A Weekend in Chiraq: Mourning In America

It’s time to Break It Down!

Chicago has many nicknames. Chi-town. The Windy City. Second City. City of the Big Shoulders…and a number of others make the list as well. One that has emerged in the last decade or so that most Chicagoans are loath to embrace is Chiraq.

Just as the name connotes, Chiraq, a sobriquet given to what is now America’s third largest city, Chicago, was invoked because there are more murders and violence occurring Chicago than in the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan) during the height of the conflicts. A number of observers claim walking the streets of Chicago is like walking in Iraq with all the murders, robbery, gangbangs, and other acts of violence.

Those of us even remotely aware of national news reports know of the mass shootings that took place in El Paso and Dayton, yes Dayton, not Toledo, Mr. Trump, over the weekend. The shootings commanded the headlines and news cycles, and they should have been highlighted. Both communities are set to receive visits from Donald Trump this week. That alone will ensure that the coverage will continue for days to come.

There is a discussion that is ripe to be had on these violent displays that pop off periodically across America. Chances are, before too much time has elapsed, we’ll move on, not because we have forgotten the mourning and disconsolate families in Texas and Ohio, but because another episode will have jumped off somewhere else.

But for just a few minutes, I’m going to focus on Chiraq. This weekend, in Chicago, seven people were killed, and 53 others were injured, due to having been shot. According to ABC 7 Chicago, the carnage was comprised of several shootings, accounting for the dead and wounded. So why do I choose to shift the focus when El Paso and Dayton are already being analyzed?

It’s simple. First, Chicago labors under a steady barrage of shootings, and worse, killings. Second, the vast majority of those shot and/or killed in Chiraq’s mean streets are black. Third, and last, the scourge of gun violence has wracked Chicagoland for years.

Last week Mr. Trump attacked the City of Baltimore, as among other things, worse than the Southern Border, and a disgusting place where no human being would want to live. No indication he offered to extend any energy to correct the problems, although four years ago, when he was running for office, he suggested he was just the elixir the city needed:

Donald J. Trump



: Can we drop


off in the middle of #Baltimoreso he can show Obama how it’s done?” I would fix it fast!

7:31 AM · Apr 28, 2015

What a difference four years makes! But I digress. Back to Chiraq. Last October, Trump directed the Justice Department to work with law enforcement in Chicago to “straighten out the terrible shooting wave” in the city. I’m not sure exactly what steps “all the president’s men” have taken to counter the violence, but, if this pass weekend, like many that preceded it, is any indication, there is still a fair amount of work to do. Selah!

The chaotic state of life in Chicago’s black and poor communities is borne of the fundamental breakdown of systems, including the family unit, basic law & drug enforcement, access to guns, and local politics. While some of the same elements plague other communities, it’s fair to say Chiraq has been roiled by a relentless perfect storm. So far in 2019, more than 1,500 people have reported having been shot.

Most conversations about gun violence in Chicago start with the observation that Chicago, as well as Illinois have stringent gun laws. However, gang warfare, accessing firearms for jurisdictions outside the city and state, and acquiring firearms illegally all contribute to the pervasiveness of gunplay in Chicago.

What can turn around the injurious prevalence of Chicago shootings and the resulting death spiral?

Let’s be clear, there is no silver bullet. Pun intended.

Donald Trump will not wave a wand and make it disappear. Neither will local or state politicians. However, it is conceivable that if all levels of government, federal, state, and local, collaborate in crafting a Marshall Plan, complete with research and funding for executing the findings and recommendations, a solution can be found. Rhetoric is not the answer. Contentious bickering is not the cure. Partisan rancor does not hold the solution. However, here’s a thought. The President of the United States, who, incidentally, is president of all the states, cities, and towns…and all the people in them, should actually be engaged in promoting a collaborative initiative rather than posting sketchy tweets tearing down communities where he thinks none of his supporters reside.

So tomorrow, feel free to return your attention to the national news. But today, take a moment to reflect on the seemingly never-ending stream of tears shed by ChicagoansA Weekend in Chiraq: Mourning in America.”

I’m done; holla back!

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