APPEL: It’s Our Poverty Of Values That Drives The Crime Epidemic

Mr. Robert Mann has written an op-ed at the Times-Picayune decrying the injustice that modern society has perpetrated upon the poor by not providing better free criminal defense services. To the extent that a foundation of our American society is that all citizens are entitled to a fair and just trial, I actually agree and I believe that most of my peers would also agree with him. I cannot argue that an inefficient and sometimes poor quality public defender system is the current situation today. I also cannot argue that it is wrong that we sometimes attack political figures for having successfully undertaken criminal defense cases. The poor do deserve a good attorney, just as everyone else does, and we are wrong if we condemn someone for doing a good job.

Where Mr. Mann and I diverge is in the root causes of the problems that he identifies. As a liberal thinker, Mr. Mann will always blame society for the ills that befall the poor. What he fails to acknowledge is that much of the cause of failures in the criminal justice system has more to do with the overwhelming nature of the crime epidemic, primarily amongst and against the poor, than with a failure of society to provide for quality defense. In the very same edition that Mr. Mann was posted into were a report on the funeral for the innocent woman who was killed in the Bourbon Street shooting, a report on two criminals who shot down two teenagers and a three year old, a report on two other criminals who shot down two other men because they wanted to have access to a basketball court, and a report of multiple armed robberies in the Marigny neighborhood.

These are not isolated incidents; our city, as in most urban areas, is under siege by criminals. So much so that the criminal justice system is just overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases that it must address, a number for which it was never envisioned to accommodate. No, the real crime in the criminal justice system isn’t society’s failure to provide quality criminal defense; the real crime is the underlying political structure that has created the circumstances that has led to such a large lawless subset of society.

For generations liberal thinking has dominated our political decisions and that thinking has led to the decline in one of society’s fundamental principles; the nuclear family unit. It has also brought us an acceptance of children birthing children, of constant blame being placed upon society for all the ills of the poor, of over dependency upon government programs, and of the constant demand for wealth transfer schemes that fly in the face of an orderly capitalist society and that, frankly, do not and never will work.

The real crime that society has allowed to continue is not a failure to give more to the defense of the poor; the real fault of society is the failure to reject the failed policies of the progressive movement such the Great Society and the War on Poverty. The real failure is that we have not rejected the liberal worldview that our capitalist society is fundamentally evil and to reject the vision that government’s job is to become, as in Hillary Clinton’s words, a “village”. These are the well intentioned sounding ideas that have led to the breakdown of orderly society, resulting in the crime epidemic that creates havoc in our cities.

To paraphrase Einstein, the true test of insanity is do the same thing over and over and to expect a different outcome. No words could better describe the philosophy of the liberal thinkers that have dominated American political life for a century. Americans are by nature a generous people and we just want to believe that the liberal mindset will somehow lead to a place in which all live in happy coexistence. Such promised visions are not real and have never been real. We, as a society, will not return to a more peaceful time until we wake up and try something new or, perhaps, something very old.

We must reject the big government “village” concept and return to the original philosophy under which our nation was created; “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. The key word in this underlying foundation of our Republic is “Pursuit”. There never has been any guarantee of anything. Government should only be the facilitator through which all citizens have a fair and equal opportunity to achieve happiness.

As the liberals are wont to do, placing a bandage upon the open sore of criminal violence is not the cure. We must address the underlying causes of the criminal plague, causes that we have allowed to be imposed by the unintended consequences of liberal policies. Family; Respect for one another; Ambition; Frugality; Self-reliance – these are the principles that we should aspire to. Yet, these are the principles that the modern liberal philosophy rejects.

Absolutely, everyone deserves a fair trial with good counsel. But in truth, crime is a function of free will and no one has to shoot a child or has to shoot up a basketball court. We have allowed the creation of an element of our society that has forgotten that there are fundamental rules of civilization. The result is that there are masses of people for which crime is almost a way of life and is accepted and condoned; of course there are also untold silent masses for whom crime even amongst their acquaintances and family, is a daily fear and these are also true victims.

The crime in the criminal justice system is that we have abandoned the fundamental societal principles that underpin a safe and prosperous nation. Criminal defense is important, but correcting the ills of society that have created the overwhelming demand for such defense is far more important.

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