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Gather around, children, and we'll tell you about a time when Rudy Giuliani wasn't a caricature. They didn't make fun of him on Saturday Night Live. The mob was scared of him. He was a serious person, a serious prosecutor, a serious politician, and was seriously respected.

Rudy Giuliani's time in the spotlight goes back years, even before he was The Nation's Mayor on 9/11. He might have first gained national attention when he implemented the Broken Windows theory in New York City, a city once thought ungovernable.

A couple of Harvard professors came up with the theory in the early 1980s: Fix broken windows in a city and crime will fall. The idea goes that humans respond to signs, and if broken windows are allowed to blister neighborhoods, soon enough more property crimes enter into the picture, then violent crimes, until you have a New York City circa the 1970s. But fix the windows--or in Mayor Giuliani's time, stop those fare-jumping in the subway system--and soon enough people will see that somebody's in charge. And start acting like it.

If order is restored, civilization is, too. It worked in New York. And if you can make it there . . . .

This theory is still one that many of us understand, believe and trust. Because it works so often. People might not like to admit how quickly we can go all Lord of the Flies. But a lot of us don't listen to our better angels. For proof, just read the paper.

But the Broken Windows theory has been given a bad rap in the last few years. Some folks call it unfair. Maybe because it's easy enough to appreciate the feelings of criminals when you don't confront muggers every day.

CNN must've thought it had a scoop last week when it found that one of the presidential candidates on the Democratic side had once upon a time embraced tough-on-crime policies. Because the network gave a lot of air to the story: Amy Klobuchar, in a campaign for county attorney in Minnesota in 1998, talked about increasing conviction rates and jail time for offenders.

In a race for county attorney! Has the world gone mad?

Alas, it might have. Because this, apparently, is news.

You'll remember that earlier in the recent presidential campaign Kamala Harris, who is no longer running, and Joe Biden, who certainly is, had to explain their pasts, which included tough-on-crime campaigns. And now the media has discovered Amy Klobuchar's 1998 campaign.

Here's part of the uncovered evidence: Nearly 22 years ago, she wrote, "Kids who commit violent acts must be made to understand the harm they cause and must receive appropriate punishment. The response to violent crime must be particularly swift in juvenile cases. If we wait too long, the punishment attached to the crime will be lost on the juvenile as it will be too remote in time."

And this: "What I've heard again and again is that no crime is a small crime and that we must enforce the law down the line--as has been done so successfully in other parts of the country that have witnessed dramatic reductions in crime--in order to make the criminal justice system work for us."

Also during that election, Amy Klobuchar said that addicts should be treated for their addictions but . . . .

"But if a defendant lands in court because of greed and drug dealing on our street corners for money, our response must be prison. In many instances, public safety requires that drug offenders get treated in prison rather than in the community at-large. Only minor offenders who earn it should be given a second chance."

Not only that, but when she won the seat, she actually followed through with her promises, and according to CNN, aggressively pursued non-violent crimes such as graffiti and drug cases.

Such is the state of 2020 America, that this is criticism of a candidate.

Amy Klobuchar has nothing for which to apologize. NB: Her campaign hasn't apologized. But when smarty-pants reporters asked about this last week, her PR handlers bent over backwards to change the subject.

Heaven forbid the country goes back to the 1960s and 1970s, when many cities looked like black-and-white MAD magazine sketches with muggers on every street and robbers in every bank. When nobody went into a big-city park. When gangs ruled the streets. When windows stayed broken.

Heaven forbid we go back to that. But we should remember it.

Editorial on 01/13/2020

Print Headline: Broken windows

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