One would think that The New York Times is purposefully putting American’s in harm’s way with its latest travel section vacation suggestion. If it isn’t doing it on purpose, it certainly is acting almost criminally negligent over its reader’s safety abroad. Back on March 22, the Times suggested that Americans vacation in Deptford, one of England’s most dangerous, crime infested areas. And why would the Times want to send Americans into such a seedy and dangerous place? Because it’s “hip,” man. What else?
The suggestion by the NYTimes for American tourists to visit Deptford brought all manners of jaw-dropping, guffaws from the British press this week. The disbelief is thick over there because Deptford has some of the highest crimes stats in the country — the tenth most violent according to Britain’s Home Office — and Britons simply cannot fathom why The New York Times would willingly send Americans unawares into the heart of such violence and crime.
According to the Mirror, Deptford had “8,376 violent offences committed against people in Deptford’s borough Lewisham.” And worse: “The figure includes four murders, 1,674 robberies, 135 gun crimes and 101 rapes.”
Sheese. 135 “gun crimes” in a country that has banned guns! And the Times is sending Americans into that maelstrom? And what is the Times’ reason for touting this hell hole?
The coming of New Cross and Deptford has been predicted for some time. It won’t be an easy ride. The area lies in an inglorious corner of southeast London; those with well-cushioned sensibilities need not make the journey. But with the unpolished location comes that most heady of urban ingredients: an edge. For now, these neighboring districts still feel more like eccentric outposts than uncut diamonds.
Until the well-washed masses start arriving in larger numbers, this still feels a bit like London’s Wild West (southeast, actually), a boisterous concoction of blue-collar aesthetics and intermittent hipsterism. Perhaps some of the chaos will make it to the other side.
The Times may be quipping about “well-washed masses” but its description of Deptford seems more like a white-washed missive to residents of the area. One resident told the Mirror, “All I can say is I hope they like hoodies, muggers and junkies – there are enough of them here.” The Mirror even quotes a local official, Deptford councillor Heidi Alexander, wondering what is going on at the Times. “It does seem a bit bizarre,” she said.
The Daily Mail also finds the Times’ suggestion a tad on the unbelievable side.
All very flattering for Deptford. But a little puzzling for some of the folk who live there, it seems. Cynics pointed out the community is chain-free (security gates on store fronts) largely because many of the shops are boarded up. And when the article says the area has ‘an edge’, the first thought of many was that it meant a knife edge.
For its part, the Daily Telegraph found several more residents of Deptford that were flabbergasted by the Times’ ballyhooing of the crime infested neighborhood.
Mechanic David Ferndale, 33, added: “I would seriously recommend any American thinking of booking up an expensive trip over here to Google the place first. “Have a look at the local paper – there are stabbings and shootings all the time.”
So what gives? Why is the Times so keen to sell this violence plagued area as a tourist’s haven? One can only imagine that the Times’ desire to be “cool” and “hip” takes precedence over its desire to keep its vacationing patrons safe!
Of course, maybe with all those belt-tightening measures going on at the Times, maybe they don’t get Google?