Actually, Chesa Boudin was voted out in the richest, whitest areas of San Francisco
Contrary to right-wing propaganda, and "liberal propaganda" by pundits like Jonathan Chait, many diverse neighborhoods in the city voted against recall.
Conservatives have built an impressive array of false narratives to kneecap the movement for police reform and racial justice. These narratives are readily parroted by conservatives who pose as liberals because otherwise it’d be awkward around the other Montessori parents.
One of the most common is that real criminal justice reform is the plaything of rich, white liberals safe in their fancy neighborhoods. A way to virtue signal without sacrificing anything. Oh wait, while sacrificing downtrodden people of color, who pay the price in blood so Karen can feel good about that time she clutched her wallet when a Black person walked by.
This narrative initially coalesced around opposition to the defund movement. Pundit after pundit after pundit scratched their chins and sagely observed that people of color are less likely to support defund. And that was largely true, according to polls. But polls were worded in a way that strongly suggested defund would mean even fewer resources for communities of color.
“Do you support defunding the police?” “Do you want fewer or more cops in your neighborhoods?”
Any reasonable person who’s asked that question would automatically think, “So no one comes if I call 911?” Of course people would oppose that.
I wish someone would put out the following poll: “10 percent of NYPD officers commit more violent crimes than they solve (based on CCRB data). Do you think they should keep getting raises with your taxes dollars? Or should they be fired so that money goes into schools?” Because the truth is, without the threat of real consequences (like the threat of defund) there is literally no incentive for police departments to change a thing.
But the narrative is effective. It taps into the perpetually self-flagellating, second-guessing tendencies of American liberals when it comes to race. Checking their privilege, if you will. And it’s an easy way out. In nice Brooklyn neighborhoods the BLM signs have mostly been supplanted by Ukrainian flags.
Given how effective this narrative is, it’s no wonder that it was gleefully trotted out after the recall of San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin last week. While Boudin’s supporters pointed out that the recall campaign was funded by Republicans, cops, millionaires and billionaires, his critics countered that, actually, it was working class people of color who ousted the DA.
Here’s Jonathan Chait:
Boudin’s recall fared
bestworst in the whitest neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Chait reached this conclusion by doing
extensive electoral analysis citing a Tweet by Richie Torres before the final results had even come in.
And then for the liberal guilt trip: “The left’s response to these reversals has been to portray voters as the victims of brainwashing by conservative media.”
“Why Black, Latino and Asian American Democrats would be more susceptible to reactionary media propaganda than white Democrats, they have not explained,” he added in a smug little shiv.
Before the polls were even closed, we were off to the races, with everyone prophesying about what the recall meant for Democrats at the national level—even though in the actual midterm, tough-on-crime DA Anne-Marie Schubert and ridicoulous clown Michael Shellenberger were trounced.
This fucking narrative is so effective that last Friday, Zach and I, along with media critic Adam Johnson, tried to parse why people of color in poorer neighborhoods were convinced that Boudin was to blame for every problem in the city. After all, how many everyday people in places where there’s not a massive propaganda campaign against the DA even know who the DA is? I do this shit for a living and even I have to look it up. Quick, who’s DA in Columbus, Ohio?
But, all of that is irrelevant because it was actually the richest, whitest neighborhoods in the city that overwhelmingly voted Boudin out.
See for yourself here.
The Marina and Pacific Heights—the places you’re most likely to find a Karen (68% white) in the Bay Area wild—voted to recall Boudin by 69.2%. The Presideo (69% white) voted for recall at 64%.
Chinatown, painted as ground zero for the working class revolt against Boudin, voted for the recall, but turnout was far lower than in the Marina, and the “yes” vote was much lower, at 56%. And that’s the case even though Asian-Americans have seen a rise in hate crimes and the recall movement outright lied to connect Boudin to these incidents (for example, the widely trumpeted attack on Anh Le was presented as Boudin ignoring anti-Asian crimes—even though the attackers were prosecuted by Boudin’s predecessor.) Even in the dreaded Tenderloin residents voted to recall at 56%, far lower than the Marina, the Presidio, and Pacific Heights.
Meanwhile, the Mission—38 percent Hispanic—voted against recall, as did Diamond Heights, which is 23% Asian and 11% Hispanic. Inner sunset, 33 percent Asian, voted no. Bernal heights: 27% Hispanic, 21% Asian, voted no. Hayes Valley and Western Addition—which border the dreaded Tenderloin—voted no (23% Asian, 18% Black). To be fair, the Sunset and Lake Merced, neighborhoods where whites are a minority, also voted for recall at similar rates to the Marina.
But the narrative that the recall was powered by an organic revolution by working class people of color, and opposed by rich white liberals? A shameless lie like everything else about this sorry incident.
Why rich white people would be more susceptible to reactionary media propaganda than Black, Latino and Asian Democrats, Chait and his ilk have yet to explain.