This particular memo of Bawer’s deals with the destruction of Oslo by the criminals on the street, and the criminally irresponsible people who hold power in government. The latter may smell better, but they are more to blame than the common criminal who wreaks havoc on ordinary citizens.
[In the following, the emphases are mine. I will explain them at the end of Mr. Bawer’s remarks - D]
During the nine years and two weeks that I’ve lived in Oslo, I’ve seen the city change significantly -- for the worse. I don’t remember exactly when it started reminding me of New York in the 1970s and 80s, but by now the resemblance is undeniable.- - - - - - - - -
Burglary, rape, gay-bashing, mugging, graffiti, vandalism: you name it, we’ve got it in spades, and it’s still on the rise. Public stabbings and gang fights have become routine.
Forget for a moment the Muslim youth gangs that are responsible for a wildly disproportionate number of the crimes here: it’s now impossible to walk in broad daylight down Karl Johans Gate, the grand ceremonial thoroughfare that was once the kingdom’s pride, without being accosted by aggressive gypsy beggars who want your money (they’ve been bussed in from Rumania specifically for this purpose) and by equally aggressive drug addicts (some of who are asking for handouts, others of whom are dealing).
At night, this unsavory crew is replaced by an even pushier brigade of Nigerian prostitutes, some of whom will follow you for a block or more, repeatedly (and often belligerently) demanding that you avail yourself of their services. So insistent are they that it doesn’t even help to scream: “I’m gay!” Even the pre-Giuliani Times Square area was safer and more congenial.
The statistics are dire.
Last month came news that the rate of reported crimes in Oslo is now four times that of New York; last week it emerged that Oslo’s rape figures reached an all-time high in 2007; today it was reported that over 99 percent of street robberies in the city go unsolved.
To any unblinkered individual who lives here, these statistics are no surprise. Yet civic authorities, faced with the steady erosion of law and order, exude indifference and ineffectuality.
Alas, as illustrated by the vile comments made last October to a Muslim audience in Oslo by the head of Norway’s security police -- who, as recounted by Rita Karlsen, bent over backwards to praise Muslims and decouple Islam from terrorism while maligning America and depicting ordinary Norwegians as ignorant, potentially violent anti-Muslim bigots -- Norwegian cops are hobbled by the same mindless multiculturalism that infects their counterparts elsewhere in the West.
Mr. Bawer points out the similarities between present-day Oslo and the New York City of the 1980’s. These similarities are significant, that is why I emphasized them.
In the various crimes listed in his second paragraph, he includes graffiti and vandalism. In a counter-intuitive move, that is where New York started in cleaning up the city and bringing the crime rate down. It is the small details that count, and to start the change back to public order they can be dealt with more easily and immediately than more complex problems. They are also easier to see, which begins to change perceptions.
In New York, The graffiti was cleaned up, and the broken windows were fixed.
Next, the aggressive beggars who ran over to cars stopped at traffic lights, demanding money for cleaning the drivers’ windows (often becoming irate and dangerous when refused) were ordered off the turf, not to return.
This could be done with the gypsy beggars and the Nigerian prostitutes; simply take them off the streets. Surely even Oslo has public nuisance ordinances?
Next, give the police some peacekeeping mandates and give them the discretion to arrest those who are causing trouble. Put police officers on the streets, all the time. That is what New York did, and the Chief of Police has since gone on to curb crime in other cities. New York City cops are not hobbled by multi-cultural mandates. They’ve learned to work around them.
Since the experience proved so successful in New York, people are more trusting of the police, and the latter have more autonomy. The spiral upward was an ascent out of restrictive, mindless ideas about what “causes” crime - the result of 1960’s thinking so well represented by Mayor Lindsey.
Crime happens because criminals know they can get away with it. Oslo has been mau-maued into its present condition by gangs, immigrant hooligans, and imported beggars and prostitutes.
In his book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, Michael Yon makes the point that small details are essential to a successful battle. Thus, if he is off to observe some engagement with the enemy, he will not get in a vehicle with dirty windows, or one with a slovenly crew. He knows from experience that the attention to detail and the realization that preparation is essential means the difference between success and failure.
Mr. Bawer finds himself in the unenviable position of living where the details no longer count. Is that unsafe environment worth it?
Come back to New York City, Mr. B. You and your partner will be safer and your anxiety level when you leave the refuge of your home will decrease.