The Great Myth

One of the things I’ve gotten in the habit of doing is getting lost down the YouTube rabbit hole. I like to watch short videos in lieu of watching full programs when I have fifteen or twenty minutes to kill. I stumbled on a vlog from a guy that goes by Beau of the fifth column. I have to give him credit because he articulated something that I hadn’t been able to.

See, a lot of my conservative friends have bought into the whole idea that “Democrat run cities” are a hell-hole and that only Donald Trump could save them with “law and order.” The argument has a ton embedded in there that I will get to shortly.

Essentially, Beau rattled off some statistics that ended up proving all of that wrong. I decided to look up the numbers for myself. After all, we can’t leave all of the heavy lifting to random guys on YouTube. That kind of lazy thinking gets us in trouble.

I did a simple Google search of the top 100 cities in violence per capita. This is simple violent crime rates. I stumbled on a site (neighborhood that listed the top 100 cities. The results of the top ten would probably surprise you. It certainly shocked me when I heard it from Beau and looked it up on my own.

  1. Detroit, Michagan
  2. Memphis, Tennessee
  3. Birmingham, Alabama
  4. Baltimore, Maryland
  5. Flint, Michagan
  6. St. Louis, Missouri
  7. Danville, Illinois
  8. Saginaw, Michagan
  9. Wilmington, Deleware
  10. Camden, New Jersey

Yup, there is only one city in that top ten that frequently gets mentioned as something that resembles a scene from The Purge. For every Baltimore, there is a city there that you probably thought was relatively safe, but in fact wasn’t. Meanwhile, the president and his minions ramble on about the horrible state of affairs in Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, New Orleans, and New York.

In fact, the imagery they use is pretty impressive. You almost picture Gotham City from the Michael Keaton Batman movies where the mayor, district attorney, and police commissioner are powerless against common criminals and mobsters. Maybe Trump is the caped crusader that will swoop into those cities and save them from their own violence and debauchery.

Except, that’s not what the facts show. I know, facts are such pesky things. Oakland appears first on the list at 30th place. New Orleans is next at 42nd. Chicago comes in at a whopping 64th. Washington D.C. (another city with a bad reputation) is 67th. None of the other cities mentioned in the previous paragraph even appear in the top 100.

Before I offer a little commentary I thought I would shift the conversation to states. USA Today used similar data to rank the states from first to 50th in terms of violent crime and murder. Again, the top ten would surprise you. Next to the state I’ve shown how they voted in 2016 and what party sits in the governor’s mansion.

  1. Alaska– Trump, GOP
  2. New Mexico– Clinton, DEM
  3. Tennessee– Trump, GOP
  4. Arkansas– Trump, GOP
  5. Nevada– Clinton, DEM
  6. Louisiana– Trump, DEM
  7. Alabama– Trump, GOP
  8. Missouri– Trump, GOP
  9. South Carolina– Trump, GOP
  10. Arizona– Trump, GOP

Gee, look at all of these Republican run states that voted for Trump that are bastions for crime. Are we to blame them? No, I’m not tying crime rates to party affiliation. I would like to point out the obvious that when a Trump ad shows you what they think a Biden led America will look like, they are showing you footage from Trump’s America.

So, where do we go from here? It’s obvious most of us bought the dangerous cities line hook, line, and sinker. I’m not casting any aspersions on people that believe it. I had that little voice that kept crying, “but where’s the proof?” Still, it seemed so believable. I’m sure the recent round of protesting only helps reinforce the idea that cities are dangerous places.

So, why do we want to paint cities as dangerous? Well, there are several reasons for that. First, most cities are run by Democrats. It’s just simple elected math. Democrats tend to perform better in cities. Republicans tend to perform better in suburbs and rurual areas. So, if you can paint cities as violent places then you can paint Democrats as ineffective leaders.

However, it goes well beyond that. If you are talking to the base then you want to reinforce all kinds of stereotypes. When you picture crime, who do you picture? This is what we call a dog whistle. When we show pictures of violent protests then who are we seeing on the screen? It’s the main reason why otherwise good and decent people leap to the question of what an unarmed black man did to provoke police. He must have been a criminal. He must have been reaching for a gun. If only he had followed instructions.

The Trump team has taken this strategy to the next level. Now, they tell us that the Biden team wants to destroy suburbs. They will do the same thing to suburbs that they have done to cities (the myth and not the reality). The Obama administration had an initiative to build low-income housing in suburbs that Trump has taken credit for killing. So, he saved us from turning our suburbs into Gotham City (or American Carnage as he said in his inaugural address).

My friends, those are all not so subtle dog whistles. When you picture low income housing who do you think most people picture moving into those dwellings? Just remember that we always have to check our assumptions. Like me, I’m sure most of you assumed Memphis, Tennessee wasn’t a particularly dangerous place. Maybe I’m just naive. The latest phrase I’ve used and seen others use is “show your work.” Make them prove it.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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