It was a kneejerk reaction to a kneejerk reaction. That's my assessment of Rep.
In a telephone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times'
Rush's remarks were reckless, impulsive, ham-handed and racially inflammatory, but they accomplished their mission getting our attention -- nationwide. Rush's remarks immediately turned into honey for talk shows and properly outraged commentaries. Tossing the race-card into the political media swarm is like tossing catnip to a basket of kittens.
At least Rush brought our attention to a serious perennial problem: surges in gun violence and youth homicides. Every decent citizen wants to do something about it, but it's too complicated to be corralled by kneejerk solutions.
And kneejerk is what Kirk's proposal, such as it is, appears to be. Despite good intentions, it sounds like the sort of half-baked idea that cranky callers phone in to radio talk shows. ("...Why can't we just lock 'em all up and throw away the key?!")
Sorry, folks, but it's not that simple.
Among other hurdles, Kirk would have to get the
In fact, Kirk's vision makes the common mistake of treating
Kirk discussed his plan with
Fortunately, Rush's quickly tried to get off that ugly race track. In a statement he emailed later to the Sun-Times, he explained his complaints: He called Kirk's plan "elitist" for leaving out any effort to create jobs, safe housing, affordable health care or improved schools, just "a plan to incarcerate 18,000 black men."
"Why is incarceration the sole option," Rush asked, "instead of rehabilitation, which is proven to work and not locking young men up?"
Rush is on the right track, judging by what urban violence experts have told me. Gang crimes are a complex problem that calls for comprehensive solutions, not only to arrest the bad guys but prevent good kids from becoming bad guys.
Unfortu nately, Rush's constructive remarks were largely overshadowed in most eyes by his "white boy" crack. A lot of white politicians might well say he got off easy, considering the blowback they'd receive if they criticized Rush for "black boy" ideas.
Yet, even as chatter about his racial slur still raged over the weekend, Rush invited Kirk to meet, talk about the gang issue and perhaps see the problem first-hand in Rush's district. Kirk accepted and suddenly a bitter narrative turned rather sweet.
Suddenly, I was reminded that Rush was there to greet Kirk when Kirk returned to
Who knows? It is pleasant to think they might help to bring real peace to Chicago streets, once they restore peace with each other.
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