Within the close to week since Frank James’ alleged Brooklyn subway assault, it’s develop into accepted knowledge that New York Metropolis’s or America’s social-services system failed him — and us. But nobody has proven any method by which social companies might have stopped this assault. What we’ve got is what it appears to be like like: a nasty man who intelligently deliberate and executed a nasty factor.
After the mass taking pictures, Metropolis Councilwoman Alexa Avilés and Assemblywoman Marcela Mitaynes, who signify Sundown Park, stated that it showed how “we need investments in social services — housing, healthcare and training.” Politico puzzled “What Brooklyn’s subway taking pictures reveals concerning the state of psychological well being care.”
Up to now? Nothing.
True, New York Metropolis and state depart critically mentally unwell folks on the road, regardless of a number of warning indicators. A few of these folks, like Martial Simon, who pushed Michelle Go to her dying below a subway in January, are violent. Simon had a documented historical past of delusions and compulsions so extreme that he couldn’t perform.
James just isn’t that particular person. James, although born in New York, has no obvious current ties to the town. Till Wednesday, he hadn’t been arrested right here in almost a quarter-century.
He doesn’t match the profile of Simon or the folks accused of killing Christina Yuna Lee and Krystal Bayron-Nieves this 12 months: folks lately arrested and launched, regardless of escalating episodes of uncontrolled violent impulses.
James claimed, in his video rants, that New York’s mental-health system failed him, however he didn’t say when or how. If the training system failed him, it did so 5 a long time in the past. (Perhaps the shortage of constitution faculties again then failed him.)
Our housing system didn’t fail him, until it fails everybody who leaves New York for a unique metropolis for one motive or one other. He discovered housing in Milwaukee and an Airbnb in Philly.
Ought to social companies run by Milwaukee or another metropolis have seen James’ YouTube screeds, by which he stated white folks “kill and commit genocide in opposition to one another” and can do the identical to “your black ass,” declared that “white folks and black folks . . . should have no contact with one another” and praised 9/11 as “a wonderful day”?
These are disordered ideas — and, as Mayor Eric Adams stated final week, massive tech ought to cease permitting folks to amplify disordered ideas.
However you’re allowed to have disordered ideas. You’re allowed to suppose 9/11 was an inside job; you’re allowed to have weird racial theories.
There’s no getting round the truth that James was practical. As he stated himself, he selected to not work constantly for a dwelling: “There’s no method that I’m going to . . . go to work, pay my taxes.”
He was practical sufficient to plot a fancy ideological assault throughout geographic boundaries and carry it out.
He was practical sufficient to compile the tools he wanted, to disguise himself as an MTA development employee, to discard his disguise instantly in order that he might escape. He even organized his personal arrest.
There’s a whiff of patronizing racism in assuming that James didn’t do precisely what he got down to do however relatively “wanted assist.”
Anybody who commits a mass assault has psychological issues. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma Metropolis bomber, in all probability did have post-traumatic stress dysfunction, and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in all probability was manipulated by his mastermind brother. The 9/11 hijackers additionally (apparently!) had disordered ideas.
No one ever says that he wanted housing companies.
Like these different attackers, James is aware of proper from improper and motion and consequence. In a single video, he stated that “I wished to kill folks” however “I don’t wish to go to f–king jail.”
Ought to the FBI have zeroed in on the movies James posted simply earlier than his assault, when he used extra menacing language, saying, for instance, that “it’s time”?
Positive, however that’s regulation enforcement, not social companies. Plus, James made no direct threats — extra proof of cautious planning.
It might be a good suggestion for social-services companies to work together extra with folks like James. However there are a lot of such folks: folks on the border of society, with loads of time to domesticate loony concepts.
Is New York Metropolis going to hunt every of those folks down and supply him with an residence and day by day intensive counseling in order that he doesn’t make a cross-country journey right here to assault us?
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s Metropolis Journal.