During World War II American soldiers from Illinois, when they mentioned they were from the Sucker State to a foreigner, would usually have the person making tommy gun shooting motions in response, since the only thing they knew about Illinois was that it had Chicago in it, and the only thing they knew about the city of broad shoulders and narrow brains was Al Capone. Chicago and crime have gone together like the Cubs and losing for a very long time indeed. Father Z notes that this long time association is becoming very troublesome indeed:
I saw this astonishing and yet not at all surprising piece by Rich Lowry.
But will anything useful be done about this? Who wants to bet?
Chicago suffering social meltdown
For most of the country, July Fourth weekend means hot dogs, fireworks and relaxing time with family. In certain neighborhoods in Chicago, it means something very different. For the second year running, Chicago saw a spate of violence over the long holiday weekend that would generate headlines if it happened in Kabul.
“It’s Groundhog Day here in Chicago” is how Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy put it. This year, the tally of shame was more than 80 people shot and 14 killed. Last year, a slightly longer July Fourth weekend — the holiday fell on a Thursday — saw 75 people shot and 12 fatalities.
The astonishing numbers underline how Chicago, despite recent progress on crime, is still a byword for gunplay and urban chaos. It is a city where life, at least among young men living in the most dangerous neighborhoods, is cheap.
Chicago’s killings can’t readily be interpreted through a racial prism, so they don’t provoke gales of outrage from the nation’s opinion-makers. Only very rarely do they become national causes, as in the heartbreaking case of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot to death shortly after performing at President Barack Obama’s inauguration last year.
Chicago saw its homicides soar from roughly 430 in 2011 to more than 500 in 2012, before it got them back down below 2011 levels last year, thanks to more aggressive policing. They are running slightly lower again this year, although they are still higher than in New York City, even though Chicago is a third of the size.
Why is Chicago the nation’s murder capital? [BTW... Honduras, where Card. Rodriguez Maradiaga is prelate, is apparently the murder capital of the world.] Its officials always want [pointlessly] to talk about gun laws, and Superintendent McCarthy complained about their laxity after the latest shootings. This is bizarre, since Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and has been slapped down in the courts for trampling on the Second Amendment in its zeal to make it all but impossible to own guns. Chicago is a running illustration of the cliche that if you ban guns, only criminals will own them. [Exactly.]
Gun laws are beside the point. The tony Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park could have the same laws as gun-friendly Vermont and it would still be extremely safe. What Chicago is suffering from is not a random citywide phenomenon, but a specific, highly concentrated one.
Overall, according to Chicago magazine, the rate of nonfatal gunshot injury in Chicago was 46.5 per 100,000 from 2006 to 2012. But it was only 1.62 per 100,000 for whites. For blacks, it was 112.83 per 100,000. For black males, 239.77, and for black males aged 18-34, 599.65, or “a staggering one in 200.”
A study by sociologist Andrew Papachristos shows that the shootings overwhelmingly occur among a small network of criminal offenders.
Chicago is grappling with the profound social breakdown of certain neighborhoods, where the two-parent family has been obliterated and where, too often, young men consider lawlessness the norm. It is here, as Heather Mac Donald of City Journal writes, that gang members define themselves not by “family, or academic accomplishments or interests, but ruthless fealty to small, otherwise indistinguishable, pieces of territory.”
I have long thought that the Church is quite able to deal with outside enemies. The true difficulties for the Church are from forces within the Church who aid and abet outside enemies. Nicholas G. Hahn III, editor at Real Clear Religion, gives us a prime example of this in a riveting article in The Wall Street Journal on the late Cardinal Bernardin and Barack Obama:
That might not be such a good idea. There is an irony in the Catholic Church’s current legal clashes with Washington over the Affordable Care Act’s restrictions on religious freedom: The Obama administration is very much a creature of the Chicago church under Bernardin. When Notre Dame University bestowed an honorary degree on President Barack Obama in May 2009, the veteran community organizer told graduates that the “saintly” Cardinal Bernardin inspired him to become an activist.
As Phyllis Schlafly and George Neumayr noted in “No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom” (2012), much of Mr. Obama’s education in public policy came in the rectories of Chicago’s South Side churches and, in part, on Cardinal Bernardin’s dime. The archdiocese in 1986 paid for Mr. Obama to attend a community-organizing training session with a Saul Alinsky-founded group in Los Angeles.
Cardinal Bernardin, who led the archdiocese from 1982 until his death in 1996, espoused a liberal line that has helped give pro-abortion Catholic supporters of the Obama administration theological cover. Mr. Obama told reporters in July 2009 that “his encounters with the cardinal continue to influence him, particularly his ‘seamless garment’ approach to a multitude of social justice issues.”
The president was alluding to a widely noted 1983 speech wherein Bernardin applied the Biblical story of Jesus’ tunic “woven in one piece from the top down” to public-policy issues. He maintained that matters as varied as the death penalty, the minimum wage and how to wage war should be considered on the same moral plane as abortion. This pernicious idea has been rebuffed by many Catholic intellectuals, not the least of whom was the future Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, who in a 2004 memo wrote that “not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. Continue reading
For decades I was a subscriber to the Chicago Tribune. The traditionally Republican paper in Chicago, for many decades it was the voice of Republicanism, and sometimes conservatism, throughout the Midwest. In the nineties I noticed that The Trib was changing. It was hiring more liberal columnists and the editorials took on an increasingly liberal flavor. The paper would still usually endorse Republicans at election time, but the endorsements were pro forma. Additionally, The Trib rarely had anything to say about the corruption that infested both parties and was busily producing the bankrupt Illinois that exists today. One columnist who was, and is, a bright light at The Trib, John Kass, constantly attacked “the Combine”, as he called it, that ruled both parties and made sure that insiders profited at the expense of the tax payers.
After my family became hooked up to the internet at the end of the nineties, living in a rural area did have its disadvantages back then in reference to obtaining a reliable internet service, I no longer needed The Trib for news, but I kept it out of inertia, although I was extremely unhappy with its increasingly leftist editorial views. The inertia came to an end when The Trib endorsed Obama in 2008. That ended my subscription, along with the subscriptions of quite a few other downstaters. I noticed after the fact that I didn’t miss the paper. It had become an anachronism in the age of the internet. My wife still buys a copy at Thanksgiving for the black Friday ads, but that is the only time a copy of The Trib enters McClarey Manor. The Trib endorsed Obama again in 2012 and its transformation into just another big city liberal rag seemed complete.
I was therefore surprised, and no doubt Obama was also, by The Trib’s editorial last Friday calling for the repeal of ObamaCare:
As Friday dawns, here’s what a health insurance crisis looks like to many millions of Americans: Barely six weeks shy of 2014, they do not know whether they will have medical coverage Jan. 1. Or which hospitals and doctors they might patronize. Or what they may pay to protect themselves and their families against the chance of medical and financial catastrophe. How much, that is, they may pay in order to satisfy the Democratic politicians and federal bureaucrats who are worsening a metastasizing health coverage fiasco.
For perhaps 5 million of those Americans thus far — estimates vary — the Washington-ordered cancellation of their policies is especially maddening. In the past these people took responsibility for their coverage and bought policies that balanced their needs, finances and personal choices. Congress and President Barack Obama, by enacting the Affordable Care Act, in effect ordered insurers to dismantle many of those individual plans — and cancel those policies.
The Americans manhandled by this exercise in government arrogance now find themselves divided into warring tribes: Those with chronic ailments who have found new plans on Obamacare exchanges and are pleased. Those who don’t want or can’t afford the replacement policies Obamacare offers them. Those whose new policies block them from using the health providers who have treated them for many years. The estimated 23 million to 41 million people whose employer-sponsored plans are the next to be imperiled. And on and on.
Most of these tribespeople only wish their big problem was a slipshod Obamacare website. On Thursday, their plight grew more frightful. With even Democratic members of Congress storming the White House over the cancellations, Obama declared — by what legal authority is unclear — that he would overrule the law he signed in 2010 and allow insurers to extend those canceled policies for a year.
If, that is, insurance regulators of the 50 states permit this potential distortion to risk pools inside and outside of Obamacare. The regulators, including those in Illinois, had better put protection ahead of politics: Within two hours of Obama’s announcement, Mike Kreidler, insurance commissioner of Washington, a Democrat-leaning state, rejected the president’s notion, citing “its potential impact on the overall stability of our health insurance market. … We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies.” Continue reading
I view Detroit and its bankruptcy as a harbinger of things to come. The blue state social model of ever higher taxes, ever expanding benefits for members of public employee unions and one party rule by the Democrat party is coming to an end. The ending will be painful for people luckless enough to live in blue states, as I do, but this parasitical form of government ultimately destroys the private economy host it feeds on. Walter Mead at Via Meadia has been prescient in seeing this:
It looks like Detroit may yet have competition for the distinction of America’s most poorly run city. The unprecedented triple-drop in Chicago’s bond rating and the city’s shiny new long-term debt figure—$29 billion—should have pols quaking in their boots. The Chicago Sun-Times has published some distressing numbers from Chicago’s recent audits:
- The number of “physical arrests” by Chicago Police officers declined again — from 152,740 in 2011 to 145,390 in 2012. That continues a six-year trend that coincides with the hiring slowdown that caused a dramatic decline in the number of police officers. Police made 227,576 arrests in 2006. The number of arrests has been dropping like a rock ever since….
- Emergency responses continued their steady rise — to 472,752. That’s up from 300,971 in 2006.…
- The 55 percent subsidy to retiree health care that Emanuel wants to phase out and retirees are suing to maintain cost the city $97.5 million in 2012.
- The condition of Chicago’s four city employee pension funds is growing ever more precarious. The firefighters pension fund has assets to cover just 25 percent of liabilities, followed by: Police (31 percent); Municipal Employees (38 percent) and Laborers (56 percent).
In addition to the pension, law enforcement, and emergency response concerns that remind us of a certain bankrupt city across the lake, the report notes that three of Chicago’s four largest private employers (JP Morgan, Accenture LLP, and Northern Trust) are in finance. It seems like blue cities have a codependent relationship with the one percenters progressives claim to hate.
It hasn’t all hit the fan quite yet, but Chicago seems perilously close to real trouble. The city is all out of money, and with an imploding public education system and harrowing levels of violence, it is losing residents fast. Illinois, which itself lost more than 800,000 people to out-migration in the past two decades, is essentially Chicago on a larger scale, with hundreds of billions in unfunded pension liabilities and complete political sclerosis. The state cannot bail out Chicago, and judging by the feds’ reluctance to even lift a finger for Detroit, Chicago shouldn’t expect much more. Continue reading
Chicago has an appallingly bad public school system. Only 21% of eighth graders are proficient in reading. 40% of all students drop out. Small wonder that 39% of the public school teachers in Chicago with children send their kids to private schools. One would think that any sane administration of such a dysfunctional school system would have more than enough to do fixing it, without taking on new tasks. People who believe this obviously have never been to Chicago. As Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report advises us, the Chicago Way is to dream up new boondoggles if you are failing at the task that the public is paying you to perform:
In real life if a man tries to talk about sex to a kindergartner he’d be removing a father’s knuckles from his teeth. But when school’s do it with your money, parents drop their kids off with smiles.
Please please vote in your local elections and make sure you’re aware of what your schools are teaching children in your town. Chicago is now actively destroying children’s innocence with taxpayer money:
ABC News reports:
While most U.S. public schools start sex education in the fifth grade, sex education will be coming to Chicago kindergartners within two years as part of an overhaul of the Chicago public schools sexual health program.
The new policy, which the Chicago Board of Education passed Wednesday, mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten. Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the country, with 431,000 students.
“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of the Chicago Public School System, said in a statement. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.”
Under the new policy, the youngest students – the kindergartners — will learn the basics about anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. Through the third grade, the sex-ed lessons will focus on the family, feelings and appropriate and inappropriate touching. In the fourth grade, students will start learning about puberty, and HIV.
Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago is alleged to have predicted that for upholding the teachings of Christ he will die in his bed, his successor will die in a prison cell, and his successor will be executed in a public square in Chicago. Therefore, I am unsurprised that he has written an open letter exploring the “Chicago Values” cited by Mayor Emanuel when he decided to attack the free speech rights of Chick-Fil-A:
Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”
The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?
It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.
Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle. Continue reading
Hattip to Allahpundit at Hotair. Rebel Pundit went to the Printer Row’s Literature Festival in Chicago and asked festival goers which books they would like to ban. To anyone who knows Chicago as well as I do, the results were predictable:
In June we attended the Printer’s Row Literature Festival in Chicago. City blocks were closed off for tents and booths full of all types of literature. We presented a board with a selection of well known book covers and asked visitors of the event if they could choose to ban any of the books on the board, which if any, they would in fact ban. They were allowed to choose any three of the eleven choices.
The authors of the books we offered to ban were Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, Ayn Rand, Michael Savage, Bill Clinton, Michael Moore, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama. While there were in fact less than two handfuls of individuals who did tell us they don’t think any books should be banned, unfortunately there were a shocking amount of guests at this book fair who were quite open to the idea, and in fact lined up quite excited for the opportunity to voice their opinion.
Participants overwhelming chose Sarah Palin who received 53 votes putting her at 36% overall, Glenn Beck at 23% and Ann Coulter at 22%. All of the other choices received a very minimal amount of votes, with the next most popular to ban being Adolf Hitler at 0.5%. Ironically, Michael Savage, who has been banned from entering Britain over things he often says, did not receive one vote to have his words banned in Chicago. Continue reading
For those of you fortunate enough not to live in the Land of Lincoln, or, as it is commonly known today, The State Everyone Laughs At, you may have not been familiar enough with the State and therefore thought that Cardinal George’s most recent attempt to remove Father Pfleger, or as many of us refer to him as Father “Flakey”, would have caused him to mend his ways. Those of us who have followed Father Pfleger for decades, realized that this was merely the latest useless huffing and puffing of Cardinal George, and that Saint Sabina’s would soon return to normal, which is as a bastion of Left Wing political orthodoxy, with an exteme emphasis on race, where Catholicism is very much an afterthought.
This was graphically demonstrated by Father Pfleger having Gary McCarthy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new top cop, preach a “sermon” during Mass earlier this month. Chicago has an atrocious murder rate. It also has the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Here are Gary McCarthy’s deep thoughts on this contradiction:
“Now I want you to connect one more dot on that chain of the African American history in this country, and tell me if I’m crazy: Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms, into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children,” he said.
And he told an anecdote of just one night with the New York Police Department. After returning home from investigating a pair of shootings, he said he flipped on the television to relax, only to find “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” being broadcast.
The latest from Chicago:
From WLS, Chicago:
Father Michael Pfleger celebrated his 62nd birthday Sunday as well as his first mass since being reinstated as pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church.
Father Pfleger apologized to his congregation for the unsettled period over the past three weeks during his suspension, but he expressed his gratitude to Francis Cardinal George and encouraged parishioners to do the same.
The cardinal suspended Pfleger following comments Pfleger made about leaving the church rather than being removed from Saint Sabina.
Pfleger today said that his words were misinterpreted.
I have personally spoken to four members of St. Sabina parish and have found them to be sincere, caring people who love Jesus…but who have not really been taught the Catholic Faith, particularly the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I do not think it is fair to refer to the parishioners as “disobedient” or “dissenting”. It has become clear to me that, though Fr. Pfleger has done much good in the community, particularly for young people, his failure to instruct his flock in core teachings of the Faith has resulted in the fullness of the Faith being hidden from them, something that can only be detrimental to their spiritual lives, not beneficial.
As always, I ask for prayers for the members of St. Sabina parish, for Fr. Pfleger, and for Cardinal George. Let us pray for the return of this prodigal son who has taken a positive step in reflecting a sense of obedience to Holy Mother Church. All things are possible with God.
Updates at the bottom. . .
The Chicago Tribune and WBEZ are reporting that Cardinal George of Chicago has removed from his parish of Saint Sabina and suspended Father Michael Pfleger sacramental priestly faculties ultimately due to his disobedience.
In a public radio show Father Pfleger threatened to leave the Catholic Church if he were to be reassigned to a Catholic High School by Cardinal George, his archdiocesan archbishop.
Cardinal George was disappointed in this particular response, “If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish(.)”
A Catholic priest’s inner life is governed by his promises, motivated by faith and love, to live chastely as a celibate man and to obey his bishop. . .Breaking either promise destroys his vocation and wounds the Church. . .With this letter, your ministry as pastor of Saint Sabina Parish and your sacramental faculties as a priest of the Archdiocese are suspended.
An “associate” minister of Saint Sabina’s Church, Kimberly Lymore, promised to have an “official” response from the Saint Sabina “leadership” to Cardinal George’s actions.
Well I have to say is Father Pfleger had certainly pushed the boundaries of patience on this one. To say that this was a “shock” or unexpected would be disingenuous of Father Pfleger.
Cardinal George is well within his authority as an apostle of the Church to govern his flock as stated in his role as Archbishop.
Obedience is certainly expected of all archdiocesan priests, but to have Father Pfleger not only disobey the wishes of his archbishop, but publicly threaten to leave the Church if he were to be reassigned to another post went beyond disobedience.
Pray for Father Pfleger, Cardinal George, and the parish of Saint Sabina’s.
Update I: Here is the letter Cardinal George handed to Father Pfleger personally simultaneously telling him he doesn’t want to ‘hear it’ about his options. For the letter click here.
Next month, the International Olympic Committee will decide whether the 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, or Tokyo. The Windy City’s Olympic bid is believed by many to have a good chance of succeeding, although others predict Rio will get the nod in order to bring the Games to South America for the first time.
Supporters of Chicago’s bid (the most ardent among them being Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley) say the Games will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the city to the world, increase tourism, and promote economic development.
Those who don’t want the Games, however, argue that it will burden the city and the entire state of Illinois with years of additional taxes and debt, displace poor and vulnerable people from their homes and places of employment, leave behind crumbling “white elephant” venues, and promote exactly the kind of pay-to-play corruption that has made Chicago and Illinois infamous.
Whatever the outcome of the Olympic bid (which we will know on Oct. 2, when the IOC meets in Copenhagen), the competition for the Games has gotten me to thinking about another world-class event that has been proven to have lasting positive effects on the communities and countries that host it: World Youth Day.