“On a sudden, the Earth yawns asunder, and amid Tartarean smoke, and glare of fierce brightness, rises Sansculottism, many-headed, fire-breathing, and asks: What think ye of me? Well may the buckram masks start together, terror-struck; ‘into expressive well-concerted groups!’ It is indeed, Friends, a most singular, most fatal thing.” Thus wrote Thomas Carlyle, reflecting upon the desolate abyss that was revolutionary France, a time whose spirit has re-emerged in contemporary culture through the purposeful conjuring of ideological necromancers.
Even Thomas Carlyle, the great Scottish historian and Jacobin sympathizer, knew that revolutions devour their own enthusiasts. Upon bloody gallows erected by fanatical idealists in the name of liberty, equality, and brotherhood, French radicals claimed the lives of their enemies, friends, and ultimately, their leaders. As the great British statesman Edmund Burke thundered in intrepid opposition to the French radicals, “in the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.” Here, in New York, in the twenty-first century, those gallows took the form of a police cruiser in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Stoking the fires of range and frenzy, the leaders of the French Revolution stirred emotions and outrage that, once unleashed, became impossible to contain. Fueled by similar imprudence, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his allies at City Hall—the very persons charged with maintaining public order and peace—have abdicated their responsibilities to the city of New York and the police force sworn to protect it by encouraging public disorder and lawlessness, and exacerbating (if not manufacturing) racial tensions through repeated calls for demonstrations and acquiescence to the demands of self-promoting demagogues such as Al Sharpton. As one commentator recently observed, Mayor de Blasio acts more like the leader of a revolution than the chief-executive of the world’s greatest city. The mayor should recall, however, that both Danton and Robespierre—the leaders of the French revolutionary cause—each found their unexpected demise on the very guillotines they helped to erect.
Given that Mayor de Blasio views himself as an architect of the new “civil rights” movement, which is clearly animated by avarice and political ambition rather than concern for the community it claims to represent, it is of little surprise that he tolerates unprecedented, uncivilized breaches of public peace; however, it is scandalous that he encourages rebellion against the very laws he has sworn to uphold. In the name of a disfigured notion of justice, Mayor de Blasio dishonors civil disobedience, the legacy of the authentic civil rights movement, and the people who entrusted him with the keys to Gracie Mansion.
For the first time in decades, under the leadership of this self-anointed prophet of social progress, New York is drained of all civility and grace—it has lost its self-confidence and its dignity. The tone of the city is bleak, if not outright depressing. Protestors unhinged and permitted to block ambulances on Fifth Avenue, police officers ordered to stand down and suffer humiliation at the hands of self-righteous thugs, and a mayor quickly losing control of the mob he nurtured and encouraged—these are wounds inflicted in haste that may take generations to mend. Given the nature of revolutionary fervor and the unmitigated hysteria stirred by City Hall, it is unlikely that the mayor can mollify the furies he has unleashed, but he can at least begin the healing process by setting a new tone and trying to behave like a genuine statesman.
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