Sunday, February 12, 2017


      Last week on MSNBC, Chris Hayes, a man I admire, hosted a town hall meeting to discuss the causes, and potential cures, for the shocking violence in Chicago. A few years ago, it would have been Detroit. A few years further back, D.C. or New York, or some other city run by Democrats. This year it’s Chicago.

      Let’s leave an inconvenient fact aside: among major cities, Chicago’s homicide rate per 100,000 residents is far from the highest in the country. Not only does that honor belong to New Orleans, there are eighteen cities between the top of the list and Chicago.

      But I’m not writing this to dishonor Chris Hayes, although he should be ashamed of himself. I want to urge an investigation, by academicians as well as government agencies and the media, into the cause of the elevated homicide levels in Southern States, a phenomenon that has persisted for many years.

      The state with the highest homicide rate per 100,000 residents? Louisiana with 10.3 homicides per 100,000. By contrast, the state with the lowest homicide rate is New Hampshire with 0.9 homicides per 100,000, a tenth of Louisiana’s. But the southern trend doesn’t stop with Louisiana. Mississippi has the second-highest levels in the country with 8.6 homicides per 100,000. Further if we examine states with high murder rates – rates between 5 and 6 per 100,000 – we find Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. On the other hand, the states with the lowest rates, between 1 and 2 per 100,000, include Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Vermont.

      So, it’s time, right? Time to fully investigate the horrific violence that haunts states below the Mason-Dixon Line? Perhaps we should examine the relationship between slavery and violent crime, or poverty and violent crime since the states mentioned above also rank at the top of poverty lists per 100,000 residents. Or maybe the more sophisticated among us, like Chris Hayes, should avoid copping to a persistent Republican claim, repeated again and again, as with any big lie: Violent crime, Democratic mayors and Democratic cities are triplets walking hand-in-hand.

      Final note. The statistics cited above were taken from the FBI Uniform Crime Report. They’re unimpeachable.

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