News-Sentinel Editorial: Lack of morality and respect at root of Chicago crime problem

The mayor of Chicago has responded to the city’s current state of violence by making recent statements that have outraged Democrats and the black community in particular.

Members of his own political party are calling on Democrat Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, to resign as mayor because he had the audacity to suggest that a lack of morals in mostly black and Hispanic neighborhoods is an underlying cause of the violent crime that has created a war zone in the Windy City.

Emanuel’s critics are blatantly wrong in condemning words that show common sense.

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that 1,400 people have been shot in Chicago this year, including 247 homicides. There were a total of 650 such deaths in Chicago last year –more than the combined total of New York and Los Angeles.

When the weekend of Aug. 3-5 saw 74 people shot in Chicago, Emanuel made the following comments:

“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.

“If we’re going to solve this,” he said, “we’ve got to have a real discussion. … Parts of the conversation cannot be off-limits because it’s not politically comfortable. … Our kids need that moral structure in their lives. And we cannot be scared to have this conversation.”

Critics have called his comments tone-deaf and accused him of blaming the victims.

Shari Runner, former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, deemed the remarks insensitive, according to Fox News.

“I cannot see the victims of racist policies and bigoted practices shamed by anyone who says they need to do better or be better in their circumstance. I won’t accept it,” she said.

“I think for the mayor to make a generalization about a community is more than just misspoken, it’s outright wrong,” said Kwame Raoul, a Democratic state senator who is running for Illinois attorney general. He said what neighborhoods really need is not moral values, but more money and social programs.


No one is saying racism and poverty have nothing to do with violent crime. But neither should anyone say that character, family and faith have no role in preventing it. The left’s claims that crime is caused solely by economic and racial factors is simply not supported by the facts. Crime is the result of individuals making wrong moral choices.

Mary Mitchell, African-American columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote following Emanuel’s comments, that she understands all too well “how racism, disinvestment, poor schools, job discrimination and segregation have played their parts in creating the circumstances that have brought us to this moment.”

But she concluded in her column that Emanuel was telling it like it is and that the truth hurts. “Unfortunately,” she wrote, “black leaders have been reluctant to broach this subject because they know they’ll be attacked the way a lone black conservative at a Democratic convention would be.

“We should call out the robbers, rapists, carjackers and shooters who are making life miserable for everyone else. And we should remind parents they have a responsibility to raise children who respect themselves and others.

“Instead of condemning the mayor,” she wrote, “this is one time black leaders ought to be standing with him because this is a message that should have been delivered by civil rights leaders, politicians, black historians, pastors, social workers, educators and activists a long, long time ago.”

And we say it is a message that is never too late to preach.