CHICAGO, February 13, 2012— As expected, President Obama took the opportunity during the State of the Union speech to address the issue of urban violence. This was in response to the murder of Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago, whose death and funeral garnered nationwide media attention. First Lady Michelle Obama attended the services. The Pendleton family was invited to sit in the First Lady’s box at the State of the Union address.
Talk is cheap. Words are meaningless. Symbolism is useless. The only word to describe what is happening on Chicago’s streets is butchery. Some Chicago neighborhoods are abbatoirs.
The president is just one of many in a long line of politicians to make meaningless political talking points out of tragedy. The line of politicians, federal, state, and municipal, goes back decades. They are all talk and no action.
You cannot fight urban violence with words, platitudes, or symbolic gestures. The inaction by politicians and the media on urban violence is screaming louder than their political platitudes. None of them are listening. They are to busy talking to themselves in their own little echo chambers.
If you are looking for someone to blame for the murder of Hidiya Pendleton and all the other people, young and old, who have succumbed on the blood soaked Chicago streets, look at the very politicians who are blathering about the problem. It is easier to spout talking points and cry alligator tears than to act. It is politically palatable to commit political malpractice than to speak the truth.
The time has come for a major drive against organized street gangs and drug traffickers. It’s past time we make our cities safe. Politicians of all stripes should declare an all-out war against organized street gangs and the drug traffickers who are committing murder and mayhem in our cities. The same resources and methodology used to fight traditional organized crime and the war on terror should be implemented to fight the urban terrorists plaguing our cities.
These urban terrorists are the enemy within. They are as ruthless and dangerous as Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They are numerous, armed, dangerous, and permitted to exist and enabled by politicians, social and community activists, and the media. Their inertia makes our streets dangerous. Inertia kills just as effectively as bullets.
This is not an ideological issue. It is not a political party issue. It is not about guns, the NRA, or Second Amendment. Hadiya Pendleton and all the others who lost their lives to gang violence were killed by inertia. Their murders were enabled, allowed and permitted. Maybe sanctioned is a better term. More will be murdered with passive political permission. The president’s and other politician’s words will not stop the carnage. All their symbolic acts and fake sympathy will not stop the murders and mayhem.
The problem of urban violence is not an intellectual exercise or a debate on social issues. It is a crime problem with real solutions. The strategy and tactics to fight organized street gangs and drug traffickers are in place. They are the same ones used to diminish traditional organized crime and some of the strategies used to fight terrorism. Statutes are already on the books, especially the dreaded RICO laws. All the politicians need is the will and courage to implement and execute these strategies and tactics. “Cry havoc and let loose” law enforcement and prosecutors.
Congress should hold televised hearings on organized street gangs and drug traffickers. Their leaders should be subpoenaed and hauled before the legislators and cameras for the world to see. Just like they did with traditional organized crime.
Soaring rhetoric and symbolism does not create change. Criminals, who engage in urban terrorism are not social victims, outcasts, victims of racism, poverty, or injustice. They are people who made a conscious choice to live a life of crime. Gang members are vicious criminals. Gang leaders and those who lead drug trafficking organizations are worse. There may not even be a word in the English language to describe their evil.
Bringing law and order back to our cities requires fearless determination. If we have to fill the prisons with more Black, Hispanic, or any other race or ethnic males so be it. Build more prisons. House more people.
Urban violence is not a social problem. It is not a medical problem. It is not an academic issue. It is a human problem. People are killing people. Organized street gangs and drug operations are people. People lead them. Go after the people.
We put the faces of victims on front pages, blast them through the airwaves, and digitally launch them all over the Internet. It is time we put a real face to urban violence. It is past time we plastered the faces of the gang leaders and major drug traffickers all over the media. It is way past time they face the intense heat of law enforcement and media scrutiny.
Politicians should shut up and act. Let law enforcement do their jobs without political meddling, handwringing, or worrying about phony accusations of racism, occupying armies, and all the other propaganda nonsense the enablers of organized criminal organizations make up.
It is time to ignore the activists, political preachers, community organizers and groups who enable urban terrorists. It a perfect world they would all be labeled associates of organized crime and harshly scrutinized.
Sometimes tough measures are called for. The time to get tough is now. Law enforcement and the media should work together to shine a very bright disinfecting light on organized street gangs, drug traffickers, their leaders, and enablers. It takes courage and fearlessness. Politicians and the media are severely lacking in those qualities.
The Middle Class Guy, written from a center-right point of view, concentrating mainly on politics, straying into culture, entertainment, sports, cooking, and humor all from a middle class perspective.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association, Online News Association, Chicago Headline Club, and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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