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OPINION

Magical Thinking at the New York Times

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Ancient primitives -- or as we now call them, "Indigenous people whose land we stole" -- believed in talismans, voodoo, rain dances and other versions of "A preceded B, so A caused B." Today, we consider such reasoning classic fallacy. Except at The New York Times.

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First, you need to understand that the Times is no longer a newspaper, but more of a shaman. The paper used to report news. Anyone reading it for information these days might as well pull into a gas station and expect the nice man in a crisp white shirt to dash out and pump his gas.

Much like a Starfish tuna factory, the news comes in, then has to be cleaned, chopped up, soaked in oil and tightly packed into a tin can. If you peered into the Times' back room, you'd find hundreds of woke scriveners repacking the news to fit the narrative.

Second, an urgent cleanup operation was needed to explain the paroxysm of violence that followed 2020's anti-cop mania pushed at places like the Times. It simply could not stand to have people imagine that revering criminals while anathematizing the police would have any effect on the crime rate.

No, that wouldn't do. The facts had to be retrofitted into an alternative narrative. What was the best backup explanation? The pandemic!

Attributing the massive crime wave to the pandemic solved two problems that would have arisen had the Times simply reported the facts: the upsurge in black crime, and the Times' active encouragement of such.

Unfortunately, doing a rain dance to bring rain is quantum mechanics compared to the Times' cause-and-effect theory about "The Pandemic" inciting the post-George Floyd violence.

Here are the facts.

During the first few months of the pandemic, violent crime plummeted everywhere. You couldn't have missed it. The Washington Post, Politico, Voice of America, Cambridge University, and on and on and on -- even the Times itself! -- reported that violent crime had virtually disappeared in cities around the world due to the COVID shutdowns.

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And then on May 25, a fentanyl addict with a bad ticker died in police custody in Minneapolis, whereupon the de-policing demands of Black Lives Matter swept the nation with the active encouragement of all organs of elite liberal opinion, especially the Times.

Cops, the only people who seem to really believe "black lives matter," risking their lives to bring safety to dangerous neighborhoods, were viciously slandered and kneecapped at every turn. Again, especially by the Times.

You'll never guess what happened next.

After going into free fall during the first 10 weeks of the pandemic, homicides and aggravated assaults in the U.S. rose by about 35% from Floyd's death to the end of June. Burglaries, mostly commercial, shot up by an eye-popping 190% the last week of May -- the height of looting during the "mostly peaceful protests."

Other countries, also affected by the pandemic, saw no such rise in violent crime.

During the Summer of Floyd, murders increased by 42% in the 21 largest U.S. cities. By the end of 2020, the national murder rate had increased by 30%. That's double the next largest hike on record, in 1968, the heyday of the country's last experiment with liberal crime policies, when the murder rate rose by a comparatively paltry 12.7%.

Rarely has data on any change in human behavior been so clearly demarcated as it is in the crime rate pre- and post-George Floyd's death.

Blacks -- you know, the people whose lives allegedly "matter" -- bore the brunt of this orgy of violence. The CDC reports, for example, that firearm murders of black people surged by nearly 40% in 2020, the greatest increase of any demographic group.

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It's understandable that the very same news outlets fanning the flames of anti-police hysteria in the wake of Floyd's martyrdom -- directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of black people -- would want to shift blame to "The Pandemic." But witch doctors have more empirical evidence for their diagnoses than the Times does for its repeated pronouncements that the pandemic caused violent crime.

At least voodoo practitioners probably believed their magical thinking. The Times' Tourette-like hectoring about the pandemic proves the paper is lying and knows it's lying. Nothing true needs to be endlessly repeated with such tenacity. (See also: "Climate Change.")

In an article this week on the skyrocketing crime on New York City subways, Times reporter Ana Ley blamed the pandemic nearly a dozen times for the explosion of violence -- violence that inexplicably began 10 weeks into the pandemic, but immediately after May 25, 2020.

E.g.:

"... an uptick in subway crime during the pandemic ..."

"... safety concerns, which climbed among passengers during the pandemic ..."

"... safety on public transit had gotten worse since the pandemic began ..."

"... she has stopped riding the subway past 6 p.m. during the pandemic."

It's as if the Times has a typewriter key "during the pandemic" that must be inserted into any sentence mentioning "crime."

It's hard to make yourself stupid enough to come up with a similar post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy, but how about right-wingers start attributing mass shootings to "the Clinton presidency"?

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... an uptick in mass shootings that began during the Clinton presidency ...

... mass shootings, which climbed during the Clinton presidency ...

... mass shootings have become more common since the Clinton presidency...

... dance studio says it will reopen after 67th Clinton-era mass shooting ...

... as mass shootings continue, Hillary Clinton struggles to talk about other issues ...

At the Times, the pandemic is a sorcerer's hex, the cause of violent crime. For unfathomable reasons, it just takes a few months to kick in. The COVID god works in mysterious ways.

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