Monday, August 13, 2007

The Urban Killing Fields: Where is the Outcry?

Stanley Crouch, in his column up today at the New York Daily News, argues that the crisis of violence in urban America cries out for public debate and discussion. Yet, the issue is a hot potato on the presidential campaign trail:

We have now developed an urban badlands which is national and troubling because of the incredible numbers of people who are murdered or suffer the physical and psychological effects of violent crime. Our presidential candidates are quick on the draw when asked about the war on terror or homeland security, but the American people have not heard a peep from them about the concrete killing fields of our cities. Perhaps, because so many of the perpetrators and the victims are "people of color," the donkeys don't want to be seen as bleeding hearts while the elephants are afraid of being called racists.

In the 19th century, murderous cowboys, rustlers and bank or train robbers had neither the arms nor the occasions presented to them that could have resulted in the kinds of carnage we now take for granted. The mob wars of the 20th century left numbers of dead that would be pointed to with pride by a mayor today as proof of how much better things have gotten.

Addressing a dilemma tantamount to terrorism, a few months ago Ben Stein wrote in the conservative American Spectator that, "In the five and a half years since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been roughly 40,000 killings by gangs and gang members in this United States of America, mostly in the African-American and Hispanic sections of large cities." In his book, "The Devil and Dave Chappelle," William Jelani Cobb writes: "Between 1976 and 2004, African-Americans, who are 13% of the population, constituted nearly 47% of the homicide cases in the United States."

Besides all of the human costs of these murders, the burden is estimated by the World Health Organization to cost an annual $300 billion. That amounts to about 150 weeks in Iraq, or three years.

This would seem a good subject for presidential debates, right? Wrong, apparently.
But just last week the news media were often given to breast-beating as they reported on the three college students who were lined up against a wall and killed execution style in Newark. Newark youth worker Shamonique Jones, who lives in the area where the three were gunned down, told The New York Times that the tragedy was a matter of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time" because the Crips, who ominously trouble the neighborhood, do much of their recruiting in the summer months. On CNN those murders were put in the context of slaughters taking place at nauseating rates in many other American cities.

One Newark man interviewed by CBS seemed to speak for all of those living under the oppression of violent crime when he said that the neighborhood where the three young people were murdered is under siege. There seemed to be more robberies, burglaries and carjackings. But Newark Police Chaplain John McClain, who is the great uncle of one of the three victims, said that the killers should be thought of as what they are, terrorists.

A New Jersey resident asked a fundamental question, "Will these knuckleheads have to join the Ku Klux Klan before this country wakes up and faces the horror of what they are doing?" I think that question should be answered by every one of those running for President because the corpses will not have stopped piling up throughout our concrete killing fields when the next commander in chief is sworn in.

Croach is perceptive in his point that those on the left avoid the bleeding heart tag and conservatives hestitate to speak truth to race politics for fear of the racist label.
I've commented before that the Democrats, at a recent debate, missed the chance to seriously address the crisis of black underclass crime. Both parties, however, have an historic opportunity to make urban policy a major platform during the 2008 race. This shift would be especially smart for the GOP, as it moves to reestablish itself as the party of competent government and the champion of traditional values.

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