Former Chicago gang leader, now congressman, racially smears US senator

Rep. Bobby Rush, a former leader in the Black Panther street gang in Chicago, called Illinois Senator Mark Kirk's propsal to fight gang violence "an elitist white boy solution" in remarks made to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kirk and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois are asking for $30 million in federal aid to be used to aggressively go after Chicago's largest and most destructive gang - the Gangster Disciples.

Kirk said at a press conference with Durbin at the Union League Club following the Fardon meeting that he will ask the Senate Appropriations Committee for $30 million "to go after gangs like the GDs . . . and pick the biggest and baddest for a federal effort."

"I think it's completely within the capability of the United States government to crush a major urban gang," Kirk said. "Just think of what the greatest generation did here in Chicago, pretty much crushing the Capone organization."

Rush, asked by the Sun-Times to react to Kirk's proposal said in a phone interview: "It's a sensational, headline-grabbing, empty, simplistic, unworkable approach."

If there is $30 million for Congress to spend, better most of it be allocated for "job creation and job training," to address the gang problem, Rush said.

Rush's House district includes communities plagued by gang violence. He said his criticism of Kirk is "not to excuse their activities."

Rush said an arrest sweep "is not going to work. . . . It is not a law and order, lock 'em up solution."

Rush said he would like to talk to Kirk, to "get him to see the bigger picture." He added, "I am really very upset with Mark" and that Kirk's approach was an "upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about."

Realizing those were very strong words, a short time later Rush issued a follow-up statement to the Sun-Times to put his remarks in context.

Kirk's "current plan does not include the option to create jobs, provide affordable and safe housing, quality health care and improve schools in urban areas, BUT certainly a plan to incarcerate 18,000 black men is elitist. Why is incarceration the sole option instead of rehabilitation which is proven to work and not locking young men up," Rush said in an email.

Rush's statement about rehab is false. And so is his contention that "locking young men up" doesn't work. If you put 18,000 gang bangers behind bars for a few days, police will be twiddling their thumbs begging for something to do. Seriously, one of the major causes in the drop in the crime rate nationally has been strict sentencing guidelness with longer prison terms and less opportunity for parole. That is changing somewhat now that overcrowding in prisons has become an issue in many states. But no one can deny the efficacy of simply putting repeat offenders behind bars for a longer period of time.

But not only is Rush wrong on the facts, his sneering, racially charged put down of Kirk is typical of the one time "defense minister" of the Chicago Black Panthers.

The Panthers have their defenders. They were a "revolutionary" organization, some say. They provided health care clinics and food banks to poor people. So does the terrorist group Hezb'allah and the murderous Sadrists in Iraq.

In truth, even Rush quit the Panthers in disgust when their street thuggery and drug dealing overshadowed all that "revolutionary" razzamatazz. No doubt J.Edgar Hoover and the Chicago police overreacted to the antics and violent rhetoric of a few street thugs and committed outrageously illegal and un-American acts - including, perhaps, assassination. But, in truth, the only thing "revolutionary" about the Chicago chapter of the Black Panthers was their use of 1960's counterculture rhetoric to snow white liberals into supporting this glorified street gang.

Rush should be the last man on earth commenting on how to gain control of Chicago's streets from the  thousands of gangbangers, many of whom regularly show up in white areas of the city in flash mobs to terrify residents and even physically assault them. Chicago is experiencing a nightmare of gang violence and the city's Democratic leadership is too paralyzed to act. Federal dollars may not be an optimum solution, but in a city under seige, most won't be asking where the money is coming from.

Bobby Rush has supposedly reformed his gangster ways - at least he now appears not to hold to many of the racially repugnant beliefs of the Panthers. But one can't escape the suggestion that his opposition to the bi-partisan Kirk-Durbin initiative has something to do with his sympathy for the gangs running wild in Chicago.