Monday, December 16, 2013

Crime on the decline; what will the ideologues find to rage about now?

I’ve had a semi-humorous gag line I use from time to time – that if you ask the typical Sout’ Side resident about “Harvard,” “Princeton” or “Yale,” they’re going to think you’re talking about a trio of streets located just west of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

More of the nonsense we need to overcome
So it was kind of assuring to learn the real-life Yale University has paid some attention to the Second City. Although the conclusion that the Ivy League academics came to was one that ought to be incredibly obvious to anybody who pays attention to our city.

THERE ARE CERTAIN neighborhoods in our otherwise-wonderful home community that have a disproportionate share of the violent crime that the conservative ideologues like to use in their rants against Chicago, Democrats, Rahm Emanuel, Richard M. Daley, Barack Obama or anything else that they feel like having a hissy fit about.

With just over two weeks left in 2013, Chicago has had barely over 400 incidents involving murder. It’s far under the more than 500 we experienced in 2012.

So instead of being a sign that things were getting worse, 2012 just seems to have been a freak of nature statistically.

Of course, I have always argued that the ideologues were making too much of the murder total – because I can remember my days as a full-time cops and courts reporter for the now-defunct City News Bureau.

BACK IN THE late 1980s into the early ‘90s when the city routinely hit the 900-plus total for number of murders. By no stretch were we setting any kind of local records.

And as for the fact that Chicago has a higher total of slayings than New York (even though Gotham proper has three times as many residents), perhaps the REAL story ought to be that New York’s total is so low.

Nah, the ideologues wouldn’t want to concede that point. They just want to whine!

EMANUEL: Still a target, regardless of facts
The reality, of course, is that Chicago has always had an odd separation – sometimes I feel like it is four different medium-sized cities (South Side, Southwest Side, West Side and North/Northwest Side) that have residents who have little to no contact with each other.

EVEN WITHIN THOSE mini-cities, so to speak, there are neighborhoods where one has to watch one’s back if they happen to be there, and others that are so isolated that there’s no legitimate reason to fear anything.

Even though the residents of those latter neighborhoods are usually amongst the most paranoid whenever they encounter someone they don’t recognize in their midst.

Which, according to the Yale academics, means that the real story of Chicago crime has nothing to do with whether any kind of record-high has been achieved in murder totals.

It is more about the fact that the gap between neighborhoods such as West Garfield Park and Lincoln Park has grown. That ought to be the real problem that we try to address.

BUT THAT WOULD require having people who are willing to look beyond their own neighborhoods and be willing to address concerns of people they’d prefer to ignore.

That is the true problem we face. We have too many residents who are willing to overlook urban violence if they think it really doesn’t impact themselves.

And as for the people who are impacted directly, all too often we’re willing to want to behave as though we think those individuals somehow brought this conduct on themselves.

I don’t know how seriously the Yale University study will be taken in these parts. I can already envision the jokes about pinheaded academics that will be told by people who want the New Haven types to mind their own business.

Bigger than Sox/Cubs?
ALTHOUGH PERHAPS YALE University had a self-interest in studying crime. Because Yale Street in Chicago cuts through some of those more-violent neighborhoods.

Having such a violent namesake street may well be more embarrassing to the university’s reputation than was their 34-7 loss this football season to arch rival Harvard.


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