]]]]]]]]]]   WASHINGTON'S MORAL BULLY EXTORTS     [[[[[[[[[[[[[[ 
                   IN NAME OF CHARITY                (1/05/1989)
                 By Patrick J. Buchanan
 From Gannett Westchester Newspapers, 4 January 1989, p. 16:4

          [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   WASHINGTON -- It was about 3 a.m. Christmas morning when Mitch
and the elves went  to work, ripping down  the barriers the Metro
system put up  to keep ``street people''  from sleeping in subway
   These fences, said  Mitch, before a  battery of microphones as
thick  as  MacArthur's  on  the  battleship  Missouri,  represent
``walls ... we have erected  between ourselves and the people who
have no place to  go.''  As of this  writing, no charges have yet
been lodged.
   Mitch  Snyder,  apostle   to  the  homeless,   has  this  city
buffaloed; and  the success of  a moral bully  is always directly
proportional to the  moral confusion of the  men in authority who
confront him.
   Giving credit  where it  is due,  Mitch has  done quite  a job
here, first, in providing nightly shelter to hundreds; second, in
putting homelessness on the public agenda.  More power to him.
   But when they  let Mitch out  of the Big  House up at Danbury,
and he came to D.C., he brought something besides social concern;
he  brought the  moral  arrogance of  the  Berrigan boys  he much
admires, a mania for publicity,  and a shakedown artist's ability
to extort.
   While I served in the Reagan White House, Mitch went on one of
his hunger strikes, demanding $5  million for his huge shelter in
the  Capitol's shadow  where the  TV  cameras congregate  and the
Hollywood sparklies gather to show off their social consciences.
   It was pure extortion.   Had Mitch put a  gun to our heads, we
would have been called cowards for caving in.  But, because Mitch
put the gun  to his own  head, threatening to  starve himself, it
worked.  Since  our appeasement, Mitch's  demands have escalated;
now,  he insists  the homeless  have  the right  to sleep  in the
subways,  where  they  routinely  urinate,  defecate  and  insult
   Is it not a mark of our moral flabbiness that we take it?
   Homelessness  is a  social  problem, manageable  with existing
resources, not a social crisis;  Mitch is exploiting the issue to
make an ideological point against  the country that locked him up
and make himself a household word.
   Ronald Reagan in his interview  with David Brinkley was right.
It was  ACLU types  who insisted  that mental  patients be turned
       Washington's Moral Bully Extorts In Name of Charity      2
loose to wander the streets.
   Though America's housing  stock is larger  than ever (the U.S.
has a high 8.5 percent vacancy rate), housing remains tightest in
those cities -- L.A., Santa  Monica, Washington, New York -- that
impose  rent  controls.   Here,  the  homeless  are  most heavily
concentrated.  Rent control and homelessness march hand in hand.
   To help the homeless, rather than exploit them as exhibit A in
somebody's Case Against  America, we ought  to take the following
   o  Permit the  mentally retarded to be  taken off the streets,
institutionalized, sheltered and cared  for; and enforce vagrancy
laws  against  addicts  and alcoholics.   (There  is  no inherent
conflict between compassion and clean cities.)
   o  Require repeal of rent  controls, as a condition of federal
housing funds.
   o   Convert  federal  funds  for  public  housing  (a  boon to
builders)  into vouchers  the homeless  can  use to  find private
   o   Prevent  federal  funds  from  being  used  to  tear  down
single-room  occupancy  hotels, encourage  the  building  of more
SROs,  and oppose  zoning laws  that rule  out SROs  and multiple
family dwellings.
   o   Permit charitable  groups  to use  abandoned  buildings as
   o  Treat Mitch like any  other troublemaker.  When he declares
a hunger strike,  emulate the good fathers  at Holy Trinity, whom
Mitch threatened  with his starvation,  if they  didn't fork over
the parish building fund.  Keeping  the money, the priests prayed
and prayed,  and, sure  enough, eventually,  a wiser  and thinner
Mitch arose, took up his pallet and headed off to Burger King.
        [The following is not part of the article above.]
                 Close Encounter of a Weird Kind
                    [By Martin Morse Wooster]
                 [From Reason, July 1987, p. 27]
   Mitch  Snyder is  the media's  favorite homeless  person.  The
confidant of senators  such as Teddy  Kennedy and Hollywood stars
such as Whoopi Goldberg and Martin  Sheen (who played Snyder in a
1985  TV   docudrama),  Snyder  courts   the  press  assiduously,
attracting guilt like  a supercharged magnet.   This has led some
skeptics to think him messianic.  ``Whatever you do,'' one friend
warned me, ``don't talk to Mitch Snyder about Gandhi.''
   Former  adman  Snyder  looks  more  like  an  actor  playing a
homeless person than  an actual bum.  He  doesn't have dirty hair
or holes  in his pants;  when I talked  to him, he  was wearing a
faded army  surplus jacket, a  bright-red ski  cap, and brand-new
hiking boots.   Think of Bruce  Weitz from  ``Hill Street Blues''
with  a full  beard,  and you'll  have  a close  approximation of
Snyder's looks.
   Snyder doesn't have a phone,  but, like any Washington bigwig,
he  has  an appointments  secretary  who keeps  his  calendar.  I
caught up with him on the  steps of the Capitol, participating in
a  rally against  aid to  the contras  that featured  20 speakers
yelling at  six passers-by.  We  walked to a  nearby fountain and
started to talk.
   ``Mr. Snyder,''  I asked,  ``I've heard  you call  yourself an
anarchist,  but  everything  you  advocate  calls  for  increased
government  spending.   How  do  you  reconcile  this  with  your
   Snyder  glared  at  me   through  glazed  brown  eyes.   ``Our
community is often called Christian anarchist.  To be a Christian
is to be an  anarchist.  I refer to  myself as a Christian person
of faith.''
   ``But how does your anarchism express itself?''
   ``We advocate different government  spending.  We advocate the
disappearance of government.  We  don't pay taxes, and discourage
others  from paying  taxes.  As  long as  people give  a trillion
dollars  to  the   federal  government,  they   should  spend  it
   ``Why do  you feel that  the homeless should  be given federal
funds?''  I  pressed.  ``Shouldn't  they  be taught  to  fend for
   Snyder's   voice   darkened.    ``Homeless   people   are  not
responsible  for their  state,'' he  said.  ``Like  any oppressed
       Washington's Moral Bully Extorts In Name of Charity      4
people, they need to fight.''
   I asked Snyder a few  more questions.  You'll find his answers
scattered  through the  article  [article omitted].   His answers
kept getting shorter  and shorter, and  I thought it  best to end
the interview.   I asked  if I  could tour  the shelter  that his
group received $6.5 million in federal funds to rebuild.
   ``You're not from HUD, are  you?'' Snyder said.  ``I talked to
one guy who defended HUD, and he got a job in [the Department of]
   ``Mr. Snyder,'' I said, ``I swear  to you on a stack of Bibles
that I am not going to defend  HUD or any government agency in my
   That got me into Snyder's shelter, but I had to promise not to
describe  what I  saw.  It  wasn't  a pretty  sight.  As  I left,
Snyder said I should feel lucky to be allowed into the shelter.
   ``We only give tours to people  who we think can help up,'' he
said.  ``People like ... Alan Cranston.''  [End of item.]

Main, Thomas J.  ``The Homeless Families of New York''.  The
   Public Interest, No. 85 (Fall 1986).
Rossi, Peter H. et al.  ``The Urban Homeless: Estimating
   Composition and Size''. Science 235:1336-1341 (13 March 1987).
Tucker, William.  ``Where Do the Homeless Come From?''.  National
   Review, 25 September 1987, p. 32.
Tucker, William.  ``It's a Rotten Life: Rent Control and the Loss
   of Civility''.  Reason, February 1989, pp. 22-26.
Wooster, Martin Morse.  ``The Homeless Issue: An Adman's Dream''.
   Reason, July 1987, pp. 20-28.

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