Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chicago's Real Crime Story by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal Winter 2010

Chicago's Real Crime Story by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal Winter 2010

Heather Mac Donald has written a devastating (and I mean that--it's hard to read to the end, but you should) but insightful account of the role of what should be the obvious cause in Chicago's violent culture--the lack of fathers and families in many Chicago neighborhoods. She makes a compelling case not only for the problems that arise when 79% of black children across a city/county are born without fathers, but for a frightening "next step" that has already begun to show itself--the lack of any parents at all.

The implications go far beyond gun rights; in fact, I'll risk being presumptuous and guess that Mac Donald supports at least what she would call "reasonable gun control." The tragedy of the complete destruction of the family in Chicago's black neighborhoods is, she argues compellingly, compounded over and over by "community organizers" like Barack Obama who insist on Saul Alinksy's strategy of demanding help from outside the neighborhood for problems created by behavior inside it. Mac Donald cites, for instance, Obama's overweening pride at talking the city government into opening a job office and investing in asbestos removal in areas that were too deadly for bus service because of roaming packs of fatherless children and teenagers who would kill over bragging rights to half a block of blighted street.

The ultimate expression of this "let's bend these people over and help them harder until they become model citizens" mindset, Mac Donald explains, is the new plan from the Chicago Public Schools. Using the magic of statistical analysis and data mining and, let's face it, profiling, Huberman's minions identified a few hundred Chicago students who are statistically almost certain to be killed on Chicago streets in the next few years. Each of the 300 students has now been assigned an advocate/social worker whose full-time job is to meet with the little angel and his parents, if any, and provide any help they need. No kidding; "any" help here means any. Mac Donald observes:
Now, perhaps if Huberman’s proposed youth “advocates” provided their charges with opportunities to learn self-discipline and perseverance, fired their imaginations with manly virtues, and spoke to them about honesty, courtesy, and right and wrong—if they functioned, in other words, like Scoutmasters—they might make some progress in reversing the South Side’s social breakdown. But the outfit that Huberman has picked to provide “advocacy” to the teens, at a reported cost of $5 million a year, couldn’t be more mired in the assiduously nonjudgmental ethic of contemporary social work. “Some modalities used in this endeavor,” explains the newly hired Youth Advocates Program (YAP), “include: Assess the youth and his/her family to develop an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) to address the individual needs of each youth.” The Youth Advocates Program’s CEO tried further to clarify the advocates’ function: “If a family needs a new refrigerator or a father needs car insurance, it’s the advocate’s job to take care of it,” Jeff Fleischer told the Chicago Tribune. The reference to a “father” is presumably Fleischer’s little joke, since almost none of the Chicago victims-in-waiting will have their fathers at home. It’s not a lack of material goods that ails Chicago’s gun-toting kids, however, or their mothers’ lack of time to procure those goods. Providing their families with a government-funded gofer to carry out basic adult tasks like getting car insurance will not compensate for a lifetime of paternal absence.

Read the whole thing if you dare.


Irishdoh said...

Wow. You were right, long read but well worth it.

Don said...

I know, right? Did it make you want to stop and take a break partway through? It's not just long; it's oppressively depressive.

Longhornjeff said...

"Each of the 300 students has now been assigned an advocate/social worker "
They are trying a similar program at Lanphier High School.