For someone who's recently been presenting himself as an expert on the troubles facing black America, and as a sage with answers regarding violent crime, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly continues to display an obvious ignorance about both.
Last night, while claiming to provide the unvarnished truth, O'Reilly insisted the answer to curbing Chicago's gun violence was to put more cops on the streets. "Just look at Chicago," he said during his Talking Points Memo segment. "The violence there could be stopped by flooding the zone with police on literally every corner of dangerous neighborhoods,"
He claimed that wasn't being done because local "racial hustlers" would object; because they "would rather see kids die" than admit "an acute social and criminal problem in many poor precincts." According to O'Reilly, this is a "very tough statement, but it's true."
Put more police on the streets? Why didn't Chicago public safety officials think of that?
Answer: They did. Flooding dangerous neighborhoods with more cops has been the cornerstone of the Chicago Police Department's effort to curb violence this year. Anyone who spent five minutes researching the city's crime-fighting efforts would know that.
From the Associated Press:
Hundreds of Chicago police officers are hitting the streets on overtime every night in dangerous neighborhoods, the latest tactic by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration to reduce killings in a city dogged by its homicide rate and heartbreaking stories about honor students and small children caught in the crossfire.
Bill O'Reilly, however, remains blissfully unaware of that fact.
He's also completely unaware that Chicago's crime rate is down sharply this year. In July, O'Reilly likened the city's murder rate to "many Holocausts." Last night, he toned that comparison down, merely suggesting "the Windy City has turned into Afghanistan."
Fact: "Murders are down 26 percent compared with the same period last year, to the lowest number since 1965." [Emphasis added.]
Despite the hype around the city being some sort of killing capital, Chicago's murder rate ranked 21st in the nation in 2012. And as the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn noted last month, "Chicago also wasn't even close to the most dangerous city in America last year, ranking 43rd in overall per capita violent crime in preliminary data."
So much for Chicago being Afghanistan.
It is notoriously difficult to determine precisely why crime rises and falls, and the increased police presence may only be one factor for the decline in Chicago. But the fact is authorities are doing exactly what O'Reilly claims they're not; putting more cops on the streets.
O'Reilly proud ignorance is part of a larger conservative media movement to portray Chicago (i.e. President Obama's former hometown) as being driven under by murder and violence. They seem to want the city to become a symbol of doom and decay; a symbol of how local "racial hustlers" are more to blame for gang violence than the endless supply of illegal guns that stream into the city.
Facts don't back that up, so O'Reilly plows past them and pushes the right-wing fantasy about Chicago and urban crime in America.