituents aren’t voters. They’re well-organised ideologues who staff and lead activist organisations, whose most valued constituents, in turn, are each other, the bunch of them locked in a bidding war of moral purity.”

This chimed with me in particular because it’s not restricted to California’s mad politics, it’s a rising Western phenomenon in general. However it should not be seen as actually surprising: the ongoing effort to shift power upwards from nation-States into supranational organisations must inevitably produce the effect in question, where people in public office replace accountability to voters with accountability to whatever different process has put them in power.

Anyway it’s a good article though terrifying: every time I read one of these commentaries on post-pandemic American politics I am shocked at the requirement to believe that this sort of thing is actually real and happening right now in a supposedly stable Western nation.

Is America a failed state? Not yet is my guess, but does America contain failed states? Yes, it looks as if it does.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago

An admirable exercise in the sociology of religion!

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
4 months ago

You probably meant ‘religion without a Savior.’ For even if you don’t practice religion of The Savior, you probably intuitively recognize the distinction between progressive worship of grievance and Christian worship of the Risen Christ.

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
4 months ago

“Their most valued constituents aren’t voters.”
So that’s the “democracy” they are trying to protect! Makes sense now.

j watson
j watson
4 months ago

Appreciated that, if not in complete agreement.
The DA in question not exactly the first politician who’s going to find a big difference between campaign rhetoric and slogans and the hard reality of governing. That’s not a trait solely on the Progressive Left but certainly one it needs to be aware of or it’ll come unstuck v quick.
The ‘contest’ over History is too often characterised by over simplistic twaddle from both ends of spectrum. History is multi-layered and certainly a much more rounded view beneficial for most of us. But some can’t stop themselves seeking to create a political a narrative that justifies other actions. We see that playing out every day now in Gaza.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Good post. “Beneficial for most of us”: probably, if the updated historical view is in fact more rounded and not just replaced with jagged cynicism. Much as even the better sort of politician proves unable to deliver on some campaign promises when the slogans meet the road, not every person who has told a lie–nearly everyone who has ever lived–is a capital-L Liar. And not all myths are complete twaddle.

AC Harper
AC Harper
4 months ago

“The event started out with a cultural dance presentation and then a prayer to our ancestors where for some reason a Poinsettia plant was watered in front of the crowd while we bowed our heads in prayer.”

There’s an argument that ‘progressivism’ is all about power (not morality), choosing the right side and securing your membership of the right side.
What better way of demonstrating one’s position within the right side then leading ‘spiritual rituals’? In previous generations religious rituals might have been invoked. Earlier still a bird or animal might have been sacrificed.
Watering the poinsettia was a nice touch – but hardly more significant than a priests silken robe or ringing a temple bell.

Michael Shevock
Michael Shevock
3 months ago

“Owing in part to the violence of American society, in part to the insular and sometimes lawless culture of American police departments, in part to questionable practices being official procedure throughout American law enforcement, American police forces bear some pretty bad reputations for some pretty good reasons. … For these reasons, the moral and political legitimacy of the entire apparatus of public safety in America is always unresolved …”
As someone who carried a badge for just short of twenty-eight years, five of which I spent overseas, I found the words quoted above to be presumptuous. Of course, in a country with over 800,000 sworn officers, there are going to be problems, to include actual crimes. Humanity is a flawed species; were that not so, we wouldn’t even need law enforcement. But here’s something you can take to the bank: with exceptions, American law enforcement is the gold standard that the rest of the world tries to emulate. (American journalism, not so much.)
The author threw down some serious allegations. I believe he needs to be specific. What exactly are these “questionable practices” that are “official procedure throughout American law enforcement”?
The movement to demonize law enforcement began after some high profile incidents wherein the MSM demonstrated an astonishing ability to misreport the facts – such as the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. We’re just now learning how relevant facts related to the death of George Floyd were concealed from view until just recently. This malpractice on the part of curiously self-righteous journalists has undeniably promoted what is known as “the Ferguson effect”, wherein violent crime spikes because police are compelled to pull back from aggressive enforcement. The victims are, of course, disproportionately from disadvantaged and minority populations.
I strongly recommend to Mr. Feeney that he consider participating in a few ride-along adventures with his local PD to broaden his perspective. I dare say, he’d likely find the experience illuminating.

Hit
BH
Hit
3 months ago

In the DMV area we don’t have DAs and mayors who are so bellicose about cops. But when crime does increase there isn’t any urgency from the Democrats. Washington D.C. and Baltimore are both one party cities where the concept of conservatism is dismissed as cruel, harsh, and racist. This is the opinion of my Mom and sister who have bought into the flowery, nice language they purport. The real issues are often described as ‘very difficult’ , or ‘a problem’. But solutions where people are held accountable are a non starter.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
4 months ago

Oakland has long been a focus for bizarre extremism. It is, after all the original home of the Hells Angels. It gave us the very American soap opera of Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders.

denz
denz
3 months ago

A quick thought on the “stolen election”. In 2020 I watched a couple of political rallies Joe and Kamala did live on YouTube, and these events could hardly attract 50 people.

Chris Mackay
Chris Mackay
1 month ago

Aren’t mere voters “deplorables” according to one side of politics?