President Trump set off another round of performative handwringing this weekend when he described the city of Baltimore as “disgusting,” “rat infested,” “dangerous,” and “very poor.” I am personally not a big fan of Trump’s Twitter commentaries, which are almost always posted in anger and almost always prompted by a “Fox & Friends” segment. I would rather the president do something other than live-tweet the Fox News morning show. That said, he’s not wrong about Baltimore, and I say that as someone who lived in the area for over 20 years.
Indeed, everything he said about the town has already been said — and much worse — by the people who reside in or around it. Up until this weekend, you would have been hard-pressed to find any Baltimorean who would contest the claim that Baltimore is dangerous, poor, and, yes, in parts disgusting. You would have been even harder-pressed to find non-Baltimore residents who would disagree with the assessment. To the outside world, Charm City has for years been known first for murder and drugs, second for “The Wire” (a show about murder and drugs), and third for crab cakes. Natives of the city know it for all of those same things, along with Natty Boh and great football defenses.
What a shock to the system it has been, then, to see the media and leftists on Twitter suddenly pretending to have some great affection for Baltimore. Trump possesses a sort of reverse magnetism that causes his opponents to rush to the opposite side of whatever position he has taken — even if the position is that a city with one of the highest murder rates in the country is dangerous. After spending decades scoffing at Baltimore, or entirely ignoring it, now leftists have come heroically to its defense. The hilariously misspelled #WeAreBalitmore hashtag campaign features a bunch of people — many of whom are not from the city — explaining why it is actually a lovely place. Many of these tweets are accompanied with pictures of the Inner Harbor, the most touristy spot in town and about as representative of Baltimore’s culture as Times Square is of New York City’s culture.
Ironically, though, even the relatively “safe” and “family friendly” Inner Harbor has recently seen outbursts of chaos and violence. A huge swarm of teenagers descended on the harbor a few months ago and randomly assaulted tourists just for fun. Random assaults at the harbor are nothing new, and the problem isn’t going away. Just last week, a city employee was brutally beaten in daylight just blocks away — the second incident of this type in the last few weeks.
If this is what the comparatively safe parts are like, it’s no surprise that the unsafe parts look like third-world slums. With a poverty rate of 23% and a violent crime rate over 400% higher than the national average, Baltimore clearly fits the bill for poor and dangerous (and rat infested, by the way). There are well over 10,000 murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults reported in Baltimore in a given year, to go along with the 30,000 or so cases of property crime. In fact, 10 people were shot and several killed just since Trump’s tweet on Saturday. Including Friday in the total, Baltimore had 13 shootings and 6 murders in a single weekend. Meanwhile, the fire department was busy putting out 11 fires.
Where is the bright spot in all of this? Well, if you’re searching for one, don’t look towards the education system, where a third of all high schools in the city struggle to get even one student up to the level of merely proficient in basic subjects like math. At Booker T. Washington Middle School, the proficiency rate for math and English is (literally) zero.
We haven’t even gotten into the statistics on drug abuse and homelessness, but there’s no need. Everyone gets the picture, and they didn’t need this article to tell them. We all know that Baltimore — like so many Democrat-run cities — is, in so many ways, a disgrace. And ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. We know that because city leaders have already tried that strategy for decades, and look where it’s gotten us.