The Left has found its newest implausible scapegoat for a crime wave that began in 2020; namely, foreign car companies.
A recent editorial column in The New York Times, “Kia and Hyundai Helped Enable a Crime Wave. They Should Pay for It,” has been part of a spate of national and local media stories blaming the massive surge in car thefts on the Korean automaker. (Kia is owned by Hyundai.)
A number of blue cities beset by crime and auto thefts have decided to sue the automakers following the success of a class-action lawsuit earlier this year. On the list of cities suing Kia and Hyundai are Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York.
The contention here is that it’s the fault of the South Korean car companies for making some of their vehicles too easy to steal.
“The targeted cars lacked immobilizers—electronic security devices designed to prevent engines from starting unless a proper car key is used,” the Korea Herald reported. “The vehicles were Hyundai and Kia cars manufactured from 2011 to 2021 without push-button start mechanisms and immobilizers.”
Car thieves—inspired by TikTok videos—have apparently discovered that it’s far easier to hotwire those vehicles than most others, using only simple tools.
According to the Korea Herald, the carmakers said they had been following U.S. law, and they also “vowed to provide free software upgrades to 8.3 million vehicles without immobilizers that would install an ignition-kill feature preventing the popularized method of theft.”
The New York Times editorial column, written by Farhad Manjoo, said that it was “bizarre blame-shifting” to pin the issue on TikTok rather than the car companies.
“I’m not against tech companies moderating their platforms to curb the spread of potentially dangerous information,” Manjoo wrote. “But you know what would be better? Making cars that can’t be stolen with a USB cable.”
So, the poor South Koreans also must be just overwhelmed with crime and vehicle theft, too, right?
No, not at all.
You know what would be a better idea than looking for one business or another to blame? Punishing people for stealing cars and diligently enforcing the law. Novel idea, I know.
That’s what this really comes down to. The Left desperately wants to spin a narrative that a crime wave never happened—but if it did, the fault is with the corporations or someone or something else, rather than with their perversion of justice.
Here’s a liberal journalist from ProPublica trying to tie the entire car theft surge since 2020 on Kia and Hyundai:
There were some great responses to the MacGillis tweet worth sharing.
Should Kia and Hyundai enhance the anti-theft measures on cars to deal with increased criminality in the U.S.? Yes. But is it in any way their fault that American leftists have made our cities havens for criminality? No, and the idea that they will be punished for the failures of our politicians is shameful.
These kinds of financial shakedowns are the reason companies don’t want to do business in crooked basket-case countries. Not only will you be robbed by the locals, but you’ll also be robbed again by the government, too.
Democrats and the Left are wedded to the idea that punishing crime is what causes crime. They’ll do anything to avoid the contention that bad behavior, cultural dysfunction, and insufficient law enforcement could be the reason we’ve had more problems with criminality.
That’s why they pushed in 2020 to defund or even abolish the police—an inconvenient fact of history that they’ve tried to pretend never happened when that idea proved to be instantly catastrophic.
They’d certainly rather blame car companies or guns or whatever the red herring du jour is rather than face reality.
Some on the Left, for instance, blamed stores for the surge in retail theft because they say businesses aren’t taking enough measures to stop that theft.
In New York City, nearly all of the thousands of shoplifting cases are caused by the same 327 people. Hey, I could all but solve New York’s shoplifting problem with one easy trick.
Unfortunately, reality hit us in the face, and crime exploded across the board. Violent crime rates have returned to numbers not seen since the early 1990s. In the wake of this chaos, cities switched from defunding the police to begging the federal government for more money and fretting about declining numbers of police officers, who were quitting in droves.
Violent crime increases may have slowed, but other crimes—such as car theft and retail crime—are in many cases escalating.
This is causing a crisis for many Democratic politicians facing angry constituents, but the activist Left is still pushing hard for rogue prosecutors and other forms of social justice initiatives that have encouraged the mass national crime spree.
In a sense, it’s true that if there is no justice, there will also be no peace. Bad policies and an inversion of justice created the crime wave. The blame for this mess rests on criminals and the ideologues who have warped our justice system, not Hyundai and Kia.
Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. He is also the author of the book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.” This first appeared in the Daily Signal.