The stabbing of two employees at the Museum of Modern Art last Saturday was heartbreaking but not shocking. Most of us are aware by now that violence has escalated in New York City. What is Shocking to the few remaining naïve urban innocents who think Gotham doesn’t need proactive law enforcement is the revelation of an open secret: MoMA, a supposedly liberal arts institution, practices broken-window policing.
Gary Cabana, the suspected stabber, was no stranger to the gallery. But after his disruptive behavior twice this year, the museum banished himrevoke his membership.
Cabana’s previous disorderly conduct did not reach a crime level. MoMA banned it anyway. Why?
First, no one wants to be around a constantly disruptive patron. Unpredictable, rude behavior makes everyone unhappy.
Second, disorderly behavior often escalates into violence. In this case that was obviously the case.
When Cabana was banned from its premises before returning to allegedly stab two workers, MoMA ignored all the postmodern excuses for disorderly conduct.
Did mental illness lead to Cabana’s previous disorders? Probably, and that was probably evident during these incidents.
However, MoMA wasn’t too concerned about the “help he needs.” It sacrificed the privilege of a disturbed person to protect the environment for everyone else. (You can bet museum officials are glad Cabana doesn’t appear to be black.)
After the stabbings, when the museum thought Cabana was lurking on the premises, it invited heavily armed police officers to raid the place, despite the risk they would shoot and kill him.
MoMA calculates itself as “inclusive” and “tolerant”, a place where “different” voices – even “political positions” – are “welcomed”. Note the museum not Say “everyone is welcome”. You are not.
All of this “inclusion” and “tolerance” (and everyone’s enjoyable, enriching day) depends on a foundation of rules to maintain order — ultimately supported by the armed government.
MoMA also keeps protesters away. Last year it met a planned demonstration inside the museum with armed police and closed doors.
As with Cabana’s escalating behavior, museum officials seem to have absorbed the fact that “peaceful protests” have often turned destructive over the past two years.
That all makes sense. You cannot run a large institution in a chaotic environment.
In this respect, MoMA is far less exclusive than many other elite institutions. If you have a municipal IDNYC card, you can get a free one-year membership (only once every five years).
In contrast, the private universities that pride themselves on their “safe rooms” maintain their “best college” rankings by keeping out more than 90% of the people who want to go to school there.
While MoMA maintains its broken-window police policy, New York City tolerates all forms of chaos and disorder.
Mayor Eric Adams is trying to fix that. But he is still hemmed in by Democratic state legislature leaders, who resist any attempt at bail reform for major crimes, and by prosecutors (particularly Manhattan’s Alvin Bragg) and judges, who resist any punishment for petty crimes.
The results of this approach were seen again last week. Washington Square Park is scheduled to close at midnight, a perfectly reasonable rule that hasn’t been enforced since the summer of 2020. Local residents tired of partying all night there for the last two years are being dismissed as racist NIMBYs.
A teenager was stabbed in the head by thieves after his marijuana there on Friday – at 2:30 p.m.
Funny how that works. Would the city have enforced that? small rule – the closing time – could have averted the violent attack.
MoMA won’t let you jump the metaphorical turnstile unless you have $25 (you must apply in person for your free one-year membership at IDNYC).
But the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is forced to ignore tens of thousands of such chronic intruders every day.
The MTA cannot ban people after they are disordered. Even when police arrest suspects on “minor” charges — which is becoming increasingly rare — chronic lawbreakers are not deterred. The messy, and even those accused of aggravated assault, keep coming back to harass and threaten paying customers.
Drugstores and supermarkets call in the police to arrest a shoplifter – only to see the thief come back.
It may be time to take inspiration from the liberal arts world: if you can’t behave, you must face the consequences.
Nicole Gelinas is Associate Editor of the City Journal of the Manhattan Institute.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/20/momas-tough-policies-are-an-exhibit-on-how-to-maintain-order/ MoMA’s strict policies are a testament to how to maintain order