Quote of the Day:

“The city is lost,” a federal prosecutor tells me. “We have never had crimes like this downtown—people getting shoved and robbed at 3 p.m. It’s just brazen.”

–Heather Mac Donald in "Shooting Up Chicago" in the City Journal


Today's must-read piece is Heather Mac Donald's article on the weekend eruption shootings in Chicago, a town where "thugs terrorize their neighborhoods."

Mac Donald takes note of the astonishing bloodshed Chicago: between 3 pm on Friday and 6 am Monday, 74 people were shot, eleven of whom died, in Chicago. Gunmen attacked a block party, the aftermath of a funeral, on Saturday, killing four and shooting a total of around forty people.

An overload of bodies caused one emergency room to shut down for a few hours.

Children and adolescents were among the victims. An 11 year old boy, a 13 year old boy and a 14 year old girl were hit. A 17-year-old died of a gunshot wound to the face.

But don't worry–the authorities are working to make the city safer:

Meanwhile, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan recently celebrated the issuance of a 232-page draft consent decree for the Chicago Police Department, possibly the longest police consent decree ever written.

Among numerous other red-tape-generating provisions, it requires the CPD to revise its protocols regarding “transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals,” to make sure that the CPD policies properly define these terms and that officers address intersex, transgender, and the gender non-conforming with the “names, pronouns and titles of respect appropriate to that individual’s gender.”

As for activists, only a day before the bloody weekend, a group billing itself as an anti-violence organization shut down Lake Shore Drive to demand that more black police be hired. They also demanded that more money be spent on social programs in the black community.

There is one social program, Mac Donald argues, that actually might stem this tide of violence: it is called marriage. It has not been mentioned much in the aftermath of Chicago's bloody weekend:

Few voices, in other words, are tackling the actual cause of Chicago’s violence: the breakdown of the black family structure and a demoralized police department.

. . .

“The city is lost,” a federal prosecutor tells me. “We have never had crimes like this downtown—people getting shoved and robbed at 3 p.m. It’s just brazen.” This prosecutor has started avoiding the Magnificent Mile on Saturday afternoons. “I’m scared to be downtown,” she says. A Chicago police detective with 24 years on the job observes: “The kids who are mobbing downtown are the same ones doing the carjackings. This generation of kids has grown up with no one daring to touch them.”

It is important to make it easier for police to do their jobs (Mac Donald suggests stopping the 232-page consent document), but this will have limited effect as long as too many kids are growing in single-parent families:

But policing is only a second-best solution to the anarchy in inner-city communities. The best solution is a culture of marriage that expects boys to take responsibility for the children they conceive. As long as more than three-quarters of Chicago’s inner-city children are raised without their fathers, black-on-black violence will continue. And the national press will take notice only when the numbers are too egregious to ignore.

We sympathize with the single mother ( and it is generally the mother) who is valiantly struggling to raise children on her own.  But raising kids without fathers can have a profound effect on their futures.

Kay Hymowitz has written that the link between fatherlessness and crime in boys holds even in countries that have generous social welfare programs.

The economic prospects are also better for children who grow up in two-parent families.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's response was a mixture of denial–he called the shootings "unacceptable," which is what you say when somebody chews with his mouth open, not when 72 people have been shot over the course of a single weekend–and a dawning  glimmer of understanding:

"You can talk about the weather but the weather didn't pull the trigger," Emanuel said, making the same point about questions of jobs and unemployment.

"There are too many guns on the street, too many people with criminal records on the street, and there is a shortage of values about what is acceptable," he said.

He said what needs to be changes is "the culture that condones rather than condemns."

"All of us know that this is not Chicago — what we saw — therefore all of us who love this city and call it home have a responsibility to heal our neighborhoods," he said.

He's wrong–this IS Chicago, and it's best to face that ugly truth.

But, yes, this is very much about values.

And where do values originate?

In the family.