So far this month there have been 14 homicides in Washington. Almost one a day. Nearly 100 people have been murdered so far this year in the nation's capital. Robberies are up 18 percent, assaults with a deadly weapon up 14 percent.
District of Columbia Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey has declared a "crime emergency."
This is the same Ramsey who, talking about homicides in the capital region several years ago, said, "The African-American community has to be central in the solution because that is where the problem lies and that is the community being hurt the most by this genocide. ... You've got generations of dysfunction, and that cycle has got to be broken."
It was Ramsey's words that, in part, inspired Bill Cosby to begin his campaign to deliver a message of personal responsibility into black communities and to black families.
Although Cosby's visits to inner cities around the country have been received with considerable local enthusiasm, his campaign has been far less well-received among the mainstream black political and intellectual leadership. That is to say, black liberals.
For these folks, Cosby has committed two great sins. One, a famous black man with a national audience of whites as well as blacks has stated that there are problems in the black community. Two, he has suggested that blacks need to look at themselves rather than at others to solve their problems.
According to The Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, juvenile robberies in D.C. are up 95 percent this year, and he quotes Ramsey: "Young black males, in groups of five to six, ages 13 to 15, are displaying handguns and beating their victims." But perhaps more disturbing, and revealing, is Ramsey's observation that "We're dealing with adolescents who have no remorse, no regrets."
In response to a column I wrote recently about the Rev. Al Sharpton chastising black churches for focusing too much on personal morality, I received a letter from a gentleman who identified himself as a "white minister." Here's part of it:
"My son was murdered by two teenage African-American boys ... . At the trial of the boy who pulled the trigger twice to kill my son, I looked into the boy's eyes. There was no remorse at all and he seemed like he didn't realize that life, anyone's life, had any value. This 19-year-old boy was a dropout of school. He had no family at the trial. It was like no one had given this boy any love."