Frank Sinatra's song about Chicago, "My Kind of Town," "a the town that won't let you down," seems dated in light of last weekend's shooting spree that left 16 dead and dozens wounded in 53 separate incidents. According to the Chicago Tribune, "The victims were among 82 people shot between Thursday afternoon and early Monday."
Chicago wasn't alone in the Independence Day violence. New York City and Detroit combined for 10 dead in 46 shootings, but let's stick with Chicago where violence in mainly poor African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods has become a way of death.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued the familiar statement that such violence is "simply unacceptable." He blames parents (absent fathers would be more to the point) and insufficient gun laws (of which Chicago has some of the toughest in the nation). Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy suggested that stiffer penalties for gun crimes might reduce the violence. So the way to fight criminals who have no respect for life or law is to pass more laws they are sure to violate?
What would the great civil rights leaders of the past think of their youth today?
Did they sacrifice their time, liberty and, in some cases, their lives so that those who came after them could murder each other in the streets? Would they tell them they should be ashamed? Do these depraved killers even know the meaning of shame?
Consider some of their words, which are more profound than those of a Chicago politician, or a president.
"He who lives outside the law is a slave. The free man is the man who lives within the law, whether that law be the physical or the divine." -- Booker T. Washington.
"I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves." -- Harriet Tubman
"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"A little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills." -- W.E.B. Du Bois
In each of these quotes there is an appeal to something beyond politics, government and programs. It is an appeal to the spirit, the part in each of us that instructs, motivates and controls.
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