EDITORrnThomas FlemingrnMANAGING EDITORrnTheodore PappasrnSENIOR EDITOR, BOOKSrnChilton Williamson, ]r.rnASSISTANT EDITORrnChristine HaynesrnART DIRECTORrnAnna Mycek-WodeckirnCONTRIBUTING EDITORSrnJohn W.Aldridge, Harold O.].rnBrown, Katherine Dalton, SamuelrnFrancis, George Garrett,rnE. Christian Kopff, Clyde WilsonrnCORRESPONDING EDITORSrnJanet Scott Barlow, Bill Kauffman,rnJohn Shelton Reed, Momcilo SelicrnEDITORIAL SECRETARYrnLeann DobbsrnPUBLISHERrnAllan C. CarlsonrnPUBLICATION DIRECTORrnGuy C. ReffettrnCOMPOSITION MANAGERrnAnita FedorarnCIRCULATION MANAGERrnRochelle FrankrnA publication of The Rockford Institute.rnEditorial and Advertising Offices:rn934 North Main Street, Rockford, IL 61103.rnEditorial Phone: (815)964-5054.rnAdvertising Phone: (815) 964-5811.rnSubscription Department: P.O. Box 800,rnMount Morris, IL 61054. Gall 1-800-877-5459.rnFor informarion on advertising in Chronicles,rnplease call Rochelle Frank at (815) 964-5811.rnU.S.A. Newsstand Distribution by Eastern NewsrnDistributors, Inc., 1130 Cleveland Road,rnSandusky, OH 44870.rnCopyright © 1994 by The Rockford Institute.rnAll rights reserved.rnChronicles (ISSN 0887-5731) is publishedrnmonthly for $28 per year by The RockfordrnInstitute, 934 North Main Street, Rockford,rnIL 61103-7061. Second-class postage paidrnat Rockford, IL and additional mailing offices.rnPOSTMASTER: Send address changes tornChronicles, P.O. Box 800, Mount Morris,rnIL 61054.rnThe views expressed in Chronicles arc thernauthors’ alone and do not necessarily reflectrnthe views of The Rockford Institute or of itsrndirectors. Unsolicited manuscripts cannot bernreturned unless accompanied by a self-addressedrnstamped envelope.rnChroniclesrnVol. 18, No. 5 May 1994rnIMntcd in tlic United States of AmericarnPOLEMICS & EXCHANGESrnOn Crime andrnVigilantismrnLike Roger McGrath (“Treat Them to arnGood Dose of Lead,” January 1994), Irn”grew up in a Los Angeles that had veryrnlittle crime.” We, too, “locked the doorrnto our house with a skeleton key, whenrnwe remembered”—until we lost the key.rnProfessor McGrath does not attemptrnto account for the absence of crime inrnLos Angeles between the wars. Nor, beyondrnbrief references to “badly deterioratedrn[morale] on the LAPD” and a nationalrn”malaise . . . weakening . . . thernpersonal and national will,” does he attemptrnto account for the present crisis.rnHis prescription for confronting that crisis,rnhowever, is clear—the armed citizenryrnand vigilantism that, he argues,rnkept 19th-century Aurora, Nevada, andrnBodie, California, criine-free. That arnsolution to the crime problem in latern20th-century Los Angeles can be foundrnin 19th-century mining camps is unlikelyrn(a more promising place to seekrnsuch a solution is inter-bellum Los Angeles),rnand that the solution when foundrnwill be an armed citizenry and vigilantismrnis less likely still.rnThe Los Angeles that I grew up inrnwas a city without an armed citizenry; itrnwas not, however, a city without vigilantes.rnBut one would never say of LosrnAngeles vigilantes, as Professor McGrathrndoes of those of Aurora and Bodie, thatrnthey “displayed military-like organizationrnand discipline and proceeded in arnquiet, orderly, and deliberate fashion.”rnLos Angeles vigilantes were ill-organized,rnad hoc gangs that proceeded in a criminallyrnviolent fashion to break strikes andrndisrupt other lawful union activities.rnFrom the orange groves of Covina to therndocks of San Pedro, vigilantes employedrnkidnapping, beating, “the Mussolinirntreatment,” and tar-and-feathering—asrnfrequently against women and childrenrnas against adult males—to “deport” andrnotherwise terrorize “foreigners,” “radicals,”rnand “outside agitators.” This vigilanterncriminal violence, sufficiently extremernto precipitate the formation ofrnthe Southern California Branch of thernACLU, went unprosecuted by the authoritiesrnand unprotested—indeed, itrnwas applauded—by the media. Simplyrnput, in light of this heritage, a return tornvigilantism in Los Angeles is unthinkable.rnIn a xenophobic parting shot that onerncannot but suspect reveals much of thernbasis of his unease with current developmentsrnin Los Angeles, Professor McGrathrnasserts that “we” are failing to defendrnnot just “our persons, our homes”rnbut also “our culture, our borders, ourrnlanguage”; “we hand the barbarians thernkeys to the gates.” In New Mexico duringrnthe last half millennium and more,rn”we” have been the object of a series ofrnentradas by successive waves of newcomers.rnEach wave in turn quickly proclaimedrnitself “we” and sought—albeit,rnunsuccessfully—to repel the next wavernof “barbarians.” Today, New Mexicanrnculture is richer for their failure.rnCurrently, “we”—Pueblo, Athabascanrn(Apache and Dine), Hispanic, and Anglorn(in New Mexico, “Anglo” may still embracernblack)—are under invasion by arnnew wave of “barbarians”—^Angelenos.rnThough much tempted, “we” have notrnyet “treated them to a good dose ofrnlead”; rather, like the city from whichrnthey flee, “we hand the barbarians thernkeys to the gates”—trusting, improbablernthough it now seems, that Angelenos,rntoo, will in time enrich our lives.rnFor clues as to what to do—and whatrnnot to do—in order to recreate a crimefreerncity, Los Angeles must look not torn19th-eentury mining camps but to itsrnown recent past and especially to thernlonger past of New Mexico.rn—Nelson Van VaienrnBelen, NMrnProfessor McGrathrnReplies:rnNelson Van Valen spends most of hisrntime with issues I did not discuss orrninentioned only tangentially, and he entirelyrniriisunderstands my “barbarian”rnreference. First, he criticizes me for writingrnan article about when I grew up inrnLos Angeles instead of when he did. Irncould have made the very same points byrncomparing crime in Los Angeles in 1932rn(instead of 1952) with that in 1992, butrnthat’s not the article I wrote. Mr. VanrnValen claims that the inter-bellum LosrnAngeles he knew was “a city without anrnarmed citizenry.” Really? I would cer-rn4/CHRONICLESrnrnrn