America's preoccupation with crime can be summed up by what happened on Jan. 7 in Vidalia, Georgia, a small town known mostly for its sweet onions. Before dawn, dozens of state and federal law officers started banging on doors all over the town's north side. Within minutes, 46 gangsters and crack dealers were in handcuffs, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, while law-abiding neighbors cheered the gangbusters. The task force had been called in by Vidalia's 26-man police force, which had recently found itself outgunned by homegrown drug sellers who were terrorizing citizens and making daily death threats to Vidalia's...

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