Like most of Obama's big moments, his photo op using children while he signed 23 Executive Orders directed at stemming gun violence was mostly symbolism over substance. Politics over performance. Not one word about the culture of violence stemming from the movies and music created by his Hollywood friends and only a throwaway line or two about studying violent video games. Writing at the New York post, columnist Michael Walsh headlined the effort as the "Photo op President shooting blanks."
But it wasn't just movies, music and videogames that got a pass. The problem of gang violence wasn't mentioned at all. That oversight is odd considering how the problem of gang related gun violence is epidemic in Obama's hometown of Chicago. Tom Bevan, at Real Clear Politics points out that last year Chicago had 513 homicides. That's 20 times the number killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut. And in the first 16 days of January, 26 people, the same number who died in Newtown, where killed in Chicago.
Excerpting from Bevan's column:
In Washington on Wednesday, as you rolled out a slate of gun control measures quickly cobbled together in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, you said, “If there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.”A Racial Component?
If you believe those words, Mr. President, here is a heartfelt suggestion: Come back to your adopted hometown and personally host a summit that grapples seriously with the causes of -- and crafts meaningful solutions to -- gang violence in America’s big cities.
The other sad reality, Mr. President, is that almost nothing proposed this week in Washington, D.C., by your administration will do anything to stem the tide of gun violence in our inner cities. Most of these crimes were not committed with semi-automatic assault weapons, they weren’t committed by the mentally ill, and they won’t be stopped by universal background checks.
If you are serious about doing everything in your power to curb gun violence and save lives, then you must harness your immense popularity in Chicago -- and in other big cities -- to address the elephant in the room: the failures of a society grown coarsened, desensitized to violence, and too tolerant of such carnage.
Because of your heritage and your stature as the first African-American president, you may be the only person in this country who has the influence and moral standing to speak much needed truths to address this longstanding scourge in the black community.
As you said, “If there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.”
There is one thing you can do, Mr. President. Come home to Chicago. Talk to the kids. If they’ll listen to anybody, they’ll listen to you.
At the Huffington Post Jeff Kelly Lowenstein wonders why the carnage in Chicago doesn't rate the same attention that mass shootings do:
Images of Chicago's victims
Others might cite the racial composition of the children.
All but one of the Newtown children in the images we have seen are white.
But 70 percent of the shooting victims in Chicago for whom the race was known were black in a city that in 2011 was 33 percent black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
One Chicago web site tallied a score of 62 school age children murdered in the Windy City in 2012. That's more than twice the number from Newtown. Another Chicago site reminds us that the world's attention is focused every time Israelis kill Palestinian children. A number over several years that is half the death toll of children in Chicago.
Here are a few of the faces you haven't seen on the evening news. Their deaths didn't rate comment from President Obama and the gang violence that led to their deaths is largely ignored by his latest action.
13 year old Schanna Gayden (left) was an honor roll student at Ames Middle School in Chicago. She was an all-star basketball player. She died after being caught in gang related gun crossfire. 10 year old Katanna Peterson (right) survived multiple gunshot wounds from a further gang shooting but will be marked for life. Katanna's mother was only 14 years old when she gave birth to Katanna.
From Clutch: Six-year-old Aliyah Shell (left) was standing on the front porch with her mother and younger sister when she was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Chicago. Seven-year-old Heaven Sutton (right) was standing next to her mother in front of her home selling candy when gunshots rang out on her Chicago block and she crumbled on the pavement, dead from a stray bullet.
Notice something about these victims that might correlate with the lack of interest on the part of Obama and the mainstream media? Kirsten West Savali writing at Clutch, a minority women's magazine did:
President Barack Obama, a Commander-in-Chief for whom murdered black children has never made the itinerary beyond a Rose Garden soundbite and MTV during the election cycle rushed to Newtown, Connecticut — as he did Aurora, Colorado – to comfort and console the community.We are reminded also of the media sensation caused by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Of course that shooting was more about playing racial politics in the run up to the 2012 election. What political gain is there for Obama and the Democrats to highlight gang murders of young children in Chicago? None.
As Tom Bevan pointed out above, none of what Obama has proposed will do anything to stem the tide of blood on the streets of Chicago. The tougher problems of gang violence and the culture that supports it are deeply rooted in the inner cities where Democrats have held monopoly power for decades. Isn't it time Obama stops posturing for political gain on issues like gun control and actually leads the way to finding solutions that work in the inner city? Or have we given up all hope that he can, or even desires, to be that kind of president?