In an astonishingly racist column in Thursday’s Chicago Tribune, reporter John Kass blamed the city’s staggering murder and shooting rates on the “Democratic welfare state,” which he claims created a generation of “nihilistic feral boys, brandishing their guns in cars, waving their death sticks in rap videos, young African-American men who believe they have no future, waiting to die.”
It is a long-established right-wing trope that providing public assistance for the needy has broken up traditional families in black America and led to single women having broods of children out of wedlock while the fathers run wild and perpetuate “black-on-black crime.”
Kass’ column argues that the real scope of Chicago’s violence problem should not be measured in homicides — although the city passed the 500 murders mark for 2016 in early September — but rather by the number of shootings.
“And by shootings I don’t mean thugs shooting off guns in the air. I mean shootings where bullets pierce human skin, destroying flesh, bones, organs and lives,” wrote Kass. “On average, 12 people are shot in Chicago every day.”
As comedian Larry Wilmore pointed out in 2015, “thug” is the word conservatives use now that they’ve realized that “ni**er” is out-of-bounds.
Furthermore, he resists calling black men “men,” but continually refers to them as “boys.” This echoes a racist means of dishonoring and dehumanizing black men — calling them, no matter their age, “boy.”
But Kass doesn’t even attempt to cloak his disdain for the black community and what he perceives as the damage done by our country instituting a social safety net half a century ago.
“The shooters, these feral young men, aren’t an accident,” wrote Kass, using the word “feral” a second time — a word generally reserved for stray dogs, cats and other animals. “They are the direct product of the Democratic welfare state that helped destroy families. The government became the father, the fathers became irrelevant or were driven off, and black families that had withstood decades of Jim Crow segregation began to collapse. And that was generations ago.”
Kass’ argument here is essentially that black people are lazy and Democrats and liberals want to give them “free stuff” — another favorite conservative trope. African-Americans, they say, have latched on to the welfare system an alternative to work.
“Now, there aren’t enough jobs for unskilled labor,” he moans, as if black workers are incapable of any other kind.
“There aren’t enough cops,” he complains of a police department that has been revealed to be operating above and outside the law by maintaining a “black site” where suspects of color were routinely tortured and denied their human rights and which shot and killed an 18-year-old unarmed black man this summer.
“Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has asked for tougher laws to keep shooters behind bars,” Kass wrote, but then blames “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and her allies in the Black Caucus” for “dragging their feet” on passing new, harsher laws which could potentially violate human and civil rights.