HOW IT STARTED: The Rise of the Latte Town.
I’m holding up traffic. I’m walking down the street in Burlington, Vermont, and I come to a corner and see a car approaching so I stop. The car stops. Meanwhile, I’ve been distracted by some hippies playing Frisbee in the park, and I stand there daydreaming for what must be 15 or 20 seconds. The car waits.
In a normal city, cars roll through these situations; if they see an opening, they take it. But this is Burlington, one of the most socially enlightened cities in America, and drivers here are aware that America has degenerated into a car-obsessed culture, where developers pave over paradise to put up parking lots; where driving threatens to crush the natural rhythms of foot traffic and face-to-face community with superhighways and arid suburbia; where fossil-fuel-burning machines choke the air and displace the renewable energy sources of human locomotion. This driver knows that while sitting behind the wheel, he is ethically inferior to a pedestrian like me. And to demonstrate his civic ideals, he is going to make damn sure that I get the right of way. No matter how long it takes.
Finally, he honks politely, and I wake up from my reverie and belatedly cross the street. But by the time I reach the next corner, I’m lost in my thoughts again and, seeing a car coming, I stop. This car stops too. And waits. I have to go through this ritual about a dozen times before I finally adapt to local mores and trudge straight into the intersections. In Burlington, pedestrians have inherited the earth. Social enlightenment rules.
Burlington is a Latte Town.
Latte Towns — the term is Alan Ehrenhalt’s — are upscale liberal communities, often in magnificent natural settings, often university-based, that have become the gestation centers for America’s new upscale culture. They are the birthplaces of the coffee shops, gourmet bread stores, micro- breweries, organic grocery stores, and the rest of the sensibility-drenched enterprises that marry natural goodness, high craftsmanship, cosmopolitan taste, social concern, and inflated prices to create a 1990s version of genteel culture. Boulder, Colorado, is a Latte Town, as are Madison, Wisconsin; Napa, California; Northampton, Massachusetts; Missoula, Montana; Wilmington, North Carolina; Ithaca, New York; and on and on. You know you’re in a Latte Town when you can hop right off a bike path, browse in a used bookstore with shelves and shelves of tomes on Marxism the owner can no longer get rid of, and then drink coffee at a place with a punnish name that must have the word “Grounds” in it, before sauntering through an African drum store or a feminist lingerie shop.
The ideal Latte Town has a Swedish-style government, German-style pedestrian malls, Victorian houses, Native American crafts, Berkeley human- rights groups, and Beverly Hills income levels. There should be some abandoned industrial mills that can be converted into lofts, software startups, and organic-brownie factories. The Latte Town in Utopia would have Rocky Mountain views to the west, Redwood forests downtown, a New England lake along the waterfront, and a major city with a really good alternative weekly within a few hours’ drive.
—David Brooks, the Weekly Standard, September 15th, 1997.
How it’s going: Defund the police comes to Burlington, Vermont.
Defund police departments and crime goes up. Does that surprise anyone? No. But the real problem isn’t the lack of police but of the tolerance of drug addled transients. They know full well if they get arrested they’ll just be out the next day. They’ll never pay a fine and never do more time. There are no consequences whatsoever. That’s the real problem.
A reader from Vermont:
An important factor to understand is how police departments are staffed. Originally at roughly 95 in 2018, that was made up of 50 patrol officers and then 45 supervisors, detectives, domestic violence officers, etc. All most all of the police leaving have come from patrol officers. Now at about 60 total, only 15 are patrol officers, so it’s actually a 70% drop from 50 to 15.
This is fairly typical across the country – when you hear of departments being down such and such, the impact is actually far far greater than immediately apparent.
Lots more reactions like these but this reader just says what the Times only insinuates.
Read this article carefully and the take away is the citizens are effectively resorting to vigilantism to solve the bike theft problem. Sure, they are not physically harming anyone now, but it is clear if the police will not or cannot protect lives and property — in this case property — people will take matters into their own hands. If you think this is better than effective law enforcement, think again.
As Glenn warned in August of 2020, when “defund the police” fever was in full bloom in latte towns across America, “the breakdown of law and order won’t go as [leftists] hope. Ultimately, the police are there to protect criminals from the populace, not the other way around. Get rid of the police, and armed vigilantism is what you’ll get. And what you’ll deserve.”