Friday’s New York Times showed economist turned Democratic hack Paul Krugman flippantly dismissing the reality of violence and looting and the destruction of portions of Manhattan in “Trump and the Attack of the Invisible Anarchists.” The subhead: "Lurid fantasies about urban hellscapes are all he has left."
On Thursday morning I walked across much of Manhattan and back again. (Why are all the doctors’ offices on the East Side?) It was a beautiful day, and the city looked cheerful: Shops were open, people were drinking coffee in the sidewalk seating areas that have proliferated during the pandemic, Central Park was full of joggers and cyclists.
But I must have been imagining all that, because Donald Trump assures me that New York is beset by “anarchy, violence and destruction.”
With only two months left in the presidential campaign, Trump has evidently decided that he can neither run on his own record nor effectively attack Joe Biden. Instead, he’s running against anarchists who, he insists, secretly rule the Democratic Party and are laying waste to America’s cities.
If Krugman still lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then his walk “across” the city may have been limited to the area north of 59th Street, given the areas he mentions. The wreckage in the SoHo neighborhood and the luxury shops of Fifth Avenue that had to be boarded up after street violence and looting went unmentioned.
There’s a bit more to be said about his claims of rampant violence and destruction in “anarchic jurisdictions” -- namely, that these claims bear little resemblance to the mostly peaceful reality.
But invisible anarchists are all Trump has left. To see why, let’s talk about the real issues: the pandemic and the economy.
Krugman callously dismissed the recent spate of destruction because it was worse in the 1960s, or something.
Now, there has been some looting, property damage and violence associated with Black Lives Matter demonstrations. But the property damage has been minor compared with urban riots of the past -- no, Portland is not “ablaze all the time” -- and much of the violence is coming not from the left but from right-wing extremists.
It’s also true that there has been a recent rise in homicides, and nobody is sure why. But murders were very low last year, and even if the rate so far this year continues, New York City will have substantially fewer homicides in 2020 than it did when Rudy Giuliani was mayor.
In short, there isn’t a wave of anarchy and violence other than that unleashed by Trump himself. But can voters be swayed by the president’s lurid fantasies?
Krugman took some well-deserved heat for his similarly blasé, Potemkin Village-representation of Manhattan on his Twitter account:
"I went for a belated NYC run this morning, and am sorry to report that I saw very few black-clad anarchists. Also, the city is not yet in flames," the economist wrote on Twitter. "The political question of the day is whether Trump can win politically by hammering on a nonexistent crisis of order in America's cities. You would think not, but I'm not 100% confident."
A few ripostes by conservatives rounded up by Fox News:
"'I tested negative for coronavirus, therefore nobody has it,'" The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis quipped.
"I'm amazed by the spate of pseudo-thinkers and pseudo-journalists who are now doing the full Pauline Kael: if I didn't personally witness something on my morning jog, it isn't happening," Ben Shapiro wrote.