The Chicago Story

Heather MacDonald has done it again. In her latest piece in City Journal, the Manhattan Institute scholar has written a bang-up piece about the brutality of Chicago youth crime and the reasons behind it. Here’s a snippet:

In 1994, two particularly savage youth murders drew the usual feckless hand-wringing. An 11-year-old Black Disciples member from Roseland, Robert “Yummy” Sandifer (so called for his sweet tooth, the only thing childlike about him), had unintentionally killed a girl while shooting at (and paralyzing) a rival gang member. Sandifer’s fellow Black Disciples then executed him to prevent him from implicating them in the killing. A month later, after five-year-old Eric Morse refused to steal candy for an 11-year-old and a ten-year-old, the two dropped him from a 14th-story window in a housing complex, killing him. Eric’s eight-year-old brother had grabbed him to keep him from falling, but lost his hold when one of the boys bit him on the arm. None of the perpetrators or victims in either case came from two-parent families.

A year after these widely publicized killings, and on the eve of Obama’s first political campaign, the aspiring state senator gave an interview to theChicago Reader that epitomized the uselessness of Alinskyism in addressing black urban pathology—and that inaugurated the trope of community organizer as visionary politician. Obama attacks the Christian Right and the Republican Congress for “hijack[ing] the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility.” Yeah, sure, family values are fine, he says, but what about “collective action . . . collective institutions and organizations”? Let’s take “these same values that are encouraged within our families,” he urges, “and apply them to a larger society.”

Even if this jump from “family values” to “collective action” were a promising strategy, Obama overlooks a crucial fact: there are almost no traditional families in inner-city neighborhoods. Fathers aren’t “encouraging” values “within our families”; fathers are nowhere in sight. 

  1. flownover

    Black Disciples, Blackstone P Rangers, El Rukn

    what is wrong with this city ?

    And Michelle Obama used to have a job that focused on getting urban folk away from using the hospitals ?

    And her husband was blathering collectivist claptrap while taking the dough from Rezko, et al ?

    Is there anyone in that town ,besides McDonalds , that is on the level ?

  2. Pseudodionysius

    Sometimes it seems to me that the question people should ask is not “Is there life after death?” but “Is there life after birth?” I don’t know whether there’s anything after this or not. I haven’t seen the evidence one way or the other and I don’t think anybody else has either. But I do know that man’s obsession with the question comes out of his stubborn refusal to face up to his own mortality. Let’s say that if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.

    Saul Alinsky

  3. wmartin

    That article is not her “latest:” it is almost two  years old.

  4. Mel Foil

    To top-down Progressives, we’re just a cog in the machine–on the underclass wheel, or the middleclass wheel, or the upperclass wheel. And you (little cog) get your grease when your whole wheel gets the grease. If your wheel gets none, then you get none. If you’re not lucky enough to be the head Progressive, running the machine, then you’re completely interchangeable and absolutely disposable. In a system like that, in a value system like that, life is cheap. It’s bringing a little piece of the Third World home to Chicago.

  5. Bill McGurn
    C

    wmartin, oops. it  just came to me, from someone responding to the latest killings in Chicago. I clicked on, opening up City Journal without noticing the date. In any case, it remains particularly apt and *timely* given Mayor Rahm’s challenge in containing the killings, especially his plea that gangbangers stay away from children. 

  6. Tommy De Seno
    C

    Jesus didn’t have a church. He walked about and was a fisher of men. The ministers of the 40 churches in my hometown only travel from rectory to pulpit. That’s quite a departure from the successful circuit minsters of America’s beginnings. The thugs however walk the streets recruiting to their cause.

    The churches in America’s cities have not fulfilled their evangelical requirement. ‘”The way” to happiness and good living has been ceded to government claims of birth to earth salvation through social welfare programs which bring neither happiness nor good living, yet the churches support them without pause. 

    When the church bows to Caesar, eventually the congregants will too.

    When I was a boy my parish priest would visit our home (it wasn’t because we were donors).   Now the church switches priests out of communities so often I can’t even tell you who is in the rectory and whoever they are, they don’t know the community.   Not one priest will drop by my home this year, but my door will be knocked on several times between now and November by candidates who will promise me a better life via a vote for them.

  7. Chris Johnson

    Horrifying.

    And a useful tape against which to measure the Current Occupant.  I read about Obama’s career as a Community Organizer, back in 2008, and the only thing I could find him having been lauded for, by a supporter, was, (paraphrazing), “He got rid of the asbestos”.

    That’s funny, I thought AHERA, the Asbestos Hazard Elimination and Reduction Act, a federal program, dealt with that issue in public buildings, all public buildings.  There are privately-owned buildings that still need work, but every single public building is already covered, and was, way back then.

    Go back and look, for yourselves.  Unless people have been adding accomplishments to his early resume, during the past four years (not unlikely), that’s all there was, from his entire career, prior to becoming a state senator and voting present. 

    That’s neglect, of the malign sort.

  8. Tommy De Seno
    C

    Blaming single parent households goes back to the Moynihan Report and I agree with it.

    I also blame churches.   I come from a community with nearly 40 churches in a square mile and one of the highest crime rates in the country.

    If those two things exist at the same time in the same place, the churches are failing their evangelical requirement miserably.

  9. Southern Pessimist

    I first visited Chicago in 1986 for a RSNA annual convention. No hotel room was available so I stayed at the YMCA, a few blocks off Michigan Ave. At 15 dollars a night it was only slightly overpriced. My point is that I walked all over that fine city at all hours of the day and night and never felt threatened. I have been back many, many times. The last few times the common thread of conversation has been that those days are gone and aren’t coming back. Locals now say that a war is going on and you better stay out of it. Very sad, to say the least.

  10. Gretchen
    Rocket City Dave: I don’t think these issues can even be addressed until popular culture admits fathers are important and it has undermined them. Our culture isn’t ready to acknowledge how much we’ve made fathers a social and economic elective in the family. · 11 hours ago

    Rahm Emanuel came awfully close yesterday, asking the “gangbangers”, “Who raised you?”  The answer of course is,  “Not a dad.”

    The idea that family values can be imbued somewhere other than in a family, as MacDonald’s chilling Obama quote suggests, is silly but emblematic of the entire leftist vision.

  11. with me where I am

    Obama attacks the Christian Right and the Republican Congress for “hijack[ing] the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility.” Yeah, sure, family values are fine, he says, but what about “collective action . . . collective institutions and organizations”? Let’s take “these same values that are encouraged within our families,” he urges, “and apply them to a larger society.”

    And what are we going to call this “collective action,” Big Brother?

  12. Kervinlee
    Tommy De Seno: Blaming single parent households goes back to the Moynihan Report and I agree with it.

    I also blame churches.   I come from a community with nearly 40 churches in a square mile and one of the highest crime rates in the country.

    If those two things exist at the same time in the same place, the churches are failing their evangelical requirement miserably. · 47 minutes ago

    But, blame churches for… what, exactly? The behavior of those who attend, or don’t attend them? If the clergy in the churches of your community actively encourage criminal behavior that would be one thing but, I don’t see how blame for a societal breakdown as described by MacDonald can be laid at the feet of a church for failing to reform all the sinners in its midst.

  13. Rocket City Dave

    I don’t think these issues can even be addressed until popular culture admits fathers are important and it has undermined them. Our culture isn’t ready to acknowledge how much we’ve made fathers a social and economic elective in the family.

  14. wmartin
    Bill McGurn: wmartin, oops. it  just came to me, from someone responding to the latest killings in Chicago. I clicked on, opening up City Journal without noticing the date. In any case, it remains particularly apt and *timely* given Mayor Rahm’s challenge in containing the killings, especially his plea that gangbangers stay away from children.  · 1 hour ago

    Yes, it could just as well be her latest. The story never changes, year in and year out.

  15. M1919A4
    Tommy De Seno: Blaming single parent households goes back to the Moynihan Report and I agree with it.

    I also blame churches.   I come from a community with nearly 40 churches in a square mile and one of the highest crime rates in the country.

    If those two things exist at the same time in the same place, the churches are failing their evangelical requirement miserably. · 1 hour ago

    The question that I would pose to Mr. de Seno’s analysis is: would his community be better off if the churches were not there?  If so, then his criticism would make sense to me; otherwise, I am unpersuaded.  

    But, I cannot see how black society can be saved or can save itself, unless and until the black family can be salvaged; and, I do not see how that can occur while blacks and the country as a whole encourage and condone the black male in the role of an irresponsible producer of babies, silly music, and touchdowns and baskets.  That culture is now bleeding over into the remainder of society, to terrible effect.  And, the country is, as Charles Murray has described it, Coming Apart.

  16. Tom Lindholtz
    Bill McGurn: … it remains particularly apt and *timely* given Mayor Rahm’s challenge in containing the killings, especially his plea that gangbangers stay away from children.

    It is a telling thing that a Democrat mayor can only resort to pleas and whining to confront civic lawlessness.  Contrast that with Rudy Giuliani’s record in NYC.  Democrats make hell holes out of the cities they govern because they have no moral compass and are afraid to use force lest they offend someone’s sensibilities.

  17. Tom Lindholtz
    Tommy De Seno: Blaming single parent households goes back to the Moynihan Report and I agree with it.

    I also blame churches.   I come from a community with nearly 40 churches in a square mile and one of the highest crime rates in the country.

    If those two things exist at the same time in the same place, the churches are failing their evangelical requirement miserably.

    Yeah.  That would never happen if the Taliban were in charge.  The Christians are just wimps.

  18. Tom Lindholtz
    Rocket City Dave: I don’t think these issues can even be addressed until popular culture admits fathers are important and it has undermined them. Our culture isn’t ready to acknowledge how much we’ve made fathers a social and economic elective in the family. · 1 hour ago

    Bingo.  Gloria Steinem, et al, have gotten what they wanted….and the Law of Unintended Consequences, to boot.

  19. Jerry Carroll

    The feminist goal of empowering women by demonizing males has succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. If you want to see how dumb and unnecessary fathers are, tune in any sit-com made in the last 20 or 30 years.  If it weren’t for smart, competent moms fixing the shambles created by dullard dads, family life would hardly be possible.

  20. Jack Dunphy
    C

    Heather’s piece may be two years old, but given the recent headlines out of Chicago it is no less timely.  As are, if I may be so bold, two of my own columns from some time back on National Review Online, this one from 2007, and this one from 2009.