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The [Thursday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel was accused Wednesday of 'victim shaming' for citing an absence of 'values' and 'character' in the African-American community after the weekend bloodbath that left 12 people dead and 71 others shot," the Sun-Times reports.

"The African-American community deserves a lot more than tears and certainly deserves a lot more than victim-shaming. This is the result of racist policy and bigoted practice for decades," former Urban League president Shari Runner told the paper.

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Mayoral challenger Lori Lightfoot, who led Emanuel's task force on police accountability in the wake of the Laquan McDonald killing, also had something to say.

Lightfoot argued that the circumstances that breed gang violence are "deep and complicated" and require a "thoughtful" response - not a response that "blames those very same communities that have been starved for resources" and where there is "very little opportunity for people to connect to the legitimate economy."

"To just boil it down to a harsh judgment about the absence of values shows that he really doesn't understand what's going on in this city. And frankly, it's offensive," she said.

"What I hear him saying is that . . . the fault is in these communities because they're valueless. And that's wrong on so many levels, it's hard to even know where to start with somebody who thinks like that, let alone says it from the platform of the mayor of the third-largest city."

She's not wrong.

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It's fair to say Rahm Emanuel isn't exactly in touch with those outside the rarified bubble of privilege from which he comes and spends most of his time with. His analysis of urban violence is skin color deep and thin as a tissue. He sounds an awful lot like the stereotypical rich white Christian conservative suburbanite who thinks poor black people just need to go to church more to solve their problems.

It's not the first time Emanuel has touched on the sensitive subjects of "character" and "values" and their connection to Chicago's never-ending cycle of gang violence.

Nearly two years ago, Emanuel tested those same themes - including absentee fathers in African-American families - during private previews of a major policy address on violence that included his two-year plan to hire 970 additional police officers.

Emanuel talked then about encountering only one black father in all of the homes, hospital rooms, churches and funerals he had visited after innocent children were gunned down or wounded on the streets of Chicago.

But when it came time to deliver the speech, the mayor steered clear of the sociological problem he has long viewed as a driving force behind gang violence.

He was advised then that he was not the right person to deliver that uncomfortable message when he faces deep distrust among African-American voters furious about his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and convinced that their unsafe neighborhoods are being left behind.

And he's learned nothing since then.

"This may not be politically correct, but I know the power of what faith and family can do . . . Our kids need that structure . . . I am asking . . . that we also don't shy away from a full discussion about the importance of family and faith helping to develop and nurture character, self respect, a value system and a moral compass that allows kids to know good from bad and right from wrong," the mayor said.

"If we're going to solve this . . . we've got to have a real discussion . . . Parts of the conversation cannot be off-limits because it's not politically comfortable . . . We are going to discuss issues that have been taboo in years past because they are part of the solution . . . We also have a responsibility to help nurture character. It plays a role. Our kids need that moral structure in their lives. And we cannot be scared to have this conversation."

Sadly, that is the discussion we've been having - forever. It's not some daring venture on Rahm's part to accuse the impovershed of lacking morals and to chide African Americans for lacking families with fathers. The discussion everyone is afraid to have - the one that isn't politically correct - is the discussion about our racist economic structure and the ills it causes. It may be a cliche to say, but that discussion would be about "root causes," not symptoms.

(See also: The Myth Of The Missing Black Father, among other discussions of this pernicious talking point.)

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"You can talk about jobs, and they count, but in parts of the city where there aren't jobs, people did not pull the trigger," Rahm said Monday.

This is like saying "Derrick Rose got out of Englewood, why can't you?"

Worse, it's simply not true. If you were to overlay a map of unemployment in Chicago's neighborhoods with a map of violence, you'd get a match. There's an undeniable correlation.

Also: Why are there parts of the city where there aren't jobs? You've been mayor for seven years.

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Rahm closed 50 schools - the largest mass schools closing in U.S. history. Almost all were in underserved neighborhoods of color. It was an abject failure.

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"Chicago's community mental health safety net is badly frayed," Jonathan Foiles writes for Psychology Today. "As I've written elsewhere, Emanuel closed half of the city-run mental health centers, most of which were located in communities grappling with gun violence, and has done little to make up the difference."

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It's no wonder Rahm manages to earn some racist right-wing support:

"To his credit, in his press conference Emanuel (very lightly) touched on the problem at the root of the violence: packs of feral young men who from birth were never given a lesson in morality. 'If you say enough is enough,' said the mayor, 'you must come forward as a neighborhood where a moral center of gravity holds. . . . [There are] too many people with criminal records on the street, and there is a shortage of values about what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable, what is condoned and what is condemned.'"

Maybe your neighborhood can come together at the local school . . . oh yeah.

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A moral center of gravity? Like telling colleagues to "shut the fuck up about gun control" and advising a president to become the deportation king? Or more like using patronage goons in your congressional campaign?

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I mean . . .

"After he helped President Clinton push welfare reform through Congress, his liberal rabbi was outraged and denounced Emanuel from the pulpit during a High Holy Days service."

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To be sure, it's nothing new. Rahm has always thought this way.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday said Chicagoans need to find a way to provide young people in the city's crime-riddled neighborhoods with 'a moral compass," USA Today reported in 2016.

(West Side Rev. Ira Acree to WBEZ at the time: "He has no moral authority since Laquan McDonald.")

*

On his podcast, the Reader reported in March, "[Rahm] also reveals some personal views: You have to 'choose' to get out of homelessness, second chances are for those who show they want them, and there's insufficient 'moral judgement' in public conversation about crime."

Aside from his noxious view of homelessness, hasn't moral judgement dominated public conversation about crime since that whole apple-eating thing in the Garden of Eden?

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If the mayor really found the city's levels of violence unacceptable, he would do more than appeal to the morals of badly damaged teenagers and twentysomethings and commit the enormous resources necessary to make a real economic dent in the neighborhoods that need it. If that would mean fewer amenities for wealthy residents, fewer tax breaks for wealthy corporations, and shutting down - or drastically revamping - the hijacked TIF program that redistributes money to the wealthy, then so be it. That'd be a choice with a real moral center of gravity.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Sinclair-Tribune Deal Dead!
"The collapse of the merger is great news for dozens of local communities that will be spared Sinclair's slanted coverage and ridiculous must-runs," said Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron

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The Ex-Cub Factor
Two Diamondbacks, two A's, two Royals, a Red and a Rockie.

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Moth Flies Into Ump's Ear At White Sox Game.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Private equity.



Permalink

Posted on August 9, 2018


MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Should Talk More About Racism.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Hologram Arcade Machines.


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