Alexander Zubatov takes a walk through the Dante’s Hell that is Bill de Blasio’s New York City and reflects on the experience of living in the ruins of a formerly great civiization.
The subway is on the next block, and there should be at least two or three more trains stopping here before the 1 a.m. post-pandemic subway curfew hits. I descend one flight of steps, turn the corner past the curled-up form at their base, take another flight down and arrive at the turnstiles by what I know no name for other than the manned “token booth,” though tokens have not existed in years, the function of dispensing their MetroCard replacements (themselves already on the way out) was ceded to machines long ago and, so far as I can tell, the individual “manning” these booths does little more than grudgingly give out occasional traveling directions. As though to prove the point, a young thug wearing an expensive jacket and sneakers rushes past me and vaults the turnstile, sagging jeans and all, and the bloated woman in the booth sits stone-faced. I flash my hands in a half-hearted “are you really gonna do nothing?” gesture. She fails to manifest so much as recognition.
I turn away, pay my fare, and go through. I think of the politicians who’ve betrayed us, who’ve shamelessly lied to us and told us that punishing fare evasion penalizes poverty, as if it’s the poverty of put-upon unfortunates rather than the apathy of an entire society that has led to a whopping 13.6 percent of subway riders not bothering to pay their fair share, costing the MTA nearly $40 million a year even as it faces a near-unprecedented budget crisis and contemplates fare increases that only we paying customers will have to shoulder.
This is what this entire city, this nation, has become: a shrinking reserve of law-abiding citizens shouldering every burden for a growing mass of fat, lazy leeches, slugs, thugs, gangbangers, rule-breakers, whiners, and perpetual ne’er-do-wells comically beatified by walled-off, gated-away elites who never set foot in the subway and spin out contemporary fantasias on Rousseau’s theme of the “noble savage,” virtuous “oppressed,” “marginalized” and “vulnerable” victims heroically bearing their daily yoke while living in fear of the mythical, perpetual great white crackdown. This is our modern-day version of Joseph Goebbels’ “big lie”—an audacious, supremely ironic, 180-degree reversal of reality that only a well-off, sheltered, would-be white savior could possibly believe, blinded by opaque layers of ideology and inexperience borne of never having walked warily alone through a sketchy urban neighborhood at night.
A moment’s reflection—bolstered, if need be, by reams of statistical data that would only prove the obvious—would reveal that we are the ones living in fear, of course. The chances that an unarmed civilian, regardless of his race, will be brutalized, much less killed, by police is vanishingly low (particularly if he avoids doing the kinds of things that tend to garner police attention) when weighed against the chances that that same blameless civilian passing through the same urban neighborhood will be the victim of a crime.
The biggest duh-story of the past several years that somehow remains less than perfectly apparent to many muddle-headed blatherers today is that the far greater danger all of us face is from criminals, not from cops. But because that simple truism would tend to reverse the racial polarity of the media’s favored narrative, this is not a question facts and science can be brought into the picture to address. To do so would dispel the hysterical conspiracy theories on the Left—“systemic,” “institutional” and/or “structural” racism, “white supremacy” and so forth—that are the equivalent of Trump’s election fraud and his supporters’ Q-Anon conspiracies on the Right.