Jewish World Review Dec. 6, 1999 /27 Kislev, 5760
Hillary's knee jerks for the homeless
A FEW WEEKS AGO, Gov. George W. Bush was tarred and feathered for not
knowing the name of the leader of Chechnya -- as if anyone outside the media
When it comes to the headaches the homeless have caused urban dwellers,
Hillary Rodham Clinton is clueless about a real issue.
After a woman in midtown Manhattan was hit in the head by a panhandler
wielding a 6-pound paving stone -- requiring brain surgery to save her
life -- New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Hillary's likely opponent next year)
ordered police to round up denizens of the heating grates who refuse to go
to shelters in the evening.
Hillary is highly indignant. "Criminalizing the homeless with mass arrests
for those whose only offense is that they have no home is wrong," the first
lady bleated last week.
She went on to observe that the season upon us celebrates "the birth of a
homeless child" (as related in the Epistle of Saint Jesse to the Rainbow
Coalition?). Mary and Joseph had a home in Nazareth, Hillary. They were
temporarily in Bethlehem for a tax census, a project your husband would
Dear Hillary never rides the subways alone. When she ventures onto the
sidewalks of New York, it's in the company of men with guns.
As a result, Ms. Rodham has never had to step over a comatose man reeking
of booze and urine. She's never been menaced by a hulking brute demanding
spare change. She's never had to run the gauntlet of some maniac screaming
on a street corner as she wended her way home in the evening.
Hillary's life has been isolated and hermetically sealed for so many years
that she wouldn't know reality if it sat next to her at a fund-raising
dinner. Her creative solution to homelessness? "Triple the number of new
(federal) housing vouchers."
What makes Clinton think that people who refuse to go to shelters in
sub-zero temperatures will willingly move into apartments? "She's spouting
the sort of advocates' humbug nobody has believed for a decade," says Myron
Magnet, editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.
Magnet observes: "The homeless are engaged in self-destructive behavior
(substance abuse) -- that's how they got to be homeless -- or they're
mentally ill and can't take care of themselves. Housing isn't the problem;
behavior or psychosis is."
As many as two-thirds of the homeless are alcoholics, addicts or mentally
incompetent. Does Hillary really believe she's doing the homeless a favor by
allowing them to sleep outdoors in the dead of winter -- thus exercising
their constitutional right to reside in the city morgue?
The welfare of these unfortunates isn't the only consideration. After
announcing his haul-'em-in policy, Giuliani told a caller on his weekly
radio show: "You don't have a right to sleep on the streets of New York
It's the hard-working, overburdened taxpayers of New York who pay for those
streets, not the homeless who've tried to turn them into Campgrounds of
Does Hillary understand that the normal have rights, too? A right not to be
harassed? A right to have their sidewalks used as intended? A right to
physical safety? A right not to have their heads caved in with 6-pound
It was Hillary's knee-jerk, civil libertarian friends who created the
homeless crisis through deinstitutionalization. "Oh, these poor mental
patients, we must release them from snake-pit asylums," they insisted.
"They're not dangerous. We have no right to detain them."
Most of them aren't dangerous. Some certainly are.
The FBI doesn't keep statistics on the number of crimes committed by the
homeless. But four years ago, a young woman was brutally raped by two
homeless men on the Boston Common. A year earlier, an 80-year-old New York
grandmother was beaten to death with a lead pipe by a street psycho.
of the homeless have themselves been victimized by goons who prey on the
But belligerent or benign, few of the homeless can fend for themselves. The
ACLU types threw them on the streets with predictable results.
For a crisis liberalism created, Hillary has the perfect liberal solution
(more federal spending) and the standard liberal objection to efforts to
ensure public safety(it violates constitutional rights).
It's great to see Hillary alienating the middle class this way. She might
as well wear a name tag that reads, "Hi, I'm a hopeless ideologue -- and I
want to be your
JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest book is Who's Afraid of the Religious Right. Comment on his column by clicking here.
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©1999, Creators Syndicate