Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made headlines Tuesday in an interview with CBS Evening saying that the murder problem in Chicago “is about values.” Shortly after, he reprimanded the Sun for being so hot, reportedly saying “come on, man, this isn’t who you are.”
Only one of those is true, while both make me laugh. But the flippancy is well-intended: is this the point we have reached? Is Chicago so doomed that we are relying the mayor’s wag of his finger? If I knew that this was the plan, I’d sooner have voted for a Jewish mother, who at least has the training to deal with the situation. (You’re still a gang banger? You know, your cousin is a lawyer and he’s very successful.)
Glibness aside, it’s a scary result of an even scarier situation. I’ll have to check my numbers on this, but my understanding is that the mortality rate in Chicago is so high that it is more dangerous to be in the city than to be in Iraq. It is only slightly less dangerous than being in outerspace with no suit. I believe we’re at 275 murders this year, but I think the guy who counts the murders just got murdered so I could be off a few.
Emanuel evidently believes he can turn them from the Dark Side, claiming “Don’t I don’t buy this case where people say they don’t have values. They do have values. They are the wrong values.” Unless “Being a Gangster” is a new value I did not hear about, then I do not see any evidence to support Emanuel’s theory. Selling drugs, robbing, killing, raping, encouraging young children to drop out of school to work for them, when did I miss the Vice-Lords having a church bake sale? When the Gangster Disciples hosted that 5k? What, in the history of Chicago gang-warfare, made Rahm think that all they needed was a stern talking to?
Here’s the truth of the situation: gang members have no values. Gangs crop up in areas with a large number of poor, disaffected youths who were never given any attention, let alone values. And all it takes is a successful, savy young gang member who, mirabile dictu, actually survived this poverty and has a way out for you, too. And with parents who love you for the welfare check, and with teachers willing to strike for a 30% payraise in a bankrupt city, this little attention is more than enough to win over a child into a gang that promises a better chance of success than anything else. And when that kid finally gets into his gang, his only real loyalty, with what he’s done to get there and has to do to stay, there no longer has the moral resonance that those of us inside society feel.
Emanuel is wasting his breath preaching values to a valueless section out of society. America has enough difficulty getting its law-abiding citizens to live with any values. We now express more surprise when celebrities can stay together than when they cheat on each other. Even Rahm “never let a serious crisis go to waste” Emanuel has the moral compass of Machiavelli.
If the mayor wants to talk about values, talk to the community. Every gang member has a mother and a father, a reverend, a teacher who at some point was commissioned with the task of integrating these people into society. At some point, they screwed that up, but it is not his job to fix. He was elected mayor, after all, not daddy.
To push his point, the Mayor asks the gang members rhetorically “Who raised you? How were you raised?” I do not think he really wants the answer, so here it is. These gang members were raised on the public dole, in a school system that graduates less than 50% of their students, and less than 30% at grade level. A school system that now supplies breakfast, lunch, and dinner because their parents will not feed them otherwise. They were raised on a welfare and food stamp program rivaled only by New York and L.A., so what’s the difference between taking a handout and taking from others? When did they learn, when did they ever have a chance to learn, to take care of themselves in a law-abiding manner?
“How were you raised?” In short, Rahm, by Chicago.