The death of the mentally-ill (or desperate) Jordan Neely unsurprisingly has the Democrats howling with accusations of racism while we inch ever-closer to riot season and the 2024 campaign. Pundits such as Jesse Watters have noted that when DAs such as Alvin Bragg defund the police, vigilantism takes hold. Older readers might remember another “subway vigilante” – Bernie Goetz – who shot four teenagers who attempted to rob him in the “bad old days” in 1984.
Now, no amount of police funding or tough-on-crime policies are going to solve this problem because at its root, the issue is spiritual.
Much has been written on the decline of the family, welfare and concentration of poverty in housing projects – all factors that help create Jordan Neelys of every race. But often ignored are the institutions that support a healthy society and allow for “community policing” of problem people such as Neely – all institutions which the Democratic party and liberal establishment are working overtime to destroy.
Chief among these are the churches and the charities they spawn. We’re not talking about politicized non-profits made to socially engineer society in Bill Gates’ image, but organizations that see themselves as carrying out God’s work in the world that expect nothing in return.
From the beginning, churches and religiously-inspired charities have been the focal point of American life. They have given citizens and immigrants alike a moral grounding, purpose and a support system to move up through society and achieve the American Dream. They also help police their own communities, and provide social services such as loans, healthcare, spiritual guidance, rehabilitation, education and more.
Thus, communities have the resources to “police” their own. The mentally-ill, the addict and the poor can all find help from neighbors and neighborhood institutions that have loyalty to them because they are united in a common belief, morality and sense of duty to each other as neighbors. This is truly addressing crime at the root. And when crime does happen, religious institutions often serve as checks on its severity. In New York in times past, the Mafia never targeted churches, women, children or anyone inside the sacred space of the home. And anyone who broke these rules usually ended up dead.
The Democratic Party and its liberal mouthpieces in media academia, on the other hand, have not learned from Cosa Nostra. They have repeatedly denigrated religious institutions and the restraints they place on society – in particular Christian churches. Instead, mass media promotes nihilistic sex-and-drug-fueled lifestyles that lead to mental illness, STDs and suicide while mocking anything considered remotely “traditional.” When churches and their appendage institutions are targeted, such as crisis pregnancy centers, which play key roles in supporting poor women and their children, they look the other way.
Shockingly (not), this has real-life consequences for our neighborhoods and citizens. As religious attendance plummets, the institutions that churches and other houses of worship maintain and support start to close down, too. Communities break down, people donate less and the social services disappear, either to be replaced with large for-profit corporations or predatory non-profits such as Planned Parenthood that are extensions of the DNC in all but name. And we are worse off for it.
New York City, where Neely lived, is case in point. For example, look at the numerous Catholic hospitals, schools and social organizations, which historically served the city’s poorest, that have all shut down or been bought out due to lack of funding after their parishes bled faithful to progressivism.
The Democrats and the DC welfare-warfare state have assured us that if we just give them more power and money, they will fill the void. Usually, this is either a lie or they screw it up – but someone always walks away with a full bank account. Compare government programs such as Johnson’s War on Poverty and Great Society with those with vaunted privately-funded charitable institutions such as Chicago’s Hull House and New York’s The Children’s Aid Society that helped destitute European immigrants achieve the American Dream. Which ones gave more bang for their buck?
And the war on our community institutions continues. During COVID-19, we saw spikes in mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse and suicide thanks to government-mandated lockdowns – mostly in blue cities. Yet the Gavin Newsoms and Gretchen Whitmers of the world shut down churches and other houses of worship, community centers and parks – the very places that could have helped control the worst effects of the shutdowns. Tellingly, liquor stores, strip clubs/brothels and abortion clinics stayed open – institutions that play a central role in our nihilistic culture that breeds mental illness and misery.
But given the Democrats’ plan is to send us into a full-blown communist revolution, they need an America of divided and isolated citizens. Much easier to start a revolution with a population of angry, drugged-up, alcoholic and destitute Jordan Neelys than a religious population accountable to itself and a higher morality than dependent on the DC welfare-warfare state.
Either way, don’t be fooled. This isn’t a race issue or an economic issue. At its heart, it’s a spiritual issue, and the Democrats are hell-bent on making sure these people don’t have the institutions that can help “community police” the Jordan Neelys of America onto a better path than that of crime and vagrancy.
Michele Gama Sosa is an opinion editor for the Daily Caller and a historian by training.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.