-
Monday, December 11, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In the 1960s, San Francisco’s cultural and political life was defined by the “politics of tolerance.”

Tolerance was certainly a good thing at a time when gays were still bashed and blacks were the object of discrimination and derision. San Francisco decided to be an open and compassionate community.


Of course, not all of San Francisco, a heavily Catholic, working-class city back then, shared those values.

Even before the hippies had taken over the city’s Haight-Ashbury District, San Francisco had a radical tinge. It was the home of the militant International Longshoremen’s Association that had stood up to police vigilantism during the brutal and still-memorialized strike of 1934.

San Francisco drew labor organizers, intellectuals and beatniks long before the counterculture. The communist influence among union militants was no secret.

Consequently, San Francisco became a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee. During its infamous hearing on May 13, 1960, student protesters and others were brutalized by the San Francisco Police in iconic scenes that became part of J. Edgar Hoover’s propaganda film, “Operation Abolition.”

San Francisco also drew a sizable gay population that established itself in the Castro District. One of its residents was Harvey Milk, who became the first elected openly gay city supervisor.

The 1978 assassination of Milk and Mayor George Moscone by fellow supervisor Dan White illustrated the political and cultural chasm in San Francisco. White, a former police officer who came from a working-class, Catholic background, admitted guilt but argued diminished capacity in what became known as the “Twinkie Defense.” White’s sugar intake was alleged to have contributed to his state of mind prior to the murders.

Members of the overly conservative and mostly female jury openly wept when White confessed to the murders.

White was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and received an inconsequential sentence of eight years. The gay community erupted in riots, convinced that the value of Milk’s life was diminished by his being gay.

Over the decades, it is not just the ground that has shifted in earthquake-prone San Francisco. So, too, has the political divide. San Francisco is now an uber-liberal, family-unfriendly community. Except for some ethnic enclaves, the working class is not to be found. Rents and housing costs are among the highest in the nation.

The politics of tolerance has become the politics of indulgence. Gay Pride Day is often punctuated by public acts of nudity and sometimes sex, in violation of city ordinances that go unenforced.

Market Street is littered with the homeless. Aggressive panhandling on weekends at the Civic Center BART station is as common as the human excrement deposited in the station.

Drug trafficking downtown is often open. Teenagers hit unsuspecting tourists with “slap and grab” to steal cell phones, which are conveniently converted into cash by a machine in the nearby mall. Those caught are juveniles and out on the street the following day, repeating their craft.

San Francisco is also a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state. As every Bay Area teenager knows where to purchase false documents, the politicians must, too. Yet the industry thrives, probably as much from teenagers as it does from migrants trying to pass themselves off as legal.

Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, the admitted murderer of Kathryn Steinle, came to San Francisco because it is a sanctuary city. On Nov. 30, the nation witnessed the flip side of the Dan White “Twinkie” verdict.

A jury accepted the ridiculous notion that the .40 caliber Sig Sauer went off by itself, three times, and one of its bullets accidentally punctured Kate Steinle’s aorta as she walked on a crowded San Francisco pier with her father on July 1, 2015.

There is no doubt that Zarate’s status as an undocumented migrant drew sympathy from the jury; and after all, Kate Steinle was a “privileged” white woman at a time and in a place where “whiteness” is to be abhorred.

In San Francisco, we don’t mind an illegal immigrant committing murder, but we do mind his being in possession of a firearm even if he found it only seconds earlier, according to the defense. The jury let their outrage over gun possession be heard and convicted Zarate of illegally possessing a firearm.

He’ll probably get three years and be out in 18 months. He then will be deported to Mexico for the sixth time. Months later we can expect him back in San Francisco, sheltered by our sanctuary policies.

Had the San Francisco sheriff held Zarate, as requested by federal authorities, and not released him, Kate Steinle would still be alive.

But then, in California, we prefer having dead victims to deported aliens, just as we once preferred having a dead gay politician to justly incarcerating an angry former cop.

” ‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice. ‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’ “

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.