It was my penultimate summer in California when two friends from Germany crossed the pond to visit. They rented a room in San Diego not far from the beach, nestled in a palm-tree lined suburb. At some point between setting their bags on the curb and checking in to their summer digs, a man was gunned down behind their rental in an alleyway drive-by.
It was a random act of violence as far as San Diego’s finest could tell, and conspicuously at odds with those ubiquitous “Coexist” stickers affixed to cars throughout the state. There is a saying used in California when the going gets tough: “At least we have the weather.” No matter how expensive, dangerous, unclean, and generally inhospitable the state’s cities become, “at least we have the weather,” Californians say, as if to soothe their weary bones. As I watched once-safe neighborhoods decay, I, too, would console myself with that pagan thanksgiving to the sun.
Hope for a better future in California is rapidly becoming a stillborn dream, as the connection between decay and the politics of progressivism becomes painfully clear. The proponents of this secular theology may be getting a wakeup call soon, as the Golden State’s cities teeter on the edge of bubonic oblivion, with rats teeming through the streets of Los Angeles, even forcing temporary, partial closures of City Hall. Skid Row has unfurled its filthy tendrils into the halls of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division station, with officers falling ill as vermin lay siege to their precinct.
Read the rest in Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.