Fox News has a fascinating investigative TV report and a series of articles about murder in Washington D.C. The four articles published thus far are:
- Only 42% of DC murder cases were closed after anti-police movement and it could get worse, criminologists say.
- ‘Unfathomable’: Washington DC murder victims often killed over petty insults, experts say.
- Washington D.C. police withhold key details about homicide unit amid murder surge.
- Damaged police trust helped fuel retaliatory murders, criminologists say.
… packing culture and a drive to retaliate, rather than turn to law enforcement, has driven homicides in the nation’s capital. Those elements have become more prevalent since trust in law enforcement deteriorated after the defund the police movement took hold following George Floyd’s killing.
“One of the hardest things to deal with in the streets is when somebody kill anybody you love, McMichael, 52, told Fox News. “At that point right there … the gun is in your hand.”
“Is you gonna to take up for your man or are you going to be a b****?” he continued. “Either you a b**** or you gonna go take up for your brother, your best friend, your cousin, your uncle, whoever.”
. . .
High-crime communities became more reliant on illegal guns for protection as they and the rest of the nation lost faith that the police could effectively keep them safe, criminologists told Fox News.
The influx of illicit firearms ultimately contributed to the ongoing homicide surge, since victims are frequently killed over petty disputes, rather than criminal endeavors … And neighborhoods that had poor police trust even before Floyd’s death – like many high-crime neighborhoods – tend to prefer retaliation to criminal justice.
Tensions between law enforcement and neighborhoods that already had poor relations with law enforcement were aggravated “even further as people lost confidence in the police,” University of Missouri-St. Louis criminology professor Richard Rosenfeld told Fox News. Consequently, those communities were less likely to “report crimes to the police that they were aware of” and more willing to “take matters into their own hands to settle disputes.”
. . .
Essentially, people living in high-crime communities feel they need to carry a gun for protection since they assumed everyone else is packing … The sentiment stems from a sense that police aren’t protecting high-crime communities.
“If people believe the cops are going to keep them safe and that there will be a swift response to a violent offense, they are less likely to feel the need to protect themselves,” Charles Fain Lehman, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox News.
But the guns aren’t being used simply for self-defense.
“Somebody get in your way, you’re going to kill them or they’re going to kill you,” McMichael, who works for Parker’s group teaching conflict resolution and mentoring youth, told Fox News. “That’s your mentality every day.”
There’s more at the link.
The trouble with that analysis – with the entire series – is that it ignores a simple, fundamental reality. Morality and an honest way of life are inculcated in the family, not in schools or on the streets. How many of us were brought up in homes where our parents would have – and sometimes did – thrash the living daylights out of us if we got into serious trouble outside the home? We didn’t have to be scared of the cops, or distrust them. We had our own police force coming down on us like a ton of bricks, in the form of our parents. We didn’t get much chance to become deviants, because they held us to the straight and narrow by the scruff of our necks, if necessary.
I’ve never forgotten a “little talk” my father and I had soon after I reached the age of puberty, and began to notice that girls were different from boys. He and my mother had given me the usual talk about respecting ladies, and treating them well, and all that. Like most teenage boys, I didn’t pay much attention, because I was listening with the “little head” rather than the “big head”. Dad must have realized that, because a week or two later he called me into his study.
“Son,” he began, “I just want you to know that if you get a girl into trouble, I’ll stand by her and her family, and pay the medical bills involved.”
I was nonplussed. “Well, gee, thanks, Dad, but why are you telling me this when I haven’t got a girl into trouble yet?”
“Because if you do, you won’t be around to know that I’m helping her. I will already have killed you.”
He looked me straight in the eye as he spoke. I didn’t think he was joking. In fact, I knew darn well that he wasn’t joking! I left his study with an unpleasant realization that listening to him on this subject was no longer optional, and I did so at my own mortal peril. Now, years later, I guess he was trying for effect – but he certainly succeeded!
The trouble is, far too few of our inner-city families (such as they are) have inculcated a similar sense of responsibility in their youths. As a prison chaplain, I used to supervise the annual form-filling exercise for a charity that tried to give a toy to every child of every prison inmate over Christmas. It was astonishing – not to mention nauseating – to see a single inmate fill out forms for eight, or nine, or ten children, almost all of them by different mothers. Those kids would grow up never knowing their father, with mothers who had so little self-respect that they allowed men like that to impregnate them and saw nothing wrong in it.
In many cases, their own parents encouraged it. I’ve never forgotten the seventeen-year-old girl – no, she wasn’t a ‘girl’ any longer – whom I met in a high school at Lake Charles in Louisiana when I spoke there. She was then pregnant with her fourth child, having had the first at age twelve. All four had different fathers – and her own mother encouraged her to have them, because the state paid welfare benefits for each child, and she’d never have to work as long as she had multiple kids at home. They were no more than cash cows to her, a way of earning a living; and I’m sure they grew up realizing that. What sort of example did her mother set for her, and what sort of example was she setting for her kids in her turn?
The primary reason crime and violence have spiked in our inner-city neighborhoods is that the nuclear family has effectively been destroyed. The reason police are distrusted in such areas is because they’re trying to enforce a legislated morality that is no longer being taught to kids by example at home. The reason young boys disrespect young girls in those suburbs, and the girls not only expect but – in some cases – actually seem to welcome it, is because that’s the example the adults are setting for them. The reason drugs are so endemic there is because far too many adults use them, deal in them, tolerate them. There’s no point in the police trying to keep them off the streets when the very people they’re trying to help instantly put them back out there the moment the cops have moved on!
Similarly, there’s no point in blaming guns for the problem. A gun is a tool, just like a hammer, or a nail, or a paintbrush, or a frying pan, or a motor vehicle. You can use it for its intended purpose and not hurt a fly – or you can turn it into a weapon and cause harm, injury and death with it. The instrument, the thing itself, is innocent. It has no moral sense of good or evil. That moral sense is in the person wielding it.
Who would have thought that a simple garage air pump, the kind you see at any gas station to fill a vehicle’s tires, could be used as an instrument of torture and murder? Yet that’s precisely what I saw, at least in its all too gruesome aftermath, when a bunch of terrorists decided to take that air pump, insert its nozzle in somebody’s nether regions, and blow him up until everything inside burst and came out of his mouth. What kind of sick, evil mind does it take to even conceive of something like that? Yet . . . those terrorists grew up not far from where I did, and – at least as children – never saw anything like that from their parents. Where did they learn it? How could any human being with a conscience behave like that? The simple answer is, they had no conscience to speak of, because nobody had ever taken the time and trouble to implant one in them.
That’s what none of these programs will address. Being a Christian pastor, I have a Christian answer for that; others, from different backgrounds, will have alternatives, of course. Even so, Christ put it rather well, I think.
“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man … Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Read that together with Matthew 7:9-12.
What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
And, finally, Proverbs 22:6:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Put those together, and you have the answer. You also have the negative answer. If you don’t “train up a child in the way he should go”, he will depart from it when he is older. If we give our child bad things (upbringing) rather than good, why are we surprised when he lives that out in later life? If we don’t uproot from the human heart the evil that is in all of us, why are we surprised when that evil turns into action in due course?
It takes formation from birth until adulthood to create a solid citizen, someone with a moral foundation that’s solid and worthwhile. We, as a nation and as a society, have quite deliberately turned our backs on that since shortly after World War II, and adopted an anything-goes, “if-it-feels-good-do-it” ethic that has slowly but surely undermined any sense of an overarching morality, whether religious or secular. The carnage on our inner-city streets is merely one reflection of that reality, just as the equally tragic betrayal of trust by some of our police officers (as discussed yesterday) is another.
There is not, and cannot be, a simple solution to this issue, nor is it something that can be legislated. If laws could help, we wouldn’t be in this mess today, because we have thousands upon thousands of them on the books already! The only way to solve the problem is to re-inculcate a personal ethic, an individual respect for each other as human beings, an innate respect for the Golden Rule. Without that, the streets will go on being dangerous, and people will go on dying.