Jackie Goldberg and Her Ilk Seem Determined to Ruin L.A.’s Reputation
Rents are up, unemployment is down and the Democrats are coming to town. The city’s getting ready for its close-up. Now it’s the perfect time for L.A.’s political pyromaniacs to blow everything sky high.
At the center of this firestorm is the old lefty coalition led by the force of nature known as Jackie Goldberg that seems happy only when Los Angeles can be presented as the poster child for capitalist dysfunction. The most immediate evidence is Goldberg’s drive to open Pershing Square to the fringe-group lunatics who trashed Seattle at the WTO meeting in last December.
The police, downtown merchants and the rare L.A. politicians with a combination of good sense and cojones know this is bad news. After all, just what L.A. needs now that its image barely outdoes that of Bosnia is a little rioting and tear gas rolling through its most important business streets.
But why should we be surprised? Goldberg, a clever politician with the nerve of a Bolshevik general, has already shown us her idea of a “successful” police operation the insane, destructive mini-riot that was allowed to break out and spread after the Lakers won the NBA Championship.
So a few businesses were trashed and L.A.’s arguably most important civic moment of the decade was tarnished. Who cares? Not our “progressive” establishment. For the L.A. left, which would be the “loony” left in most places, the important thing is not the success of the civic enterprise, but the making of political points.
And let’s not kid ourselves about what is likely to happen when the Democrats arrive. Goldberg’s allies the “progressive” coalition descending on our town have already told us that, although they don’t necessarily “approve” of violence, they think it’s effective as a means of calling attention to their message.
Activist leaders already are coming up with their Orwellian justifications for breaking the law, and maybe a few windows, too. One leader, prototypically a student at UCLA’s post-modernist-oriented urban planning department, already is readying to blame any violence by fringe groups on a long-favored target the LAPD.
But it’s one thing for radical grad students and itinerant anarchists (tomorrow’s future health-food store owners or investment bankers) to get ready to rock the city. More intriguing is why people like Goldberg and her allies would want to ruin the party for a candidate, Al Gore, who they theoretically support.
Goldberg herself is a bit of an enigma. As a city councilwoman from Hollywood, she was generally pro-business and anti-crime; an annoyance to Mayor Riordan and his allies, but well-regarded as a public servant. But now that she is on her way to the state Assembly, and no longer concerned with purely local concerns in her district, she seems to be reverting to type.
What accounts for this split personality? Since the collapse of the organized far-left in the 1970s, many onetime socialists and other radicals have submerged themselves into the Democratic Party. Of course, they now call themselves “progressives” and, in some cases, hold responsible positions, and sometimes even have to act responsibly in order to get reelected. Yet at heart, they still go atwitter when they watch reruns of “Reds.”
Like good bolsheviks, preserving order for the capitalist elite has never been high on their list, nor has maintaining a good image for Los Angeles in front of the world. These people applauded when now-disgraced, post-modernist historian Mike Davis issued his screeds describing Los Angeles as a kind of hell on earth. Given the opportunity, they will side with political mayhem over civic order.
The most tragic example of this tendency was seen before and after the 1992 riots. Irresponsible left-wing politicians most particularly local media icon, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters did everything they could to roil up emotions before the outbreak of violence, and then proceeded to justify the death and destruction.
Then the Hotel and Employees Union, in alliance with Marxist propagandist Davis, helped produce a video called “City on the Edge” that featured scenes from the riots. Part of the union’s organizing campaign, the video contributed to a decline in tourism business that hurt everyone, including its own workers. Today, unions in Los Angeles are doing better, in large part because business is booming, giving workers new leverage over employers. But the idea that civic progress opens the door for a better deal for the working class never seems to sink through.
As a result, the Democratic Convention may still have to cope with labor unrest, this time in the form of a transit strike by the bus and rail workers unions. A perfect L.A. story: We spend a fortune to build a fancy subway system and threaten to shut it down when the rest of the world shows up to take a ride. To make matters worse, there’s a threat of a bigger strike, this by the “progressive”-dominated Service Employees International Union, which could cripple county government.
If this is what Al Gore can expect from his friends, can you imagine what’s in store from his openly professed enemies further out on the loony left, the folks unrestrained by “responsible” forces? That’s a big problem for him.
The real issue is how many normal people in Los Angeles let’s leave out much of academia and media side with the so-called “progressive” penchant for disruption and undermining of the civic order. It’s likely that most of those in the favorite new oppressed group, Latinos, do not share such leanings. After all, as my colleague Gregory Rodriguez has noted, most have not even been too upset by the Rampart scandal; the rank and file seem more concerned that the scandal may be giving a green light for the gangs to resurge. Instead, the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the cops has come largely from old white lefties like Tom Hayden.
Indeed, like the Latinos in Pico Union and other neighborhoods, most Angelenos of all backgrounds are less concerned with giving anarchists a wide berth than with the creeping resurgence of violent crime in the city (last week illustrated again by the shootings on the Santa Monica Pier) and the apparent decline in the effectiveness of local policing. Both of these facts will no doubt be linked to national press coverage of what now seems some inevitable convention violence.
Is it too late to stop the hastening process of civic disintegration and the prospect of more national disgrace? No, not if the City Council withdraws the Pershing Square permits, the police get firm orders to move against law-breakers, and critical groups, notably organized labor, use this opportunity to show leadership. But I have lived in Los Angeles these last 25 years, so forgive me if I am a trifle pessimistic.