Glenn Loury, Chicago born, on woke policy feeding violent urban crime

By John Kass

The rise of violent crime in urban America, nurtured by the policies of liberal defund-the-police Democratic mayors and the woke prosecutors protected by woke newsrooms, is now completely out of control.

And the other day when a CTA bus driver was mercilessly beaten by a mob on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago—just part of a larger spree of weekend violence–those Chicago politicians whose policies helped fuel the chaos were silent. Paul Vallas, a possible mayoral candidate, posted the horrific video.

I was angry and retweeted, calling out Chicago politicians who didn’t respond.

But Professor Glenn Loury responded. He was born here. If you don’t know about him, you should.

Loury is a well-known professor of economics at Brown University, writer, thought leader, a champion for academic freedom. He makes speeches, writes essays and books, and runs a YouTube podcast called “The Glenn Show,” often with John McWhorter of Columbia University.

Loury is South Side born. He’s angry about the savagery of crime and bitter about the silence of the political class. Here’s how he responded.

“This is not ‘systemic racism,’ Rather, its savagery running amok right in the center of my hometown, Chicago. The perpetrators are black youth. About this fiasco, there is not a mumbling word to be heard from the liberal anti-racists. I wonder why not…”

 I reached out to him and asked him to be a guest on my podcast, The Chicago Way, that I co-host weekly with my friend Jeff Carlin, executive producer at  WGN radio.

Loury said the impact of  violent crime across America is overwhelming urban areas and ruining the lives of all, especially Black lives. And what frosts him are the ‘diversity and inclusion’ activists who promote the ridiculous 1619 Project and see the world through a racial prism, yet say nothing as Black people are slaughtered on the streets by repeat violent criminal offenders let out of jail on low or no bond.

I’ve put a link to The Chicago Way podcast here.

“And the devastating impact that it’s (violent crime) having on Black lives deserves to be denounced from every microphone, from anybody who’s got an audience who’s concerned about the well-being of Black people,” Loury told The Chicago Way. “Black lives do matter. Ironically, the movement ‘Black Lives Matter’ seems not to be adjusting itself to the places in American society where black lives are being lost…

“This is the issue confronting urban Black America today. It’s the issue.  You can’t open a business on a corner without a plexiglass bullet proof shield to do your commerce from behind. You can’t sit at a bus stop without worrying you’ll be killed in a drive by shooting. You can’t sit on your stoop with your infant on your lap without worrying somebody is going to put a bullet between her eyes.

“It’s the issue confronting Black America and the fact that it’s not being denounced and attacked and mobilized against by the people who call themselves the leadership of this community is a shame,” Loury said..

Strong, bold words, desperately needed.

Democrat politicians mumble in response. They say what they think are the politically safe things to say, so they won’t anger the hard left and mostly white Jacobin activists who now shape the Democratic Party.

The politicos don’t want to admit they’ve played a large part in stoking urban violence. But they certainly have played a part. Liberal Democratic mayors demonized law enforcement and encouraged the angry mobs to serve their politics during those “mostly peaceful” George Floyd protests, where citizens and police were assaulted, buildings burned, businesses were destroyed, and cities overcome.

And prosecutors, casting themselves as Social Justice Warriors, stopped prosecuting.

Now, the same political actors who demonized law enforcement–to stir the mobs and prime the Democratic vote for the last national elections–are now trying to gaslight America that they’re tough on crime.

Defund-police San Francisco Mayor London Breed is among those promising to shut the door on street crime after all the horses have left the barn. In announcing her “crackdown” on crime, Breed says she’ll no longer be tolerant of “all the bullshit that has destroyed our city.”

Now she’s upset with “the bullshit?” But she fed her city on the stuff for years.

In Chicago, the weak and hapless Mayor Lori Lightfoot–unwilling to publicly confront progressive prosecutor Kim Foxx—blames retail merchants for new waves of Christmas season smash-and-grab looting. Chicago’s homicide mark reached 800 this week, and shootings continue, with two people shot just off the Magnificent Mile over the weekend. She watches impotently as homicide numbers keep climbing, along with carjackings and robberies.

Some Chicago neighborhoods want to  their own security forces of armed private guards. The Bucktown Neighbors Association has such a plan. Mayor Wokefoot does not like the idea, but she doesn’t have enough cops to protect the neighborhoods. She flails in deep water over her head.

 I asked Prof. Loury about this response from politicians, and London Breed’s newfound law-and-order pose.

“It tells you I think in the first instance that some of these people are responsive to the sentiments of their electorate that the public are clamoring for something to be done,” Loury said. “It speaks to a failure of part of the progressive overreaction to mass incarceration, to the sense that that we had too many people in prison, that our sentences were too long, too punitive, the drug war was overdrawn.”

He didn’t like the fact that millions of people were incarcerated, that most were disproportionately racial minorities, that the school-to-prison pipeline was continuing. That’s a reasonable view, held by many of us.

But, he said, “I think people have overreacted” in getting rid of bail, and the leniency of dropping cases, the decisions by many prosecutors like Foxx to not enforce crimes of property theft. After George Floyd, he said  “progressives have gotten themselves elected, prosecutors and mayors have pursued policy that have not worked, and I believe there’s a blowback from that…but I think it may be too little too late.”

Bingo.

What bothers him is the corruption of the corporate, legacy news media in covering these stories.

“It amazes me how corrupt, in my opinion, media has become, how politicized, they’re not telling me all the stuff that I need to know,” Loury said. “For example, this guy who drove that vehicle into that Christmas parade in Waukesha Wisconsin. [Darrell Brooks],

“I want to know everything about him. I want to know what he ate for breakfast I want to know who his cousins and his friends are, I want to know who he was when he was 10 and 12 years old. I want to know everything about the world that he came from.

“If he were a white supremacist and had run over a bunch of black people with a vehicle there’d be no end to the investigative resources that news organizations would have devoted to exposing the underside of what produced that vicious act. I want to know everything about this person, and I feel that I’m being failed by the media.”

Loury wouldn’t be the only one thinking that he’s been failed by woke newsrooms, would he?

No.

He was born on the South Side and grew up at 73rd and Michigan, a White Sox fan. He’s long since moved away. But he recalls his childhood as pleasant, idyllic.

“I’m in my 70s now, and this was the 50’s and 60s, but I remember going to ball games at Comiskey Park. I remember Dineen elementary school on 72nd and Wabash. I remember the street that I lived on, the block between 73d street and 74th street on Michigan avenue.

“It was leafy green. There were lawns there were single family homes, bungalows, two-flats. There were fruit trees in the backyards. We played stickball in the alley; it was safe. You could ride your bicycle into the night, North or South, East or West, without concern. Chatham to our South Hyde Park not far away.

“It was idyllic in retrospect. A gunshot? You never heard it. Streetwalkers, sex workers? You never saw it. Gangbanging? OK maybe to the west of the Dan Ryan, but not so much…Now kids can’t leave the house without sticking a gun under their belt.”

And though he’s moved to the East Coast, he’s haunted by the the beating of that CTA bus driver, and the silence of the politicians.

“The loss of civility, the savagery of the attacks…is deeply troubling to me, and emblematic of things that are deeply off-track in America more broadly.

“And yeah, I think some of the blame has to be laid at the feet of the people who are in charge of the city, its institutions of order maintenance, and so I was moved at what you put up there [on Twitter] and thought I should share it with my followers.”

Journalist Bari Weiss described him this way: “I think Glenn embodies what the philosophers call, ‘a man in full.’ Glenn is a man, who, in a time of lies told for the sake of political convenience, strives to tell the truth even when the truth is hard. Or complicated. Or an affront to our feelings. Or contradicts what we wish were true.”

I think of him as a freedom fighter for the mind, a champion of free inquiry against those who would silence the curious. He’s rightly mocked the harmful “1619 Project.” He challenges liberal racial sloganeering and has even challenged his own university.  

And like many of us born here, he mourns what is happening to a great city.

-30-

(Copyright 2021 John Kass)