Big Brother Is Here, to Protect Us From Ghosts

by Harry Siegel

Detail from 1919 Robert-Houdin magic show poster; a floating spectre with witchlike features, evil-eyeing man with sword
Image: Les Rendez-vous de l'histoire

When he isn’t talking about Eric Adams, often in the third person, New York City Mayor Eric Adams likes to talk about ghosts. There are the ghosts he says are haunting Gracie Mansion, and they are harmless enough in his telling: “I don't care what anyone says, there are ghosts in there, man… but they're definitely from the spirit of Casper. They're friendly ghosts.”

That’s the fun Adams, who alternates with the grim ex-cop who got himself elected mayor by tapping into New Yorkers’ feeling that things had taken a dangerous turn for the worse and who now needs to explain why they still feel that way even with him in charge. 

Enter the poltergeists—noun: a type of ghost or spirit that is responsible for physical disturbances—haunting the city’s crime numbers or at least the mayor’s talk about those numbers.

That started with ghost guns, constructed with parts made from 3D printers so that “some nut… can sit inside his own house and make a gun, no serial number”—a tech scourge that preceded Adams but he’s crusaded against since winning office as “another river that feeds the sea of violence.” 

Just six months into his term, Adams dropped a new ghost:

“So we've heard of ghost guns, now we're talking about ghost vehicles,” he said in July of 2022, as he began warning about “ghost cars” and “ghost dirtbikes” with paper “ghost plates” or license-plate blockers. 

It’s a paywall, but a small one

Read this post and get our weekdaily newsletter for $3 a month