A recent series of articles in the Baltimore Sun painted a gloomy (yet persuasive) picture of “the decline of the Baltimore City Police Force.” But then, why should police forces be expected to maintain high standards when all institutions are falling in what’s left of America? The Sun stories basically explained how affirmative action lowers hiring standards, how the “ethnic cleansing” of whites in the power structure of what has become a dominantly black city results in lackluster management (though the paper didn’t put it that way), and how the criminal injustice system in Mencken’s hometown is just as corrupt and helpless as it is elsewhere across the land.

These facts come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to the destruction of our culture, but they still amaze when laid out in the context of a newspaper investigation. The city has a new police commissioner, a cop named Tom Frazier, hired from the San Jose, California, department and quite the controversial choice because he is white. The mayor, Kurt Schmoke, who is black, calmly explained that he was looking for the best person to undertake the responsibilities of the position and that race shouldn’t be a factor in the selection process. Well and good, one would think, but that wasn’t the reaction of some prominent members of the “community.” A delegation of ministers from black churches thought it appropriate to call on the mayor and express disappointment that racial solidarity wasn’t maintained in picking a new Top Cop. Mr. Frazier replaces a black man, Edward Woods, famed equally for his political clout and for his unfortunate inability to express himself coherently. All hands seem to wish the new commissioner well, but if we are to believe the Sun series, he has his work cut out for him.

Meanwhile, the mayor, who became nationally known a few years ago for his argument that we might be better off legalizing drugs than continuing to fight a tragically expensive, losing war against their use, has been AWOL in the fight against violent street crime, fear of which is emptying the city of all who have means enough to flee. The mayor is forever saying that the crime problem in Baltimore is a matter of perception, as though if we could only clear our lenses we would see there really isn’t much to worry about. One can understand Mr. Schmoke’s reluctance to acknowledge the extent of blatant criminality in his city, because the people committing crimes are almost always black, and now that City Hall is controlled by black politicians it’s much more difficult to cry that racism on the part of whites makes for selective law enforcement. Logically, that just doesn’t wash any longer.

During a radio show that allows ordinary folks to voice their concerns to the mayor, a caller said that he had been driving into Baltimore with his family last Easter Sunday to visit the city’s showcase, the Inner Harbor, when his car was caught up in a swarm of young blacks, some of whom he said exposed themselves, pounded on the car, and shouted threatening things. The man said that after extricating himself and his wife and children from the nightmarish scene, he made a vow never again to set foot in the city. The mayor’s response was that it was a shame that this fellow had such a poor perception of Baltimore. The truly amazing thing, seems to me, would be if he did not.

When publicly discussing the problems of America’s cities one must always take care to use euphemisms: for example, to say “urban problems” when meaning black and, in some cases, Hispanic crime. We haven’t even begun to grapple with some of the harder facts about America’s decay. There is no discussion in public forums of something most people acknowledge in private conversation: that violent street crime has an undeniable racial component. A friend of mine, a 25-year veteran of the Baltimore City Police Department, runs a shift out of a very high crime precinct, one teeming with the welfare underclass, both black and white. If rampaging violent crime is a result primarily of the welfare culture, how can one explain away his observation, based on long experience, that the criminals his officers deal with are nearly all black. He says they have no significant problem with crime among destitute whites. Put that in your sociological pipe and smoke it, Hillary.

A restaurant in Baltimore’s Little Italy thought it a good idea to fight its customers’ worries over criminal assault and robbery by hiring kids to work as valet parking attendants. At first they hired some white boys, but they themselves became favored targets of the muggers from the housing projects across the street, so now black kids park the cars, apparently with some immunity from their “gangsta” brothers.

As for me, I’ve joined the flight away from the city and its suburbs and now live in a small town 36 miles north of “Charm City,” as boosters dubbed it a few years ago. Racially, I have a clean conscience, since several families in my new neighborhood are blacks, Buppies (Black Urban Professionals) who made their choice of residence, I assume, for the same reasons as everybody else, because they want to raise their kids and live their lives with a semblance of civility, something still possible in the hinterlands, wherein resides what little is left of the America we knew and loved.