John Carpenter`s 1981 film Escape from New York envisaged the national crime rate skyrocketing to such an extent that the federal government walls off Manhattan Island and turns it into a maximum security prison. Inside the city walls, the prisoners form violent gangs that rule over the city.
When Air Force One crashes inside Manhattan, an ex-soldier namedSnake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell, is assigned to enter the city and rescue the President before he is killed.
I remember watching Escape from New York on television as a boy and thinking the plot was preposterous. Now, after living in New York City for several years as an adult, the film is actually starting to look plausible to me.
That is because I have decided not just to leave New York City, but to escape it—and all that it has come to represent.
I moved to New York City several years ago, like many recent college graduates, eager to experience the "greatest city in the world"—and I was hardly disappointed.
New York City is a remarkable testament to American ingenuity. Here, Americans have created some of the most extraordinary engineeringand architectural marvels on earth, and made historic achievements in industry, finance, and the arts.
There are more interesting things to see and do in New York than in any other city in the world.
The Big Apple, however, has a serious dysfunctional side, as do theelites who preside over it.
Indeed, living in Manhattan has given me a unique insight into the mindset of the American elite. In college, for example, I never understood why the students from New York were so screwed up. They had looks, money, and privilege—and yet they were so utterly miserable.
The reason why became obvious when I moved to the Upper East Side. Here, and in every exclusive neighborhood in the city, you will see scores of nannies—very often Third World immigrant nannies—holding young white children by the hand, or pushing infants, even newborns, around in strollers.
Some kids have been raised by more than a dozen nannies by the time they graduate high school. One friend of mine even lost his virginity to his nanny, an apparently not uncommon rite for teenage boys here.
Members of New York`s upper class care so little for their children that they prefer to hire semi-illiterate foreigners to do the job for them. Is it any wonder then, that our ruling class cares so little about the rest of us?
When I first moved to the Upper East Side, I actually expected to find better manners among the Park Avenue crowd. Instead, I invariably found them to be as boorish and obnoxious as any people I`ve ever encountered.
Peter Brimelow recently expressed disgust on learning that William F. Buckley used to urinate onto the street from the open door of hislimousine. (For my thoughts on attending Buckley`s Memorial Mass, see here). I was hardly surprised by such behavior; neither was I surprised that his son Chris found it amusing instead of embarrassing.
Big Apple elites think themselves above the standards of decency ordinary people take for granted.
In fact, what really characterizes Manhattan socialites is theirobsession with status—which they define as having the right friends, attending the right schools, identifying with the right causes, and even having the right opinions.
The amusing thing is that those born into high social status, like Buckley, are often the most insecure about maintaining it. They`re always worried about falling out of favor with people, or making the wrong impression, or not getting an invite to this or that social gathering.
One of the socially approved causes that Manhattanites love to prattle on about is "diversity". They are all for diversity—they just prefer to celebrate it from a distance.
Perhaps my most memorable experience with this racial doublethink began on Sunday June 11, 2000. On that morning, I rode my bike into Central Park, as I often do on Sundays. Except this time, I encountered hundreds of Hispanic youth waving Puerto Rican flags, swarming about me like an invading army.
I suddenly realized that I had chosen to enter Central Park on the morning of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I quickly turned around and rode my bike home.
Others, unfortunately, were not so lucky.
Later that afternoon, gangs of black and Hispanic youth attacked a number of white women in Central Park. They doused them with beer, tore off their clothes, and sexually assaulted them—all the while laughing and shouting in jubilation.
An 18 year old British female tourist was stripped completely naked and digitally raped for some 30 minutes. A French female tourist was also stripped naked while her husband was held down and forced to watch as his wife was similarly assaulted.
Fortunately, a few people caught some of the assaults on video, and many of the culprits were later arrested. But the media aired little of the footage and buried the racial nature of the assaults.
With characteristic hypocrisy, Manhattan`s elites, who love to pay lip service to diversity, invariably leave town en masse well before the Puerto Rican Day Parade begins. While they are gone, the tony doorman buildings that line the parade route on 5th Avenue areshielded by a two mile stretch of temporary barricades.
They only return home after the city has cleaned up the trash-littered streets and arrested all the "celebrants" who committed physical and sexual assaults that day.
If you`re wondering if the famed Giuliani crime control has reformed Manhattan, the answer is that it`s not completely reformed, and it`s not all because of Giuliani. Nicholas Stix has written about how the NYPD disappears some crimes, exaggerating the crime drop.
Plus, Hispanicization has pushed blacks out of Manhattan and other boroughs. Hence, less crime for NYC, but more crime for the smaller cities in the Tri State area, like Trenton and Newark.
I asked one State Assemblyman how much it cost the city to host the parade. "Don`t even go there", he told me.
If living in New York has taught me anything, then, it is the myth ofHispanic assimilation. Puerto Ricans, many of whom have lived in New York for generations, plant their Puerto Rican flags on everything—front lawns, cars, clothing, luggage—you name it.
So why should we expect all these Hispanic immigrants from other countries to peacefully assimilate when the American citizens from Puerto Rico can`t even do it?
Manhattanites get very nervous when you ask such questions. Reality is not a topic they prefer to discuss.
Indeed, one thing New York has in common with Los Angeles—another status-conscious city now nearly ruined by immigration—is that people move here and live here not so much because they want to experience the good life, but because they want to avoid facing the hard realities of life.
"Don`t even go there" seems to be the standard response to politically-incorrect questions, especially on the subject of immigration.
For example, New Yorkers frequently complain about congestion: overcrowded schools, traffic jams, and cramped public transit. But few will dare suggest that we might not have these problems if the city didn`t have over one million illegal immigrants (not to mention their children).
If anything, the real "huddled masses" of New York are those who are forced to ride a subway jam-packed with illegal aliens, many of whom currently wear surgical masks over their faces to hinder the spread of Swine Flu.
This congestion crisis has spilled over into the entire Tri-State Area. Take the train into the city from New Jersey, Connecticut, or Long Island, and you will often find yourself standing in the aisle, even on weekends.
In the meantime, taxpayers nationwide must finance the overburdened transportation system of America`s largest sanctuary city. Right now, the city is digging a new train tunnel underneath the Hudson River, a new subway line underneath 2nd Avenue, and a new train terminal underneath Grand Central Station.
We are told that these multi-billion dollar projects are "investments" but any honest person knows that they are really immigration subsidies.
For all of these reasons and more, my wife and I have decided to escape from New York and move to a distant New England town. There, crime is low, traffic is light, and the shop clerks all speak perfect English.
Moreover, the prospect of starting a family in New York City is simply unthinkable to us.
In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald describes the Manhattan skyline with the same sense of wonder it used to evoke in me: "The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world."
It`s hard to imagine anyone writing such inspired prose about New York City today. In fact, one currently popular t-shirt features an image of the Queensboro Bridge beneath the logo "Nueva York"—as the city`s surging Hispanic community prefers to call it.
The irony is that the Queensboro Bridge is also the bridge that Snake Plissken and a newly rescued American President race across in the final scene of Escape from New York.
It is also the same bridge I will drive over, in bumper to bumper traffic, when I make my own escape from New York.
And all the while I`ll be looking in the rear view mirror, hoping and praying that it is not following behind me.
Matthew Richer (email him) is a writer living in Massachusetts. He is the former American Editor of Right NOW magazine.