Like every American, I too am deeply disturbed by the attack on France, both out of sympathy for the French people, and the implications for a potential attack on our country. Yet as horrific as is the loss of 129 people and the wounding of another 180, over the next month we will lose 500 young people to violence in the inner city. It won’t happen all at once, but two here, five there, and on some weekends there will be murders in the double digits. The victims will primarily be Black men.
If we had the same concern for the lives of these young people and the thousands who lose their lives every year, we could solve the problem. Alas, the deaths of young Black men is such a common occurrence that it isn’t unusual enough to be news worthy. The operative word in news is ‘new.’ Unfortunately, there is nothing new about 6,000 murders of young men annually in the inner cities of our country.
The first Black President is as cool about inner city terror as he is about Islamic terror. The number of Black deaths is three times that of Hispanics in America, 10 times that of Whites and three times that of Lithuania, which has the second worst murder rate in the world next to that of Blacks in America. Imagine what our country would look like if we lost 6,000 Americans to Islamic terror in one year here on the homeland. There would probably be no action by this inept administration, but state and local governments would take action, citizens would arm themselves, plans would be implemented. That kind of loss is unthinkable, if it’s Islamic terror. Yet we accept it year in and year out in the cities of our country.
Not even the death of nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee, brutally murdered as a vendetta against his gangster father, was a juicy enough story to get national attention. We have accepted this as the norm. Similar to the response of the president to the Paris attack, we’re not going to change our approach. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Einstein said that doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. And yet when it comes to the carnage that is taking place in cities all over our country, we keep doing the same thing.
To be sure, the last thing we need is another government program. We need a paradigm shift, a new way of tackling the problem, with short term and long term goals. Short term we have to make the inner cities safe places to live. That will mean a lot more police presence, stop and frisk and in the most violent neighborhoods, temporarily deploying the national guard until police have the resources and a plan to stop the murder epidemic.
Long term we have to attack the cultural pathologies that have taken root in the inner city. Hatred and fear of police have spread like cancer. While there are certainly incidents which justify scrutiny and punishment of some officers and departments, the data shows that the vast majority of police officers do their jobs with honor, respect for citizens and good judgment.
The mindset that all cops are racist (even the Black ones) sets up young Black men to have bad things happen in their interactions with police. A change of attitude will require systematic, continuing education for law enforcement and citizens in the Black community.
There is also a need for educational and economic opportunities. The inner city is a wasteland. Changing these horrid conditions will require long term partnerships with businesses and corporations. It will mean implementing school choice to expand academic options for parents and students. The children must be set free from the oppressive grip of school unions.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a need for a spiritual shift, and only the churches can bring this about. There is a darkness that pervades the inner cities: drugs, gangs, violence, abandoned children. The churches are oases of light. The light needs to shine more brightly and be spread more widely. People need a vision for their lives and to be shown a pathway for fulfilling their dreams. A person’s thought life can change the outward circumstances just as efficiently as circumstances change the way a person thinks.
Restoring the value of education, the importance of fatherhood and family, honesty, hard work and faith has tangible benefits for the entire community. Government cannot address the vacuum of values because this is a spiritual matter. Pastors and churches working with other elements of the community can transform the community by changing people within. In some circles it is called an awakening. The whole country needs one, but especially our urban areas.
If we put the same level of energy into transforming these communities and stopping the inner city terror as we put into stopping Islamic terror, places of blight and murder can become communities of economic and educational excellence. That may seem far-fetched, but where there is no vision, the people perish. It’s time to stop watching citizens perish in our inner cities and start helping them live the American dream.