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News / Opinion / Columns
The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Harrop: N.Y. crime doesn’t live up to hype

By Froma Harrop
Published: April 23, 2023, 6:01am

New Yorkers should thank Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan for helping (unwittingly) remind the country how safe their metro area is compared to his own. Did he think that no one would note that there are 15.4 murders for every 100,000 people in Columbus but only 5.2 in New York City? Or that Ohio’s murder rate is almost twice that of New York state?

But let us not knock Columbus. It has a reviving downtown, Ohio State University and a lively club scene, famous drag queen included. Springtime there is spectacular. And, trigger warning for a stereotype, the people there are nice. Columbus happens to be a terrific city — despite the crime.

Too bad for Jordan’s “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan” hearing — surely orchestrated by defendant Donald Trump — that it took place in a closed room somewhere. It caused no noticeable traffic jams. As a stunt it afforded Jordan and company much TV time, but the usual claque of protesters had other things to do.

One attendee, Republican Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida, got to talk on CNN about crime “at crisis levels across our inner cities,” citing the Democratic strongholds of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Jake Tapper picked up from there. “It is horrible what’s happening nationwide,” he said. “For example, you represent Florida’s 6th Congressional District, and it’s between Jacksonville and Orlando, both of which have higher homicide rates than New York City.”

Republican moderate-turned-MAGA-lunatic Elise Stefanik from upstate New York complained that Democrats mentioned the unpopular Donald Trump 38 times. Did she think they wouldn’t?

The main target was Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who led the probe that ended in Trump’s indictment on 34 felony counts. Shortly after being elected, Bragg got blitzed for announcing that he would not prosecute certain lower-level crimes — and rightly so. New York Mayor Eric Adams was among the many who condemned the remark.

Bragg quickly retracted, and mainstream New York moved on. But he will undoubtedly have to explain himself when he next faces the voters. Make no mistake that the New York masses regard crime as a very serious issue, witness the easy election of former police captain Adams as mayor.

Murders in New York have recently trended down since the COVID spike. Contrary to Jordan’s made-up claim, they are nowhere near record levels. There were 433 homicides last year. In 1990, there were 2,245.

Knock on wood, but there’s never been a mass shooting at a New York City public school. One reason, Adams says, is that the city actively confiscates weapons entering schools. Other reasons are that New York has real gun control laws and the local culture is not much into gun worship.

The spectacle of these Republican tourists harassing, intimidating and threatening the DA in a place where they had no standing was not a great look for those who care about optics. But the ultimate pan of the show came in New Yorkers’ reaction: They weren’t really upset about it. On the contrary, they got to repeat again and again that their city is one of the safest cities in America.

As that great Nebraskan, Johnny Carson, once advised: “Only lie about the future.”