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."
The most recent murder in D.C. produced shock waves because of the location of the crime and the gratuitous violence involved. Three black youths, two in their 20s and one 15-year-old, allegedly attacked a young couple standing outside a mansion in the affluent Georgetown area at 2 a.m. last Sunday. The couple had just returned from a movie.
As one of the youths attempted to rape the woman, according to authorities, another slit the throat of her date, a young man visiting from Great Britain who was in Washington for an internship.
A police commander called the crime " ... one of the most brutal acts I've seen in my 19 years of police work."
The police have apprehended the suspects, and records indicate the suspected murderer told his accomplices before the assault that he was going to "cut" somebody.
Homicide is the No. 1 killer of black men. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks are six times more likely to be the victim of homicide than whites and blacks are seven times more likely to commit homicide than whites.
It should be clear that the problem is that America's black community is now suspended in a moral vacuum. Life is cheap and meaningless, and murder, sex, abortion and robbery are viewed with the same gravity as ordering a Big Mac and fries. There is no accountability, only blame. And this mindset continues to be nourished in both the street language of Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and now the fancy Harvard prose of Sen. Barack Obama.
In a recent speech of several thousand words about politics and religion, the Illinois Democrat never once mentioned personal responsibility, but did manage to talk about the importance of diversity programs and condom distribution.
There is only one hope for pulling black America out of oblivion: Re-instilling a sense of absolutes, of right and wrong, and doing this from the grass roots up, one person at a time. Anyone who thinks there is an alternative is kidding himself.
Blacks can continue to listen to the Sharptons, Obamas and the black intellectuals who have a thousand different ways to say "it's not my fault." The price will be a black community lost forever.