By Victor Davis Hanson
The deterioration of America is accelerating. From Victor Davis Hanson at amgreatness.com:
The few sowed the wind, and the many reaped their whirlwind.
American society is facing three existential crises not unlike those that overcame the late Roman, and a millennium later, terminal Byzantine, empires.
We are suffering an epidemic of premodern barbarism. The signs unfortunately appear everywhere. Over half a million homeless people crowd our big-city downtowns.
Most know the result of such Medieval street living is unhealthy, violent, and lethal for all concerned. Yet no one knows—or even seems to worry about—how to stop it.
So public defecation, urination, fornication, and injection continue unabated. Progressive urban pedestrians pass by holding their noses, averting their gazes, and accelerating the pace of their walking. The greenest generation in history allows its sidewalks to become pre-civilizational sewers. In a very brief time, we all but have destroyed the downtowns of our major cities—which will increasingly become vacant in a manner like the 6th-century A.D. Roman forum.
All accept that defunding the police, no-cash bail, Soros-funded district attorneys, and radical changes in jurisprudence have destroyed deterrence. The only dividend is the unleashing of a criminal class to smash-and-grab, carjack, steal, burglarize, execute, and assault—with de facto immunity. Instead we are sometimes lectured that looting is not a crime, but lengthy incarceration is criminally immoral.
We have redefined felonies as misdemeanors warranting no punishment. Misdemeanors are now infractions that are not criminal. Infractions we treat as lifestyle choices. Normality, not criminality, is deemed criminal. We all know this will not work, but still wonder why it continues.
Many among the middle classes of our cities who can flee or move, do so—like 5th-century equestrians who left Rome for rural fortified farms before the onslaught of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. For most of our lives we were lectured that the old southern states—Florida, Tennessee, Texas—were backward and uninviting. Now even liberals often flee to them, leaving behind supposedly cosmopolitan Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, and New York. The more people leave the blue states, the more those states praise themselves as utopian.
The less well-off, without the means to leave, hope that their environs have hit bottom so things can only improve. The elite who caused this premodern catastrophe assumes they will always have the money and wherewithal to ensure that themselves and their own can navigate around or even profit from the barbarism they unleashed. For them the critic, not the target of criticism, is the greater threat.
The hard urban work of the 1990s and early 2000s—cleaner, safer subways, secure nightlife downtown, clean sidewalks, low vacancy rates, little vagrancy, and litter-free streets—so often has been undone, deliberately so. We are descending to the late 1960s and 1970s wild streets—if we are lucky the mayhem does not devolve even further.