"I don't care if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice". So said Deng Xiaoping, the pragmatist who turned the fortunes of China around. And so says Eric Adams, soon to be Democratic mayor of New York City! Bret Stephens interviewed Adams for his latest Times column and found hizzoner channeling his inner Deng.
There are a lot of interesting Adams quotes and observations in the Stephens column, which Stephens puts in a conservative context because, well, he's a conservative. But the Adams stuff is good:
"[I]n New York, the city that in the 1990s and 2000s led the way in the historic and nationwide reductions in crime, 981 people were shot this year as of Sunday. That includes two women and a 4-year-old girl hit by stray bullets in May in Times Square, in broad daylight.
“This stuff can unravel so quickly,” Adams says, referring to social order. His mission is not to let New York go the way of Portland or San Francisco.
The key is the police. In 2019, multiple videos went viral of police officers offering no response after being doused by hecklers with buckets of water. “When I saw that I said we’re going to lose the city,” he recalls. “When you attack that officer, you didn’t attack that individual. You attacked the symbol of safety.”
Adams graduated from the police academy in 1984, another era of diminished faith in law enforcement, not least among cops themselves. The prevailing attitude, he says, was, “You hold on for 20 years, you get promoted, get your pension, nothing you’re going to do about crime.” He rejected that attitude and made his name in the 1990s as a dissident officer fighting police brutality and racial profiling.
But he also believes that effective policing is the basis for justice, not an enemy of it. Well-intentioned liberals, he says, “have piggybacked off of the appealing, attractive conversation. You know, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Well, if they matter, damn it, then we should be talking about a 13-year-old kid being assassinated in the Bronx.”
He argues for reversing the state bail reforms that treated some robberies as nonviolent offenses, for bringing back the plainclothes police squad disbanded last year by Bill de Blasio and for using stop-and-frisk (or, as he reminds me, “stop-QUESTION-frisk”) as an essential policing tool, so long as it isn’t being unconstitutionally abused to fill a weekly police quota or harass civilians.
As for abolishing the police: “When I get out of that subway station, I want to see that cop at the top of the stairs.”....
He also recognizes the harm the city does itself with its results-unfriendly bureaucracy.
“How do you have a Small Business Services that’s trying to get restaurants open, but you have the Department of Buildings that takes a year and half to give someone their C-of-O to get inside?” he asks, referring to a certificate of occupancy. “Try opening a hotel: If you can get their sprinkler system inspected in two years, you’re a miracle maker.”
He plans to do for city agencies what the CompStat program did in the 1990s when it took police units out of their respective silos to make them see the larger picture. "
Really, who does care if the cat is black or white, when it's actually catching the mice? Not me and not Eric Adams either. It's a refreshing attitude in an era when sloganeering has frequently substituted for sound policy.