Recently, I wrote about the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, noting that the unusual severity of the fire, and its unusually high death toll, was a function of Europe’s second-rate fire safety culture — and that something similar would simply not happen in the U.S. At the time, I brought up a 2014 high-rise fire in New York as a perfect counterexample; that is, an example of a high-rise fire done right, with minimal casualties and destruction.
Today, I take notice of a recent high-rise condo fire in Honolulu which illustrates the point yet again. The funny thing is that the American press does not regard this Hawai’i incident as a particular mark of success. Three people died, several were injured, and a fair bit of damage was done to a number of condo units. I pause for my usual statement: May God have mercy on the souls of the dead, bring healing to the injured and comfort to the bereaved.
The building which burned in Hawai’i was an older building which lacked a sprinkler system; sprinklers were not required at the time the building was built and Honolulu has no law requiring retrofits. Had sprinklers been installed, the toll would have almost certainly been lower — and this is the point that all observers are stressing, disappointed with the fatal outcome in this case. Still, compared with a death toll of nearly 100 and the total loss of an entire high rise structure (the outcome in London), the recent outcome in Hawai’i is a smashing success.
This past weekend, a series of forest fires broke out in Portugal. Approximately 61 people — mainly civilians — are reported to have died while trying to flee the fires by car, or while sheltering in villages near the highway.
I pause for my usual statement: May God have mercy on the souls of the dead, bring healing to the injured and comfort to the bereaved.
In the early hours of June 14, 2017, a high-rise residential building in London caught fire. As of the most recent update (June 19th, 2017), at least 79 people are dead, or missing and presumed dead, in the ensuing towering inferno — with the number expected to rise further. I pause for my usual statement: May God have mercy on the souls of the dead, bring healing to the injured and comfort to the bereaved.
I was quite struck by the dramatic way in which this fire unfolded. By all accounts, what started as a small fire in a low floor of the building (some reports put it down to an electrical fire in a faulty refrigerator) spread rapidly and powerfully throughout the entire structure, putting the residents of all 120 apartments in mortal danger. This sequence of events floored me. Surely, in [Present Year], high-rise high-density structures are not supposed to go up like roman candles. But this apartment tower in London did just that. I mean, Londoners sure like their towers, and they sure like their great fires — but not like this.
This is a painful example of a point I have emphasized for years: While the soft-headed liberal left loves to venerate all things European as inherently superior to all things American, the hard truth is that very commonly Europe gets things dead wrong. By which I mean, Europe on many key measures often performs far worse than the U.S. It is good to remind ourselves of this from time to time.
To make this point crystal clear, let us put this high-rise fire in London side-by-side with a similar recent incident in New York.
Here is a picture of the London tower with the overnight fire at its peak intensity:
NBC reported yesterday that Minnesota health officials have requested an additional $5 million appropriation to deal with an “extraordinarily expensive” measles outbreak among the state’s Somali population, a group which has largely refused measles vaccinations for their children in recent years.
Why the great frozen Upper Midwest, colonized in the 19th century mainly by pioneers of German and Viking stock, is now home to a substantial population of refugees and transplants from the semi-tropical Horn of Africa is in some fundamental sense mysterious. Yes, yes, I know the State Department has run refugee resettlement rackets from time to time in the past, and that do-gooder Lutheran organizations with their roots in the Upper Midwest have participated heavily in these schemes. But taking a step back and viewing the picture from a Martian visitor’s perspective it just seems unbearably odd. Minnesota has gone from 94.4% non-Hispanic white in 1990 to 81.0% non-Hispanic white in 2015, and there hasn’t even been an intervening war, invasion or cataclysm to account for this sudden and massive population shift. Even the very climate seems ideally suited to people with an ancestry within spitting distance of the Polar Circle, while tortuously harsh to those whose roots are in warmer climes. Yet here were are. The locals just let it happen.
Some early, hopeful rays of light have shone through since the inauguration of President Trump, piercing the cloud of darkness left by his predecessor in office. The Washington Post reports on another today, stating that the weekly number of U.S. government deportation flights landing in Mexico City has gone up 50% since the current President took office — from two to three. The most recent flight carried 135 people. At that rate, and if that was the only deportation channel, it would only take around 480 years (as opposed to 720) to fly all our illegal aliens to Mexico City. Baby steps, but in the right direction.
But what really struck me, when reading that report, was the dullness that the WaPo’s left-wing politically correct agenda imposes upon the intellects of their writers and editors. It requires a lot of willful blindness to carry out their (un)holy mission of trying to guilt legacy-Americans into thinking that basic law enforcement is bad. Two whoppers stood out.
Back in October, I pointed out that the sacred Muslim months of truce were due to come to an end in November.
And, like clockwork, the French authorities have just arrested six “Irishmen” for plotting a terrorist attack in that country. The French got lucky this time; but even the authorities there acknowledge that “it is not possible to ensure zero risk despite everything we are doing,” apparently in an attempt to brace the public for the some future attempt which the police don’t manage to thwart.
This “premise of inevitability” doesn’t bear too close examination in polite society. While it is impossible for the authorities to eliminate all risks in life, it is innumerate — but fashionable — to ignore the relative magnitudes of the various risks facing the public, while pretending there is nothing that can be done (short of imposing police-state surveillance) to mitigate any of them.
This is an epic, civilizational-suicide level of willful stupidity.
Following on the success of my recent post concerning publicity-seeking illegal aliens who have gone on-the-record with their illegal status and who should be deported immediately upon Trump’s taking office, I am assembling here a list of public officials who have publicly announced that they aid and abet, and will continue to aid and abet, illegal immigrants. This is usually in the context of local officials establishing or reaffirming “sanctuary city” policies, even in the face of President-elect Trump’s announcement that he would seek to cut Federal aid to cities which do not give up these policies.
The position of these public officials is insupportable, and they ought to be appropriately punished by their constituents as well as the higher authorities. Public officials, even more than ordinary citizens, are charged with obeying and enforcing the law. Flouting it instead is an unforgivably deep abrogation of their responsibilities. Yet they try to excuse themselves, and to the unsophisticated public the argument in favor of these policies is often framed as one of public safety. The rationale is that it is difficult for local officials to fight crime and administer basic services efficiently if large groups of people are deeply afraid of any interaction with the government on the grounds that their illegal immigration status might be exposed and deportation proceedings brought against them.
This argument is baloney. Sanctuary city policies go well beyond the sort of Arizona SB1070 behavior that would make this concern remotely plausible. With the exception of Arizona’s attempt, virtually no state or local authority has even supposed that they should inquire into the immigration status of general members of the public at every interaction. Rather, sanctuary city policies involve local authorities refraining from checking status, or taking other immigration-related action, even in far narrower circumstances when when the costs of doing so are very low and the upside likely very high. Officials in sanctuary cities won’t check the status of accused criminals even after they are arrested. They won’t check the status of convicted criminals after they are sent to local lockups to serve their time. They won’t cooperate with Federal immigration officials on “immigration detainers” — requests that local authorities notify the Federal immigration authorities when a particular immigrant convict is scheduled for release from jail, so that the convict can be picked up at the jailhouse door by the Feds and taken away for deportation proceedings.