- - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For a man known in political and media circles for his prodigious application of the “f-word” (as a noun, an adjective, a verb, an adverb — most likely all eight parts of speech), Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sounds like the veritable schoolmarm when recently scolding that city’s murderous gangs.

In an interview with CBS anchor Scott Pelley about Chicago’s rising murder rate — which has increased 38 percent over 2011 — Mr. Emanuel reflected on comments he made just after the tragic June 27 shooting that took the life of 7-year-old Heaven Sutton.

Heaven was in front of her apartment building selling candy and snow cones to neighborhood children — a venture her mother thought would give kids a safe place to buy treats and sweets — when a “gangbanger” sprayed the crowded street with bullets.

Recalling this grotesque crime, Mr. Emanuel admonished “gangbangers” to remember their values and in so doing, to leave the children of Chicago alone.


“We’ve got two gangbangers, one standing next to a kid,” Mr. Emanuel explained. “Get away from that kid. Take your stuff away to the alley. Don’t touch the children of the city of Chicago. Don’t get near them.”

“And it is about values,” the mayor explained. “As I said then [when a 7-year-old girl was fatally shot last month], who raised you? How were you raised? And I don’t buy this case where people say they don’t have values. They do have values. They have the wrong values. Don’t come near the kids — don’t touch them.”

It’s surprising that a progressive such as Mr. Emanuel would pose the rhetorical questions, “Who raised Chicago’s gangbangers?” and “Where did they get their values?” After all, it smacks of being judgmental, given that the rate of unwed motherhood in the black community — where the city’s extreme gang violence is taking place — is roughly 70 percent.

Mr. Emanuel is right. Sort of. (Someone note the date and time that I agreed with Rahm Emanuel on something.)

As a nation, we are failing to instill in our children the right values, as well as the virtues that inform a mature conscience. The young people of our nation aren’t learning right from wrong, good from bad, moral from immoral. Heck, that would imply there are such things as moral imperatives, and who wants to admit that everything is not, in fact, relative?

But make no mistake: This void of moral development is catching up with us, as it inevitably would. And it’s going to be the death of us, just as it was for little Heaven Sutton.

The gangs in Chicago reflect wrong values, as do the cyberbullies in America’s suburbs, and the vast majority of teens who admit to cheating on tests, and the plurality of college students who report that their moral choices are made largely on the basis of their emotions.

Our children aren’t learning right from wrong because in America, that has become a moving target — something you can choose for yourself, based on your own sense of morality. Mr. Emanuel’s comments seem to indicate he thinks there is still such a thing as a moral absolute; such as, “One absolutely does not conduct gang shootings while standing next to children.”

Seems like that ought to be a given, right?

So what’s the answer to Mr. Emanuel’s question? Just who is raising the gangbangers of Chicago?

The short and uncomfortable reality: generations of single mothers and grandmothers and great-grannies and well-meaning aunties and plenty of social workers, but no men. No husbands. No fathers, whose role in moral development is vital to a civil society.

Story Continues →