BreakPoint: Chicago Violence


John Stonestreet

More money and more education can’t solve what are, at heart, problems of the heart. But in some cities, you can’t even say that.

Chicago has a long history of violence, but Scarface has nothing to do with what the Windy City faces these days. Even as crime falls nationwide, Chicago is still described by many as a “war zone.” Between August 3-5, 74 people were shot in Chicago.

Seventy-four people shot in a mass-shooting would be on the front page of every paper in the country. But in Chicago, it’s just another weekend.

According to the Chicago Tribune, 1,400 people have been shot so far this year, with 247 homicides. Last year the body count was 650—that’s more than the combined total of New York and L. A.

Recently former Obama chief-of-staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered an idea about what’s behind this concentrated violence. Now members of his party are calling for his resignation.

When he was questioned about police strategies, Emanuel dared to suggest—get this—that “faith,” “family,” and “character development,” have a part to play in ending the bloodshed! He pleaded with fellow Chicagoans not to “shy away” from a politically incorrect discussion about how kids need a “moral compass” to “know good from bad and right from wrong.” All of this, he said, “plays a role” in curbing crime.

In response to saying that moral formation, family, and faith need to at least be a part of the conversation on violence, progressive critics called Emanuel’s comments “tone-deaf” and “insensitive.” The former president of the Chicago Urban League accused him of blaming victims and shifting attention from the real problem of racism. The current occupant of President Obama’s former state senate seat said Emanuel is “outright wrong,” and that what neighborhoods really need is not moral values, but more money and social programs.

No one—not I and not Emanuel—are discounting racism and poverty as contributors to crime. But the idea that character, family, and faith should have a vital role in confronting violent crime would, in a saner world, be uncontroversial.

Chuck Colson spent the final years of his life saying the same thing. The left-wing orthodoxy that crime is caused solely by economic and racial factors just fails in the face of evidence. Crime, he’d say—quoting two secular Harvard research professors—is the result of “individuals making wrong moral choices.”

By the way, Rahm Emanuel knew he’d be slammed for saying this. A couple of years ago, a friend told me how he asked Emanuel if he’d ever considered just bringing in the National Guard and barricading Chicago’s “war zone” zip codes. According to my friend, the mayor responded that it doesn’t matter how much military or police firepower you bring in if you don’t do something about broken families and young men without a moral compass. But, Emanuel added, he could never say that out loud because the media would crucify him.

Prophecy fulfilled. Left-wing orthodoxy about crime, racism, and poverty has failed. Progressives who have run Chicago for generations have had full power to implement their agenda, and it’s still the most violent city in America. Emanuel is right: The virtual non-existence of fathers, of character formation, or of anyone showing kids how to make right moral choices is a problem. Politicians and activists who refuse to see that are no longer dealing with reality.

Any ideology that treats people as less than moral agents and uses the government to replace the family will be deadly. Good for Rahm Emanuel for admitting this. It’s time other Chicago progressives did the same thing.

Come to and download this month’s free resource—a chapter from pro-life advocate Stephanie Gray’s book “Love Unleashes Life.” It’s our featured BreakPoint resource for August.



Chicago Violence: Rahm Emanuel Calls for Morals, and Progressives Call for His Resignation

Thumbs-up for Mayor Emanuel calling attention to a “politically incorrect” but necessary conversation. As Chuck Colson often said, people making the right moral choices will contribute positively to the community and to society. To read more on this issue, click on the links below.


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