It used to be that really professionally run newspapers didn’t attempt to editorialize in the news stories. But The Washington Post didn’t follow that idea in a long feature on “gun violence”:
Their classmates are murdered, then they take the SATs: How gun violence shapes academics
By Perry Stein | August 24, 2020 | 7:00 AM EDT
Darnell Johnson was about to take the PSAT. There were 165 minutes, 139 multiple choice questions and an essay in front of him. But how could he focus when his classmate was dead?
Five days earlier, Johnson’s classmate, a freshman quarterback named Jaquar McNair, who had college aspirations and loved taking cruises with his family, was fatally stabbed by a classmate at a Metro station.
Wait, what? The story is about “gun violence,” but young Mr McNair was stabbed? So, it wasn’t a gun, somehow rising up and going off by itself, that killed the young football player?
The teachers at their charter school in Northeast Washington tried to help, pulling grieving teens aside during testing breaks, cheering them up with jokes McNair, 15, used to crack.
But those teachers knew there was no way to stop the grief caused by McNair’s death, and by the deaths that would soon follow, from seeping into the classroom.
Like a stone tossed into a pond, a single act of violence causes waves of loss in the schoolhouse: Test scores drop. Attendance falls. Instruction time wanes. In the days following a shooting, students often spend more time with therapists than with math teachers. Art classes become therapy sessions. High school pep rallies turn into student-organized memorials for fallen classmates.
It’s a long story, focusing on a significant problem, that students living in violence-prone areas are having lowered standardized test scores. The whole article has a correlation proves causation implication, which is a logical fallacy; is it not possible that violence-prone areas are violence prone because less intelligent people live there?
But, ignoring that, following the story far down, you get to the politics:
When students in a U.S. government class at Anacostia High were assigned to craft legislation on any topic, nearly half chose legislation to strengthen gun control laws and prevent violence.
Even ignoring the implied assault on the rights of law-abiding people to keep and bear arms, the obvious question is: what good are gun control laws when the bad guys don’t obey the other laws? The fact that someone might have a gun that he purchased illegally does not mean he has to use it; using it to kill someone was violating another law.
Law enforcement only works when the community cooperate with the police. The members of the various neighborhoods documented in the story have all of the evidence necessary to get the gang bangers and drug dealers arrested by the police and tried and convicted by the district attorney, and locked away in the penitentiary where they can’t hurt the community any longer.
Last school year, long before young demonstrators marched through the nation’s capital, protesting the inequities that leave their schools and neighborhoods beset by trauma, students at Anacostia High held a small rally of their own in October.
Their classmate, Thomas Johnson, 15, had been fatally shot. In the week after his death, his classmates attended his funeral and took the SAT. But they also teamed with the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action to stage a rally at the school in his honor.
“Every year, for the past four years I’ve been here, a person has been killed from our Anacostia community,” a student organizer said at the event.
In many District public schools, students’ academic lives, even their extracurriculars, are shaped by the violence that surrounds them: The student groups they join, the speeches they hear from city and school leaders, the hallway conversations between classmates.
They had a rally, they listened to speeches, they had “hallway conversations,” and they protested the violence, but there isn’t a single word in the story about anybody mentioned in it going to the police, about taking evidence to law enforcement. And such words are needed, because unless the bad guys are taken off the streets, bad things will continue to happen.
In the end, the bad guys still depend on the community. They have to live someplace, and people in the community know where they live. They have to buy food; people in the community know where they shop. They have to engage in whatever illegal activity they do to make money; the people in the community know about it, but they aren’t taking that information to the police.
And thus the bad guys get away with it. The bad guys get to stay in the community, get to keep selling drugs, get to keep beating up people and raping young women, all because the mass of the community never say anything to law enforcement. If a bad guy has been getting away with selling heroin and fentanyl and crack in the neighborhood, the odds are that he will have a firearm, and the odds are that he will eventually shoot somebody.
The Post story talks a lot about “gun violence,” as though it’s somehow the gun which magically kills people. What there was no mention of at all was that there are bad people out there, and they are bad people because nobody makes them not be bad, nobody who grabs them by the ear and makes them straighten up and fly right when they are doing the little things, so there’s nothing to stop them from becoming the big things criminals.
(Lauryn) Renford and Zaire (Kelly’s) twin, Zion, became activists after his death. They showed up to city council meetings and started an anti-violence advocacy group at their Southeast D.C. school called Pathways 2 Power. Renford helped create a large mural featuring the faces of children murdered in the city. And she started talking to students about how she managed to juggle grief with more mundane teenage stress.
Great! They had a mural painted! But what did they do to help get the killers caught?
In June, as protests gripped the District, it quickly became clear that Renford’s message had sunk in with Dunbar’s students, whose Instagram pages were flooded with messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Sensing their need for an outlet, teacher Nubia Gerima-Rogers invited nine to a protest near the White House.
Do “Black Lives Matter”? One thing is certain: they matter when they are taken by a white police officer! But when the Post can write about some poor, mostly black neighborhoods suffering from what they call “gun violence,” rather than naming the bad guys who use the guns, and never mentioning the most effective thing that can be done, helping the police to catch the guys pulling the triggers, it’s difficult for me to see how The Washington Post can believe that Black Lives Matter when they are taken by other black people.
Rather, #BlackLivesMatter is nothing but a political hammer to use against the police, the very same police the black community need, but are reluctant to use, to help make Black Lives Matter in any sense other than the political.
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