James Comey was a hero to the left when President Obama named him to run the FBI. As a deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, he won the hearts of Bush critics by refusing to reauthorize secret warrantless wire taps.

Now, Comey has now said something that goes against the grain of the Obama administration, and he deserves to be heard. 

The Obama administration and progressive politicians such as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have contributed rhetorically to an atmosphere of animosity towards the police. Cynical progressives notoriously have refused to condemn the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which has chants calling for the killing of cops.

At a speech to the University of Chicago Law School in October, Comey addressed the issue of the "chill wind" that has affected the way police do their jobs. This has led, Comey said, to a rise in violent crime, the victims of which are almost all young black men.    

It is an important speech and the Wall Street Journal published excerpts:

Part of being clear-eyed about reality requires all of us to stare—and stare hard—at what is happening in this country this year. And to ask ourselves what’s going on.

Because something deeply disturbing is happening all across America. I have spoken of 2014 in this speech because something has changed in 2015. Far more people are being killed in America’s cities this year than in many years. And let’s be clear: far more people of color are being killed in America’s cities this year. And it’s not the cops doing the killing.

What could be driving an increase in murder in some cities across all regions of the country, all at the same time? What explains this map and this calendar? Why is it happening in all of different places, all over and all of a sudden? . . .

Nobody says it on the record, nobody says it in public, but police and elected officials are quietly saying it to themselves. And they’re saying it to me, and I’m going to say it to you. And it is the one explanation that does explain the calendar and the map and that makes the most sense to me.

Maybe something in policing has changed. In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime? Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns?

I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars. They told me, “We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.” I’ve been told about a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video.

So the suggestion, the question that has been asked of me, is whether these kinds of things are changing police behavior all over the country. And the answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.

Part of that behavior change is to be welcomed, as we continue to have important discussions about police conduct and de-escalation and the use of deadly force. Those are essential discussions and law enforcement will get better as a result.

But we can’t lose sight of the fact that there really are bad people standing on the street with guns. The young men dying on street corners all across this country are not committing suicide or being shot by the cops. They are being killed, police chiefs tell me, by other young men with guns.

Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close “What are you guys doing on this corner at one o’clock in the morning?” policing. All of us, civilian and law enforcement, white, black, and Latino, have an interest in that kind of policing. . . .

If what we are seeing in America this year continues, we will be back to talking about how law enforcement needs to help rescue black neighborhoods from the grip of violence. All lives matter too much for us to let that happen. We need to figure out what’s happening and deal with it now.

One thing that would help would be honesty from our leaders.

The anti-cop movement is fueled at least in part by myths. For example, it appears that far from saying "Hands up, don't shoot!" Michael Brown of Ferguson reached for the policeman's gun. And yet "Hands up, don't shoot!" has become a slogan of the anti-police movement.

No progressive leader, as far as I can tell, has the courage to say that.