America the Violent

Another horrific instance of violence in America occurred on August 7: the killing of Chicago police officer Ella French and the shooting of her partner.  The two brothers arrested in this case include 21-year-old Emonte Morgan, who received a sentence of probation in 2019 for robbery in lieu of jail time.  His brother, Eric Morgan, was also on probation.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot's tepid response to the killing was a statement that it's "time for us to come together as a city."  When Lightfoot visited the hospitalized officer, dozens of Chicago police officers reportedly turned their backs on her, and she was "scolded" by the officer's father.  She dismissed the incident by posting that "in a time of tragedy, emotions run high."

No, the officer's father was not "running high," and the idea that "guns" were responsible is ridiculous.  Ella French died and her partner was seriously wounded because of the evil of violent criminals, because those criminals had been let out on the streets with no jail time at all, and because criminals have been emboldened by politicians who are too quick to attack and call for defunding the police.

Unfortunately, Ella French was not the only officer killed recently in Chicago or in America as a whole.  Three hundred sixty-nine officers died in the line of duty in the USA in 2020; so far in 2021, 194 have died.  Some of these deaths occurred because of the toxic environment in which police officers work.  Without the support of liberal politicians, the police are alone on our streets.  Their job has always been a dangerous one, but it is made more dangerous because of city and state leaders, and of the Biden administration, that refuse to wholeheartedly support them.    

America is a violent country.  There were over 16,000 murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the USA in 2019.  And there were nearly 100,000 forcible rapes, 268,000 robberies, and 821,000 aggravated assaults.  Violent crimes totaled 1.2 million that year, and the numbers may be 25% higher in 2020 (statistics will be out later this year).

America is more violent than many other developed countries.  By contrast, there were 929 murders in Japan in 2020, 779 in France in 2018, 788 in Germany, and 681 in Britain in similar periods.  Those countries have a smaller population than the U.S., but nonetheless, the murder rate, adjusted for population, is much lower.  In 2019, the murder rate in Germany was 0.8 cases per 100,000 — in the USA it was 5.0 per 100,000, 6.25 times higher.  And estimates for 2020 and 2021 put America's murder rate even higher, perhaps 7.8 times higher than Germany's.

Closer to home, Canada is by no means a utopia: its crime rate, overall, is twice that of the U.S., and its per capita GDP is 40% lower.  But the murder rate in the U.S. is three times that of Canada, and our rate of violent assaults is twice that of our peaceful neighbor to the North.  Something is amiss in America, and it is getting worse in cities and states controlled by liberals.

Just going to the grocery or to church is dangerous, and it's especially dangerous for those who are helpless — the elderly, the disabled, and children.  According to the CDC, physical abuse of senior citizens is increasing, with murders of men aged 60 to 69 "skyrocketing."  Perhaps for political reasons, attacks on Asian-Americans have garnered much publicity — with the excuse that "it's Trump's fault" because he identified China as the source of the COVID epidemic — but in fact, violent assaults against senior citizens regardless of ethnicity "have surged in recent years," according to the CDC.  In a recent year (2016), non-fatal assaults of elderly men stood at 136.3 per 100,000, a figure that includes only emergency room admissions, and it is increasing under our current president.

The first obligation of government is to protect its citizens, whether from foreign attack or violence in their own country.  Government is not fulfilling its obligation, particularly amid the movement to defund the police.  Despite attempts to rebuild departments, policing in many cities remains understaffed and inadequate in the face of rising crime rates.  And politicians and judges have decided to empty prisons onto the streets or to not send criminals to prison in the first place.  There's nothing like "out on parole, no time served" to embolden a violent criminal.

Americans have a sense that crime is spiraling out of control, and they are right.  No matter where one lives, every trip outside the home involves danger, and even in the home, one is not safe.  In 2017, 1.7 million home burglaries took place, and the numbers are rising in 2020 and 2021.  Fully 75% of homes will be burglarized in the next twenty years.  Just sitting in one's living room or sleeping in the bedroom can be dangerous as criminals fire into the home.    

We live in an era of barbarism, and liberal politicians are turning away from the problem because the solution involves strong action against politically protected groups.  Black males constitute only 6.5% of the U.S. population, but they commit nearly 50% of all murders.  Biden's $1-trillion infrastructure bill contains plenty of money for broadband, but nothing for policing.  And his proposed $4-trillion American Families bill has plenty for free babysitting but nothing to keep us safe.  Police departments are not fully staffed, and the result is more violent crime.  

The solution is more aggressive policing, more apprehensions, and longer sentences for criminals.  Those who commit crimes must know that there will be severe consequences.  Illinois's death penalty was abolished in 2011 by then-governor Patrick Quinn, a Democrat.  The consequence of killing Ella French will not be as severe as it should have been, and criminals know it.

The only way to address violent crime is to double or triple funding for the police and give them the authority to go after violent offenders.  The police are our heroes — Ella French was a hero — and heroes need to know that we have their backs.  

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

Image via Pixy.

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