By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been associated with the phrase “Never let a crisis go to waste” since his days as President Obama’s chief of staff. Emanuel explained, “What I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you could not do before.” Which means expanding the size of government and increasing taxes. That’s not an accusation. It is what modern liberals do, whenever they get the chance, because they are convinced the state is the primary vehicle for achieving a just society.
OK. But why, then, is Emanuel not doing more to solve the major problem facing his city? Night after night, weekend after weekend, we are hit with the stories of children being gunned down on Chicago’s streets. Coming up with a workable program to solve this crisis would be the perfect way for liberal Democrats to demonstrate to voters that they are willing to get tough with criminals and shake themselves loose from the “soft on crime” label which has long been — unfairly or not — associated with liberals. The political dividends would be enormous.
We know what Rudy Giuliani would be doing if he were major of Chicago: We would see him on the nightly news in a police cruiser, in charge of police teams rounding up gang leaders and drug lords, confiscating their guns and frog-marching them off to prison, at press conferences where he would call upon prosecutors to throw the book at suspected thugs and express outrage at the criminal element that is taking the lives of many Chicagoans and spreading fear among far more.
Why doesn’t Emanuel do the same? Local papers in Chicago report that the city led the nation in homicides in 2013 and that things are about the same this year. More than a dozen people were killed in the city over the July 4 weekend, and dozens more wounded, by gun violence.
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass asked on July 30 why Emanuel and Chicago’s “African-American leaders, from politicians to clergy to civil rights groups” seem to prefer “wringing their hands at funerals of gang victims” to demanding a crackdown on the gangs. Kass is particularly angered by Emanuel’s support for the Obama administration’s call for $3.8 billion to tend to the needs of the illegal immigrants coming across the border from Mexico. (Emanuel announced recently that he wants Chicago to accept a thousand refugees.)
Writes Kass, “Just think of what Chicago could do with $3.8 billion for public safety.”
Why won’t Emanuel take off the gloves and come out swinging against the street thugs in Chicago? Certainly politics is part of the explanation. Democrats are wary of alienating the minorities that compose a major portion of their base. But that is not the entire explanation. Is it because the problem is overwhelming, too complex and beyond the capacity of an elected politician? Nope. That excuse doesn’t fly.
Imagine for a moment what Emanuel would be doing if the news reports were of gangs of skinheads and Aryan supremacists driving through Chicago at night gunning down black children, and then speeding off to the suburbs. Do you think Emanuel and the civil rights establishment in Chicago would want action? You can bet your bottom dollar that they would. Chicago would be ringed as we speak with the National Guard, guns at the ready.
Then what is the answer? I submit it is rooted in his belief that cracking down on the black gangs would violate core tenets of the behaviorism, economic determinism, and the theories about the “scars of racism” that are central to liberalism’s understanding of crime.
Check the record: Liberals want prisons to be places for rehabilitation and not punishment for inner-city criminals because they believe that minorities have been forced into lives of crime by poverty, racial discrimination, and the exploitative nature of free-market capitalism. The liberals have preached this message in books, magazine articles, and scholarly position papers, as well as movies and television shows, since the middle years of the 20th century.
We have been lectured by them that minority youths turn to crime because of broken homes and unemployment, and because of the experiences growing up in crime-ridden neighborhoods and dysfunctional schools, as well as the destructive and debilitating effects of drug addiction. Further, they tell us that society is to blame for these things: the white employers who will not give minority youths gainful work, real estate agents who deny minority families access to safe neighborhoods with good schools, greedy capitalists who ship good jobs overseas in search of a maximum profit, corrupt police who look the other way when drug dealers ply their wares in minority neighborhoods.
This is why in liberal circles the criminal is seen as a victim, rather than an evildoer; why the favored approach to law enforcement is to seek out the “root causes of crime,” rather than swift and sure punishment of the criminal.
The modern liberal is guilt-ridden and morally disarmed when confronting criminals, if the criminals come from one of their most favored victims categories: racial minorities, the economically disadvantaged, victims of male chauvinism, the “wretched of the earth” (the title of Frantz Fanon’s book about the impact of colonialism in the Third World), homosexuals, and workers whose self-worth has been destroyed by the heartless machinations of Wall Streeters and corporate bigwigs. It is why they blame “society” and the “system” for crime, more than the criminal.
Hence, more time and effort are spent by liberals in government on guaranteeing the Miranda rights of black gang-bangers than in seeking a way to protect the innocent victims of their cruelty and violence. I am not saying that liberals are not concerned about the victims of the shootings. I am sure they are. The problem is their countervailing sympathy for the victims of our sexist, racist, homophobic and greedy capitalist system — the criminals. It is a sympathy that renders them impotent when confronted by situations such as the gang violence in Chicago.