Imagine this scenario: terrorists attack one of America’s greatest cities: the city of Chicago. Four hundred thirty people are killed and countless other are injured. Survivors are traumatized. Children are afraid to go outside. In support of the victims, people all over Chicago and the country patriotically display American flags in their windows and on their cars to send the message that they will never give in to the terrorists. The United States works tireless to plan to retaliate to defend its people, assert its international authority, punish the aggressors and to help Americans, especially Chicagoans, feel secure again.
The mayor of Chicago, the police, and the everyday people turn out to be heroes during this crisis. Measure are taken to study why the attack has happened and how to prevent another attack
This scenario is not so far from reality in Chicago today (except for the heroic parts). About 430 people have been murdered in Chicago in 2008, designating the city the notorious title of murder capital of the United States. The murderers may not be foreign born terrorists, however, the killers are no doubt terrorizing the citizens of Chicago, making the decision of the Batman producers to film Gotham City in the Second City a sadly suitable choice beyond the fitting aesthetics of the dark streets of lower Wacker drive. Indeed, Chicago could use a Batman NOW! in this crime ridden city when the head of the police department and the mayor only demonstrate effete leadership qualities in this crisis.
If the number of people who have died from violent crimes in Chicago had been the victim of Al Quaeda, there would be hell to pay and the greatest minds in the country would be searching for solutions to alleviate, avenge and prevent the tragedies. Instead, there have been nothing but excuses (including that because top gang leaders have been jailed a war is going on for control on the streets.)
Chicago’s violent crime problem has come to light this weekend in the wake of the murders of actress and singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew in one of the City’s most violent neighborhoods on the South Side: Englewood.
While I hate that my beloved city is highlighted for this horror, I think that it could be a good thing for the City. It may force Chicago, with the help of the state and federal governments, to seek innovative and creative solutions to help lower the murder rate.
The reason that the focus on this issue has been limited is because most of the victims have been poor minorities as Chicago is still largely a segregated city. I only know of one murder in my neighborhood this year.
However, 8 miles south of my residence, people live in fear of going outside. While I hear the sounds of drunk 20somethings coming from the bars, they hear the sounds of screams and gunshots.
What is the solution? I have no idea. However, I do know that just as if there were a terrorist attack killing 430 people in Chicago, we need to focus our resources both intellectual and monetary to solve the problems and stop the killings.
Chicago is home to two top 10 universities: University of Chicago and Northwestern University. In addition, other top thinkers teach and work at University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul and Loyola universities. Why not bring the top thinkers of these universities, in addition to police, educators, church officials, community organizers and even some politicians (as long as they are quiet and just listen) to brainstorm solutions? Just like the 911 commission, they can publish recommendations at the end of their findings to be implemented by the City.
The Hudson tragedy is horrific. But perhaps, due to her celebrity, she will give voice to others who live in her mother’s neighborhood who have suffered similar losses. And perhaps this case will shed light on the problem of violence that is plaguing some of Chicago’s neighborhoods with seemingly no end in sight. Whatever the reasons, gang violence, drugs, the downturn in the economy, solutions need to be found and they need to be found now. And the fact that the problems are not easy to solve is no excuse for not trying.
Because if these deaths were caused by foreign terrorists, you can be sure that solutions would be found, and found immediately: just because the victims are poor and largely from minority populations, does not make their deaths any less tragic. Their deaths should not be in vain and justice should not just take the form of incarcerating the killers. Justice requires solving the underlying problems that are causing the crimes.